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English Usage GuidesHistory, Advice, Attitudes$
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Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808206.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

The usage guide

The usage guide

Evolution of a genre

(p.11) 2 The usage guide
English Usage Guides

Robin Straaijer

Oxford University Press

Drawing on data from the Hyper Usage Guide of English (HUGE) database (Straaijer 2014), this chapter sets the context for the other chapters of the collection by exploring the usage guide as a genre since the earliest publication in 1770. While modern usage guides overlap in form and content with other genres of works about language, there are distinct characteristics that identify them as a separate genre. After this genre had slowly been evolving for 150 years, H. W. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926) became a model for future publications. However, the usage guide remains a strongly author-driven genre, resulting in much variation in form and content. After continued development and professionalization from the mid-twentieth century onwards, two subtypes within the genre seem to have emerged: one striving for comprehensiveness and the other offering entertaining narrative. This variety may account for the enduring popularity of the genre.

Keywords:   usage guide, historical linguistics, genre, diachronic development, Henry Fowler, language advice, usage

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