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Perspectives on Prescriptivism

Beal, Joan C. / Nocera, Carmela / Sturiale, Massimo (eds)

Perspectives on Prescriptivism

Series: Linguistic Insights - Volume 73

Year of Publication: 2008

Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2008. 269 pp., 9 tables and graphs
ISBN 978-3-03911-632-4 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.390 kg, 0.860 lbs

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Book synopsis

The colloquium Perspectives on Prescriptivism (20-22 April 2006) was hosted by the University of Catania – Faculty of Foreign Languages – in Ragusa. Until very recently, the received view among linguists was that prescriptivism was a ‘bad thing’, something only worth considering in order to condemn it as a product of unenlightened thinking. The organisers wished to encourage participants to look at linguistic prescriptivism from a wide range of perspectives. Some of the main questions asked were: To what extent is the concept of prescriptivism to be considered a typical product of the 18th century? What is the attitude of 21st-century scholars and language guardians towards linguistic ‘correctness’? To what extent were books more prescriptive – rather than descriptive – in what has generally been described as ‘the age of correctness’? Some of the answers are to be found in this volume.


Contents: Joan C. Beal: ‘Shamed by your English?’: the Market Value of a ‘Good’ Pronunciation – Marina Dossena: Prescriptivism a Century Ago: Business Correspondence Taught to Emigrants - A Case Study – Karlijn Navest: Ash’s Grammatical Institutes and ‘Mrs Teachwell’s Library for her young ladies’ – Larisa Oldireva Gustafsson: Phonoaesthetic Assessment of Words in 18th-century Prescriptions and Later – Carol Percy: Liberty, Sincerity, (In)accuracy: Prescriptions for Manly English in 18th-century Reviews and the ‘Republic of Letters’ – Laura Pinnavaia: Charles Richardson: Prescriptivist or Descriptivist? An Analysis Based on A New Dictionary of the English Language (1836-37) – Giuliana Russo: Joseph Priestley’s The Rudiments of English Grammar; Adapted to the Use of schools. With Observations on Style (1761) – Massimo Sturiale: Prescriptivism and 18th-century Bilingual Dictionaries. William Perry’s The Standard French and English Pronouncing Dictionary (1795) – Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: The Codifiers and the History of Multiple Negation in English, or, Why Were 18th-century Grammarians So Obsessed with Double Negation? – Laura Wright: Social Attitudes Towards Londoners’ Front-glide Insertion After Velar Consonants and Before Front Vowels – Nuria Yáñez-Bouza: To End or Not to End a Sentence with a Preposition: An 18th-century Debate.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Editors: Joan C. Beal is Professor of English Language and Director of the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. She has published extensively on Late Modern English and Dialectology.
Carmela Nocera is Professor of English and History of English at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures of the University of Catania, Italy. Her research interests and publications are mainly in the field of Translation Studies and literary language in its diachronic and lexicological aspects.
Massimo Sturiale is Researcher of English Language at the University of Catania, Italy. He teaches English and History of the English language. His published and current research focuses on English historical linguistics, Elizabethan translations from Italian, 18th-century English lexicography (mainly pronouncing dictionaries) and Received Pronunciation.


Linguistic Insights. Studies in Language and Communication. Vol. 73
Edited by Maurizio Gotti