Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3  September 2020                                            Pp.305-317
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol11no3.19

Full Paper PDF

 

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 

 

 

 

Abstract:
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.
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol11no3.19

References

Al-Duri, M. (2014). دقائق الفروق اللغوية في البيان القرآني (The Subtle Differences of Meaning in Quranic Discourse). Beirut : Dar Al Kotob Al Ilmiyah.

Al Ghazali, A. (2015). The Book of Knowledge: Book 1 of The Revival of Religious Sciences (K. Honerkamp, Trans.). USA : Fons Vitae.

Al Ghazali, A. (2010). كتاب آفات اللسان :الكتاب ٢٤ من إحياء علوم الدين  (Book of the Vices of the Tongue, book 24 of  The Revival of Religious Sciences). Cairo : Dar Al Fajr Liltorath.

Al Masdi, A. (2011). العرب والانتحار اللغوي (Arabs and Linguistic Suicide). Beirut : Dar Al Kitab Al Jadidah Al Motahidah.

Al Tha’labi, A. (2015). فقه اللغة ( [The Science of] Understanding Language). Beirut : Al Maktabah Al Asriyah.

Crystal, D. (2006). The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Crystal, D. (2008). Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare’s Language. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Crystal, D. (2010). A Little Book of Language. USA : Yale University Press.

Crystal, D. (2017). Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Crystal, D. (2019). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

Denham, K. & Lobeck, A. (2013). Linguistics for Everyone. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Hall, R. A. (1960). Linguistics and your language. United States : Anchor Books.

Heffer, S. (2010). Strictly English. UK : Random House Books.

Hitchings, H. (2011). The Language Wars : A History of Proper English. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Hornsby, D. (2014). Linguistics: a Complete Introduction. London. Teach Yourself.

Mulroy, D. (2003). The War Against Grammar. USA : Heinemann

Pinker, S. (1995). The Language Instinct. New York: Harper Perennial.

Pinker, S. (2014). The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. New York: Penguin Books

Ostade, I.T.V. (Ed.). ( 2008). Grammars, Grammarians and Grammar-Writing in Eighteenth-Century England. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on tumblr
Tumblr
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon
Share on digg
Digg
https://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol11no3.19
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on tumblr
Share on digg
Share on email
Share on reddit
Share on stumbleupon
Share on vk

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.
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2740-0261