From: Hugh Rogers, Messingham Road, Scunthorpe.
I AM no grammatical pedant, and frequently make mistakes (occasionally even splitting my infinitives and mis-using conjunctives) But at least I know I’m doing it.
This does not lessen my irritation with those who mis-use apostrophes or the unblushing use of “less” instead of “fewer” by media icons like BBC Look North’s Peter Levy. I was brought up to believe that “zoologist” was pronounced “zo-ologist and that “diphtheria” was not “dip-theria”.
The routine mis-use of “I” “me” and “myself” and the widespread use of epithets like “fantastic” and “unbelievable” to describe perfectly ordinary and entirely credible events, is a sad indictment of the way English is taught today. If, indeed it is taught at all.
I suggest that in order to strike your own blow against the dumbing-down of the English language you should switch your dictionary allegiance to another publisher. Chambers, for example, goes along, reluctantly, with the use of “literally” as an intensifier, but at the same time warns against unintentional bizarre or humorous effects. A delicate balancing act of which even Bill Carmichael (Yorkshire Post, August 16) might approve. Literally, of course.