Category Archives: usage features

A/an homage?

“A homage to P.G. Wodehouse” is the subtitle of Sebastian Faulks‘s novel Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (2013). I picked up the book in our local library because, inspired by my colleague’s earlier query about a peculiarity in Wodehouse’s language, I went … Continue reading

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The “new” like and non-native speakers of English

Earlier this summer, Susan de Smit finished her BA thesis in English here at Leiden on the use of “the new like” by native as well as non-native speakers of English. If you are interested in the results of her … Continue reading

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“Use the active voice” – full stop

Here is one example of the effect which following up on Strunk and White’s linguistic advice may have (see last week’s blog post on this): He spent a considerable portion of 1802 in Nellore collecting manuscripts, interviewing local Brahmins whom … Continue reading

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Frank Sinatra and prescriptivism

This summer, driving through France, one of the CDs we played was “The best of Frank Sinatra”. Singing along with his very popular “That’s Life” (1966), my attention was suddenly caught by his use of laying for lying: “Each time I find myself … Continue reading

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Forever dangling? The unstoppable dangling participle under scrutiny

Here is Ina Huttenga’s second blog post: The dangling participle is a pervasive structure in the English language. These “misrelated” modifiers have been used throughout English language history, but they seem to have become problems only recently, in the 20th … Continue reading

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I’m good, I’m fine

About a year ago, Morana and I posted a survey on this blog to try and collect data about attitudes to the flat adverb. We wanted to use the data for a paper we were writing at the time. But … Continue reading

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Whether or not?

My colleague Ton van der Wouden would like to know if whether or not  is a usage problem – or not. He noticed an enormous increase in usage (Google Books) over the last eighty years or so. As far as I … Continue reading

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