Prescriptivism is for the powerful
Posted: 30 May 2012 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The New Yorker May 29, 2012

Repugnant as it may be, the simple answer is that we need to learn prescriptive English because that’s the way the people in power communicate. As far as daily survival is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether the origins of this linguistic power structure are racist, classist, or élitist, or whether they’re based on the whims of dead white males. This is how the system works right now, today, and in order to best get the attention of those in power, to begin to effect change, we must be able to use their dialect. We must know their rules.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/05/language-wars-descriptivists.html#ixzz1wMPlelvl

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Posted: 30 May 2012 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That Acocella piece is the worst thing the New Yorker has published in years, and it makes me regret I recently renewed my subscription.  Read responses by Mark Liberman (follow-up), Jan Freeman, John McIntyre, and me.  It’s a smug celebration of ignorance the magazine should be ashamed of having its name on.

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Posted: 30 May 2012 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And this Bloom piece is little better. This is a straw man and an obvious one at that.

No one, and I mean no one, says that one shouldn’t use a standard register or the publisher’s style when applying for a job or writing for publication. What the so-called “descriptivists” call for is an end to silly rules that have no basis in how anyone has ever written, things like the bans on split infinitives and the passive voice, or that were once standard but now are moribund, like the use of “whom.”

Rather it is the so-called “prescriptivists” who insist that one and only one register of speech is legitimate, and the speech at the local bar must conform to the same rules as formal writing.

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Posted: 30 May 2012 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The article reads as though written by someone who is pretending not to know what he is talking about.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The article was written by their dance critic? What the hell has happened to the New Yorker?

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Posted: 31 May 2012 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Here is a good response from Dialect Blog.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Not since Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella thundered against conserving natural racehorses and protecting endangered feces has a polemicist been so incensed by her own misunderstandings.

Steven Pinker, as well, has an excellent response in Slate.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 05:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Not since Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella thundered against conserving natural racehorses and protecting endangered feces has a polemicist been so incensed by her own misunderstandings.

Can we expect a two word follow up article?

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Posted: 31 May 2012 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Why on earth would someone regret renewing their subscription to a magazine because it had published one article they disagreed with? This seems a bit extreme - they’d be denying themselves all the other admirable articles they agree with.

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