6

THE PRESCRIPTIVE URGE

Wherever languages and dialects co-exist—wherever, that is, one sees multilingualism or multidialectalism—the elements of linguistic struggle are present. In some cases, the combatants are more equally matched than in others, and sometimes there are periods of more or less peaceful co-existence. But, as we have seen, contests do arise, and one form they often take, both between and within languages, is a prescriptive or puristic stance which, given free rein, would often lead to proscription.

I have already noted that languages and dialects cannot—linguistically or aesthetically—be seen in terms of ‘better’ or ‘worse’. Rather, perceived qualitative differences rest upon social convention, which, in turn, derives from social inequalities and stratification, power and status relationships among speakers, and the ebb and flow of historical fortunes in a broad sense. But if these are views generally held by professional students of language, it is clear that they are not widespread. At the level of intralinguistic variation especially, people have very strong ideas about (for example) ‘good’ and ‘bad’ English, about ‘incorrect’ grammar and pronunciation, about allegedly deficient articulation and linguistic ‘laziness’, and about the failure of certain varieties to convey meaning adequately. At the same time, concern also exists for the ‘contamination’ of one language by another, for infiltration and borrowing, and for the bullying of small languages by larger ones; the desire to keep one’s language ‘pure’ has always been strong. In a way, both intralinguistic and interlinguistic anxieties are expressions of a larger issue, one that is powerful precisely because it possesses emotional and symbolic qualities—the relationship between language (or dialect) and individual and group identity. We are dealing, in other words, with matters of psychological import, in which linguistic specifics act as markers, badges, team jerseys.

If we look at the development of psychology itself, at least in the west, we see an historical evolution from prescription to description. Before the discipline became an independent field of enquiry, and when psychological insights were produced by philosophers, theologians and ethicists, many assessments of human nature derived from positions of faith and led to

-146-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Multilingualism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 256

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.