Thurber on Harold Ross of The New Yorker:

When I first met him he asked me if I knew English. I thought he meant French or a foreign language. But he repeated, “Do you know English?” When I said I did he replied, “Goddamn it, nobody knows English.” As Andy White mentioned in his obituary, Ross approached the English sentence as though it was an enemy, something that was going to throw him. He used to fuss for an hour over a comma.


To get technical, dialects are varieties of a language that have their own set of speakers with their own vocabulary, grammatical rules, and accent, and they can be regional, socioeconomic, ethnic,  tonal, and even a combination thereof. American English has eight major dialects–or 24, or hundreds, depending on who you ask and what they define as a “dialect.” Most of us don’t just speak a dialect, but switch between several depending on where, why, and how we are. And this is frustrating for the people who think that language shouldn’t be bound by culture, era, or region: that one kind of English (usually theirs) is good enough for every single English speaker in the world, all the time.

Great post from Kory Stamper at Harmless Drudgery, “In defense of talking funny”