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Describing Prescriptivism

Usage Guides and Usage Problems in British and American English, 1st Edition

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
28 October 2019


Describing Prescriptivism provides a topical and thought-provoking analysis of linguistic prescriptivism in British and American English, from a historical as well as present-day perspective. Focusing on usage guides and usage problems, the book takes a three-fold approach to present an in-depth analysis of the topic, featuring: 

  • a detailed study of the advice provided in usage guides over the years;
  • an authoritative comparison of this advice with actual usage as recorded in British and American corpora, including the HUGE (Hyper Usage Guide of English) database – developed specifically to enable this line of study – as well as more mainstream corpora such as COCA, COHA and the BNC;
  • a close analysis of the attitudes to particular usage problems among the general public, based on surveys distributed online through the "Bridging the Unbridgeable" research project’s blog.*

With extensive case studies to illustrate and support claims throughout, this comprehensive study is key reading for students and researchers of prescriptivism, the history of English and sociolinguistics.

*Found at https://bridgingtheunbridgeable.com/

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