John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pedantic, but pragmatic

The Times of London introduces a column on language written by Oliver Kamm.
Mr. Kamm, whose column is called “The Pedant,” announces that he hopes to rescue pedantry, “an obsession with linguistic precision” that “prizes form over style” from its negative connotations. His sense of pedantry is “an insistence on reasonable accuracy,” a pragmatic pedantry.

To do this he is willing to heave over the side such dubious cargo as the prohibitions against splitting infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. It is a promising start. He will bear watching.


  1. I wonder why Mr. Kamm's column is sloted into the Times's Women's section ( Only girls & girly men care about linguistic precision?

  2. I just can not do it. I can not end a sentence with a preposition, even if I have to wander all over creation with a stilted style!

  3. Well, mizjessie, nobody is holding a gun to your head to force you to end sentences with prepositions. You just don't get to object when anyone else does so.

  4. I was wondering the same thing as Patricia. Books, Columnists or Education would be more appropriate locations for Kamm's column. I can't imagine what led to its placement in the Women's section.