To punctuation expert Lynne Truss, The New Yorker is "that famous punctilious periodical." The last grammar mistake to appear in the New Yorker might have been made by a hungover E.B. White. But has this impeccable record finally been broken?
Here's the passage in question, from Anthony Lane's review in this week's issue of The Expendables
Stallone, who co-wrote the movie with Dave Callaham, is also listed as the director, but since he appears to be having trouble, in the autumn of his years, getting his eyelids and lower lip to act in consort with the rest of him, I'm hardly surprised that he had no energy left over to command the film.
Oh ho ho ho, we chuckled over our Cinnamon Toast Crunch. A language mistake in the New Yorker! It should be "act in concert with" right?
Well, it's complicated. The linguistic nerds at Language Log break it down: "In the 17th and 18th centuries, in concert with and in consort with were in free variation. For the last couple of centuries, the culture seems to have mostly settled on the 'concert' version." They point to an entry in the OED showing that, technically, "in consort with" is correct usage:
1.b. in consort: in accord; in concert (with which it finally blends). Obs.
1634 FORD P. Warbeck III. ii, I'll lend you mirth, sir, If you will be in consort. 1729 T. COOKE Tales, &c. 43 In Consort to my Friend my Passions move. 1793 LD. AUCKLAND Corr. (1861) III. 10 A cordial disposition..to act in consort with me.
However, "in concert with" has been used 1,639 times in the New York Times since 1981, while "in consort with" has been used just 24 times. So, Anthony Lane didn't make a mistake, but he was writing like he lived in the 18th century. Which, in some of his attitudes towards the female species, he does.
Balance in the Universe restored.