LETTER : Language purity and pedantry

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The Independent Online
From Mr Robert Allen

Sir: Barney Prendergast has a strange view of language. Regardless of Dekker and Shakespeare, different collocates at least as frequently with to as with from, and has done for centuries, as a fact of grammar. His use of to implying transitive action (as he calls it) is not specific to different, and is a casual rather than a fixed collocation, rather like money due from clients (the regular collocation being due to) or afraid in the dark (the regular collocation being afraid of).

What interests me as a publisher is that criticism of standards seems concerned with a handful of largely artificial chestnuts of usage and ignores what is being regularly written and spoken out there. The motives, I suspect, are social exclusion and not linguistic purity.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Allen

Dictionary and Reference


Chambers Harrap Publishers

Larousse plc


13 February