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Usage on the move: Evolution and re-volution

One of the problems involved in using corpora to investigate language change is that many corpora are synchronic, particularly spoken ones. To observe change, a combination of methods is the most fruitful approach. As well as the evidence of corpora, grammars and usage manuals of former decades and centuries reveal not only how standards of correctness and good style in relation to speaking and writing were perceived in their time, but also how some of the present-day debates relating to particular points of usage have a long history, including features of recent Americanisation. Such investigations, along with the evidence of field notes contribute to a more nuanced picture of current changes in English.

KEYWORDS: language change, corpora, spoken English, Americanisation, grammar

Michael McCarthy. Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Nottingham, UK. Adjunct Professor of Applied Linguistics at Pennsylvania State University and University of Limerick, Ireland. Author of many titles of interest to teachers, including Spoken Language and Applied Linguistics. Well known as an expert on the teaching and learning of vocabulary. Co-author of the basic and upper-intermediate levels of Vocabulary in Use. Academic Consultant to the Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs and the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Co-author of the two latest successful corpus-informed publications by Cambridge University Press: Touchstone and Cambridge Grammar of English.


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