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23 June 2001
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18 May 2001
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Internet Grammar Lady 'bad' and 'wrong'

23 June, 2001—Local linguistics authorities are up in arms over the claims of so-called “Grammar Lady” Mary Newton Bruder.

[image]
Is this the mysterious Mary Newton Bruder?

Bruder, whose Internet site at www.grammarlady.com purports to offer a wide range of spelling and grammar tips, is being denounced this morning as a charlatan and a fraud, after reports that the site contains a dearth of misleading information.

“[Bruder] is actually worse than those awful ‘descriptive, not prescriptive’ people,” asserted one leading linguist, who wished to remain anonymous, “because, although she advocates some hard and fast rules, they're almost always wrong. I believe she's a danger to the public—and to herself.”

Among the obvious errors on Bruder's site were an insistence on ‘a historic’ (rather than ‘an historic’), and a preference for ‘Mother's Day’ over ‘Mothers' Day’. It also becomes clear from her writing that she is unable to use commas correctly.

However, it is debatable whether Bruder is being purposefully misleading, or whether her apparent ignorance of correct English usage stems solely from her North American Heritage.

One local linguist takes the latter view, saying, “After all [Americans] have done to the English language, the phrase ‘American grammarian’ conjures up the same sort of images as ‘German oven manufacturer’. They just can't be trusted—any of them!”

This view has rekindled the ongoing debate over Internet censorship. While software is available that blocks sites containing violent or pornographic material, there is currently no control over intellectually harmful sites like www.grammarlady.com. Concern is growing among Internet literati that children could accidentally access such sites, and “do themselves some real harm”.

Authorities are urging parents to be watchful for sudden changes in their children's grammar, such as an increase in dangling participles or incorrect pronoun usage. However, the best solution, they say, is to “monitor your children's Internet usage carefully. And remember—it's OK to talk about grammar with your children!”

Meanwhile, the concensus is that the ‘Grammar Lady’ is, in the words of one linguistics expert, “a) bad, and b) wrong”.  :.

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