Grammar crisis

Gary Lutz, for Slate, examines the 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. He focuses particularly on a new, 93-page chapter on grammar and usage, and finds it lacking in many respects:

It’s less a troubleshooter’s guide to malfunctioning sentences than a course outline of traditional grammar, systematically discussing the properties and peculiarities of the eight parts of speech. (The chapter would make a kick-ass appendix, but a handbook it ain’t.) [The author] labors at length on matters any able-witted reader can be expected either to know already or to learn from a dictionary entry—how nouns form their plurals, how verbs are inflected to indicate tense. And he is generous to a fault with fun-facty arcana (ought, for example, “has no infinitive form or present or past participle”) unlikely to prove useful even in an actuarially optimal lifetime spent with blue pencil in hand. The result? The predictable little catastrophes that wreak havoc on sentences—stumbles in subject-verb agreement, bungled comparisons, defective predication, mispositioned modifiers, bollixed parallelism—either get short shrift or are never given the time of day….


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