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Perspectives on Prescriptivism


Joan C. Beal, Carmela Nocera and Massimo Sturiale

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 18 th century? What is the attitude of 21 st -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.