Still doing the “research”:
This is from a blog post at Language Log, where Mark Liberman quotes the abstract for a course that his colleague, Geoff Pullum, was (in 2004, unfortunately) about to teach:
Try to imagine biological education being in a state where students are taught that whales are fish because that is judged easier for them to grasp; where teachers disapprove of tomatoes and teach that they are poisonous (and evidence about their nutritional value is dismissed as irrelevant); where educated people accuse biologists of "lowering standards" if they don’t go along with popular beliefs. This is a rough analog of where English grammar finds itself today. The state of relations between the subject as taught by the public and the subject as understood by specialists is nothing short of disastrous. The fact is that almost everything most educated Americans believe about English grammar is wrong. In part this is because of misconceptions concerning the facts. In part it is because hopeless descriptive classifications and antiquated theoretical assumptions doom all discussion to failure. Amazingly, almost nothing has changed in over a hundred years. The 20th century came and went without affecting the presentation of grammar in popular books or the teaching (what little there is of it) that goes on in schools. Today’s grammar books differ in content only trivially from early 19th-century books. In this lecture I name and shame some of those on the long dishonor roll of myth-creators and fear-mongers (John Dryden, Henry Fowler, Ambrose Bierce, William Strunk, E. B. White, George Orwell, Louis Menand, Stanley Fish), and I sketch a view of what could and should be taught in a course on the grammar of Standard English in the 21st century.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000750.html (emphasis added)
I suppose, given this sad state of affairs, that it should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that so many writers and would-be writers continue to defend such zombie rules as “Never end a sentence with a preposition,” “Never begin a sentence with a conjunction,” and “Never split an infinitive verb.”
I should be able to simply ignore the fact that these same people rail against the passive voice while not even being able to name it correctly, much less identify it. Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with any putative “passive verbs.” Dr Pullum again: “Nor does ‘passive construction’ [make any sense as a term] if you define it, as Webster’s does, as a type of expression ‘containing a passive verb form’. That would be far too vague even if English had passive verb forms; but in fact it doesn’t have any such thing.” (emphasis added)
I should be able to simply ignore their war on adverbs (be sure to read the comments – quite amusing).
Instead, I find myself amassing research to mount an assault in the form of a) the longest blog post you’ll ever teal deer, b) a series of blog posts, most of which will be read only by the choir, or c) my first-and-probably-last nonfiction book (although I’ve made a good start on a book on character voice, points of view, etc).