I have a confession to make: I’m really a prescriptivist at heart. I have an idea in my head of how the English language ought to be used, and deviations from that ideal bother me. They especially bother me when I have to listen to them on a daily basis, courtesy of television commercials.
For example, one of my first questions on ELU was about the laundry detergent commercial tagline of “Style is an option. Clean is not.” As I noted, while it’s obvious what they meant, it’s also not quite what they said — if clean is out of the question, then why would anyone ever use this detergent? It would be such a simple fix, too: just replace “an option” with “optional”, and you’d have an unambiguous and grammatically correct tagline.
Another recent violator is the luxury car commercial that ends with (for example) “More power, more style, more technology, less doors”. (The list of more adjectives changes with different versions of the advertisement.) Every time that ad plays, I swear I can hear the collective moan of pain from English teachers and grammar nerds across the country. Again, the fix would be simple: fewer would contrast with more just as well as less does, with the added advantage of not hurting the ears of potential customers.
But oddly enough, other misuses of language don’t bother me. For example, the economy car ad tagline “unbig, uncar” elicits a grin, not a groan. I was wondering why this is, and I think I’ve hit on something: “unbig, uncar” doesn’t have an easy correction that would get the same idea across using more conventional grammar. “Small, not a car” just doesn’t have the same impact. So it’s obvious that this slogan is deliberately ungrammatical.
It turns out that even for a prescriptivist, a mistake made on purpose isn’t a mistake at all. (Warning: black hole, ahem, sorry, tv tropes link.)