I’m Lisa McLendon, and I run the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas journalism school. Before that, I spent a dozen years on newspaper copy desks after getting a doctorate in Slavic linguistics. I’m also a member of the American Copy Editors Society and serve on its Education Fund board.
As an editor, teacher, linguist and writer, I walk the “thin red(-pen) line” between prescriptivism and descriptivism. What does that mean? It means I think language needs to follow some standards in order to effectively communicate, but I also recognize that language is a living, changing entity and that obsolete rules, non-rules and distinctions serving only as shibboleths do no one any good.
For the purposes of this blog, I’m using the broader definition of “grammar”: not just morphology and syntax, but all the guidelines that govern language use, including spelling, punctuation and word usage. Opinions expressed here are my own.
A note about “Muphry’s Law”
That’s not a typo: Muphry’s Law is the “law” stating that any given piece of writing that attempts to correct mistakes in language or offer advice on correct language use will itself contain an error. I know I will fall victim to this at some point, so go ahead, point and laugh when I do; I can take it. (Just don’t write “Your wrong” in the comments.)