In a wonderful new book that came out last year, called The Language Wars: A History of Proper English, Henry Hitchings writes that “English-speakers are touchy about questions of usage” (p. 4). What English speakers does he mean, I wonder, Brits, Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, speakers of Other Englishes? Is it indeed touchiness that makes speakers of British English complain about the influence of American English on their language, as well, as we saw yesterday, as the reverse?
Such “touchiness”, Hitchings continues, “is not uncommon among speakers of other languages, but English is the most contested language”. The most contested language, by who (whom?), who by? And why should this be so? I’d really like to know.