Pullum: “Strunk simply doesn’t bother to look”

Read my blog post on the “Bridging the Unbridgeable” blog: Pullum takes on Strunk again

Bridging the Unbridgeable

For readers of this blog and those who have followed the debate between prescriptivists and descriptivists closely, it’s hardly surprising to hear that Geoffrey Pullum, Professor of General Linguistics at Edinburgh University, is not particularly fond of William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, to say the least. Pullum has made no secret of his disapproval of the advice provided by Strunk. Describing Strunk’s advice as ranging from “limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense”, Pullum takes a firm stance against The Elements of Style, which, he argues, has enjoyed great popularity on American campuses. (Read his full comments here.)

Now Pullum has taken on Strunk again on The Chronicle of Higher Education. In “Dracula, Strunk, and Correct English Usage, Pullum illustrates Strunk’s “limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense” on the basis of literary evidence found in the usage of Strunk’s christopher_lee_tot_body_p-4623342contemporaries. Bram Stoker’s classic novel

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Just out (surprise)

Fresh from the (online) press: Prescriptive attitudes to English

Bridging the Unbridgeable

Today, we found out that our article “Prescriptive attitudes to English” is published, that it has been out for two months already. Thanks, Carmen, for tweeting about it, or I wouldn’t have known. Still, I’m really pleased, and expect Carmen will be, too: it is as interactive as we could make it, with loads of links (lots of prescriptivism goodies), and of course plenty of interesting (we hope!) content. We hope it will be widely read and quoted of course.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias

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9 December: Life after HUGE? Registration now open

Check out our programme for the “Life after HUGE” Symposium! Registration is now open.

Bridging the Unbridgeable

Below, you will find the preliminary programme for the symposium Life after HUGE? which will be held on 9 December at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Registration is now open, and you may do so either by leaving a comment to this message or by sending an email to Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (i.m.tieken@hum.leidenuniv.nl). There will be no fee for the conference, so we hope to see as many of you as are interested in the topic.

Symposium: Life after HUGE?

Speakers:

Rebecca Gowers, “Another One?”

Why I wanted to write Horrible Words. What I thought I was after. Certain ways in which I know the book failed. Other ways in which I hope it modestly succeeded. How some of the responsibility for all this can be laid at the feet of Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, her colleagues and various of her PhD students. An undertaking never to…

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9 December: Save The Date!

Bridging the Unbridgeable

On 9 December 2016, the Bridging the Unbridgeable project will organise a usage guides symposium at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Speakers will include Rebecca Gowers (author of the revised edition of Plain Words and of the recently published Horrible Words), Oliver Kamm (author of Accidence will Happen), Harry Ritchie (author of English for the Natives) as well as the members of the project, including Robin Straaijer (who recently published a review of the 4th edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage by Jeremy Butterfield). Further details about how to register for the symposium will follow soon.

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Introvert pedants?

Bridging the Unbridgeable

Robin Queen and Julie Boland, both from the University of Michigan, recently conducted a study on attitudes towards spelling variation, which has now been picked up by The Guardian. What they call “typos” and “grammos” are errors everyone has come across when using the internet and computer-mediated communication. Numerous internet memes illustrate computer users’ outrage about spelling mistakes such as the one below.

 While typos are errors Queen and Boland link to keyboarding issues, such as spelling <the> as <teh>, grammos constitute “traditional peever errors that are only relevant in written language”. Thus, a grammo would be the use of to instead of too, for example. Typos are often considered simple mistakes caused by carelessness and rushed typing. Grammos, on the other hand, seem to be evaluated more harshly and to affect the writer’s personality, as the writer’s abilities and knowledge are questioned. Queen and Boland sought to…

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Continuing the usage game

Bridging the Unbridgeable

On our blog, we often report on current developments in the usage debate, bits and pieces of our research findings and also new publications of usage guides. Being a true book addict, I would like to share two of the most recent additions not only to my own personal library but also to the stock of books dealing with the usage debate.

may i quoteThe first book is most probably the latest usage guide available at the moment. May I quote you on that? A Guide to Grammar and Usage was published in late 2015 and written by Stephen Spector, a member of the English Faculty of Stony Brook University. His take on English grammar and usage is quite refreshing as he takes a rather descriptive approach to the usage debate, but does not eschew providing his readers with rules of Standard English to follow. What makes this usage guide…

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Blaming the media?

Bridging the Unbridgeable

As part of our interactive feature series in English Today, the latest and ninth article has been published today in which I discuss attitudes towards the role of the media in language variation and change.

In my online questionnaire, I asked informants in Great Britain what they thought of the current state of English and obtained more than 170 answers to this rather general question. Clearly not all of them denounced that the end of English is nigh, but I decided to focus on answers containing a negative outlook on the development of English. I was particularly interested in the numerous answers by informants putting the blame for the alleged doom of the language on the media.

Since I would like to investigate this issue further, I launched a survey last December asking for your opinion on this matter. The survey was designed with UK media in mind, which is…

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