Presents of Mind:Brilliant. That precisely gets at his actually audience: He's not aiming for people who know about language, are interested in learning about language, playing with language, understanding how language works, using the creative power of language in engaging ways. He's aiming for readers who are word-wary. And I'm taking wary in its full M-W meaning here:
Summer reading for the word-wary
marked by keen caution, cunning, and watchfulness especially in detecting and escaping danger.Be afraid, people, be very, very afraid. First you say was when you shoulda said were and next thing you know, you find you can only speak Democrat and civilization lies in ruin.
What more can I say? Oh, this: The subtitle is missing in the online version of the piece. (And yes, the online version usually keeps the subtitle.) Maybe somebody at the Times is starting to piece things together?
But let's end on an even happier note: readers seeking actual information about usage can, as usual, turn to Jan Freeman's columns in the Boston Globe, like today's on whether/if.
Image from this blog.