Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/9

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INTRODUCTORY

In these days when the vernacular of the street invades the home; when illiterate communications corrupt good grammar; and when the efforts of the teachers in the public schools are rendered ineffective by parents careless of their diction, constant attempts are being made to point out the way to that "Well of English undefiled" so dear to the heart of the purist. But, notwithstanding these efforts to correct careless diction, the abuse and misuse of words continue. The one besetting sin of the English-speaking people is a tendency to use colloquial inelegancies, slang, and vulgarisms, and against these, as against the illiteracies of the street, it is our duty to guard, nowadays more so than at any other time, since what is learnt in the schoolroom is soon forgotten or displaced by association with illiterate playfellows, or by occasionally hearing words misused at home.

Of the purely syntactical side of the English language, no less a master of its intricacies and niceties than Thomas Jefferson has said "I am not a friend to a scrupulous purism of style; I readily