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Stephen Fry's eloquent response to Grammar Nazis

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Stoic Joker:
Okay, so I had to Google for the uninterested vs. disinterested bit and quickly ran across Merriam-Webster

Usage Discussion of DISINTERESTED

Disinterested and uninterested have a tangled history. Uninterested originally meant impartial, but this sense fell into disuse during the 18th century. About the same time the original sense of disinterested also disappeared, with uninterested developing a new sense—the present meaning—to take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has since been under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. Actual usage shows otherwise. Sense 2 of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. A careful writer may choose sense 1a of disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis <teaching the letters of the alphabet to her wiggling and supremely disinterested little daughter — C. L. Sulzberger>. Further, disinterested has developed a sense (1b), perhaps influenced by sense 1 of the prefix dis-, that contrasts with uninterested <when I grow tired or disinterested in anything, I experience a disgust — Jack London (letter, 1914)>. Still, use of senses 1a and 1b will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.
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I give up.  :(



I do get tiny internal cringes when I see store signs with "basic" grammar errors with the apostrophes and stuff. But maybe it's a good lesson to end the even momentary better-than-you attitude upon seeing them, and just move on to the actual point of the day's activity.

My major f'ing psychotic hatred (as opposed to a pet peeve) is not spelling or grammar, but the inability to communicate with a sufficient degree of precision with the fallout being ambiguity or meaninglessness, and then having someone get upset because I've asked for clarification because what was previously said was unintelligible.

SpoilerBut, FWIW, just to be pedantic... :P

"...the old pedantic me would have insisted on 'none of them is of importance'."

Errr... "they *are* not important"? :P

(You'll find that both the plural and singular forms there have advocates.)

Clarity is good. Ambiguity is for politicians and poets. :P

Here's some more Stephen Fry for y'all.  8)

Also...  8)

'And only ONE for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master—that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
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