Category Archives: usage features

That if a usage problem in English?

Two of my colleagues at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics are working on the collocation of dat “that” and als “if” in sentences like Hij dacht dat als hij drukte, het luikje open zou gaan (“He thought that if he pushed, … Continue reading

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Breaking the who/whom rule in English literature

For a paper I’m planning to write on the breaking of prescriptive rules by literary authors for characterisation purposes, I’m looking for specific examples of the breaking of the who/whom rule. I have several examples of them already, and have … Continue reading

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More prescriptive commentary in the Smiley trilogy

My reading of the last book of John Le Carré’s Karla trilogy, featuring George Smiley, Smiley’s People (1979), produced two more prescriptive comments. (There may have been more, but these caught my attention, possibly because both are in the HUGE … Continue reading

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George Smiley a prescriptivist?

Eighteen months or so ago I wrote a post about John le Carré, because I’d discovered that, like Kingsley Amis, Len Deighton and Ian McEwan, he too writes metalinguistic usage comments in his novels. My post then was about a … Continue reading

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Just out: paper on flat adverbs by Morana Lukač and Ingrid Tieken

Congratulations, Sandra Jansen and Lucia Siebers, on the appearance of your book, and to Raymond Hickey in whose honour it was published! As for Morana and me, we’re very happy that it is out, and in my case, just in … Continue reading

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An anachronism in The Mitford Murders

Being a fan of Nancy Mitford, and having read the Mitford sisters’ entire correspondence  (ed. Mosley 2007) as well as their biography by Mary Lovell (2001), I was naturally curious about The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes, the more so since … Continue reading

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Describing Prescriptivism

Soon to appear (expected publication date: some time in September):  

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More complete?

In 2007, The Dutch Taaladviesdienst (a language advice service run by Genootschap Onze Taal)  published Taal top 100, a collection of the 100 most popular usage problems in Dutch, in the fields of spelling, grammar, lexis , punctuation and style. … Continue reading

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These ones, those ones

Just finished my article “Of greengrocers, sports commentators, estate agents and television presenters: Who’s in a usage guide and why” for a special issue with papers from Liv Walsh’s workshop In the Shadow of the Standard September last in Nottingham. … Continue reading

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British or American – or doesn’t it matter?

I’d never have thought I would read a Young Adult novel, but I did, and here is why. At ICEHL-20, two months ago in Edinburgh, Jane Hodson presented a paper in the course of which she referred to The Knife of … Continue reading

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