Defenders of the Queen's English Lay Down Their Grammar Arms

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It was with mixed feelings that we received the news that the Queen's English Society would disband by the end of June, but we felt sadness not because of the loss of the grammar constabulary but because, in the end, nobody cared. After 40 years, the society established to further its interpretation of "proper" English has "finally conceded it cannot survive in the era of textspeak and Twitter," The Guardian reported. But from the report, it sounds like it was not Twitter that killed the society, but apathy. And that's the sad part. Just 22 people came to the Society's last meeting. "Despite the sending out of a request for nominations for chairman, vice-chairman, administrator, webmaster, and membership secretary no one came forward to fill any role," founder and chairman (she insists on being called chairman because that's the kind of thing the society insists on) Rhea Williams said in a letter to members. "So I have to inform you that QES will no longer exist. There will be one more Quest then all activity will cease and the society will be wound up. The effective date will be 30 June 2012."

On the one hand, while we might not always take their side in an argument, we greatly respect those who obsess over language usage and hold strong opinions about it, and we want them to keep doing so. It's a sign of social engagement and investment when people care about what happens to their language. On the other hand, language is one of those things that constantly evolves, and stridently arguing that it should be frozen in some static state smacks of the kind of regressiveness that can turn ridiculous and hinder progress. The pity in the dissolution of the QES isn't that they lost the fight, it's that nobody showed up for it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.