Even better, though, was Grant's online talkback to some of the commenters on the piece, who'd been invited to contribute buzzwords (but often chose peeves instead). One of them offered a complaint I'd also heard from readers, about "the word 'so' to begin a sentence." He got a swift (but polite) reality check:
Sentence-initial "so" has had a long run as a discourse marker in English. I’ve had a number of people swear to me that it’s more common than it used to be, but the data show it isn’t. I think some folks are just paying more attention as they grow older and wiser, so it only seems like they’re hearing it more.
If only all comment threads could have monitors on duty to correct misconceptions and reel in the rogue theorizers. But there's a limit to what one author can do. At the end, Grant tried to point the gloomsters toward the sunny side:
Amen to that. But hostility is the default option in so many comment threads that people may now think a peeve (like a shower gift) is the expected contribution. And since any comment represents a reader (or at least a drive-by scanner), newspapers have no incentive to turn off the spigot; bilious readers, in these desperate days, are better than none.If you took this as an opportunity to peeve about language rather than find something joyful and exciting in it, then, I fear, you have fallen out of love with the best tool you ever had.