The lexicography of English usage: describing usage variation and change

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The lexicography of English usage is often discussed as being prescriptive or descriptive, but only rarely is it analysed in terms of how usage writers use language evidence in exploring issues of current and changing usage, and whether their methodology is empirical or otherwise. This chapter discusses two twenty-first-century approaches to the use of evidence in usage writing: the selective, a priori use of citations by Bryan Garner to support his ‘Language Change Index’ in Modern American Usage (3rd edn, 2009); and the wealth of data contained in the GloWbE corpus (2012) and others created by Mark Davies, available to quantify usage trends worldwide. Corpus evidence on the assimilation of Latin borrowings, e.g. use of data in singular agreement, shows this is relatively less advanced in the US than elsewhere, which aligns with its stigmatization in American academic discourse.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEnglish usage guides
    Subtitle of host publicationhistory, advice, attitudes
    EditorsIngrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
    Place of PublicationOxford, UK
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9780192535719
    ISBN (Print)9780198808206
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventEnglish Usage (Guides) Symposium - Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Duration: 26 Jun 201427 Jun 2014

    Publication series

    NameOxford linguistics


    ConferenceEnglish Usage (Guides) Symposium
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • evidence
    • empirical
    • linguistic corpus
    • GloWbE corpus
    • quantifying language change
    • changing usage
    • rates of change
    • assimilation of Latin borrowings
    • data as a singular
    • Garner’s Language Change Index


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