Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3  September 2020                                            Pp.305-317

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Is the linguists’ View of Prescriptive Grammar Reductionist?
(A Re-examination of the Accusations Made against the Prescriptive Tradition)

               Sultan Mohammed Saaiyed Al- Rushaidi
                Department of English Language & Literature
Rustaq College of Education
University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Oman 




This paper seeks to intellectually stimulate researchers who are interested in the history of grammar and the long-standing debate about prescriptivism. Contrary to popular belief, there are scholars who still put forward arguments about the significant role played by prescriptive grammar in the development of Modern Standard English. Such counter-arguments are usually absent in many introductory textbooks to linguistics, which portray prescriptive grammar in a negative light. Nonetheless, only by listening to both sides of the debate, researchers can make a more objective judgment, avoid reductionist views, and encourage students of linguistics to engage in critical thinking. Therefore, the aim of this study is to re-examine the accusations made against prescriptive grammar by investigating various sources that give a different perspective on the origins and significance of the prescriptive tradition. The study has found that there is a strong connection between the prescriptive school of grammar and the development and preservation of Modern Standard English. Instead of being an impediment, the prescriptive approach that began in the 18th Century was a historical necessity at a time when linguistic variations were out of proportion and accepted standards were absent. The founders of this school did a great service to the English-speaking world by their contributions to the creation of a standard variety that has facilitated communication between speakers of diverse dialects of English. Unfortunately, the merits of this school have been buried by blanket accusations that lack careful analysis of what the works of prescriptive grammarians contained. The study has also shown how the dismissal of the prescriptive grammar can have negative outcomes and why it is important to re-examine the allegations made against it by modern linguists.
Keywords: descriptive grammar, language change, meaning shift, prescriptive grammar,  standard language, vernaculars,

Cite as: Al- Rushaidi, S.M.S. (2020). Is the linguists’ View of Prescriptive Grammar Reductionist? (A Re-examination of the Accusations Made against the Prescriptive Tradition)). Arab World English Journal11 (3) .305-317.


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Sultan Mohammed Al Rushaidi works as a lecturer of TESOL for the University of Technology and
Applied Sciences in Oman. He has an M.A in TESOL. His teaching and research interests include
linguistics, historical linguistics, applied linguistics, translation and interpreting, and language
teaching methodology. He has taught several courses such as Sociolinguistics, Readings in Applied
Linguistics, Report Writing, and Communicative Language Teaching.