First published in 1991, An Uncommon Tongue explores the theme of usage in its widest sense: usage as what we say or write; usage as a social question; usage as a literary convention; usage and creativity.
The book reflects on the practice and status of the English language in the modern world and the demands it makes on its academic disciplines. It puts forward the argument that the study of usage transcends both the 'prescriptive' and 'descriptive' and is ultimately 'constructive', displaying the resources of language and exploring their use.
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Preface; 1: Standards and Stuff; 2: Usage, Users and the Used; 3: The Difficulty of Explaining: A Word or Two about Dictionaries; 4: Our True Intent: Or What's the Point of Punctuation?; 5: The Possibilities of Paraphrase; 6: On Parody: A Discourse with Interludes; 7: The Meanings of Metadiscourse; 8: On Writing Well; 9: Composition and Creativeness; 10: Historic Event, Creative Effort: The Making of a Dramatic Poem; 11: English: A Global Resource?; Appendix A; Appendix B; Notes; Index
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