Blog Excerpts

Weird Al's "Word Crimes" Takes on Language Peeves

Weird Al Yankovic's "Word Crimes" video transforms Robin Thicke's scandalous "Blurred Lines" into a prescriptivist grammarian's screed. We think it's brilliant and are happy to see it getting much play in the language-loving community this week. Not since School House Rock's "Conjunction Junction" has a grammar lesson been this entertaining.

Bravo, Al! But one gentle word of correction: a linguist is not someone "you should help you distinguish what is proper English." Rather, a linguist's business is to study language without attempting to influence its evolution. Several linguists have mentioned this prescriptivist/descriptivist distinction in tweets about "Words Crimes," and in a post on Language Lounge, Ben Zimmer cites a few and speculates on which camp Weird Al falls into.

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Our last Weird Al sighting.