On (mis)pronunciation

On 8 July I wrote a post on a piece on irregardless in the UK Guardian newspaper, not because of the piece itself, but because it generated 327 responses from readers. This, I now realise, was small fry. A piece on (mis)pronunciation on 20 July has 3,192 responses! Incidentally, the irregardless piece has now racked up 1,568 responses. The (Guardian-reading) general public is well and truly engaged.

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Irregardless of Merriam-Webster

MW’s inclusion of irregardless spawned not only a cartoon in the UK Guardian newspaper, but a response from 327 members of the the general public!

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Data from copy-editors and proofreaders

Are you a copy-editor or a proofreader of English texts? We are interested in what you think! If you can spare a bit of your time, you will help researchers at Leiden University learn more about editing practices by filling in this survey


By entering your email at the end you could be randomly selected as one of the two winners to receive a $25 gift card from Amazon!

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On their way home

Many thanks for letting them stay with us, Kate! It was good to be able to hold them (and to see how small some of them are!).

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Lowth in the Economist

It doesn’t happen very often that Lowth (or indeed myself!) gets a mention in The Economist! Thanks, Alison, for letting us know.

(Can anyone help me find the author of the piece? I’d like to tell him/her about my new book on prescriptivism …)

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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 languages). For that we need your help. Please leave us a comment below if you are aware of any publications or universities that offer courses on prescriptivism! We’d much appreciate it!

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Just out!

Out today, and open access: Of greengrocers, sports commentators, estate agents and television presenters: who’s in a usage guide and why, published in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development.

With thanks to Olivia Walsh for organising the symposium In the Shadow of  the Standard in Nottingham, in September 2018.

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Laziness has won!

Another piece from the UK Guardian on how the Apostrophe Protection Society has finally given up the unequal struggle!

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Literally out today

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Queen of Jetlags

Never thought I’d ever read anything by an influencer (a word not yet in the OED, but a very popular type of online presence these days): Noor de Groot’s Queen of Jetlags (2019). It is not that the book is written by the daughter of an old school friend of mine, but because I was curious to find out why an influencer with 720k followers on Instagram would want to publish a book.

The book is (mostly) in Dutch, and describes Noor’s life and highly succesful career in what would seem to be full authentic (another key word these days) detail, beautifully illustrated with pictures evoking the dreamy atmosphere that is her trademark.

As a phenomenon, Queen of Jetlags reminds me of  Grammar Girl, a language advice website with a phenomenal following, too. And yet, Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl’s author, published a book with language advice as well. Books, it seems, apparently deserve a life of their own besides their contents’ presence online .

Another similarity between the two which I find fascinating is how Noor de Groot outlines in full detail how she became an influencer, showing all the tricks and trades of the job as she goes along. A short while ago, Mignon Fogarty obtained a chair in Media Entrepreneurship at the Reynolds School of Journalism of the University of Nevada, thus – presumably – teaching her students the ins and outs of her job as well. Competition does not seem to be an issue here, for either of them. What Noor’s book shows, after all, is that being an influencer, or rather becoming one and making sure that you stay top of the bill, is a professon in its own right. And, I must admit, I admire her for that.

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