Tuesday, January 31, 2023

From an interview with Bryan Garner

From Oxford University Press: Sarah Butcher interviews Bryan Garner, “the least stuffy grammarian around.” She asks how it happened that the teenaged Garner fell in love with books of English usage:

You’re asking me to psychoanalyze myself? Okay, it’s true. When I was four, in 1962, my grandfather used Webster’s Second New International Dictionary as my booster seat. I started wondering what was in that big book.

Then, in 1974, when I was 15, one of the most important events of my life took place. A pretty girl in my neighborhood, Eloise, said to me, with big eyes and a smile: “You know, you have a really big vocabulary.” I had used the word facetious, and that prompted her comment.

It was a life-changing moment. I would never be the same.
I will mention again something I’ve mentioned only twice in these pages: I was a member of the panel of critical readers for the recently published fifth edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage.

Related reading
All OCA Bryan Garner posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

Sean Crawford said...

I think his stories are true; I also think that in navigating a world of non nerds, a nerd would do well to appeal to humor and our lowest common denominator of liking the opposite sex as an excuse for things.

Long before he won the Nobel prize, Bertrand Russell, who had viciously mundane relatives, said you can be different "as long as you make it clear to even the stupidest that you are not criticizing them." Sometimes I get tired of looking out for fragile egos.

Michael Leddy said...

I don’t think is making an excuse; I think he’s just telling a great story on his fifteen-year-old self. Eloise, by the way, is real.