Language Prescription: Values, Ideologies and Identity

Edited by: Don Chapman, Jacob D. Rawlins

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Multilingual Matters
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234mm x 156mm
Price: £119.95
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This book is a detailed examination of social connections to language evaluation with a specific focus on the values associated with both prescriptivism and descriptivism. The chapters, written by authors from many different linguistic and national backgrounds, use a variety of approaches and methods to discuss values in linguistic prescriptivism. In particular, the chapters break down the traditional binary approaches that characterize prescriptive discourse to create a view of the complex phenomena associated with prescriptivism and the values of those who practice it. Most importantly, this volume continues serious academic conversations about prescriptivism and lays the foundation for continued exploration.

In this useful and illuminating collection, contributors methodically demonstrate whether specific norms affect language change and how prescriptive attitudes index group or individual identities—multilingual, postcolonial, national, religious, professional. Indeed, linguists should be led to question their identification with 'descriptivism', as binaries like 'descriptive vs prescriptive' are examined and dismantled.

Carol Percy, University of Toronto, Canada

In linguistics, prescription is usually opposed to description. But this volume explores a variety of ways in which this binary can be seen to function as only one of many. Several of these represent truly innovative perspectives, and will serve to inspire further study in this highly topical field of research.

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, The Netherlands

A rich and diverse collection exploring competing and overlapping values represented in prescriptive and descriptive approaches to language. With historical and contemporary data from English and other languages, the authors demonstrate that the continuum of complex values between the poles undercuts a binary distinction and much else that has handicapped analyses couched in antipodal terms.

Edward Finegan, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California, USA

The editors of this volume have drawn together a really interesting set of papers that show the range of approaches that can be taken when accommodating a prescriptive perspective in a descriptive study of language. I have not even scratched the surface of these interesting contributions in this all-too-brief review. Readers working in the field of prescriptivism will find some of the contributions familiar, but having the range of approaches gathered together, with each chapter containing its own list of references, makes this a very useful resource. Newcomers to the field will find it an invaluable starting point for any number of investigations.

LINGUIST List 32.2267

Don Chapman is an Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at Brigham Young University, USA. His research focuses on the history of the English language, prescriptivism, and the intersection of those two topics.

Jacob D. Rawlins is an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at Brigham Young University, USA. His research focuses on the editing and publishing profession, interactive data displays, and applied rhetorical theory.


Jacob D. Rawlins and Don Chapman: Introduction

Part 1: Prescriptivism vs. Descriptivism: An Untenable Binary

Chapter 1. John E. Joseph: Is/Ought: Hume's Guillotine, Linguistics, and Standards of Language

Chapter 2. Marla Perkins: Inferring Prescriptivism: Considerations Inspired by Hobongan and Minority Language Documentation

Chapter 3. Don Chapman: Are You a Descriptivist or a Prescriptivist? The Meaning of the Term Descriptivism and the Values of those Who Use it

Part 2: Prescriptivism vs. Linguistics: An Unnecessary Binary

Chapter 4. Lieselotte Anderwald: The Linguistic Value of Investigating Historical Prescriptivism

Chapter 5. Viktorija Kostadinova: Examining the Split Infinitive: Prescriptivism as a Constraint in Language Variation and Change

Chapter 6. Marten van der Meulen: Language Should be Pure and Grammatical: Values in Prescriptivism in the Netherlands 1917–2016

Chapter 7. Loreta Vaicekauskienė: Maintaining Power through Language Correction: A Case of L1 Education in Post-Soviet Lithuania

Part 3: Responding to Correctness: Personal Values and Identity

Chapter 8. Carmen Ebner: "Good Guys" vs "Bad Guys": Constructing Linguistic Identities on the Basis of Usage Problems

Chapter 9. Alyssa A. Severin and Kate Burridge: What do "Little Aussie Sticklers" Value Most?

Chapter 10. Nola Stephens-Hecker: Grammar Next to Godliness: Prescriptivism and the Tower of Babel

Chapter 11. Kate Burridge: Linguistic Cleanliness is Next to Godliness—But Not for Conservative Anabaptists

Part 4: Judging Correctness: Practitioner Values and Variation

Chapter 12. Giuliana Russo: Fowler's values: Ideology and a Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926)

Chapter 13. Linda Pillière: US Copy-Editors, Style Guides, and Usage Guides and their Impact on British Novels

Chapter 14. Jonathon Owen: Practicing Prescriptivism: How Copyeditors Treat Prescriptive Rules


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