Burchfield - The New Fowler's Modern English Usage 2e rev

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The pronunciation system is that of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and, except where otherwise specified, is based on the pronunciation, widely called 'Received Pronunciation' or RP, of educated people in southern England. The necessary adjustments have been made when standard American English pronunciations are given.

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  1. THE NEW ¿Wow/er?s Modem English Usage REVISED EDITION
  3. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Great Clarendon Street, Oxford 0x2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in Oxford New York Athens Auckland Bangkok Bogota Buenos Aires Calcutta CapeTown Chennai Dares Salaam Delhi Florence HongKong Istanbul Karachi KualaLumpur Madrid Melbourne MexicoCity Mumbai Nairobi Paris Säo Paulo Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto Warsaw with associated companies in Berlin Ibadan Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York © Oxford University Press 1968,1996 First edition 1926 Second edition 1965 Third edition 1996 Revised third edition 1998 Published in USA 2000 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographicsrightsorganization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Data available ISBN 0-19-860263-4 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 Data-captured by Jayvee, Trivandrum, India Typeset in Swift and Meta by Latimer Trend Ltd., Plymouth Printed in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham
  4. For my beloved wife Sfizaùet/i^Austens G&urcfifîeld
  5. CONFLICTING VIEWS Ours is a Copious Language, and Trying to Strangers. Mr Podsnap in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, 1865 Grammar is like walking. You have to think about it when you start but if you have to go on thinking about it you fall over. It should come as second nature. Alice Thomas Ellis in The Spectator, 1989 Was she becoming, like the century, illiterate? a character in Iris Murdoch's The Book and the Brotherhood, 1987 'How charming. Now, "Luney". How do you spell that?' Swayed by the drawing of her breath, the [Haitian] girl took a moment to dream, then said with a far-off resonance, 'You don' spell dat, ma'am, you sez it.' Barbara Neil, The Possession of Delia Sutherland, 1993 DISLIKES Comments by members of a Usage Panel on the use of hopefully as a sentence adverb meaning 'it is to be hoped', as reported in the Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage (2nd edn, 1985): I have fought this for some years, will fight it till I die. It is barbaric, illiterate, offensive, damnable, and inexcusable. I don't like chalk squeaking on blackboards either. 'Hopefully' is useful or it would not be used so universally. 'Grounded' meaning a withdrawal of privileges is a word I dislike. It's off the television {Roseanne notably) but now in common use. (I just heard it on Emmerdale Farm, where they probably think it's dialect). I would almost prefer 'gated', deriving from Forties public school stories in Hotspur and Wizard. Other current dislikes: 'Brits'; 'for starters'; 'sorted'; and (when used intransitively) 'hurting'. Alan Bennett in London Review of Books, 4 Jan. 1996
  6. Preface to the Third Edition Henry Watson Fowler1 (1858-1933) is a legendary figure and his Dictionary of Modern English Usage (MEU), first published in 1926, is one of the most celebrated reference books of the twentieth century. It was the work of a private scholar writing in virtual seclusion in the island of Guernsey; later, after the 1914-18 war, he lived mostly in the village of Hinton St George in Somerset. His background was typical of that of hundreds of middle-class young men of the second half of the Victorian period: educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford (where he read Classics), he went on to spend seventeen years (1882-99) teaching Classics and English at Sedbergh School in north-west Yorkshire (now Cumbria). There followed a four-year period in London as a freelance essayist, after which he joined his younger brother, Francis George Fowler, in Guernsey in 1903. In two separate granite cottages, fifty yards apart, the brothers embarked on and completed three ambitious projects. First, they translated the Greek works of Lucian of Samosata (1905); they then wrote The King's English (1906), the precursor of MEU, and compiled The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1911). After an adventurous interlude in the army in France in 1915-16, and after the death of his brother in 1918, Fowler finished the Pocket Oxford Dictionary in 1924, and MEU in 1926, by which time he was 68. What I want to stress is the isolation of Fowler from the mainstream of the linguistic scholarship of his day, and his heavy dependence on school- masterly textbooks in which the rules of grammar, rhetoric, punctuation, spelling, and so on, were set down in a quite basic manner. For him, the ancient Greek and Latin classics (including the metrical conventions of the poets), the best-known works of Renaissance and post-Renaissance English literature, and the language used in them formed part of a three-coloured flag. This linguistic flag was to be saluted and revered, and, as far as possible, everything it represented was to be preserved intact. The book that emerged in 1926, Modern English Usage, was aimed at a domestic audience. Fowler disclaimed any knowledge of American English and by implication, the varieties of English spoken and written in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere. In a letter written to his publishers in 1911 he drew attention to further limits of his horizon: We have our eyes not on the foreigner, but on the half-educated Englishman of literary proclivities who wants to know Can I say so-&-so? . . . Is this use English? ... Not but what we may be of some use to the foreigner who knows English pretty well; but the foreigner as such we must leave out of consideration. For his illustrative examples Fowler often turned to the OED and drew on them to support his arguments. Above all, however, he turned to newspapers 1 An affectionate biographical sketch of Fowler by his friend G. G. Coulton was published in 1935 as Tract xliii of the Society for Pure English.
