5

TUESDAY

Anyone who paid attention in high school English or has read even a single Safire column knows that evolution is inevitable in any live language. So the Smithsonian’s Web-site text for tonight’s lecture—”Some fear that American English is growing more rapidly and haphazardly than traditional grammar and usage can handle. Others question…whether change will dumb it down until it becomes unwieldy and unintelligible to future generations”—is, well, unwieldy and unintelligible. (Even strict prescriptivists admit that grammar evolves, too.) But I’m guessing that Erin McKean, senior editor of The New Oxford American Dictionary, and Jesse Sheidlower, principle [sic] editor of The Oxford English Dictionary, will have something more interesting—and correct—to say about any fears of linguistic breakdown when they speak about “The Coming Tyranny of American English” at 6 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. $16. (202) 357-3030. (Caroline Schweiter)