Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History
Over the past 300 years, attempts have been made to prescribe how we should and should not use the English language. The efforts have been institutionalized in places such as usage guides, dictionaries, and school curricula. Such authorities have aspired to 'fix' the language, sometimes by keeping English exactly where it is, but also by trying to improve the current state of the language. Anne Curzan demonstrates the important role prescriptivism plays in the history of the English language, as a sociolinguistic factor in language change and as a vital meta-discourse about language. Starting with a pioneering new definition of prescriptivism as a linguistic phenomenon, she highlights the significant role played by Microsoft's grammar checker, debates about 'real words', non-sexist language reform, and efforts to reappropriate stigmatized terms. Essential reading for anyone interested in the regulation of language, the book is a fascinating re-examination of how we tell language history.
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scope and the history of English
Checking grammar and grammar checkers
the Internet in Fall 2012
Dictionaries and the idea of real words
Nonsexist language reform and its effects
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African American ain’t American English American Heritage Dictionary authority captures challenge chapter construction context conversation critique debates derogatory descriptive descriptivists discourse discussion disparaging edition editors efforts English language English speakers error example formal frequency gender grammar checker guidelines history of English homosexual identity terms important inkhorn inkhorn terms institutionalized issues Johnson’s language change language history language reform legitimacy lexicographers linguistic meaning meta-discourses Microsoft grammar checker Microsoft Word Modern English N-word negative nigger nonsexist language reform nonstandard normalcy noun one’s OutWeek phrase politically correct preposition prescriptive grammar prescriptive rules prescriptivism pronoun pronunciation prose published question quoted reappropriation refer registers relative clauses semantic semantic change sentence shift singular slang sociolinguistic speakers and writers specific speech spelling split infinitive spoken language standard English standard variety strands Strunk style guides Stylebook stylistic twenty-first century usage guides usage notes users word queer word’s written language written usage