  7. P R E F A C E TO T H E THIRD EDITION vui (though he seldom specifies which ones) because they reflected and revealed the solecistic waywardness of 'the half-educated' general public in a much more dramatic fashion than did works of English literature. As any lexicographer or grammarian knows, newspapers, by the very nature of the circumstances in which they are prepared, inevitably contain a higher proportion of deviationsfromstandard language, misprints, and solecisms than works such as novels that are thoroughly copy-edited by professional editors in publishing houses. Perhaps as a hangoverfromFowler's days as a schoolmaster, his scholar- ship needed to be enlivened by a veneer of idiosyncrasy and humour. The King's English (1906) had a trail of conventional articles on alliteration, archaism, negatives, omission of relatives, the split infinitive, and so on; but it also had more unexpected, indeed opaque, titles to articles, for example, 'airs and graces', 'between two stools', 'false scent', 'unequal yokefellows', and 'wens and hypertrophied members'. Most of these amusing headwords were retained in MEU, and were joined by others, for example, 'battered ornaments', 'out of the frying-pan', 'pairs and snares', and 'swapping horses'. They have endeared the book to Fowler's devotees, but no longer have their interest or appeal and are not preserved in this new edition. The material in them has been redistributed under much more transparent heads. Before embarking on the preparation of the third edition I carefully analysed the contents of M L 1926, and the emphasis turned out to be a little ET unexpected. The largest contingent of entries were those under the general heading 'differentiation', though the actual entries were deposited at their correct alphabetical place. There were scores of entries distinguishing related or like-sounding words, admission/admittance, affect/effect, childis childlike, continual/continuous, and so on. Many were gems of conciseness (or concision), with the distinctions clearly brought out. Others were quirky, opinionated, and based on inadequate evidence. MEU 1926 was also much concerned with the plurals of words of foreign origin, especially those ending in -0 {adagio, cargo, concerto, potato, etc.), -urn (asylum, curricul memorandum, etc.), and -us [apparatus, corpus, virus, etc.). These were usual cross-referenced to neat articles where the various types were discussed as groups, e.g. -O(E)S; -UM; and -us, with further details supplied s.v. LATIN PLURALS. All these entries have been preserved and expanded in the present edition. High in Fowler's order of priority were prosodie and other poetical terms derived from classical literature and used, often with modifications, by English poets: alcaics, alexandrine, anacrusis, arsis, etc. The chalk-lined hand the classics master at Sedbergh is most clearly observed in this group of words. I decided, on balance, that these articles, with minor modifi- cations, should be retained in the third edition. As was customary at the time, Fowler used a respelling system when discussing the pro- nunciation of individual words. In the third edition this system has been replaced by the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet to bring the book into accord with the practice of other Oxford dictionaries (except those
  8. IX P R E F A C E TO T H E T H I R D EDITION prepared for schoolchildren). For the convenience of readers a table of the IPA symbols is provided on p. xv. Somewhat surprising is the relative lack of space given in thefirstedition to disputed usage as such. Of course there are articles, many of them classics of their kind, on matters such as aggravate (= annoy), allright(as against alright), the choice between between and among, under the drcumstances (as against in the circumstances), 'preposition at end and so on, but they are by no means the most prominent articles in the book. The mystery remains: why has this schoolmasterly, quixotic, idiosyncratic, and somewhat vulnerable book, in a form only lightly revised once, in 1965, by Ernest Gowers, retained its hold on the imagination of all but professional linguistic scholars for just on seventy years? It sold very well on publication, and has remained in print ever since. People of all kinds continue to tell me that they use it 'all the time', and that 'it never lets them down'. In the space of three weeks a judge, a colonel, and a retired curator of Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum told me on separate social occasions that they have the book close at hand at all times. They all looked anxious when I mentioned a few changes that I have made in the new edition, including the placing of twentieth-century changes in their historical dimension and the introduction of the International Phonetic Alphabet. 