Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are linguists really descriptive?

First, one must decide whether the opposite of a prescriptivist, in language, is a descriptivist. For the sake of this discussion, let's say they are opposites. But that's another discussion because I really doubt it. Don't linguists, steeped in their own vernacular, look down their noses at the rest of us, just as they complain about the perscriptivists? Don't get me wrong, I so much admire many of the linguists or linguists types (I still don't know the real definition of a linguist), but sometimes I feel a little like they are acting much like the prescriptivists, whom I very much don't like. Lynne Truss, for example? Drek! Here is the post on Wordcraft that made me begin to think like this: http://wordcraft.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1576025271/m/8981021135

Oh, and speaking of linguists, tonight the Language Log link works; they said they'd been having problems: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/ I did enjoy this link on their site: And, (prescriptivists on OEDILF tell me that you are NEVER allowed to place a comma after a sentence starting with "and"...which shouldn't be done either!) the Wordcraft link reminded me of another great linguist site: Mr. Verb http://mr-verb.blogspot.com/2008/03/subjective-tense.html


goofy said...

I don't think that descriptivism is the opposite of prescriptivism. The opposite of prescriptivism would be an "anything goes" attitude regarding usage.

If you're referring to some linguists pointing out when people get grammatical terms wrong, this has been discussed on Language Log, with some saying that people should get the terms right, and some saying that it's nothing more than normal extension of words in popular usage. I think one of the Language Loggers said something like "does descriptivism stop at meta-language's edge"...

goofy said...

link: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001726.html