Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Analysing the huge mailbag: Reception of John Honey's The Language Trap: A controversial publication inspiring linguistic comments by members of the general public

  • Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade
Extract

Just after the start of the research project Bridging the Unbridgeable: Linguists, Prescriptivists and the General Public in 2011, we laid our hands on a file called ‘Reactions to L. Trap’. The file contains well over 200 documents: letters, picture postcards, notes, newspaper clippings, and various other items, almost all of them relating to the reception of a pamphlet called The Language Trap, written by John Honey (1933–2001) and published in 1983 by the British National Council for Educational Standards (NCES). The file was offered for sale by Plurabelle Books in Cambridge as part of the late John Honey's library, and acquiring it offered a unique opportunity to study the reception of this highly controversial publication, not only by linguists, but also by the general public. Both groups responded in large numbers to the publicity the pamphlet inspired, in the press as well as on the radio.

Copyright
Corresponding author
References
Hide All
Ager, D. 2003. Ideology and Image: Britain and Language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Amis, K. 1997. The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage [repr. 1998]. London: HarperCollins Publishers.
Beal, J. 2004. English in Modern Times. London: Arnold.
‘British National Corpus.’ Online at <www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk> and <corpus.byu.edu/bnc> (Accessed July 23, 2018).
Burchfield, R. 1981. The Spoken Word: A BBC Guide. London: British Broadcasting Corporation.
Burchfield, R. W. 1996. Fowler's Modern English Usage (rev. 3rd edn., repr. 2004). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burridge, K. 2010. ‘Linguistic cleanliness is next to godliness: Taboo and purism.’ English Today, 26(2), 313.
Cameron, D. 1995. Verbal Hygiene. London/New York: Routledge.
Crystal, D. 2018. ‘Punch as a satirical English usage guide.’ In van Ostade, I. Tieken–Boon (ed.), English Usage Guides. History, Advice, Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 83106.
D'Arcy, A. 2007. ‘Like and language ideology: Disentangling fact from fiction.’ American Speech, 82(4), 386419.
del Rosario Medina Sánchez, B. 2013. ‘Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves and the “Oxford comma”.’ In van Ostade, I. Tieken–Boon (ed.), Prescription and Prescriptivism. MA Course Papers. Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, pp. 7287.
Ebner, C. 2017. Proper English Usage: A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Usage Attitudes in British English. Utrecht: LOT Publications.
Edwards, J. 1983. Review of John Honey, The Language Trap (1983). Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 2, 6776.
Fowler, H. W. 1926. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Graddol, D. & Swann, J. 1988. ‘Trapping linguists: An analysis of linguists’ responses to John Honey's pamphlet “The Language Trap”.Language and Education, 2(2), 95111.
Honey, J. 1983. The Language Trap: Race, Class and the ‘Standard English’ Issue in British Schools. Kenton, Middlesex: National Council for Educational Standards.
Honey, J. 1995. ‘A new rule for the Queen and I?.English Today 11(4), 38.
Honey, J. 1997. Language is Power: The Story of Standard English and its Enemies. London/Boston: Faber and Faber.
Ilson, R. F. 1985. ‘Usage problems in British and American English.’ In Greenbaum, S. (ed.), The English Language Today. Oxford: Pergamon Press, pp. 166–82.
Keith, G. 1990. ‘Language study at Key Stage 3.’ In Carter, R. (ed.), Knowledge about Language and the Curriculum (The LINC Readers). London: Hodder & Stoughton, pp. 69103.
Kerswill, P. 2003. ‘Dialect levelling and geographical diffusion in British English.’ In Britain, D. & Cheshire, J. (2003) (eds.), Social Dialectology. In Honour of Peter Trudgill. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 223–43.
Lange, C. 2012. ‘John Honey AND.’ Online at <bridgingtheunbridgeable.com/2012/04/12/john-honey-and> (Accessed October 3, 2017).
Mair, C. 2006. Twentieth-Century English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Milroy, J. & Milroy, L. [1985] 2012. Authority in Language: Investigating Standard English (4th edn.). London: Routledge.
‘Oxford Education Society, interview with Sir Peter Newsam.’ Online at www.oxes.org.uk/about-us/featured-alumni/peter-newsam/ (Accessed April 29, 2018).
‘Oxford English Dictionary.’ Online at <www.oed.com> (Accessed October 3, 2017).
Tieken–Boon van Ostade, I. (in progress). Describing Prescriptivism.
‘Urban Dictionary.’ Online at <www.urbandictionary.com/> (Accessed October 3, 2017).
Weiner, E. 1988. ‘On editing a usage guide.’ In Stanley, E. G. & Hoad, T. F. (eds.), Words for Robert Burchfield's Sixty-Fifth Birthday. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, pp. 171–83.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed