From time to time popular books on English grammar are published with titles like Is It Good English?, and even more frequently newspapers publish letters from readers who express their loathing of this or that feature of pronunciation or syntax. From such publications one might gain the impression that there are only two varieties of English — the good and the bad — but this is a serious over-simplification. Many criticisms of linguistic habits arise from a failure to realise that there are many varieties of English and to recognise the characteristics of each variety. Thus, conversation is sometimes criticised because it does not conform to the rules of the written language, and British readers have condemned Americans because they choose to write in American rather than in British English. A very common cause of bad speaking or writing is the use of the wrong variety for a particular occasion: talking like a book, or using slang on a formal occasion, or failing to use slang on an informal occasion. Other critics recognise the existence of British and American English as varieties, each with its right to exist, but raise an outcry if there is any sign of borrowing from one variety into the other.
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