The editors of The Atlantic must be in a combative mood. The February issue of that venerable magazine featured, as its cover story, an excerpt from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s aptly titled book The Assault on Truth. Just two months earlier an assault on traditional grammar by a Stanford University linguist named Geoffrey Nunberg made its way onto The Atlantic’s cover. This Geoffrey hasn’t received the notice, almost universally unfavorable, that the other has managed to arouse. Nor should he. In its own quiet way, however, Nunberg’s article participates in an intellectual tendency that ought to worry us far more than it has. “The Decline of Grammar” needs to be answered not only because it is wrong on particulars and wrongheaded in general but because, concealing a political agenda beneath its “nonpartisan” facade, it would hasten the condition it...

 

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