When in doubt about questions of usage, I do as I suppose most other people do as well: I google it. That is only, however, the starting point of most internet searches. What I wanted to find out when I launched a survey on online usage sources in December last year on our website is what online sources on usage are (perceived as) the most popular, reliable and user-friendly.
In our latest feature in English Today I discuss the results of my survey and attempt to answer the question of who the language authorities are in the age of Web 2.0 and how the preference for particular online sources correlates with the participants’ age, occupation or with them being native speakers of English.
Many traditional sources on usage have adapted their format and extended their presence to the online medium, prime examples being style guides of media houses and online dictionaries. New language authorities, however, also emerged and entered the usage advice market. Some of them are written by individual authors – internet “grammar celebrities” – whereas others are products of collaboration and discussions led among lay people and language professionals.
One of the questions arising from the results of the survey is: who is, both online and offline, considered to be a language authority today. If you’d like to join the discussion on this topic choose one of the general categories below or add your own!