When I talk about the need to communicate well, I’m not just talking about the need to use proper grammar rules at all times. It’s more about the need to express thoughts in a way that gives the listener an accurate picture of your thoughts. In other words, I’m talking about the need to be articulate.
None of us is as articulate as we’d like to be at all times, but phrases similar to It was like a nightmare or something or It was unbelievable or I had never seen anything like that before come spilling out of our collective mouth with frightening regularity.
The Onion, in a fake radio report (Search Continues for Articulate Witness of Tragedy), mocks the inarticulate nature of our communication. We at Languageandgrammar.com enjoyed the report, and we hope you do as well.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
So if dictionaries don’t record the correct meanings of words, then how do you determine what is correct? What authority do you have that trumps how English is used by English speakers?
Reply from Paul: Well, Goofy, I have certainly never made any claims to have any such power. Although if you think I could be given that power….
You do raise a good question about how to determine what is correct if dictionaries are a reflection of usage, not of correct grammar–and that’s the type of guidance we try to give here. It’s not about being a grammar dictator but about providing information that may or may not be embraced. I will expand on this point in a future post.