English Usage Guides: History, Advice, Attitudes

ISBN : 9780198808206

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
240 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2017
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This volume explores both historical and current issues in English usage guides or style manuals. Guides of this sort have a long history: while Fowler's Modern English Usage (1926) is one of the best known, the first English usage guide was published in the UK in 1770, and the first in the US in 1847. Today, new titles come out nearly every year, while older works are revised and reissued. Remarkably, however, the kind of usage problems that have been addressed over the years are very much the same, and attitudes towards them are slow to change - but they do change. The chapters in this book look at how and why these guides are compiled, and by whom; what sort of advice they contain; how they differ from grammars and dictionaries; how attitudes to usage change; and why institutions such as the BBC need their own style guide. The volume will appeal not only to researchers and students in sociolinguistics, but also to general readers with an interest in questions of usage and prescriptivism, language professionals such as teachers and editors, and language policy makers.


1 Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: Introduction
2 Robin Straaijer: The usage guide: Evolution of a genre
3 Pam Peters: The lexicography of English usage
4 Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: The King's English by Kingsley Amis: A publisher's project
5 Rebecca Gowers: Even more complete plain words
6 David Crystal: Punch as a satirical usage guide
7 Morana Lukač: From usage guides to language blogs
8 John Allen: Why does the BBC need a style guide?
9 Carmen Ebner: Attitudes to British usage
10 Viktorija Kostadinova: Usage problems in American English
11 Geoffrey K. Pullum: The usage game: Catering for perverts

About the author: 

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and has a chair in English Sociohistorical Linguistics at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Her research interests include the final stages of English standardization - the codification of grammar and the rise and spread of prescriptivism - and the question of how grammar rules relate to actual usage. Her published work includes An Introduction to Late Modern English (Edinburgh University Press, 2009), and, with OUP, The Bishop's Grammar: Robert Lowth and the Rise of Prescriptivism (2011) and In Search of Jane Austen: The Language of the Letters (2014).

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