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New rules for writing: Communicate clearly, make it interesting, and new words are A-OK

Some of the new , phrases and abbreviations added to dictionaries in the past few years. My 11-year-old son recently reported with horror that the word “funner” has been added to the dictionary. “What's wrong with that?” I asked. He gaped. “IT'S NOT A WORD.” “Sure it is,” I said. “Little kids say it all the time. And you know exactly what it means.” We stared at each other, aghast: I was raising a pedant, he was being raised by a ridiculous woman. P eople tend to think that because I'm a writer, I must find joy in correcting people's language and grammar. When I was younger, I did. As I teeter toward middle age, I find myself growing more and more liberal in regards to language (along with pretty much everything else). Some egregious errors make me twitchy — I'm still recovering from a real estate listing for a $4 million mansion that used the phrase “two Livingroom's.” But that's because of the wild mismatch of context and formality, not because an improper apostrophe is innately offensive. You want to use silly acronyms in your text messages? Lol it up, friend. Add an exclamation point to the end of every sentence in an email? Go for it!!! Use “made up” words? Do what your readers understand, irregardless of what I think. This isn't revolutionary. Descriptivist linguists make their careers out of studying the multitude of ways people use language, rather than chiding them for not following the […]

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