LINGUIST List 11.615

Sat Mar 18 2000

Sum: Change of English Usage

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Atsuko Umesaki, Change of English Usage

Message 1: Change of English Usage

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 22:47:39 +0900
From: Atsuko Umesaki <>
Subject: Change of English Usage

For Query: Linguist 11.549

With many thanks to those who volunteered to help us, here is a
tentative summary of the survey we conducted on English usage.

1. Sent questionnaire to 46 volunteers, and collected from 36.
2. Breakdowns in terms of:
(a) Nationality: 23 Americans, 8 British, 1 Canadian, 4 Australians
(b) Gender: 19 females, 17 males
(c) Age bracket: (3 -60s), (7 -50s), (5 -40s), (12 -30s), (9 -20s)
3. The sentences asked were:
(1) The police accused him as a murderer. (Meaning the police or
something prosecuted him as a murderer)
(2) He is not easy of access (Meaning he is such an important person
that it is not easy to approach him.)
(3) She was sitting on the chair with her legs across. (Meaning she was
sitting on the chair with her legs crossed.)
(4a) He admonished me that I be punctual.
(4b) He admonished me that I should be punctual.
(Meaning I am often late so that he advised me to be punctual.)
(5) The music is alien from Europe. (Meaning the music sounds exotic and
does not sound like European music.)
(6) He is amorous of the girl. (Meaning he is in love with the girl.)
4. Summary of responses:
figures in the order: OK Possible but (archaic, too formal, etc.)
(1) 1-4-31
(2) 0-3-33
(3) 1-0-35
(4a) 8-2-16
(4b) 18-2-5
(5) 1-0-35
(6) 2-4-30
5. A tentative analysis:
Most of these expressions were used in 16-19century English as is found
in OED and in earlier versions of COD, therefore we have no intention to
put blame on English-Japanese dictionaries for retaining such archaic
or impossibly old-fashioned expressions. Many of the
respondents told us that most of those sentences are archaic or
extremely old-fashioned or impossibly formal; some of these seem
to sound foreign or non-native, but we do not find any
significant differences either among nationalities or among age-brackets
or among genders.
We will use this data for the analysis of changes in the English
 language during the past one hundred or so period of time.

Atsuko F. Umesaki (Tezukayama College)
Katsumasa Yagi (Kwansei Gakuin Umiversity)
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