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Johnson
May 10th 2004
From Economist.com


FROM 1992 until 1999 The Economist published a monthly column on the English language, under the by-line 'Johnson', as in Samuel Johnson, the famous man of letters and dictionary-maker. The columns, and a few later, longer articles, (listed below) were all written by Stephen Hugh-Jones. He writes now:

“My aim was to entertain readers, not learnedly instruct them; quite shamelessly, I'm an enthusiast of language, not linguistics, a curio-collector, not a professor. We were once taken to task by an academic: why did we not cover language as seriously as other topics? I answered him that one can describe a car as riding smoothly, without dilating on the geometry of its hyperdihedral MacPherson struts. I suspect the real answer was simpler: we could have offered the coverage he wanted, but it for sure wouldn't have been me that wrote it. And, yes, to be wholly serious for once, that 'me' is indeed English, whether pedants like it or not.”

Johnson's manifesto | “-ee” endings | The BBC | Prepositions | Pedantry and precision | Indian English | French and English | Scrabble | “Might” and “might have” | The “New Shorter” OED | The “Wordplay” exhibition | William Tyndale | Greek and Latin | Appropriating names | Terms for females | Britain and America | Dennis Potter | English dialects | American sporting metaphors | Lost words and black talk | Words with opposite meanings | Quaint rules | The politics of language | Hemispheres and language | Borrowed English | “The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language” | Changes of name | War and language | “The United States” | Context | “May” and “might” | Plurals | The “Oxford English Grammar” | Apostrophes | Caribbean English | Film dialogue | English dialects | Neudeutsch | The vocabulary of prejudice | Shibboleths | Trademarks | The language of politics | Sporting metaphors | Mediocrity | The Scottish Language |Standard English | Border-crossing words | Famous last words | Chaim Bermant | The language of command | The language of soccer | Classical etymology | Three new English dictionaries | the case against capitalism | Hurrah/boo words | Received pronunciation | English, the world language








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The online version of “The Economist Style Guide” provides guidance on English usage.





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