Misuse and abuse

August 9, 2012

John Radford ("Precise definitions", Letters, 2 August) says that in asking to which historical point we should refer for standards of English correctness, I am asking the wrong question, and that it has no answer. He evidently missed the heavy sarcasm in my "question", as this was precisely my point.

He and I would probably disagree on what is and isn't a "misuse" of English and who should decide. But we at least agree that English, like all living language, changes over time in line with its primary communication function rather than, as Michael Hollas would have us believe ("Singularly annoying", Letters, 19 July), that "correct" English was engraved in stone in some particular golden age.

Jennifer Jenkins, Chair of global Englishes, University of Southampton

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