Attitudes to English usage: a poll

A survey of attitudes to English usage was carried out in the late 1960s, and published in 1970 as Attitudes to English Usage, by W.H. Mittins, Mary Salu, Mary Edmonson, and Sheila Coyne (OUP). The survey covered 55 sentences that were (and still perhaps are) subject to disputed acceptability.

Now, more than 40 years later, we are interested in finding out to what extent these attitudes have changed, so we would like to have your opinion about the five usage items listed here. To the four styles surveyed originally, we added a fifth, usage in internet related language. Multiple answers are allowed.

(See also the very first post in the blog, on the acceptability of like.)

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3 Responses to Attitudes to English usage: a poll

  1. Joan Beal says:

    All these sentences are perfectly acceptable!

  2. Michael Martin says:

    I am 74, studied French, Spanish, Italian, German and Latin at grammar school and was taught English grammar in a similar way to that in which all my Continental contacts had to study their own language for Baccalaureate/equivalent, but which has, unfortunately, been long since abandoned. I took a degree in French, Spanish and English (which last, of course, implied ‘Literature’), became a Fellow of the Institute of Linguiists, absorbed quite a lot of Linguistics and went on to teach, inc. EFL, at various levels in various countries. I have Mittins et al on my bookshelf, from which I am trying to dispose of items in a useful direction, and I paused to take a first look at it for over 30 years. Despite my early background, I had been surprised at quite how dictatorial previous generations had been about things that had no effect on comprehensibility, and, reading it again, am even more critical. So I thought I would look and see if there had been any follow-up and, of course, this popped up. You may be surprised that I was quite a stickler for correct or appropriate usage, but not merely for rules based on precedent, though I always made students aware of them.
    So now, if it is of interest, you have something to judge the value of my contribution by (I don’t know when, although I never saw what I have just written as ‘wrong’, I stopped automatically writing ‘by which to judge …’.

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