(1) Is there any effective way to encourage editors of new books to use standard grammar?

As a schooled native speaker of American English, I am appalled by the frequency of solecisms in currently published books. (2) Does anyone provide a web page, for instance, of examples? A published collection might possibly reach authors and editors.

Scarcely any new book is free of rather obvious grammar mistakes. I do not look for such, but they often strike me. A particular example I encountered today is in the book Heavenly daate and other flirtations/ Alexander McCall Smith, published bv Canongate Books, New York and Edinburgh, page 189, lines 9-10: ". . . She put on a towelling gown and went to lay down on her bed. . . ." McCall Smith is a respected writer who won the title of Author of the Year bestowed by British Book Awards in April of this year. It seems to me that he is entitled to a slip of the pen, which should be corrected by a competent editor.

"Lie"/"lay" confusion is one of the commonest grammatical mistakes I find in reading or listehing. (3) Is the distinction passe?

My questions are numbered for anyone's convenience in replying. I look forward to responses. Thank you.

Merry Sandland

p.s. I am newly registered. I found no way to submit a question in my user name. I would prefer not to be anonymous.
Thanks for the link, MathewQ. It's very helpful and interesting!
Hello Merry


You would first have to convince the editors in question that their
knowledge of grammar was defective. You would then have to
convince the authors that their editors knew best.


Books are produced very quickly now; the author's own file is
imported, with all its errors; the editor has 20 other books on
the go; the proof-reader's attention is wandering, after
a hefty lunch; and the reader will only skim-read, anyway,
before dozing off on the train.


I'm not sure anyone sets out to write 'bad' English, except for
literary reasons (Molly Bloom's monologue, etc).

Since most people conform to most grammatical rules for most
of the time, why do some exceptions persist? What is it about the
'lay/lie' confusion that resists all correction? Or take 'between you
and I': what purpose is it serving?

Most of the 'mistakes' and 'solecisms' that Fowler documented in 1926
are alive and happily kicking. Why do they survive? What is their
function - apart from inspiring Christmas best-sellers by
outraged grammar gurus?


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I think you will find [url="http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors /"]this website[/url] very interesting, it's by an American professor of English who has built up a list of errors and "non-errors" as they fall in and out of common acceptability.

Punctuation is also suffering: the 2001 Booker prize winning novel The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey is written entirely with defective punctuation.
And (3) no, it's not passé. It's a shame-- the illiteracy in literature.
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