Historically, linguistic prescriptivism originates in a standard language when a society establishes social stratification and a socio-economic hierarchy. The spoken and written language usages of the authorities (state, military, church) are preserved as the standard language to emulate for social success; see social class. To distinguish itself from contemporary colloquial language, standard language usage includes archaisms and honorific colours. Like-wise, the style of language used in ritual also differs from quotidian speech. Special ceremonial languages known only to a select few spiritual leaders within a community are found throughout the world.
When a culture develops a writing system, orthographic rules for the consistent transcription of linguistic outputs allows for a large number of speakers to understand written communications with minimal difficulty. Linguists largely disregard native writing systems, replacing the conventional symbols of the language they are researching with phonetic transcriptions, but they nonetheless rely on some shared orthographic representation in order to preserve semantic identities with data sets. This is most commonly achieved by providing the conventional orthographic representation of the English translation of a word alongside the IPA transcription of the word's pronunciation when spoken by a native speaker.
Early historical trends in literacy and alphabetization were closely tied to the influence of various religious institutions: Western Christianity propagated the Latin alphabet; Eastern Orthodoxy, the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets; Judaism, the Hebrew alphabet; Islam, the Arabic alphabet; and Hinduism, the Devanagari script;. In certain traditions, strict adherence to prescribed spellings and pronunciations was and remains of great spiritual importance. Islamic naming conventions and greetings are notable examples of linguistic prescription being prerequisite to spiritual righteousness. Another commonly cited example of prescriptive language usage closely associated with social propriety is the system of Japanese honorifics.
Government bureaucracy tends toward prescriptivism as a means of enforcing functional continuity. Such prescriptivism dates from ancient Egypt, where bureaucrats preserved the spelling of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt into the Ptolemaic period through the standard usage of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Most, if not all, languages with a significant number of speakers demonstrate some degree of social codification through speaker adherence or non-adherence to prescriptive rules. Linguistic prestige is a central research topic within sociolinguistics. Notions of linguistic prestige apply to different dialects of the same language and also to separate, distinct languages in multilingual regions. Prestige level disparity often leads to the phenomenon known as diglossia, wherein speakers make a conscious decision not to use a dialect of language with a prestige level perceived to be lower than that of an alternative dialect or language in certain social contexts, even if this "lower prestige" language is their native one.
Read more about this topic: Linguistic Prescription
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