Author Archives: Robin Straaijer

About Robin Straaijer

I am a linguist working on English prescriptivism and Standard English at Leiden University. Lover of photography and comedy.

Steven Pinker’s Sense of Usage

Last month, Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style was published in Britain and the US. As a specialist on books of usage advice, and as someone who needs to write for a living, I find The Sense of Style interesting because it … Continue reading

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Can you correct someone without being a language bully?

Over the past two weeks, the linguistic blogosphere has exploded over ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s latest musical parody Word Crimes. Linguists, editors and others were blogging at break-neck speed to discuss the judgements expressed in the song. On this blog, Viktorija … Continue reading

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What makes a usage guide? (part 2)

A little over a month ago, I posted a survey on this blog, asking you which genres you think usage guides are most closely related to: dictionaries, spelling/punctuation guides, descriptive grammars, popular writing on language, handbooks on writing or style guides. It appears … Continue reading

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New English Today, new Feature!

Another chance to get involved in our project! The latest issue of English Today is out now and it contains another feature article from this project. In this feature I ask the following questions about how linguists should engage with the … Continue reading

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Pedants and Perpetrators: or, language, power and the dangers of simplificitation

Yesterday, the website of The Guardian posted an article on the members of the Idler Academy’s Bad Grammar Awards‘ shortlist. The bad grammar perpetrated by those on the shortlist contained a number of the ‘old chestnuts’ such as the use of … Continue reading

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What makes a usage guide? 

During the construction of the HUGE database, I have been thinking about the genre of usage guides a lot for the simple, practical purpose of determining which titles would be put in the database, and which would not. Edmund Weiner asked … Continue reading

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English Usage (Guides) Symposium: registration

The page for the English Usage (Guides) Symposium at the University of Cambridge (see the above menu bar) provides the programme, abstracts and information on how to register. Registration can also be done here. The fee for the Symposium is £30 only: don’t wait too long before … Continue reading

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