Transatlantic perspectives on late nineteenth-century English usage

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The present contribution investigates two handbooks on English usage dating from the late nineteenth century, one British (i.e. Alford’s The Queen’s English, of 1864) and the other American (i.e. White’s Words and their Uses, of 1871). Both manuals were important and successful in their time and even after, and they can be considered as early specimens of prescriptive guides on English usage on both sides of the Atlantic. The objective of the comparison is to find out whether they concentrate on the same items of disputed usage or whether British and American English had become so much separated at that point in time that both usage guides treat different items or come to different conclusions on the same items. Furthermore, by adopting a transatlantic perspective it will be worked out whether the two authors share the same ideologies concerning the standard language or not.


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