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Outline the difference between a prescriptive and descriptive approach to language.

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Introduction

My task for this essay is to outline the difference between a prescriptive and descriptive approach to language. Grammar is the underlying structure of language and is a socially agreed framework; it is needed as it allows groups of words to be linked together in ways that make sense. If there was no grammar, language would be a meaningless jumble. "Grammar is the sum of the conventions of Standard English". This is written in the prescriptive approach and suggests that rules are essential. Some of the non-standard features include taboo language (swearing), slang, dialect features, spoken features and language seen as rude. In class we did an exercise to show the importance of grammar. We were told to write any word on a piece of paper and pass it on throughout the difference members in the class. ...read more.

Middle

Prescriptive approach: - this type of approach indicates whether an extract of language is grammatically correct. This variety of language has an inherently higher value that others, and that this ought to be imposed on the whole speech community. The rules for the prescriptive approach originally come from the Latin and Greek language. These languages have an unchanging form and are now models for other languages, like English. This rule is used because Latin and Greek are 'dead languages' but English is not. E.g. you should say or write 'It is 'I and not 'It is me', because the verb 'be' is followed by the nominative case in Latin, not the accusative in English. Some of the prescriptive rules of English are: Don't split infinitives, don't use double negation, don't end a sentence with a preposition, and don't use who in place of whom. ...read more.

Conclusion

He implied that because 'slang' words were ever-changing, they were never entered into the dictionary as it would almost at once, be out of date; this is because new slang words are being created all the time. The rules for the prescriptive approach were originally adopted into English from Latin and from mathematics. Speech patterns imposed by speakers with high social prestige also gave an influence. Descriptive rules may come from saying what 'makes sense?' Also saying what is easily understandable. It may just be the way that English, French, Swahili and other languages work. I prefer descriptive grammar as it is not a personal choice to follow it - it is automatic. It also does not require explicit teaching for you to understand, as it is a natural way of speaking for me. Using this approach to language, I analysis an extract by saying does it make sense? Also I do not speak as I would write unlike the prescriptive approach advises. ...read more.

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