Thank you to listener Richard from MA for correcting us!

Today’s opening question, about grammatical “mistakes” in popular songs, was the worst I’ve ever heard on the program. It propagated the false idea that the normative or prescriptive approach to English grammar provides a guide to speaking correctly. I’m sure other linguists will chime in on this issue, but I could not let one panelist’s remark get by without a comment. The panelist (I didn’t catch her name) said that sentences like “It’s me” would be impossible in other European languages. In fact it’s been several centuries since speakers of French would say “Ce suis je” or “C’est il” instead of the long-since normal “C’est moi” or “C’est lui.” English thus followed the natural development from “It is I” to “It’s me,” despite the best efforts of prescriptivists who believed that English should be guided by the rules of Latin grammar with its predicate nominatives, etc. And unless you don’t believe in poetic language, speaking of “lonely nights” is perfectly good English.

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