David Foster Wallace Reviews a Dictionary

I am reblogging this because I consider myself a prescriptivist but I published my first blog under heavy duress in a very www descriptivist manner. I was then told by a friend that I needed a proofreader. I chuckled to myself thinking about this essay.

What You Read

It’s a hell of a lot more interesting than it sounds.  Especially when you consider that this essay’s title doesn’t hold much more promise than its premise – “Authority and American Usage.”  Yawn.

Yet, Wallace doesn’t allow the reader time to get bored.  He dives right in by asking, “Did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of US lexicography reveals ideological strife and controversy and intrigue and nastiness and fervor on a near-Lewinskyian scale?”   A wonderful, quintessentially ’90’s hook.

This essay, orginally published in Harper’s in 1999 and then reprinted in the collection Consider the Lobster, loosely reviews Bryan Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.  However, it’s most interesting bits dissect a fundamental problem in modern lexicography – who gets to decide what words and grammar are “correct.”  As DFW explains it, the experts generally fall into two competing schools of thought – prescriptivism and descriptivisim.  The…

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425 W George Street Philadelphia Pa 19123

This Northern Liberties home has three bedrooms and has been tastefully updated. Click on the picture below to see the listing.


 It is located on a great tree lined street where there always seems to be parking.  You can walk to Brunch at Honey’s Sit and Eat or Green Eggs Cafe.  During the summer you can enjoy a movies and music at Liberty Lands.  Going out on the town?  Dance the night away at Silk City, enjoy a draft and dinner at the Standard Tap or tapas at Bar Ferdinand.

Click on the picture and take a walk through the first floor.


This neighborhood is a dog lover’s paradise.  Orianna Hill Park is a leash less dog park.  Chez Bow Wow where you can go for all of your grooming needs is located on Second Street.  Chic Petique on Liberties walk has leashes, sweaters, and bags for scooping up those doggy diamonds.  Need a doggy day care?  Philly Dog School is right across the street from Chez Bow Wow.  And if you have a passion for dogs in need Street Tails Animal Rescue on Liberties Walk can use your help.

Click on the photo and walk through the second floor.


The Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association has plant sales in the spring, an electronics recycling program and a clothing exchange for children and babies.

This home is located in close proximity to i-95 and 676.  Catch the 57 bus to take you to Old City and Society HIll.  The Market Frankford Line can get you to Center City, The University of Pennsylvania or Drexel University in minutes.