Descriptivism and Prescriptivism

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For centuries, language has been evolutionary. Take the English Language from example; it progressed from Old English (an example would be a heroic epic poem Beowulf) which was used in the earlier centuries until the 13th century, when it was mostly reformed into Middle English (as shown in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer), until Early Modern English replaced it in the 15th century (what we know now as the works of William Shakespeare), which eventually developed into the Modern English that English speakers are familiar with nowadays. The journey English Language embarked on over the centuries first emerged over time out of the many dialects and languages of the existing colonizing tribes, thus earning itself the name of a “borrowing” language, with an enormously distinct vocabulary, and then gradually forming its own distributive dialects, like the American English, British English, Canadian English, etc. With such monumental changes throughout time, it makes some curious and wonder how and who started each deviation. A question soon arises: “What or who’s to say which form of English is better than the others?” In Authority and American Usage, David Foster Wallace presented a language war between Prescriptivists, whom he mostly referred to as SNOOTs, and Philosophical Descriptivists. He claimed that “we SNOOTs are just about the last remaining kind of truly elitist nerd” [Wallace p.624] and that SNOOTs, being the arrogant Dogmatic Spirits that they are, maintain the notion that Standard Written English (SWE) is the “best” language out of all English dialects, and should be the only representation of the English Language. On the other hand, Descriptivists believe that the “Spoken language is the language.” [Wallace p.633] I personally feel that language does not determine a person’s worth in society (elitist or not), but instead helps to display said person’s ability to handle or react accordingly to a given situation. There are several circumstances where Descriptivism helps to alleviate issues, and there are others where using SWE will be the wiser choice out of the many dialects. As said, it is better to stand back, determine what kind of scenario you are facing, before taking the next step. Prescriptivism is, what a Descriptivist describes as, conventional English that is orthodox, rigid, prejudiced, bigoted, dogmatic, and in other words: unfair. It is further cast in unfavorable views by the fact that people are generally uncomfortable with how SNOOTs react to, how very particular they are about the current “abuse” of the English Language, like what Wallace shared in his footnotes about his reaction to his literature students’ first papers, I all but pound my head on the blackboard; I get angry and self-righteous; I tell them they should sue their hometown school boards, and mean it. The kids end up scared, both of me and for me. [Wallace p.624] SNOOTs are the sort of people who scoff or wince around bad grammar usage, whether they hear it from conversations or see it around like EXPRESS LANE – 10 ITEMS OR LESS. They despair at how English is being defiled by the masses and deem themselves as the elites saving the waning fate of the English language from the plebeians. They speak in perfect grammatically correct English and tolerate no other forms of dialects; they live, talk and breathe SWE. In comparison, a Descriptivist is one who regards the rules of SWE as superfluous and thinks that proper English usages like felt instead of feeled are archaic and tiresome rules. Instead, a Descriptivist feels that one should keep up with the current trend – writing descriptively and speaking with norms, a “common language” that people have agreed to be the best way to understand one another and thus accomplish their intended purposes much faster. The reasoning is that ‘since everyone is speaking this way, I might as well follow suit so that I’ll fit in’, in other words – the sheep mentality. In fact, this mentality is...
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