My remarks on legitimate grammarians elicited a lot of excellent commentary. I never expected so many e-mails from subscribers in support of my contentions. And specifically the issue surrounding “experts” who find it necessary to attempt to change writing dogma.
I believe strongly in what I wrote. While there is certainly a need for an open mind when it comes to bettering a writer’s skill sets, ego shouldn’t be the determiner. I intended m message to convey this, and I’m glad that this is the way it was interpreted.
A public platform doesn’t grant a person expert status any more than the Dianetics example I use so often. For anyone not familiar, it goes like this. Someone no one ever heard of proclaims another person–no one ever heard of–an expert. Hence, from that point forward, the first person no one every heard of acquires expert status.
People earn their reputations based on a lifetime of achievement. Yet even this isn’t a surefire guarantee that what they espouse is more than opinion. I cite those I consider to be experts in the field of letters, such as Jacques Barzun, Theodore Bernstein, and Francine Prose. Their expertise encompasses lifelong efforts at studying our language. I’m also of the opinion that a person isn’t an expert solely because of teaching, vocation, or writing a book. And least of all for speaking on a subject.
The last activity anyone can do, and this in and of itself poses the greatest problem. Falling prey to confusing notoriety with expertise happens all the time. It’s great that subscribers to my miasma recognize celebrity for what it genuinely means. And that a public profile doesn’t immediately place someone in the pantheon of literary scholarship. Kudos to each of you who followed up with me on grammarians and their scholarship.