Saturday, October 22, 2005

Will I Ever Shut Up?

Not just yet, it appears. Erin McKean, Michael Dirda and I will lead a discussion titled "Rich Resources for Successful Writing" on Nov. 19 at the Smithsonian Institution.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Descriptivists 'Could Care Less,' but ...

The Post's AME for copy desks, Don Podesta, recently asked my fellow chiefs and me why the Post allows the mistaken expression "step foot" (for "set foot") in the paper. We all looked at him, puzzled -- it's not something any of us had ever noticed.

But, sure enough, searches show that the error is pretty common. It's even cited in the Eggcorn Database.

(A prescriptivist riddle: When is a usage that is perfectly understandable, quite common and literally correct nonetheless an error? Answer: When it is a failed attempt to reach for a different expression.)