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First published in 1991, An Uncommon Tongue explores the theme of usage in its widest sense: usage as what we say or write; usage as a social question; usage as a literary convention; usage and creativity.
The book reflects on the practice and status of the English language in the modern world and the demands it makes on its academic disciplines. It puts forward the argument that the study of usage transcends both the 'prescriptive' and 'descriptive' and is ultimately 'constructive', displaying the resources of language and exploring their use.