Monday, August 19, 2013

Quote of the Day (James Thurber, on Sex and Grammar)

“The importance of correct grammar in the home can not be over-estimated. Two young people should make sure that each is rhetorically sound before they get married, because grammatical precision, particularly in mood, is just as important as anything else. Rhetoric and sex, in fact, are so closely related that when one becomes confused they both become confused. Take the subjunctive. [Henry] Fowler, in his book on modern English usage, says the subjunctive is dying, but adds that there are still a few truly living uses, which he groups under ‘Alives, Revivals, Survivals, and Arrivals.’ Let us examine the all too common domestic situation where the husband arrives just after another gentleman has departed--or just after he thinks another gentleman has departed (Suppositional Departures lead to just as much bitterness, and even more subjunctives, than Actual Departures).”--James Thurber, “The Subjunctive Mood,” from The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities (1931)

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