Grammar vigilante and candidate for living definition of the word “cantankerous,” Stefan Gatward of Tunbridge Wells, England, has been vandalizing signs so that they display the proper use of an apostrophe. For Mr. Gatward, The Times of London reported, a sign on St John’s Close that reads “St Johns Close” is a symbol of a larger cultural problem.
As the recent findingDulcinea article “What’s Happening to Writing Skills?” reveals, Mr. Gatward is not alone in decrying the decline of language. If only he’d known about the blog Apostrophe Catastrophes, perhaps he’d have put down the pen, snapped a photo and reveled in the support of the syntactical community. Fortunately for language enthusiasts, the Web boasts several oases of grammatical correctness and linguistic love.
The fiercest syntactical debates tend to be transatlantic, but American grammarians can still find a home at World Wide Words, which considers “international English from a British viewpoint.” Michael Quinion, author of “Why Is Q Always Followed by U?” and former columnist for The Daily Telegraph, has collected over a decade’s worth of his own articles on individual words, turns of phrase and eclectic themes, such as “the vocabulary of British lotteries” and “tourism’s lexical legacy.” He also answers questions and reviews books about language, ranging from “The American Heritage Dictionary” to pop-grammar hit “Eats, Shoots and Leaves.” World Wide Words is basically a one-stop shop to satisfy any linguistic curiosity, but if you’re still not sated, his “Other Sites of Interest” provides an exhaustive index of the Web’s offerings.
Reading blogs and columns is one of the best ways to keep abreast of trends in the word world. Schott’s Vocab, a New York Times blog, “explores news sites around the world to find words and phrases that encapsulate the times in which we live or shed light on a story of note.” If you’ve become written-word weary, tune in to actor Stephen Fry’s BBC radio show on language, “Fry’s English Delight,” which recently pondered the meaning of “hallo.”
For more of a community, join alt.usage.english, a large grammar newsgroup that rivals the Secret Service for seriousness of purpose. If you’re too intimidated to participate, take a look at their extensive archive, but beware: their FAQ section alone contains 220 topics.