My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Myriad as a Noun?

We also require all our authors write only "missives"
instead of letters, and ask everyone how the 
"day/afternoon/evening finds them"
instead of just saying hi.
It's a small price to pay to have a
"Simply The Best"/"You're The Best" mashup
play over the P.A. system whenever one of
our writers walks into the clubhouse.
Yes, Virginia, you CAN use myriad as a noun! (And not just like that.)

I love The New Yorker. I do. Though I especially their weekly offering of short fiction, TNY helps me look like I eruditely understand the nuance and complexity of news in a world where most people's current events awareness comes from Facebook macros (posted by an insular bubble of their friends...who haven't blocked or been blocked by them....as part of an algorithm that shows you more of what you "like.") It's smart writing.

However, sometimes The New Yorker is on the "chic" side of linguistic kerfuffles lest their reputation for being the biggest ponces in periodic literature be endangered. Their recent very noticeable scourge of any forms of myriad as a noun is a pretty good example. Every issue has myriad incidences of the word only ever as an adjective, even though as Merriam-Webster attests, there are a myriad of precedents for its use as either noun or adjective:

"Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase 'a myriad of,' seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective.... however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English."
My myriad proclivities are redeemed. Or as I say when I'm NOT reading The New Yorker: "Neener neener!"

Maybe they're all too busy sipping brandy in the cloakroom to bother investigating the actual origins of their snobbery. Or maybe they say things like "The Dictionary? By Jove what do they know about the use of words?" Or maybe they know that they are just SO. FUCKING. GOOD! at print journalism (in a world where it is very nearly dead) that we just won't be able to quit them, no matter how eccentric and anachronistic they become.


  1. I've never heard it as an adjective. It sounds weird.

    1. I agree, but mostly I just object to people who think it is "wrong" when it's been used as a noun for a long, long time.

  2. I think The New Yorker defaults to whichever form of an expression can make them sound more superior.

    1. Well how else can their readership believe they are the elite intelligentia.

    2. Ugh. Just "superior." "More superior"? Christ!

    3. Can you say, "seen as more superior than others?" I wouldn't say "seen as superior than others," but rather "seen as superior to others," but this can become ambiguous. Is the person seen as better than the others options, or do other people see him as simply the vague description of "superior?"

    4. Yeah, they caught it in one of the replies.

  3. This makes me want to run to my bookshelf and consult Garner's. Now I'm not sure how I feel about myself. Hmph.

  4. I am pleased to know this. I am not such a fan of the New Yorker after certain articles they released. I came to realize that they are known as the epitome of publications simply because they are the most snobbish.