I'll say what I want, how I want

9th March 2012 at 00:00

Smile like you mean it. Party like it's 1999. Jane Bower, apparently, will do neither, although she might smile as though she meant it ("It's as though they just don't care", 2 March).

Would Prince really have been "correct" if he had declared his intention to party as though it were 1999? Can it be considered truly "correct" to suck all the rhythm and poetry and joy out of what you are saying? Bower's treasured errors never were errors until they were dreamed up by unaccountable, self-appointed grammarians for their own obscure ends; they caught on among the finicky-minded but have never been observed with consistency by people who use language to make meaning instead of to quibble about it. If one's abiding memory of the Harry Potter books is being maddened by a few prepositions, perhaps one is not properly qualified to be pronouncing on children's fiction.

James Bench-Capon, Cambridge.

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