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Watch your language


By Jean Aitchison   May 1997

Watch your language

Dear Jean,

In your Reith lectures on BBC radio last year, and in several of your books, you have eloquently taken sides in the debate between purists and liberals in the vexed matter of language change. By “purists” I mean those who deprecate what they see as falling standards in the use of English, by “liberals” those who see language change as natural and benign. You lend your academic authority to the latter, so conferring respectability on split infinitives, terminal prepositions and other features of usage disliked by the former. Your argument is that such change is…

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