Category Archives: usage features

We understood that to “decimate” meant to kill one in 10

This is a quotation from a new book, The Beast, by Alexander Starritt, due out on 7 September, and previewed in today’s Guardian by Ian Jack, about a fictionalised sub-editor on the Daily Mail. It might make entertaining reading! Advertisements

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Another Americanism?

In her book Horrible Words: A Guide to the Misuse of English (2016), Rebecca Gowers uses the word gripers in preference to sticklers (a word I myself always associate with Lynne Truss’s  famous Eats Shoots and Leaves), and in her paper at our Life after HUGE? symposium … Continue reading

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A missing word?

I was copy-editing a paper for a language journal today, and came across this: “… children may or may not identify phonemes better audiovisually than auditory only.” The prescriptivist in me baulked at the combination of adverb and adjective, and … Continue reading

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Discourse marker like and the joys of serendipity

Discourse marker like is finding its way into usage guides, as Viktorija Kostadinova shows in her work. None of the usage guides in the HUGE database, all published before 2010, has an entry on like.  But some writers do discuss it, even … Continue reading

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Just out (surprise)

Today, we found out that our article “Prescriptive attitudes to English” is published, that it has been out for two months already. Thanks, Carmen, for tweeting about it, or I wouldn’t have known. Still, I’m really pleased, and expect Carmen … Continue reading

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Grammar Badgers

A few weeks ago, I gave a guest lecture through Skype for students at the University of Wisconsin. Interesting experience, and fantastic students they were. Their teacher, Anja Wanner, told me they were busy preparing an outreach project (obligatory at … Continue reading

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Microsoft Word, or: what is wrong with prescriptivism?

I’m reading through Carmen Ebner’s PhD thesis one more time (defense coming up soon!), and it strikes me in my own writings, too, every time – the red squiggles under prescriptivism, as in the header to this post. It makes … Continue reading

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