The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

29 Sep 2008


It is always a pleasure to read what Jack Lynch has to say about grammar and style. I find refreshing his use of a high dose of common sense applied to these subjects. Here’s an example:

Taste.- As in “There´s no accounting for” (De gustibus non est disputandum). Few people want to hear it –we all crave authoritative answers- but taste is part of any discussion of language. The rules only go so far; after that, all you’ve got to guide you are preferences.

Me, personally, myself, I’d sooner go to my grave than use disconnect as a noun (“There’s a big disconnect between what he says and what he does”): I feel so dirty when I have to say it. The word lifestyle makes my teeth itch, and I’d rather gnaw my own leg off that say something like “any way, shape, or form.” (Ditto phrases like “Me, personally, myself.”)

But they’re not right or wrong, and certainly not the sort of thing that a grammar guide can settle definitively: there’s no authoritative answer. I find them ugly as sin, but your mileage may vary. They’re a matter of taste.

I, of course, am convinced I have impeccable taste; and like most people who set up linguistic soapboxes, I sometimes offer opinions on such questions. I like to think I’m rarely perverse or pedantic, and I flatter myself that I have a better ear for style than many. But take my opinions for what they’re worth: they’re one guy’s judgment on what sounds good. And on many issues, that’s all you get.

Guide to Grammar and Style. Jack Lynch


  1. I can see that expressions as reiterative as "any way, shape or form" can sound annoying once their use expands from a rhetoric device on a particular moment and they start substituting more precise language but, what is the problem with 'lifestyle'? I thought it was okay.

  2. By the way, thanks to this post I've learnt about the usage of 'soapbox' to refer to people engaged in impromptu public discussions. I read in that blogs can be a modern form of soapboxes.

  3. I don´t see anything wrong with "lifestyle" either but as you both say, it has to do with personal taste, repetitive use, or even misuse, I would say.

    Soapbox, Ditto.. this blog is a good way of enriching my vocabulary.

    I also enjoyed reading about the source of the word where it says:

    "The term originates from when speakers would stand on a wooden box meant for holding soap..... Hyde Park, London is known for its Sunday soapbox orators, who have assembled at Speaker's Corner since 1872 to discuss religion, politics, and other topics."