Research on Language Usage and Grammar
You may recall that neoclassical writers Jonathan Swift and Samuel Johnson were concerned about preserving the English language, which they believed was in a state of constant deterioration. Earlier in this unit, you completed an activity in which you analyzed language rules and related questions of usage. In this task, you will choose a common topic related to language usage and grammar, examine it in detail, and write a short essay to present your findings.
Choose one of the topics listed below or a topic of your choice that is related to language issues and usage:
- double negatives
- “ain’t” (See the controversy regarding the labeling of “ain’t” in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.)
- incorrect or nonstandard verb forms
- frequently confused words (fewer/less, infer/imply)
- use of around and on to replace more specific prepositions such as about
Write an essay on the language issue you chose in which you explain the background of the issue and take a stance on regarding the usage rules related to the issue. Be sure your essay addresses the following points:
- Explain the rule or language issue you chose.
- Discuss if there are times when a language rule can be broken or changed.
- Explain the views of language experts on this topic. Do they agree or conflict? Is the usage rule controversial?
- Include the data on usage you gather from your interactions with friends or by listening to people on the radio or on TV.
- Take a clear stance about the usage rules related to the issue you chose. If possible, specify which rules seem preferable in specific contexts.Clarify whether you think following the rule is important and under which circumstances it’s best to follow the rule.