'I wish you hadn't told me that,' one commented. The slightly haunted looks they gave me were those of passengers fearing that they were going to miss their connection. From the outset it was obvious to me that a standard work on English usage needed to be based on satisfactory modern evidence and that a great deal of this evidence could be obtained and classified by electronic means. In September 1986, after the completion of the Supplement to the OED and the New Zealand Pocket Oxford Dictionary, and coinciding with other wor including the editing of a volume of essays called Studies in Lexicography, I obtained a personal computer and began to establish a database consisting often independent fields corresponding to obvious categories of grammar and usage. The ten fields were adjectives, adverbs, concord, gerunds, infinitives, nouns and articles, ordinaries (a convenient term for points of disputed usage), passives, pronouns, and subjunctives. The fields that I created enabled me to assign specific numbers to the various types of gerunds, passives, subjunctives, etc., and these types soon began to multiply as my reading of sources continued. The numbering system enabled me to retrieve and print out all examples of a specified type, e.g. gerunds 3 = possessive with gerund: I was proud of his being accepted at such a good school—New Yorker, 1986; and gerunds 4 = possessive not used with gerund: fiow could she think of the baby being born in the house—A. S. Byatt, 1985- In t end my gerunds field contained examples of more than 100 types of gerundial constructions, and, like all my fields, it is infinitely extendible. Some of the fields, and especially the one containing examples of constructions in which infinitives occur, are much larger. The ordinaries field contains, for example, a formidable array of controversial uses of due to, like used as a conjunction, o/used by children and poorly educated people to mean 'have', unattached participles, irregular or unstable past tenses of
  9. P R E F A C E TO T H E THIRD EDITION x verbs, e.g. hove/heaved, sneaked/snuck, spelled/spelt, and numerous other type including try and (used beside try to) followed by an infinitive. The database was programmed in such a way that I could retrievefromit all examples of specified words that randomly occurred in the sentences keyed in for other purposes—words such as about, better, if, more, though, too and also specified parts of words, e.g. all words in the database that happened to end in -eddy (allegedly, markedly, etc.). This database is small by t standards of the great university- and business-based corpora. But its value lies in the fact that it contains material from sources that I have selected myself, and examples that I have chosen and keyed in myself—in computer terminology, it contains no garbage. It is a private, personalized database of English uses and constructions of the 1980s and 1990s. By 1990 the time consuming process of collecting and classifying evidence needed to be modified, as the writing of articles for the book, which I had begun in August 1987, had only reached the end of the letter C by October 1990. From then onward I continued to build up my paper-slipfiles,but began to rely much more than hitherto on the evidence available in the OED Department's electronic and paper-slip files (see the Acknowledgements on p. xiii). A usage manual of the MEU kind reflects its sources. The bulk of the material in this book has been obtainedfroma systematic reading of British and American newspapers, periodicals, andfictionof the 1980s and 1990s in approximately equal proportions. Thus British sources drawn on include national newspapers like The Times, the Sunday Times, and the Observ periodicals like the Spectator, Encounter (until it folded in 1990), the London Review of Books, The Face, and a number of others; journals like the Bodleia Library Record and English; and fiction by a very large number of writers including Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, William Boyd, Anita Brookner, Penelope Lively, Iris Murdoch, and Nigel Williams. An equivalent amount of material has been drawnfromAmerican newspapers, especially in the Chicago area (where I have a regular correspondent), periodicals such as the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the Bulletin of the Ame Academy of Arts and Säences, Daedalus; andfictionby a wide range of write including Saul Bellow, Garrison Keillor, Philip Roth, John Updike, and Tom Wolfe. I have also collected a more limited range of materialfromother English- speaking countries, especially Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, e.g. the work of Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally (Australia), Alice Munro and Robertson Davies (Canada), Maurice Gee and Maurice Shadbolt (New Zealand), and Menán du Plessis and André Brink (South Africa). I have drawn too on material derived from learned journals, including English Studies (Amsterdam), English World-Wide (Amsterdam), World Englishes (Oxford), and The International Journal of Lexicography (Oxford). I should mention that between 1988 and 1992 I wrote regular (at first fortnightly, later monthly) MEU-type articles in the Sunday Times. The more important of these were collected and published in my book Points of View (OUP, 1992). This exercise provided me with a considerable amount of feedback from readers. Other exploratory essays that I have written on
