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What Descriptivism is

 
 
JTT
 
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 12:54 pm
This thread was started to try to explain just what it is that Descriptivists do.

It isn't within the realm of Descriptivism to criticise other people's grammar. There is a group dedicated to that and they are called Prescriptivists.

Descriptivists do, of course, criticize other people's takes on grammar when they feel that the language is being misrepresented.

Another thing that Descriptivists do is gather actual examples of people using language. Who would it think it particularly bright to describe the behavior of penguins without actually observing penguins' behavior?

Is there something inherently wrong with being puzzled about how someone collocates a certain structure? I can't imagine why there should be, or would be.

Is there something wrong with wanting to know the reasons, [dialectal variation, grammar instruction, parental instruction/ ... , for someone following that course in language use? Seems odd that such would be the case.

Are my own penned structures as they appear here and elsewhere subject to the same degree of scrutiny? Indubitably. What's good for the Yankee is good for the Aussie, Kiwi, Canuck, Brit, even McTag.

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George
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 01:13 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Descriptivists do, of course, criticize other people's takes on grammar when
they feel that the language is being misrepresented.

For example?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 01:26 pm
@George,
My thread on modals for one, George. Prof Pullum's article on Strunk & White. Setanta's, Merry's, McTag's, ... take [when they're being descriptive] on some aspect of language. The examples abound in the English section.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 03:17 pm
@JTT,
The Language Log

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/

===========================

Grammar Puss

http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/1994_01_24_thenewrepublic.html

====================

The Decline of Grammar

http://www.pbs.org/speak/speech/correct/decline/

===================

There Are No Postmodernists In a Foxhole

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/fish.html

==================

Language Myth #21
Americans are Ruining English

http://www.pbs.org/speak/ahead/change/ruining/

====================

Gatekeeping

http://www.pbs.org/speak/speech/correct/gatekeeping/

============

HOW GRAMMARS OF ENGLISH. HAVE MISSED THE BOAT. THERE'S BEEN MORE FLUMMOXING THAN MEETS THE EYE.

[put this in a Google search and you can click on the HTML version]
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 07:41 pm
Quote:

Say It Ain't So

by Stanley Fish

People don't think naturally in the future perfect or in parallel constructions or in the subjunctive mood; rather these grammatical alternatives are learned, and learned with them are the ways of thinking they make possible -- relating to one another on a time-line events or states of being that have not yet happened; lining up persons, objects, and actions in relationships of similarity and opposition; reasoning from contrary-to-fact assertions to assertions about what was or could be done in the past, present, or future.

http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2002/06/2002062101c.htm



Have you ever heard such meretricious claptrap. And this guy teaches English? Children as young as five or six routinely and correctly use the subjunctive mood.

What they don't do is limit themselves to the few forms of the subjunctive left in our language.

Children of that age pretty much have all the necessary structure of language. But Professor Fish believes that these types of language structure don't come until people are taught these things in college.

Does Professor Fish think children use the subjunctive, the future perfect, to mouth empty ideas? If so, who would they be doing this for and why?

This fella really needs to head on back to Grammar 101. This time though, he needs a reality based Grammar 101.
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