Author Archives: Morana Lukač

We need your input! Publications and courses on prescriptivism

We are currently compiling a list of available monographs—such as Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade and Carol Percy’s 2017 Prescription and Tradition: Establishing Standards across Time and Space—and university courses that focus on linguistic prescriptivism (in English, but also in other … Continue reading

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Can your local accent hold you back?

Do people need to change their local accents to get on in life? The answer is “yes” according to those advocating a prescriptivist approach to language use who often emphasize that in professional settings and in job interviews local accents … Continue reading

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Our latest interactive feature in English Today: Usage advice online

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 … Continue reading

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Running the unrunnable

On Friday (April 15) part of our research team participated in the 41st Singelloop in Leiden — the annual road running event (ca 7 km) around the canals of Leiden. We were part of a team of linguists from Leiden University. … Continue reading

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The descriptive backlash

Last month The Independent published a story featuring an email etiquette rule by Jonathan Tisch, a hotel magnate. According to Mr. Tisch, the one word you should never use to start emails is “I”. Referring to mentors, teachers and your own … Continue reading

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Online sources on English usage advice

Within our project, we have been looking at the history of printed usage guides and commenting on their growing number. Online sources on usage, however, have also been gaining prominence. With the number of websites offering usage advice, we’d like to … Continue reading

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Washington Post accepts singular they or Newspaper style guides as language authorities

Today one of the top trending tweets on the topic of English usage was “Washington Post will allow singular they”.  The same Post memo stating that they is now okay included the style guide updates regarding the spelling of email, website, … Continue reading

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Adding the Mx: Gender-neutral titles and pronouns

In the Q&A section of the Chicago Manual of Style Online, a question was posed about editing out they as a personal pronoun in reference to a transgender person. Here is the disputed sentence:  “During Harry’s senior year, they were … Continue reading

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Migrants: the language crisis

Our blog posts are almost always devoted to usage guides, their respective authors, usage problems, and our readers’ attitudes towards usage. Sometimes, however, these topics touch on more general social debates. In popular and scholarly publications on English usage from … Continue reading

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Muphry’s Law and other mistakes prescriptivists make

Linguists often debunk language prescriptions on the basis of their inaccuracy and their authors’ misunderstandings of linguistic concepts (see our comments on Heffer’s Strictly English). One of the most commonly confused and wrongly exemplified prescriptions is the one against passive constructions, … Continue reading

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