Quotes from the World for Monday 08/12/MMXIII

Grammar is a tricky, inconsistent thing. Being the backbone of speech and writing, it should, we think, be eminently logical, make perfect sense, like the human skeleton. But, of course, the skeleton is arbitrary, too. Why twelve pairs of ribs rather than eleven or thirteen? Why thirty-two teeth? It has something to do with evolution and functionalism—but only sometimes, not always. So there are aspects of grammar that make good, logical sense, and others that do not.

John Simon
John Simon (b. 1925), Yugoslavian–born U.S. film and drama critic. “It’s Nice to be Right,” Paradigms Lost, Potter (1980).