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Letter: Fighting Losing Battles

To the Editor:

Although I share Stephen Campbell’s distress as “lay” supplants “lie” in the national vocabulary (Forum, Feb. 6), I am less sanguine about the outcome.

Languages evolve democratically, and a change is cemented as soon as more people employ the new usage than the old one. By that measure, the lay/lie battle was lost years ago, and scolding the Valley News editorial board will do nothing to reverse the outcome. Dictionaries only provide an instantaneous snapshot of a language, and grammar texts have about the same authority as King Canute commanding the onrushing tide.

A more instructive demonstration, worth watching with interest, albeit helplessly, is the continuing replacement of “fewer” by “less” — which I predict will become an accomplished fact within the next decade.

Mark Woodward

Norwich

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Letter: You Made My Teeth Hurt

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To the Editor: It’s clear that the editors of the Valley News did not have Miss Noel for 11th-grade English, as I did. If they had, they would know the correct usage for the words “lay” and “lie.” Twice in the Sunday edition — once in a caption in the Sports section and again in the editorial — gasp! — …