Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Tennyson.

Tennyson. The formal name of the 19th-century poet laureate is “Alfred, Lord Tennyson.” But writers often mistakenly write *”Lord Alfred Tennyson” — e.g.: o “Harrogate had become the culture capital of Northern England, attracting such celebrities as Charles Dickens, Lord Alfred Tennyson [read ‘Alfred, Lord Tennyson’], George Bernard Shaw and Sir Edward Elgar, as well as most of Europe’s royalty.” David Yeadon, “Hear, Hear, Harrogate!” Wash. Post, 16 July 1995, at E1. o “Poets John Keats, Wordsworth, Lord Alfred Tennyson [read ‘Alfred, Lord Tennyson,’ or simply ‘Tennyson’] and Scott eloquently wrote of their impressions.” Lisa Marlowe, “Lingering on Mull,” L.A. Times, 5 May 1996, at L1. The reason it’s an error is that, with an English baron, “Lord” is always coupled with a last name, never a first. But usage can get complicated: Webster’s New International Dictionary (2d ed.) notes that “Lord Henry Derby” and “Lord Philip Derby” would be possible “for the younger sons of dukes and marquises.” Remember that. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Most [students] want to acquire an education that will increase their earning power, not engage in learning that might transform their beings.” Jane Peterson, “Our Challenges: The Academic Problems Students Face,” Interlude in What Is English? 10, 13 (Peter Elbow, 1990).
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