Author Archive

  • The double superlative

    Posted by on May 26, 2015

    Round about this time of year, I eagerly await the nominations for the Idler magazine’s Bad Grammar Awards. Not because I necessarily agree that their nominations are actually examples of bad grammar (indeed sometimes they’re examples of bad spelling or punctuation), but because they tend to show up the gulf between the preoccupations of professional […]

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  • As versus so in negative comparisons

    Posted by on March 26, 2014

    Corpus lexicographers are used to basing their linguistic judgements on authentic data, on what people have actually said or written. This approach has led to major advances in the study of language, but what it tends to underplay is what people think of their own (or other people’s) language habits, in terms of correctness or […]

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  • Is there a case for ‘publically’ (or ‘economicly’)? Part 2

    Posted by on October 22, 2012

    According to Wikipedia, publically is an example of morphemic pleonasm. A pleonasm is normally understood as an utterance that contains one or more redundant elements that do not contribute to the meaning. (There, I just did one!) Common examples are true fact, Great Britain, or choose deliberately. A morpheme is part of a word that […]

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  • Is there a case for ‘publically’? Part 1

    Posted by on October 15, 2012

    Recently, while proofreading an internal document, I was taken to task by a colleague for correcting the spelling of ‘publically’ to ‘publicly’: Speaking radicly for the moment, but probably both logicly and statisticly soundly (though tragicly for traditionalists, I know), I think publically is a better spelling. In a sense, we each had a point. […]

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  • What can language research tell us about the ‘real world’? Part 3

    Posted by on July 30, 2012

    We have seen in previous posts (in part 1 and part 2) that the real world tends to be defined and conceived in opposition to other concepts – such as academic life, childhood, or the online world. Here are a couple of more general examples from the ukWaC corpus, in which the real world is […]

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  • What can language research tell us about the ‘real world’? Part 2

    Posted by on July 09, 2012

    Last week we saw how, according to the ukWaC corpus, UK universities appear to be preoccupied with the ‘real world’ and the challenge of preparing their students to enter it. This contrast with the world of academia is one of the oppositions through which the ‘real world’ acquires definition. There is apparently a gap between […]

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  • What can language research tell us about the ‘real world’? Part 1

    Posted by on June 25, 2012

    John Williams, our new guest blogger, worked as a lexicographer for COBUILD and later for Macmillan. He is currently a lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth and is particularly interested in lexicography and language study as cultural and social practices. _____________ Last month I participated in a conference at the […]

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