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Keep me away from those editors on LinkedIn

A notification landed in my email that a new comment had been added to a lengthy post on a LinkedIn editors' group about the imagined distinction between like and such as. In a weak moment, I looked in on it. 

I do not recommend that you check it out, unless fuming gives you pleasure. 

One after another, the responses amount to What I Like and What I've Always Done. No one cites lexicographers or linguists. No one bothers to look into Garner's Modern American Usage or Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. (Why, no one even cites me.)

But the OED has an entry, "often = ‘such as’, introducing a particular example of a class respecting which something is predicated," with an 1886 citation from Robert Louis Stevenson, "A critic like you is one who fights the good fight, contending with stupidity." (Apt, that.) 

MWDEU's entry essentially blows up the belief that such as is "more precise" or "proper" to introduce one or more examples, and my blog post (I knew you wouldn't click on the link) said, "Besides, the AP Stylebook has no entry on it. Neither does Garner’s Modern American Usage. Burchfield’s New Fowler’s is silent on the subject. John Bremner does not bring up the point. Theodore Bernstein dismissed the objection to like in the sense of such as: 'The argument is specious because like does not necessarily mean identical.' "

So, instead of providing a useful discussion on any kind of empirical basis or citation of reputable authority, the LinkedIn discussion is an echo chamber of unexamined personal preferences.

In itself it doesn't amount to much more than a reminder not to participate in LinkedIn discussions. But I wonder if whether it may point to an explanation of writers' suspicion of editors. 

If all we are doing is blindly following bogus distinctions that we were told once and never subsequently examined, arbitrarily substituting our preferences for the writer's, isn't that what writers always thought we were up to? 



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