“Split and stranded”: a TLS review

bishop's grammar

The Bishop’s Grammar (OUP, 2011) was reviewed in last week’s Times Literary Supplement.  One of the aims of my book was to show that Robert Lowth is usually depicted as an icon of prescriptivism, and also that his Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762)  heralded the rise of the usage guide as a new genre.

The reviewer of my book, Jack Lynch, focussed on a well-known stricture that is often associated with Lowth, preposition stranding. The use of preposition stranding is usually, even today, criticised because it is believed that prepositions should be pre-posed, and not stranded at the end of the clause.

An example from Lowth’s own grammar is:

  • Horace is an author I’m much delighted with.

Lowth himself, tongue-in-cheek, commented:

This is an Idiom which our language is strongly inclined to,

but many grammarians after him failed to see the joke, and they silently corrected the offending construction even when they plagiarised the rest of the stricture.

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