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David Foster Wallace

Keeping up the standards

Whenever you see someone expose some bogus rule of usage, you can expect to see, almost immediately, a huffy comment from someone about the need to Keep Up The Standards. You will want to ask, “What standards?” I draw your attention to an article by the Rev. Dr. David L. Chancey, “Everything I learned about grammar I blame on Ms. Brooks,” published in The Citizen of Fayetteville, Georgia. Ms. Brooks, who taught Dr. Chancey in the sixth and seventh grades, was evidently a piece of work, a grammar martinet of the boot camp drill sergeant style, and her strictures have been preserved in his mind as durably as the arthropods of the Burgess Shale. Most of what he...

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