Find out about standardiation, descriptive and prescriptive attitiudes towards language change.

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Standardisation Notes
Standardisation: making all variations of language conform to standard language.
For Standardisation Against Standardisation
Johnathan Swift's Language Academy (1712) ­
The Oxford English Dictionary ( 19th
century) ­
set up to protect English against the change of
This included language from all classes and it tried
`barbaism' and to refine language to a certain
to be descriptive.
Dr Samuel Johnson's dictionary (1755) ­ to
preserve political order and to safeguard language. The Plain English Campaign a re not concerned
BUT with `good' or `correct' English but with an
Language was only was taken from the upper and avoidance of `gobbledygook' which makes
middle class and the working classes language communication of any kind unnecessarily difficult.
was ignored.
Bishop Robert Lowth's grammar book (1772) ­
Jonathan Green (2000) ­ Present language
"to deviate from grammar was to displease God"
should be able to change without judgement.
so culture was about being `correct'.
The Queen's English Society ­ "Language
Jean Aitchison (1996) ­ We should not be giving
changes are the result of ignorance and which
prestige to dead languages. You can comment on
become established because of indifference". You
how language is used but you cannot pass on any
need to speak like the queen so that you sound
value judgements on language change.
Standard English Nonstandard English
Correct Incorrect
Pleasant Ugly
Acceptable Unacceptable
Harvey and Shalom (1997) ­ A problem area in
Morally acceptable Morally unacceptable
language is often indicated by the fact that there
Appropriate Inappropriate
are many alternative variations of a concept which
Useful Useless
lacks a neutral form. There are a range of
Donald Mackinnon (1996) ­ The prescriptive categories:
attitude in newspapers can be broken down into: Technical
Dysphemistic (a group of taboo words)
Norman Tebbit ­ If we do not use correct English
then you are talking like a criminal because they
speak using nonstandard English.
Randolph Quirk ­ Standardisation leads to social
Robert Burchfield (1981) ­ gave advice to BBC
presenters on pronunciation. He said that all words
should be pronounced the same no matter what
your accent or dialect was.
The Apostrophe Protection Society aim to
preserve the correct use of abused punctuation


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