Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace

From Boston’s WBUR, March 2001, Judy Swallow talks with Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace about modern American usage. My favorite exchange, Swallow and Wallace:

“Do you want your students to be SNOOTs?”

“That’s a really good question. No, to be a SNOOT is a lonely, stressful way to be. [Garner laughs.] It’s, you know, having a big red button which is pushed all the time. And to be honest, I would prefer to be less SNOOTy than I am.”
But as Wallace goes on to say, he wants his students to be able to speak and write in ways that convey their credibility and learning.

Related viewing
Garner asks Wallace about genteelisms (LawProse.org)

[In the essay “Authority and American Usage,” Wallace glosses SNOOT as his “nuclear family’s nickname for a really extreme usage fanatic.” The acronym stands for “Sprachgefühl Necessitates Our Ongoing Tendance” or “Syntax Nudniks Of Our Time.” “Authority and American Usage” appears in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (New York: Little, Brown, 2005). The essay first appeared in Harper’s as “Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage.”]

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