The first of twelve lectures in The Centre for Languages & Linguistics Colloquium Series 2009/10 will be held on Wednesday 7 October 2009, from 5.00-6.30pm in the Fountains Lecture Theatre.
Prof Geoffrey K Pullum from the University of Edinburgh will present:
Adjectives and Demons: Grammar, Style, and Dan Brown''s writing
English grammars have misdefined both "adjective" and "adverb" for over 200 years. As a result all English dictionaries miscategorise numerous words. For at least 50 years some prescriptive usage manuals and style textbooks have condemned adjectives and adverbs as superfluous or even harmful words: EB White (who wrote "Charlotte''s Web") thought you should eschew them (though in fact he used them copiously). Alistair Cooke seems to have imagined himself to be doing without them entirely in his "Letter from America" scripts (though he wasn''t). Meanwhile, Dan Brown makes millions writing novels in which the frequency of adjective and adverb modification is simply astonishing. What is one to make of all this? In this talk I try to draw something coherent out of a long-running farce of bungled descriptions, absurd style advice, and plain bad writing.
If anyone would like to join Geoff for dinner after the talk, please contact Andrew Merrison E: email@example.com