language & grammar

Stephen Fry on pedants

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Stephen Fry entertainingly delivers some opinions on pedants and grammar police. I agree with some of it, but it isn’t that hard to correctly use an apostrophe. Really, it isn’t. Fry love’s language and like most who love language, he manages to not put apostrophes’ where they don’t belong. And some of the errors writers make do interfere with the flow of sentences and prevent smooth reading, like when, commas appear where they are, not needed. But I agree with other points Fry makes. Language changes.

Hat tip, Andrew Turner.

Scott Stein is editor of When Falls the Coliseum and runs the humor site STEINLINES. He is author of the novels Lost and Mean Martin Manning. His short fiction, book reviews, and essays have been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The G.W. Review, Liberty, National Review,, and Art Times. He is a professor of English at Drexel University. Scott tweets @sstein.

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One Response to “Stephen Fry on pedants”

  1. I agree that it is fine to relax the rules of language in certain settings. I sometimes use expressions that I know are not truly correct, but if the environment is conducive to that usage, I go with it. I also agree that language changes and should continue to change. That said, there are some things that are just wrong. As you point out above, the rampant misuse of apostrophes is something that needs to be fixed. It drives me crazy. How hard is it to know the difference between a plural and a possessive? If someone messes up “it’s,” I get it…that one is counter-intuitive. When someone writes the word “guru’s” (I saw that one somewhere this morning), that is just wrong and silly.

    In an effort to point out that people who make an issue out of the incorrect usage of language sound haughty, Fry, I am afraid, comes out sounding haughty himself. He is “above” all that, I guess. Still, I enjoyed his piece. It doesn’t hurt that he sounds like John Cleese.

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