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18th-century prescriptivism “Rules of grammar” Latin: correct and incorrect Peria qui nosci amare (Herculaneum) Pereat qui non scit amare English ? Ay,

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Presentation on theme: "18th-century prescriptivism “Rules of grammar” Latin: correct and incorrect Peria qui nosci amare (Herculaneum) Pereat qui non scit amare English ? Ay,"— Presentation transcript:

1 18th-century prescriptivism “Rules of grammar” Latin: correct and incorrect Peria qui nosci amare (Herculaneum) Pereat qui non scit amare English ? Ay, here they be that dare and will disturb thee. My ancient incantations are too weak.

2 18th-century prescriptivism ic eomic beo þú ertþú bist hé ishé bið wé, gé, hí sindonwé beoð Ay, here they be that dare and will disturb thee. My ancient incantations are too weak. Old English:

3 18th-century prescriptivism I amI be thou artthou beest he ishe be(eth) we, ye, they arewe be Ay, here they be that dare and will disturb thee. My ancient incantations are too weak. Early Modern English:

4 18th-century prescriptivism “ascertainment,” fixing standardisation, normalisation

5 18th-century prescriptivism Jonathan Swift, Proposal for Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining the English Tongue (1712): Persons, as are generally allowed to be best qualified for such Work,.... should assemble at some appointed Time and Place, and... some Method should be thought on for ascertaining and fixing our Languge forever, after such Alterations are made in it as shall be thought requisite.

6 18th-century prescriptivism De-facto academy: grammars, dictionaries, usage manuals, newspapers columns

7 18th-century prescriptivism Grammars promote form-function symmetry, with a one-to-one relationship between function and form. (Poplack etc 88). Particular forms are associated with particular functions, and competing forms are eradicated. “Variability may be ignored, degraded by associating one or more of the variants with boors, foreigners, or the illiterate, or explained away by imbuing variant forms with subtle semantic distinctions” (Poplack etc 89)

8 18th-century prescriptivism Negative “... or explained away by imbuing variant forms with subtle semantic distinctions” (Poplack etc 89) Positive “... or by increasing semantic distinctions in the written language” - another mode of “enrichment”

9 18th-century prescriptivism “ascertainment,” fixing standardisation, normalization prescription proscription description

10 18th-century prescriptivism Dr Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755 Robert Lowth (larter Bishop of London), Short Introduction to English Grammar 1762

11 I be coming you was a-trying too hard he done it I seen/seed him yesterday that’s the man what I saw that’s the bloke as done it I didn't see nothing mér langar, mig hlakkar til, læknirarnir segja ég heimsótti dóttir mína

12 18th-century prescriptivism which / who (as, at, what) shall / will was / were is-are / be double negative (negative concord) don't split the infinitive ('to bravely tread') don't use prepositions to end sentences with bigger than he/him It is I/me apostrophe 's in the possessive form

13 18th-century prescriptivism apostrophe 's in the possessive form: the king’s, the king’s the child’s, the children’s

14 18th-century prescriptivism Rules of spelling full, beautiful, doubt, queen, quean lady, ladie, ladye evident, important, attendant, superintendent Etymonline, ‘-ent’: suffix forming adjectives from nouns or verbs, from Fr. - ent, from L. -entem, pp. ending of verbs in -ere/-ire. O.Fr. changed many to -ant but after c.1500 some in Eng. were changed back to what was supposed to be correct L

15 18th-century prescriptivism Your language is wrong; mine is right. You have to learn mine. description prescription proscription

16 18th-century prescriptivism Standardization is practical and necessary. All history is progress from worse to better........ ? enrichment: elaboration of the written language....... ?

17 - end -


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