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Research on Prescriptive Grammar and Its Comparison with Descript...

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Research on Prescriptive Grammar and Its Comparison with Descriptive Grammar

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Research on Prescriptive Grammar and Its Comparison with Descriptive Grammar

ii Abstract In English linguistics, there are two approaches which are opposite to each other theoretically: prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar. These two grammars were born in different historical conditions, and the application rules involved in has been still under the dispute through the development of English linguistics. It is significant to study the development trend and application in English language of both grammars, especially to English language learners. This paper attempts to trace the historical background of two grammars and works out the dialectic relationship between prescriptivism and descriptivism. The paper consists four parts. It begins with the brief introduction and definition of prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar, and the following is the history and development of two grammars. Arguments occur between prescriptivism and descriptivism lie in the third part of the paper. At last the paper boils down the conclusion of holding a right attitude to these two grammars.

1 Introduction With the development of English popularization, more and more English grammar books and articles have been published. Prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar as two important principles have triggered a lot argument in the history of English linguistics. Prescriptivism and descriptivism were proposed to satisfied different historical demands and situations. Connatser (2004) explains that prescriptive grammar “is an attempt to express the rules of organic grammar” from other aspects (p. 264). In Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics (1998), prescriptive grammar is also called “normative grammar”, which instructs “the proper use of language” based on “historical, logical and aesthetic considerations” (p. 378). On the other hand, descriptive grammar is defined as the usage experienced in life but not strictly followed rules (p. 120-121). The...