Describing Prescriptivism: soon out now

Great news: my book will be out in two weeks time. 23 October is the official publication date. I can’t wait! To be published by Routledge, and copies can be pre-ordered there, in hardback and as an e-book.

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The power of pronouns

Another interesting article from the UK Guardian on which pronouns people who identify as non-binary would like others to use to refer to them. Apart from it being a possible language/usage change in progress, it also addresses the issue of who directs change.

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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 time to change the only “forthc.” in the proofs of my book Describing Prescriptivism (Routledge).

Morana Lukač and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2019). Attitudes to flat adverbs and English usage advice. In: Sandra Jansen and Lucia Siebers (eds.), Processes of Change. Studies in Late Modern and Present-day English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 159-181.

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Caroline Taggart’s books in National Trust shops

Proofreading my forthcoming book Describing Prescriptivism, I came to p. 100 where I mention that Caroline Taggart’s Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Queeen’s English (2010), published by the The National Trust, used to lie for sale in country houses all over Britain. That is, I remember seeing it lying about at every country house we visited while living in Cambridge in 21011. Unfortunately, I never thought of taking a picture of the book as evidence at the time.

This time, accompanying a Jane Austen garden tour last week as an academic tour guide and visiting several country houses in the process, I looked everywhere for Her Ladyship’s Guide, but to no avail. None of the shop assistants had even heard of the book. But we did find one of Caroline’s books, on two occasions even: 500 Words You Should Know. Not a usage guide, and not published by The National Trust, but still (I suppose) testifying to Caroline’s name and fame as a writer on language.

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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 its translation was  favourably reviewed in the Dutch press. So I decided to buy the 420-page book and take it with me on holiday. What a disappointment.

Not only did it read like a Young Adult Novel, the characterisation of young Nancy Mitford in no way matched that of the real person in as far as I had become acquainted with her.

What also irritated me was its linguistic anachronism, evident from the regular use of snuck (for sneaked) in the text, as in

He had snuck out wearing a tweed cap, which Nancy had snatched out of the boot room (p. 272)

The story is situated in 1919-20, when snuck would not have been common usage in British English yet. In 1988, Greenbaum and Whitcut  in the Longman Guide to English Usage label snuck as “American English only”. It is not until twenty years later that, according to Jeremy Butterfield (Oxford AZ of English Usage , 2007), snuck is “sneaking into British English in a big way too”.

I’m afraid I’m not looking forward to the next three novels in the series, each featuring one of the remaining Mitford sisters.

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Just out!

Just out, and yes, the book includes a paper on prescriptivism, my own! The project may be finished, but new publications still appear. So:

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2019), Usage guides and the Age of Prescriptivism. In: Birte Bös and Claudia Claridge (eds.), Norms and Conventions in the History of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.7−28.

This volume is only one of two: congratulations, Birte and Claudia, on this wonderful publication!

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Even John le Carré has them

Source: Wikipedia

Metalinguistic comments that is, as in the novels of Kingsley Amis, Len Deighton and Ian McEwan. Reading A Most Wanted Man (2008), I came across several references to accent but also one to who/whom:

But for how long? And from who? Whom? (p. 275)

The speaker is the elderly Scottish banker Tommy Brue, one of the main characters in this novel situated in Hamburg.

Read more about all this, though not about John Le Carré, in chapter 7 of my forthcoming book Describing Prescriptivism.

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