Ways of saying are ways of thinking. At least, I believe they are. And when I read grammarians I do not find they contradict me on this, whatever else they may contradict me on.
I am irritated, on the one hand, because I am only now exploring the workings of English grammar. It is only partly due to my home schooling that this is a lacunae in my learning, one of many.
On the other hand, it is interesting to study grammar if one believes ways of saying are ways of thinking. It makes the irritation of grammarians (a state in which they often write) comprehensible. They are men with strong opinions on matters many men regard altogether with indifference. Fowler has entries for fetishes, superfluous words, and a lengthy one on split infinitives with five subdivisions classifying various attitudes toward this phenomenon.
If one speaks about the sarcasm of grammarians and doesn’t think of Richard Mitchell it is because one has not read. But he is hardly unique. I suppose this sarcasm appears when exposing nonsense and incompetence, for it is common that grammarians will do this by showing the futility of finding sense or a competent meaning in the offending example. Does the author mean this? Or perhaps this other? Can anybody really have intentionally perpetrated something plainly unintelligible? The effect is bitter, and this effect has a cause. The words of the grammarian are charged with meaning; the nature of grammarians being such as finds the vacuum abhorrent. The result is unavoidably sarcastic. For, says Fowler, “The essence of sarcasm is the intention of giving pain by bitter words.”