Prescriptivism and Descriptivism

So, you seem to be at an impasse. On the one hand, you have generations of grade school English teachers rightly warning their pupils that people might chuckle at them if they use the word ‘irregardless’. On the other hand, you have the scientific rigor of the modern linguistic community touting descriptivism as the torch-bearer of truth and enlightenment. Are you doomed to choose between a democracy of solecisms and a library of thousand-page tomes of writer’s regulations? Are things really that bleak?

Of course not. You have the luxury of picking the view that suits you at any moment. You can leave it to the descriptivists to confirm what makes up the language, and the prescriptivists to guide you on how to make it flow sweetly and clearly into the minds of others. Members of these groups tend to bicker and say that the others are destroying the language or poisoning the minds of the children. It is rarely true that these claims are valid. As long as you keep your wits about you, it is not so hard to tell when a descriptivist is being overly forgiving of bad writing or a prescriptivist is blindly spouting advice on language that hasn’t been relevant for the last sixty years. Neither is it a bad idea to keep an open mind towards new ways of saying something, or consult a style manual for tips about how to communicate your ideas effectively.


Folksonomies: language descriptivist prescritivist

/family and parenting/children (0.574368)
/law, govt and politics/government (0.542472)
/art and entertainment/books and literature (0.530859)

grade school English (0.969127 (neutral:0.000000)), modern linguistic community (0.921948 (positive:0.522226)), thousand-page tomes (0.792593 (negative:-0.624061)), scientific rigor (0.736939 (positive:0.522226)), writer’s regulations (0.683727 (negative:-0.624061)), bad writing (0.668888 (negative:-0.631933)), bad idea (0.666589 (negative:-0.464835)), open mind (0.652729 (negative:-0.464835)), new ways (0.652272 (negative:-0.464835)), language (0.495498 (negative:-0.713678)), minds (0.481576 (negative:-0.084170)), descriptivism (0.446103 (positive:0.522226)), impasse (0.443746 (negative:-0.245281)), hand (0.443003 (positive:0.226979)), wits (0.398737 (neutral:0.000000)), pupils (0.395761 (neutral:0.000000)), generations (0.386598 (neutral:0.000000)), moment (0.382006 (positive:0.608495)), enlightenment (0.381273 (positive:0.522226)), suits (0.378108 (positive:0.608495)), Prescriptivism (0.377471 (neutral:0.000000)), democracy (0.375868 (negative:-0.624061)), teachers (0.373698 (neutral:0.000000)), people (0.373523 (neutral:0.000000)), word (0.373262 (neutral:0.000000)), luxury (0.372180 (positive:0.608495)), things (0.371474 (positive:0.486210)), course (0.370686 (negative:-0.228342)), torch-bearer (0.368384 (positive:0.522226)), truth (0.367568 (positive:0.522226))

Prescriptivism:Person (0.773177 (neutral:0.000000)), writer:JobTitle (0.707152 (negative:-0.624061)), sixty years:Quantity (0.707152 (neutral:0.000000)), one hand:Quantity (0.707152 (neutral:0.000000))

Idea (0.936369): freebase | opencyc | dbpedia
Linguistics (0.869635): freebase | opencyc | dbpedia
Mind (0.802212): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Reason (0.747963): dbpedia | freebase
Style guide (0.737243): dbpedia | freebase
Natural language (0.727969): opencyc | dbpedia | freebase
Writing (0.714013): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Cognition (0.702196): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Prescriptivism and Descriptivism
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Cameron, (2012-10-15), Prescriptivism and Descriptivism, English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, Retrieved on 2015-01-12
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: language


    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