Posts Tagged ‘prescriptivism’

  • Enthusing about freedom of usage

    Posted by on October 13, 2014

    Writing about back-formation earlier this year, I said that enthuse – a verb back-formed from enthusiasm – occupied a grey area of acceptability. This area is worth mapping in more detail, since much of what people say about enthuse applies to other words and usages, and offers insights into what Macmillan Dictionary calls real grammar. […]

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 1: Who or Whom?

    Posted by on September 30, 2014

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give […]

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  • Keeping it real with Real Grammar

    Posted by on September 25, 2014

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give […]

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  • “Real Grammar” – accept no substitutes!

    Posted by on September 02, 2014

    Welcome to our new series on “Real Grammar”, which kicks off with a quiz. But this is a grammar quiz with a difference. As regular readers will know, all of us who write for the Macmillan Dictionary Blog have consistently argued that most grammar quizzes (and for that matter, most websites dispensing advice on “correct […]

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  • A critique of ‘criticism’

    Posted by on September 01, 2014

    If I told you a mutual acquaintance of ours had criticised your new hairdo, you might well take offence. But if I said I’d be happy to criticise something you’d written, you might infer a different meaning of the word. The related noun criticism  shows a similar dichotomy. The two senses of these words – […]

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  • Kind’ve a strange phrase

    Posted by on June 09, 2014

    I’ve been on a binge of detective fiction lately, catching up on Michael Connelly’s back catalogue. His L.A.-based crime novels are a good source of police jargon, slang, and abbreviations, but it was a different type of linguistic item that caught my eye this time. In The Concrete Blonde, a news reporter tells the protagonist, […]

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  • Don’t let them bully you!

    Posted by on June 03, 2014

    Readers of our blog will be aware that – despite several decades of serious linguistic research based on the evidence found in corpora – the world is still plagued by self-appointed “experts”, who seem to enjoy lecturing the rest of us on what is wrong with the way we write and speak. Worse still, these […]

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  • How many ‘alternatives’ can there be?

    Posted by on May 26, 2014

    In my post ‘Who’s the boss of English?’, I refuted several prescriptivist rules about English usage asserted by the journalist Simon Heffer. One was his insistence that when it comes to alternatives ‘there can only ever be two’ – that any more than two means they are ‘options’. This curious belief is worth a closer […]

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  • Who’s the boss of English?

    Posted by on May 12, 2014

    Some people worry that English is endangered by misuse – or what they believe to be misuse. They may be unhappy that hopefully has gained an additional meaning, or that literally often isn’t meant literally, or that like has expanded its repertoire: ‘It’s a verb, for crying out loud!’ protested a commenter on my language […]

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  • Grammar and Grammar

    Posted by on March 05, 2014

    Today’s guest post comes from Jonathon Owen, an editor and book designer with a background in linguistics. Jonathon blogs about language at Arrant Pedantry, and his work on grammar and usage appears in Copyediting newsletter and on Visual Thesaurus and Huffington Post. _____________________ A few months ago, in a post titled “12 Mistakes Nearly Everyone Who Writes about […]

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