English Today


From 2014’s first issue on, the Bridging the Unbridgeable project will have a regular feature in the journal English Today. We write about issues of usage, and invite readers for their comments, which will be used for our research (entirely confidentially, of course).

It proved hard to end this section in English Today, for even after the last one (mentioned below), yet a further one appeared, announced as a Postscript. It was written by Adrian Stenton, and is called What kind/sort/type of word are these? Number concord across the species noun phrase in International Academic English: This is a ‘postscript’ invitation to readers to supply information to the Leiden University ‘Bridging the Unbridgeable Project’ (English Today 33/2, 14-15). It seems the feature has now truly come to an end, and we wish to thank the English Today editors for giving us the opportunity to tap the knowledge and insights of the journal’s readers, which have been immensely valuable for our work.

The last of our interactive features in English Today will be by Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, who is looking for metalinguistic comments on prescriptivism in English literature, British or American, or in any other variety. In addition, she is interested  in literary fiction in which commonly proscribed features like ain’t and double negation play a role, as for instance in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Please send her any titles of books or short stories that you happen to know about, along with quotations or page numbers if you have them, by filling in the form below.


Our next interactive feature in English Today will be by Hielke Vriesendorp, a research master student of Linguistics at Leiden, who is trying to collect data for his paper for Ingrid Tieken’s MA course Testing Prescriptivism. To this end, he compiled a brief survey asking about people’s Top 5s of most important grammatical errors. Please help him get data for his paper by filling in this poll!

In the latest and tenth interactive feature published in English Today, Morana Lukač discusses new and old language authorities. Who do you consider an authority on language issues? Let us know by filling in this poll!

In the ninth interactive feature published in English Today, Carmen Ebner discusses attitudes towards the influence of the media on language change and variation. Does media act as a language guardian or does it boost language change? Let us have your thoughts on the role of the media in the UK by filling in this survey.

In the eighth interactive feature published in  English Today, Viktorija Kostadinova raises the issue of the influence of the Microsoft grammar and style checker on Microsoft Word users. What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us have your feedback by filling out this survey.

Another survey will be announced soon, in the next issue of English Today. This will be in relation to our seventh interactive ET feature, in which we will be asking about your views on the flat adverb. Please fill in the survey, and help Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade and Morana Lukač collect data for their research. And if you don’t know what a flat adverb is? Click on the link to find out!

In the sixth interactive ET feature, Viktorija Kostadinova talks about the grey area between language error and language change through the example of spread of the intensifier use of literally and asks your contribution on the issue. Please, let her have your contribution by filling out this survey.

In the fifth interactive ET feature, Inge Otto talks about what’s been said about the plural of octopus and asks your opinion about this disputed usage item. Please put your contributions in the comments of this post announcing the publication of issue 31/1 of ET.

In the fourth interactive ET feature, Carmen Ebner talks about the dangling participle and asks your opinion about this disputed usage item. Please take the survey on her project’s website Proper English Usage.

In the third interactive ET feature, Morana Lukac talks about the apostrophe and asks your opinion about this disputed usage item. Please put your contributions in the comments of this post announcing the publication of issue 30/3 of ET.

In the second interactive ET feature, Robin Straaijer poses some fairly broad questions about who is engaged in public discussions on usage and about the role of linguists in these discussions and society. Please put your contributions in the comments of this post announcing the publication of issue 30/2 of ET.

Following an article called “Attitudes to English Usage” by Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, which came out in issue 29/4 in December last year, the first interactive ET feature is on the question of have went. To make things truly interactive: suggestions for features on usage and related issues will be very welcome, too. So: let us have your views on have went in our survey please!