Blog Archives

Language Calendar

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As a new feature on the blog, we are compiling a Language Calendar (see the bar under the banner). So far it contains only two dates: 4 March: National Grammar Day in the US 22 April: Modern English Usage Day … Continue reading

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2nd Bridging the Unbridgeable Lunch Lecture

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Social media in teaching and research As a follow-up on the article Twitteren met een Twist in the final issue of Forum (19 April), the Bridging the Unbridgeable project is organising a session on the (potential) benefits social media can … Continue reading

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Unbridgable – irreplacable

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Thanks to Google for suggesting the right spelling if you happen – quite understandably – to search for “Bridging the Unbridgable”. No such help for typesetters or spelling correctors (quality newspaper NRC’s? or magazine L’Officiel’s?) missing the absence of the intermediate e … Continue reading

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Most successful usage guide of all times?

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This was the question asked on the page-a-day calendar published by Genootschap Onze Taal for 4 June 2004. The answer is, obviously, not the same for English as it is for Dutch. The most successful Dutch usage manual, Onze Taal … Continue reading

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Burchfield a Jane Austen fan

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R.W. Burchfield (1923-2004) was not only the author of the third edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage – which Wikipedia labels as a “controversial, substantially rewritten and less prescriptivist” version of the book: he was also responsible for the second Supplement of the … Continue reading

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Reading between the lines

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Being asked to review the Collins online dictionary reminded me of my vocabulary classes as a first-year student at the department of English language & literature at the University of Amsterdam nearly 20 years ago. We had to study concordance … Continue reading

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Traditional and contemporary furniture

One of the polls a while ago asked your opinion about this sentence: Traditional and CONTEMPORARY furniture do not go well together. But when we were discussing this sentence during a project meeting the other day, we couldn’t really work … Continue reading

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Shall obsolete?

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Peter Tiersma, in a chapter called “The Legal Lexicon”, notes: In American English, shall has become virtually obsolete, so that the sole future modal verb is will (Tiersma 1999:105). Is this indeed the case? Do copy editors allow “I will” … Continue reading

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John Honey AND

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Last week I was reminded of the usefulness of Boolean operators by Ewoud Sanders’ booklet on eResearch which is available (in Dutch) here. Because it is often possible to find enough relevant information using simple search queries, I sometimes forget the … Continue reading

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Comma between subject and predicate

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The previous post quoted an example from Lindley Murray’s English Grammar to illustrate that restrictive relative clauses are not separated from the antecedent by a comma: A man who is of a detractory spirit, will misconstrue … (1795:164). Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw, a specialist … Continue reading

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