Prescriptivism and Descriptivism

Prescriptivism and Descriptivism - Prescriptivism and...

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Prescriptivism and Descriptivism LIN 306 January 18, 2008
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What is grammar? Two definitions: The grammarian’s definition: the rules for speaking a language “correctly” The linguist’s definition: “the (implicit) knowledge speakers have about their language” Rules for combining sounds into words (phonology) Rules of word formation (morphology) Rules for combining words into sentences (syntax)
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According to linguists… Every human being who speaks a language knows its grammar. No language is superior to any other in a linguistic sense. Every grammar is equally complex, logical, and capable of producing an infinite set of sentences to express any thought.
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Linguistic Competence (Mostly) unconscious, hidden knowledge It’s what you “know” when you know a language. Two parts: Lexicon : words mental inventory of words (sounds + meanings) Mental grammar : rules patterns of forming words & sentences
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Linguistic Competence Linguist’s goal: to figure out (and describe) all the hidden knowledge speakers have stored in their mental grammars and lexicons . If this linguistic knowledge is largely unconscious, how do linguists figure out what we know about language?
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Linguistic Performance People perform their mental knowledge
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Prescriptivism and Descriptivism - Prescriptivism and...

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