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.