Language-Change Index. The third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage reflects several new practices. Invariably inferior forms, for example, are now marked with asterisks preceding the term or phrase, a marking common in linguistics. The most interesting new feature is the Language-Change Index. Its purpose is to measure how widely accepted various linguistic innovations have become. Such a measuring system for usage guides was first proposed by Louis G. Heller and James Macris in 1967. They noted that “usage specialists can make a clear-cut demarcation of phases in the evolutionary process relevant to the inception and development of alternative terms.” In these tips, the five stages are tagged as: Stage 1 (“rejected”): A new form emerges as an innovation (or a dialectal form persists) among a small minority of the language community, perhaps displacing a traditional usage (e.g.: *”bleeded” for “bled”). Stage 2 (“widely shunned”): The form spreads to a significant fraction of the language community but remains unacceptable in standard usage (e.g.: “interface” to denote interaction between people). Stage 3 (“widespread but . . .”): The form becomes commonplace even among many well-educated people but is still avoided in careful usage (e.g.: “real” for “really” {he’s feeling real bad}). Stage 4 (“ubiquitous but . . .”): The form becomes virtually universal but is opposed on cogent grounds by a few linguistic stalwarts (die-hard snoots) (e.g.: “above” meaning “more than”). Stage 5 (“fully accepted”): The form is universally accepted (not counting pseudo-snoot eccentrics) (e.g.: “didn’t used to”). *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The average freshman can write reasonably well if he will make an effort, be himself, and proceed step by step.” John E. Jordan, Using Rhetoric xi (1965).
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