In linguistics, prescription or prescriptivism is the practice of championing one variety or manner of speaking of a language against another. It may imply a view that some forms are incorrect or improper or illogical, or lacking in communicative effect, or of low aesthetic value. Sometimes it is informed by linguistic purism. Normative practices may prescribe on such aspects of language use as spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and syntax. Linguistic prescriptivism includes judgments on what usages are socially proper and politically correct. Its aims may be to establish a standard language, to teach what is perceived within a particular society to be correct forms of language, or to advise on effective communication. If usage preferences are conservative, prescription might (appear to) be resistant to language change; if the usage preferences are radical, prescription may produce neologisms.
Prescriptive approaches to language, concerned with how the prescriptivist recommends language should be used, are often contrasted with the alternative approach of descriptive linguistics, which observes and records how language actually is used. The basis of linguistic research is text (corpus) analysis and field studies, both of which are descriptive activities; but description includes each researcher’s observations of his or her own language usage. Despite apparent opposition, prescription and description can inform each other, since comprehensive descriptive accounts must take into account speaker attitudes, while some understanding of how language is actually used is necessary for prescription to be effective.
Famous quotes containing the words grammar and/or nazi:
“All the facts of nature are nouns of the intellect, and make the grammar of the eternal language. Every word has a double, treble or centuple use and meaning.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Time grows dim. Time that was so long
grows short, time, all goggle-eyed,
wiggling her skirts, singing her torch song,
giving the boys a buzz and a ride,
that Nazi Mama with her beer and sauerkraut.
Time, old gal of mine, will soon dim out.”
—Anne Sexton (19281974)