Paul Brians' latest appearance in The Boston Globe


In her column yesterday, Jan Freeman referred to Paul Brians' advice for the second time in the past six months, which I guess means he's getting to be a regular there, whether she agrees with his assessment or not.

If you, by the way, are not a regular reader of Freeman's column, "The Word," you need to change that. Regardless of how you would like to praise her (She's one of the few great language columnists? She's one of the only great language columnists?), she always good for an enlightening and entertaining assessment of the issue at hand.

Update: As it happens, I'm currently reviewing entries on Paul's web site and comparing them to the book version. I just came across, quite by coincidence, a revised entry for "one of the only," which is far less conclusive in its judgment than the version Jan Freeman found when she consulted in the book:
Although it has recently become much more popular, the phrase “one of the only” bothers some of us in contexts in which “one of the few” would traditionally be used. Be aware that it strikes some readers as odd. “One of only three groups that played in tune” is fine, but “one of the only groups that played in tune” is more likely to cause raised eyebrows.
If Jan had referred to this updated version on "Common Errors" web site, she still might have quibbled with Paul over the use of "recently," as she cites a source from the 1770s, but she would have found Paul in his more natural stance of presenting a widespread, acceptable use and then pointing out why that usage may cause some to bristle.

No comments: