Try and, only, split infinitives, dangling participle

Bridging the Unbridgeable

What do these features have in common? That is something Carmen Ebner and I are going to figure out in the article we are writing for the online Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. For this article, we decided to focus on these four usage problems (selected from among the 55 items in Mittins et al.’s Attitudes to English Usage, 1970). My reason for choosing try and may be found elsewhere in this blog, and the placement of only was part of a very early survey I did in the course of the Bridging the Unbridgeable project. Carmen has been interested in the split infinitive from the beginning of her research project (it is a really good example to show how prescriptivsm works or doesn’t work, and there are several posts in this blog that deal with split infinitives). Carmen’s interest in the dangling participle is particularly clear from…

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Please help us with our usage polls!

Bridging the Unbridgeable

If you can spare us a little of your time, and if you haven’t done so already, please take our fifth usage poll. If you do so, we will be able to study the difference in acceptability compared between when Mittins et al. first did the survey in the late 1960s and today. We’ve had a reasonable amount of response for the other surveys, but not for this one. Even lower results were found for usage poll 7. And perhaps, though this would be asking a lot of you, we know, usage polls 8, 9 and 10 as well? Five sentences in each poll only! For the full list, look here in the banner. Thank you very much indeed.


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