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Whither the well-used word in this age of mangled usage?

Thank you to Ty Burr for complaining about widespread ignorance of grammar and vocabulary (“A grammar manifesto,” Sunday Arts, Sept. 27). I have been a professional editor for more than 50 years, and never have I seen the English language so misused and mangled as it is in the Internet age.

Subject pronouns used as object pronouns, homonyms confused with one another, verbs mismatched and participles dangling, not to mention spelling errors — everything for which kids used to get marked down in school has become common on electronic devices and crept into print media.

The problem is compounded by budget cuts leading to staff reductions. Even The New York Times needs more (and more capable) copy editors than it appears to employ.

Academic linguists may protest that change in a language is inevitable. I insist that syntactical, grammatical, and spelling errors produce a blunted tool that cannot do the work it’s supposed to do — that is, effective communication.


Jacqueline Lapidus

The writer is co-editor of “The Widows’ Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival.”