  10. XI P R E F A C E TO T H E THIRD EDITION aspects of modern English usage have appeared (a) in my book Unlocking the English Language (Faber & Faber, 1989)» including a description of the contro- versial migration of some personal pronouns to and from their traditional positions; (b) as an essay on grammatical concord in The English Reference Grammar, edited by Gerhard Leitner (Max Niemeyer, 1986); (c) as an article illustrating differences of attitude to traditional grammar as shown in the novels of Jeffrey Archer and Anita Brookner (in The State of the Language, edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels (University of California Press, 1990)); and (d) an outline account of my policy for this book in Aspects of English and Italian Lexicology and Lexicography, edited by David Hart (Baga Libri, 1993). Anyone who has spent nearly thirty years, as I did, editing a major dictionary on historical principles is bound to prefer an historical approach to English usage to one that is limitedly descriptive. Judgements based on the distribution of competing constructions or pronunciations are intrinsicallyfragileand diminished in value if the constructions are not also examined historically. This third edition of MEU provides essential details of how and when new usages occurred whenever it is relevant and interesting to do so. Examples may be found on a great many pages, including the following articles: (competing meanings) MUTUAL; REFUTE; (rise and fall of certain suffixes) -ESS; -ETTE; (semantic change) GAY; HECTIC; HORRID; (20c. changes of pronunciation) HERCULEAN; LEGEND; MYTH; PARIAH; PROTEIN (and several other words ending in -ein(e)). I judged it to be essential to retain the traditional terminology of English grammar: there are no tree diagrams, no epistemic modality (except to explain what the term means), no generative grammar. The indefinite article a/an is called the indefinite article, not a central determiner. Adverbs are not complicatedly divided into adjuncts, conjuncts, disjuncts, and subjuncts: standard speakers can communicate well enough without having to analyse their adverbs into four substantially overlapping types. Fowler's name remains on the titlepage, even though his book has been largely rewritten in this third edition. I hope that a way will be found to keep the 1926 masterpiece in print for at least another seventy years. It shows what it was like to be linguistically aware before a new race of synchronic linguistic giants appeared, and before the advent of new electronic technology made it possible to scrutinize standard varieties of English in many countries throughout the world with minute thoroughness. It is not, of course, as antiquated as jElfric's Grammar nor yet as those of Ben Jonson or Robert Lowth. But it is a fossil all the same, and an enduring monument to all that was linguistically acceptable in the standard English of the southern counties of England in thefirstquarter of the twentieth century. The pages that follow attempt, with the aid of quotational evidence drawn from identified sources, to guide readers to make sensible choices in linguistically controversial areas of words, meanings, grammatical con- structions, and pronunciations. Several articles stress the desirability of removing gobbledegook or officialese from public documents and letters. Political correctness gets its full share of attention, as do linguistic aspects of
  11. P R E F A C E TO T H E T H I R D E D I T I O N Xll the powerful feminist movement in the twentieth century. It is written at a time when there are many varieties of standard English, all making different choicesfromthe material notionally available to them. It is also atimewhen pessimists are writing gloomily about declining standards, the loss of valuable distinctions in meaning, the introduction of unappetising vogue words and slang. But I refuse to be a pessimist. I am sure that the English language is not collapsing—more severe changes have come about in past centuries than any that have occurred in the twentieth century—and in the English language, used well, we still have, and will continue to have, a tool of extraordinary strength and flexibility.
