Linguistic prescription  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



etiquette, table manners

In linguistics, prescription can refer both to the codification and the enforcement of rules governing how a language should be used. These rules can cover such topics as standards for spelling and grammar or syntax, or rules for what is deemed socially or politically correct or proper. It includes the mechanisms for establishing and maintaining an interregional language or a standardized spelling system. It can also include declarations of what particular groups consider to be good taste. If these tastes are conservative, prescription may be (or appear to be) resistant to language change. If they are radical, prescription may be productive of neologism. Prescription can also include recommendations for effective language usage.

Prescription is contrasted with description, which observes and records how language is used in practice, and which is the basis of all linguistic research. Serious scholarly descriptive work is usually based on text or corpus analysis, or on field studies, but the term "description" includes each individual's observations of their own language usage. Unlike prescription, descriptive linguistics eschews value judgments and makes no recommendations.

Prescription and description are often seen as opposites, in the sense that one declares how language should be while the other declares how language is. But they can also be complementary, and usually exist in dynamic tension. Many commentators on language show elements of both prescription and description in their thinking, and popular debate on language issues frequently revolves around the question of how to balance these.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Linguistic prescription" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools