Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

My Five Minutes on Andrle’s Open Line

Posted by Neal on June 29, 2006

Yesterday morning I was listening to Fred Andrle, a local radio talk-show host, who had as his guest Michael Agnes, editor of the Webster’s New World Dictionary. They were taking calls about language, so I decided I’d call in and see what Mr. Agnes’s take was on some of the language questions that interest me. The topic I chose was coordinated wh words, and I spent about five minutes on the air discussing it with Mr. Agnes. You can download the podcast of yesterday’s show by going here and clicking the iTunes button (which is how I did it), or you can “copy and paste this URL into a podcasting tool” (which I don’t know how to do, but maybe you do). There are two podcasts for June 28; my call is in the second one, 28:24 in. Get it while you can–they keep only today’s and yesterday’s shows available for download.

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2 Responses to “My Five Minutes on Andrle’s Open Line”

  1. That’s a really interesting phenomenon you found! It reminds me of those “he arrived in a snit and a Volvo” sentences. I’m not sure I liked what Mr. Agnes had to say, but what can you do? As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a matter of sloppy or unclear language, those constructions are just plain ungrammatical in the descriptive sense (for me, anyway).

  2. [...] While driving to pick up Adam from school, I caught part of Fred Andrle’s Open Line program on the radio today. The guest was a language professional, not the lexicographer they had that other time, but none other than Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English, which is the source of a lot of email-propagated language humor (usually presented without any credit given to Lederer). Student writing errors, malapropisms, quotations from church newsletters and other sources with humorous ambiguities: If you’ve ever been forwarded lists of items like these, or (back in the old days) seen them as fifth-generation photocopies on office doors, you’ve probably read Lederer’s stuff. On the program, in between calls from listeners, he was plugging a new edition of Anguished English and his latest book on grammar, which the station was giving copies of to donors who pledged $100. [...]

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