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Blaming the media? Folk attitudes towards the state of the English language and its ‘wrongdoers’: A further invitation to contribute to questions studied by the ‘Bridging the Unbridgeable Project’ at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

  • Carmen Ebner

Every now and then one stumbles across complaints about the decaying state of the English language. British English is under threat from American English. English is dying or just on the verge of drawing its last breath. Recurring allegations similar to these are made by worried, albeit self-opinionated, speakers who are not only quick to declare the time of death of English, but also to point the finger at who they think is to blame for these developments. As part of my PhD project on usage attitudes in British English, I included the somewhat general question ‘What do you think about the state of the English language?” in an online questionnaire which was completed by 230 informants from Great Britain in order to obtain an insight into commonly held beliefs about British English. This particular question generated answers from 176 informants who shared their personal beliefs, or rather fears, about the state of the English language. In this article, I would like to share some of the insights gained through the preliminary analysis of these answers and invite you to contribute by completing a survey on this topic.

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Aitchison, J. 1998. The Media are Ruining English. In Bauer, L. and Trudgill, P. (eds.), Language Myths. London: Penguin, pp. 1522.
Allen, J. 2003. The BBC News Styleguide. Online at (Accessed November 3, 2015).
Bell, A. 1983. Broadcast news as a language standard. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 40, 2942.
Butterfield, J. 2008. Damp Squid: the English language laid bare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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