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What do these features have in common? That is something Carmen Ebner and I are going to figure out in the article we are writing for the online Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. For this article, we decided to focus on these four usage problems (selected from among the 55 items in Mittins et al.’s Attitudes to English Usage, 1970). My reason for choosing try and may be found elsewhere in this blog, and the placement of only was part of a very early survey I did in the course of the Bridging the Unbridgeable project. Carmen has been interested in the split infinitive from the beginning of her research project (it is a really good example to show how prescriptivsm works or doesn’t work, and there are several posts in this blog that deal with split infinitives). Carmen’s interest in the dangling participle is particularly clear from the piece she wrote about it in English Today, inviting readers to participate in her survey on this item.
We are drawing for our article on the usage polls that we have been publishing on this blog almost since day 1 of the project, and about which I posted a reminder for your contributions yesterday. Today, for those who felt we were asking too much, we are invoking your opinions only for the four items we are now working on, so here are the individual sentences. If you haven’t done so earlier, please tell us what you think of them!