GRAMMARNOIR 6: GRAMMAR NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY
This year’s Grammarnoir serial is running in four installments, from Tuesday, February 11, to the thrilling conclusion on March 4, National Grammar Day.
Part 2: Perfidious Albion
The chair creaked as I leaned back. I steepled my fingers and said, “Well, slick, maybe you could tell me more. For instance, you have a name?”
“Turner,” he said. “Paige Turner.”
I looked at him. He blushed again.
“Mother wanted a girl.”
“And what would Mother have thought about your mixing with the wrong crowd?”
He drew breath to speak.
“No, slappy, don’t answer; just tell me what your problem is.”
“Well, it started easy enough,” he said. “Crosswords, Scrabble—you know, gateway stuff. Then it led to Fictionary …” He trailed off.
“Yeah, so you got to hard core pretty quick. What then?”
“When they thought they could trust me, they let me in on the Plan.”
“They, plan, whatever. C’mon, what’s it all about? Spill it.”
“They’d all been recruited, too, by the Queen’s English Society.”
“Nobody pays attention to the QES these days. They’re all fogies and dodderers. They’re past it.”
“Not this group. They’re young. They all went to progressive schools, so this is the only way they know how to rebel.”
“So what’s this Plan?”
“They’ve infiltrated a dictionary publisher, one of the big ones.” He whispered, “M-W.”
“Ten of them work there, ready to spring. They’re going to delete all the Americanisms and revert to British usage. The QES figures that once the Colonies are subdued, the rot transmitted to England will come to a stop.”
“Well, you know, then they figure the OED will be ripe.”
“All right, kid, we’re going to make a little trip, just you and me, to Merriam-Webster.”
He shrank back in his chair, like a writer being told that you’ve murdered his darlings. “No, I just couldn’t. I can’t leave Mother.”
“Then give me the skinny, and I’ll go by my lonesome.”
He started to talk. I made notes.
Next: The hotsy-totsy lexicographer