  12. Acknowledgements It gives me great pleasure to set down my obligation to the many people who have contributed in one way or another to the preparation of this edition. First and foremost I owe an immeasurable debt to my former colleagues in the OED Department, who allowed me unrestricted access to their rich electronic and paper-slip quotationfilesand to the electronic databases (e.g. NEXIS) to which they themselves have access. Once it had been decided to identify the sources of the quotational evidence rather than to rely on unattributed illustrative examples or merely invented examples, the book could never have been assembled without such privileged access, even in the nine years it has taken to write it. Major contributors included a retired American lexicographer, Mr Frank G. Pickel (of Evanston, Illinois), a diplomat (now retired), Sir Brian L. Barder, and a library researcher, Mr George Chowdharay-Best. Indispensable help of various kinds—suggestions for new entries, criticism of existing articles, judgements about particular words or constructions, and so on—have come from the following people: Mr David Annett, Mr Don Barton, Mr P. R. Bonnett, Sir James Craig, Mr G. Crawford, Dr Robert D. Eagleson, Mr Bryan A. Garner, Dr Valerie Grundy, Mr William E. Hutchins, Mr Kenneth R. Lake, Professor Geoffrey Lewis, Mr E. W. Noll, Dr Stefania Nuccorini, Mr Jim Powell, Professor James Sutherland, Mr Ernest Trehern, Mr B. Verity, Mr F. R. le P. Warner, Professor Emer. Hugh E. Wilkinson, Mr C. F. Wright. I am also greatly indebted to Sarah Barrett, who brought her considerable copy-editing skills to bear on the complexities of this book.
  13. Dedication, 1926 To the memory of my brother FRANCIS GEORGE FOWLER, MA. CANTAB. who shared with me the planning of this hook, hut did not live to share the writing. I think of it as it should have been, with its prolixities docked, its dullnesses enlivened, its fads eliminated, its truths multiplied. He had a nimbler wit, a better sense of proportion, and a more open mind, than his twelve-year-older partner; and it is a matter of regret that we had not, at a certain point, arranged our undertakings otherwise than we did. In 1911 we started work simultaneously on the Pocket Oxford Dictionary an this book; living close together, we could, and did, compare notes; but each was to get one book into shape by writing its first quarter or half; and so much only had been done before the war. The one in which, as the less mechanical, his ideas and contributions would have had much the greater value had been assigned, by ill chance, to me. In 1918 he died, aged 47, of tuberculosis contracted during service with the B.E.F. in 1915-16. The present book accordingly contains none of his actual writing; but, having been designed in consultation with him, it is the last fruit of a partnership that began in 1903 with our translation of Lucian. H.W.F.
  14. Key to the Pronunciation The pronunciation system is that of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and, except where otherwise specified, is based on the pronunciation, widely called 'Received Pronunciation' or RP, of educated people in southern England. The necessary adjustments have been made when standard American English pronunciations are given. The symbols used, with typical examples, are as follows: Consonants b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, and z have their usual English values. Ot symbols are used as follows: g (get) ÍI (ring) 3 (decision) tj (chip) G (thin) J (yes) d3 (jar) ö (this) x (loch) J (she) Vowels Short vowels Long vowels Diphthongs ae (cat) a: (arm) ei (day) e (bed) i: (see) ai (my) a (ago) o: (saw) 01 (boy) I (Sit) 3: (her) 9Ü (no) D (hot) u: (too) au (how) A (run) ia (near) ü (put) ee (hair) Ü9 (poor) aia (fire) aü9 (sour) The main or primary stress of a word is shown by a superior ' placed immediately before the relevant syllable. When a secondary stress is called for this is indicated by an inferior, placed immediately before the relevant syllable. The mark ~ (called a tilde) indicates a nasalized sound, as in the following sounds that are not natural in English: ae (timbre) â (élan) 5 (garçon)
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