Usage

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Usage is the manner in which written and spoken language is used. H. W. Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage "defines usage as 'points of grammar, syntax, style, and the choice of words'".[1] The Oxford Dictionary of English defines usage as "the way in which a word or phrase is normally and correctly used." But the word's meaning can be ambiguous. It can mean "the way people actually use language" or it can mean "the way one group of people feel other people ought to use it."[2]

The Chicago Manual of Style notes that "the great mass of linguistic issues that writers and editors wrestle with don't really concern grammar at all—they concern usage: the collective habits of a language's native speakers."[3] It goes on to note that "the standards of good usage change, however slowly."[4]

Dictionaries are not always accurate guides to "good usage." "Despite occasional usage notes, lexicographers generally disclaim any intent to guide writers and editors on the thorny points of English usage."[5]

History[edit]

According to Jeremy Butterfield, "The first person we know of who made usage refer to language was Daniel Defoe, at the end of the seventeenth century". Defoe proposed the creation of a language society of 36 individuals who would set prescriptive language rules for the approximately six million English speakers.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeremy Butterfield, (2008) Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, Oxford University Press, Oxford. 978-0-19-923906. pp. 137–138.
  2. ^ Jeremy Butterfield, (2008) Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, Oxford University Press, Oxford. 978-0-19-923906. p. 137.
  3. ^ University of Chicago (2010). The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.). Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1. 
  4. ^ University of Chicago (2010). The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.). Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1. 
  5. ^ University of Chicago (2010). The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.). Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1. 
  6. ^ Jeremy Butterfield, (2008) Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, Oxford University Press, Oxford. 978-0-19-923906. pp. 137–138.