WANTED—STRONG COPYEDITORS!—Advertisement SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 4 Contents Mix & Match ##—Max & Mitch Ninelette
Psammeticus Press

The Prescriptivist Handbook, 213th Edition
from The Editors of Psammeticus Press
Published 2024. 150 pages

Word connoisseurs, language mavens, and members of similar non-professions everywhere can rejoice, as Psammeticus Press has just released the 213th edition of The Prescriptivist Handbook, the acclaimed1 language-adjacent publication used by millions worldwide. Since its first edition in 1811, The Prescriptivist Handbook has helped countless people prevent the degradation of the English language into senseless illogicality by introducing linguistic innovations to enable them to speak efficiently, logically, and (most importantly) correctly. Not only that, its various editions are currently used in over 5,029 universities around the world!

A 150-page tome filled with invaluable wisdom, the 213th edition of The Prescriptivist Handbook can be purchased for the eminently reasonable price of $352.86 for the paperback, and $785.42 for the hardcover. However, for those benighted souls who are, by some misfortune, unable to afford even this paltry sum, or who are (inexplicably) unsure whether to buy the book, we at Psammeticus Press have decided to present a few choice excerpts from The Prescriptivist Handbook both as a public service to the English-speaking community and as a private service to ourselves to allow us to showcase and advertise this labor of love,2 logic, and language. Please enjoy the following prescriptivist pearls of wisdom.

  • The phrase “to collaborate with someone” is incorrect because the use of the prefix co- with the conjunction with is pleonastic. The Handbook recommends the more logical variants “to collaborate someone” and “to llaborate with someone”.

  • Other pleonastic expressions to avoid include “PIN number”, which should be “PI number” (contrast with the “number pi”), and “ATM machine”, which should simply be “AT machine” (“I’m at the AT machine”).

  • The word fax combines the Latin verb fac with the first consonant of the adjective simile (“similar”). Because of this, fax literally means “make s”, which is not a meaning that corresponds to the intended use of the word. The Handbook recommends instead the use of the full form facsimile, as in “I want you to facsimile this to John.”

  • Words referring to non-Germanic languages and ending in -ish, such as Spanish, Finnish, and Danish do not correspond to the historical development, or indeed the linguistic genius, of the English language, because they combine morphemes from unrelated language families, much like words such as television or automobile. As a result, the Handbook recommends that these languages be referred to either with the root only, or with the root followed by the word language in order to avoid any untoward mixing of unrelated languages within the same word. Examples include: “Catherine majored in the Finn language,” “Penny speaks Dan fluently,” or “Every day before class started, the teacher would tell us, ‘Speak in Span!’ ”

  • Additionally, the suffix -ish can be used as an insult for people whose speech patterns you disapprove of. “Does he speak Engl?” “Ish.”

  • People often ask, “Should I use uninterested or disinterested in this sentence?” The answer is that if you can’t be interesting, don’t say anything.

  • If you split an infinitive, the last remaining native speaker of Latin will cry.

  • The model of Latin following, the verb at the end of the sentence placed should be.

  • The passive is not to be used. Oh poop.

  • The word prescriptivist is itself pejorative. Grammatical authority should be preferred.

  • Avoid the use of words such as truly, actually, and really. Etymologically, these words all indicate the truth of the statement in which they are embedded, but, according to the cooperative principle, the truth of your statements should be assumed. Reserve the use of these words for occasions where truth runs counter to expectations, such as at a campaign rally or in the middle of your article in Linguistic Inquiry.

  • Thanks to the first 212 editions of The Prescriptivist Handbook, as well as our army of enforcers, people have learned that a preposition is not a word with which to end a sentence. To be extra safe, we suggest avoiding sentences in which a preposition appear as the final two words.

  • Given that boths Latins and Olds Englishes words exhibited widespreads regulars agreements of alls modifyings adjectives, determiners and quantifiers with theirs nouns, this principle should continue to be used in alls suches phrases. Let’s have no mores inelegants formulations such as “The sad lads’ mad cats all sat on the hard mats,” opting instead for agreeables (in boths importants senses of the term) strings of the form “The sads lads’es mads cats alls sat on the hards mats.” Of alls the rules givens herein, this is among the mosts importants.

  • Whatever your range of linguistic foci, and in all and any fora academic and colloquial, whether there are skeleta in your closets or not, neo-classical plurals are to be employed at all relevant points. This is not one of these mad-cap theses with highly subjective criteria in play. Nor are there any minima levels of words to which this principle applies. Neither should any notion of variant lexical strata be entertained. Octopi have eight legs; cacti grow in arid conditions: it’s as simplex as that. We have checked with many doctores and doctrices who demonstrated the veracity of the principles with various matrices and formulae.

    • Desideratum: The same goes for neo-classical singularsthis datum is key.
  • Many­of­the­earliest­attested­languages­were­written­with­no­spaces­between­words­and­spacing­therefore­represents­a­retrograde­innovation­which­is­to­be­treated­with­extreme­skepticism­Arguably,­ sentence-initial­capitalization­and­intra-sentential­punctuation­may­be­retained­However,­ these­principles­should­be­deployed­with­caution

  • Remember that while Latin is often a proper guide to good usage, it allows dangling participles (which it whitewashes with the mealy-mouthed wiggle words “ablative absolute”). Do not be misled into thinking that dangling participles are thus acceptable, for they led to the end of Rome and will end English as well if indulged.

1 In literary circles.

2 Of money, that is.

Mix & Match ##Max & Mitch Ninelette
SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 4 Contents