Dante's Hell re-imagined as linguistic sins

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/21/dantes-hell-re-imagined-as-l.html


These aren’t really linguistic transgressions. Linguistics is the science of language, how it is structured and how it has evolved. A linguistic sin would be assuming that language today is worse off than it was in the past, or believing that French is somehow superior to Urdu. What the author of the article has listed are grammatical sins. It’s the usual grab bag of complaints - misuse of commas, using apostrophes for emphasis, split infinitives. At least the author has the humility to recognize that the 8th circle is reserved for grammar Nazis.


And there isn’t really a hell, with any number of circles, but the article is amusing anyway.

Some pith:
“Autocollection is my waist enema.”


But most of these aren’t grammatical, they’re stylistic.

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Split infinitives are not one of their complaints–people who complain about them end up in the Eighth Circle, after all. I mostly skimmed through it but with the possible exception of the Ninth Circle I didn’t actually see any of the sort of dumb pedantry you usually see in this sort of thing.

(And the Ninth Circle? I think we’ve literally lost the war against the use of “literally” as an emphasizer.)

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Yes. 200 years ago.

Not sure why people have an issue with bleaching “literally” in particular when they don’t have the same problem with “truly”, “really”, etc.


Sure, grammar and style are basically the same thing. Grammar is a set of conventions that speakers of a language are supposed to adhere to. “To go boldly” may be the textbook-recommended grammar, but I understand Kirk and Picard all the same.


I recall reading somewhere that the problem with split infinitives was actually to do with translating into Latin (or possibly ancient Greek) as infinitives are written in a single word so you can’t split them.


Grammar and style are not the same thing. Grammar is what the language permits, and style is a contextual preference for certain conventions. Yes, they’re both conventional, but (given a context) one can say that grammar is correct or not to a degree of absoluteness whereas you can’t do the same with style.

“To boldly go” is fully comprehensible and grammatically correct, but certain style zombies will hate on it. “To bold go” is ungrammatical.

Edit: to @strokeybeard’s point, it was like ONE CRUSTY BRITISH DUDE who decided that since Latin’s infinitives weren’t split (which they can’t be because Latin infinitives are ONE WORD) then English’s infinitives shouldn’t be. Said British dude was an asshole.

(2nd edit: I will concede the point that there is a gray area where some people will argue that stylistic issues are grammatical ones and vice versa, but there is a broad swath of issues that are clearly grammatical and another that’s clearly stylistic.)


then English’s infinitives shouldn’t be.

To boldly split infinitives where no one has splut before.

The article missed a little side-annex of level 5 where my wife ends up when she’s around my side of the family: the land of (supposedly) made-up conjugations of the simple past.


My favorite is the past participle of “troubleshoot”, which is clearly “troubleshat”.


Now being converted to condos using Only The Best Words:


You all realize that every mutant who posts in this thread is bound for the eighth circle, right?

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And apparently you can get fired for using the past tense of “tweet” on the radio…


Is human better that dolphin?

Not if you’re the dolphin.

THIS; so incredibly LOL.

“To Bog Dolly” is an anagram of “To Go Boldly”.


Awfully, terribly awesome enormity. See also, sketchy.

Who cares? Unless you’re an editor and the stuff is published, if you know enough to correct it, it shouldn’t matter and it’s your problem for going all OCD on it.
It’s the ultimate “I’m better than you and here’s why” brag. Well, I don’t have to take medication and don’t count toothpicks. Here look at this and tell me how you feel.

I don’t choose to go OCD on anything, I am OCD on everything, NOW GIVE ME THOSE FIG NEWTONS, I must correct them, give it to me, MAIL it to me, PLEASE, I can’t stand it, AHHHHHHH!

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