The Futility of Linguistic Prescription

When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.

With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and subtile for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strength. The French language has visibly changed under the inspection of the academy; the stile of Amelot's translation of Father Paul is observed, by Le Courayer to be un peu passé; and no Italian will maintain that the diction of any modern writer is not perceptibly different from that of Boccace, Machiavel, or Caro.


Folksonomies: language prescriptivism descriptivism

/law, govt and politics (0.147277)
/business and industrial (0.112533)
/family and parenting/children (0.109450)

repulse intruders (0.981959 (negative:-0.535838)), Linguistic Prescription (0.974773 (neutral:0.000000)), equal justice (0.963005 (neutral:0.000000)), certain time (0.958664 (neutral:0.000000)), sublunary nature (0.940622 (neutral:0.000000)), legal restraints (0.930110 (positive:0.235522)), Le Courayer (0.902473 (neutral:0.000000)), Father Paul (0.902049 (neutral:0.000000)), peu passé (0.899708 (neutral:0.000000)), modern writer (0.897752 (negative:-0.274168)), French language (0.893071 (neutral:0.000000)), mutability (0.718518 (neutral:0.000000)), century (0.706293 (neutral:0.000000)), lexicographer (0.703747 (neutral:0.000000)), Machiavel (0.701679 (neutral:0.000000)), Futility (0.701298 (neutral:0.000000)), elixir (0.695196 (neutral:0.000000)), syllables (0.691579 (neutral:0.000000)), undertakings (0.691087 (positive:0.398611)), stile (0.689937 (neutral:0.000000)), vigilance (0.686299 (negative:-0.363442)), folly (0.685086 (neutral:0.000000)), diction (0.684829 (negative:-0.274168)), vanity (0.679115 (neutral:0.000000)), corruption (0.678893 (neutral:0.000000)), avenues (0.678752 (negative:-0.226423)), fugitives (0.678746 (negative:-0.298739)), Caro (0.675068 (neutral:0.000000)), decay (0.674177 (neutral:0.000000)), academies (0.673826 (neutral:0.000000))

Father Paul:Person (0.682815 (neutral:0.000000)), Le Courayer:Person (0.653271 (neutral:0.000000)), Caro:Person (0.626803 (neutral:0.000000)), Amelot:City (0.605076 (neutral:0.000000)), writer:JobTitle (0.578255 (negative:-0.274168)), thousand years:Quantity (0.578255 (neutral:0.000000))

Linguistics (0.970006): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
French language (0.814869): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Language (0.675075): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Academy (0.671364): website | dbpedia | freebase
Word (0.522237): dbpedia | freebase
Grammar (0.492839): dbpedia | freebase
Italian language (0.460932): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Change (0.447797): dbpedia

 Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Johnson, Samuel (2014-04-17), Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language, Bookpubber, Retrieved on 2015-01-12
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: education


    31 DEC 2010

     Arguments for English Spelling Reform

    This schema is a collection of arguments about how proper grammar, with its illogical and inconsistently applied rules, is used by academics and intellectuals to create a privileged class of people who's ideas deserve considering because they have successfully learned the irrational system.
    Folksonomies: phonetics grammar
    Folksonomies: phonetics grammar