Day 83 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project. Gary, a perpetual reader, is perennially reading The Gift of Fire, a book of essays by Richard Mitchell. He read aloud from his paperback copy of it Sunday morning, over coffee, to delight some houseguests.
Richard Mitchell is the beloved founder of The Underground Grammarian, "an unauthorized journal devoted to the protection of the Mother Tongue," and is the Underground Grammarian himself (rest in peace). You can read (and freely plagiarize from) all of The Underground Grammarian online, but I am crediting him here, using quotation marks (or italics in the extended quotation below), and encouraging you to read the various books available in print format, as well, because that's what I do here.
I think Mitchell would forgive me for my curling of the Mother Tongue here in my goofy blog, but heaven forbid I should commit some of my grammatical errors in formal writing or in print! He would, if alive, stick out his tongue at me.
Because permission is given at the Underground Grammarian website, I will quote a hefty hunk of his practical advice on what, beyond sticking out your tongue, literally or figuratively, you, too, can do when you witness abuse of the English language:
What Can We Do?
The Underground Grammarian does not advocate violence; it advocates ridicule. Abusers of English are often pompous, and ridicule hurts them more than violence. In every edition we will bring you practical advice for ridiculing abusers of English.
This month's target is any barbarian who says advisement. We can advise, or give advice, or even do some advising. Advisement permits nothing beyond what we can already mean with the words we have. Perhaps, by analogy to confinement, it might name a condition in which we suffer the consequence of having been advised; or, like government, it might indicate some cloud of loosely related abstractions and institutions. Those who say it to us must simply mean advising, but they fear that a clear naming of what they do will reveal how little it needs doing, and they will find themselves in the streets selling wind-up toys. Such people feel degraded unless what they do ends with -ment or some other official sound such as -ation or -ivity. Work that ends with -ing makes them nervous.
Do not boo and stamp your feet when some barbarian says advisement; it will bring reprisal, for barbarians are vindictive. Simply mutter, just loud enough to be heard, "Clickety-click-click." This requires no lip movement and suggests a wind-up toy. With a female barbarian, an equally good response is "Ding-dong," familiar to all television-addicted barbarians and suggesting some more appropriate career in cosmetics.
When advisement appears in a document sent by campus mail, smear it with something foul and return it to the sender.
Do NOT take this under advisement. As ever, happy reading!