Traditional and contemporary furniture

One of our readers asked about the collocation of traditional and contemporary, as in the example above. The question was item 4 in our first usage poll, which we carried out a while ago (but which is still open). It was based upon the survey presented by Mittins et al. in Attitudes to English Usage (1970).

Mittins et al. write that the perceived problem about the use of contemporary is that the word originally meant “at the same time, whenever that time might be”, and that the word was increasingly used in the sense of “present-day”: traditional and modern furniture is what the example sentence would be intended to mean (p. 29).

The Mittins survey showed that at the time, the new use had an acceptance rate of 70%, and this trend is confirmed by our own survey: our poll had 286 votes (multiple votes were possible), and only 12 people (bottom row) considered it “unacceptable under any circumstances”. So the linguistic collocation is probably as acceptable today as the stylistic one!

Usage poll view

Usage poll view

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