Words for disapproval in English usage guides
This paper examines terms used for disapproval in usage guides during the 19th and 20th centuries. Two corpora are used for this investigation: the Hyper Usage Guide of English database (HUGE) and a corpus of 29 usage guides representing nearly all decades of the 19th and 20th centuries. The terms of disapproval fall into four groups: terms emphasizing correctness (wrong, error), communication (confusing, awkward), varieties of English (variant, slang), and social judgments (silly, ignorant). The examination shows that terms emphasizing correctness are most dominant today and have predominated over time. In contrast, judgmental terms have declined over time, while variation and communication terms have increased. The paper further notes that for shibboleths – prescriptive rules with high salience for “some readers” – a common formulation is that “some writers” or even “many writers” use the disapproved term, thus paralleling the “some readers” who notice the shibboleths.
Bernstein, Theodore M.
) The Careful Writer
. New York: The Free Press.
) Write it Right
. New York: Neale Publishing Company.
Burchfield, Robert W.
) The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage
. (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
) Mortal Syntax
. New York: Penguin.
) Stalwarts, SNOOTS, and Some Readers: How ‘Traditional Rules’ are Traditional
. In Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
& Carol Percy
. Prescription and Tradition in Language
(238–252). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Ebbitt, Wilma R., & Ebbitt, David R.
) Index to English
. (8th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Evans, Bergen, & Evans, Cornelia
) Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage
. New York: Random House.
) Modern American Usage
. New York: Hill and Wang.
) Garner’s Modern English Usage
. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hyper Usage Guide of English
) Leiden University. Retrieved from [URL]
) Usage and Abusage
. New York: Philosophical Library.
Wilson, Kenneth G.
) The Columbia Guide to Standard American English
. New York: Columbia University Press.
Cited by 2 other publications
de Vos, Machteld
. In Between Description and Prescription: Analysing Metalanguage in Normative Works on Dutch 1550–1650
pp. 89 ff.
. Methodological approaches to the study of codification, prescription, and prescriptivism
. Studia Neophilologica
pp. 334 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 8 march 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
Any errors therein should be reported to them.