Monday, December 01, 2008

Such a bitter bounty

My direction has been swerving heavily towards issues of prescriptivism and all it's strange forms. I'm not just looking at the structures they (the peevologists and prescriptivists) pre-/pro-scribe but also the arguments they use. Their assumptions about language. Their assumptions about linguistics. Their assumptions about descriptivism. What they ignore. What they don't notice. What they don't know. (Yes Casey. Some of this is knowledge.)

I have subscribed to several peevological blog feeds and I thought I would be running into the same ol' arguments that we've heard and discarded. But I'm so delighted to find such varied confusion out there. From big names who are considered experts. On language.

We already knew they were out there, but I'm just so happy to see that categorizing the mistakes and misapprehensions will be fruitful. If you know of any good 'highly regarded' prescriptivist sites or sources please send them my way. They need their due attention.


  1. No useful links for you at the moment, but I will venture that a common basis for peevology is a belief in an absolute standard of correctness. (What the actual correct form of something is is a point of argument even among the peevologists themselves, as you note.)

    I would guess that a large percentage, but not all, peevologists believe that any deviation from the standard to which they subscribe is a failing -- an educational failing, or, as I believe many people think, a moral failing. ("People are too lazy to learn the correct forms.")

    A truly thoughtful prescriptivist will, I suspect, stop short of condemning people (or society) for the existence of "substandard" dialects. But all will fly the banner of absolute truth w/r/t language, I think.

  2. I'll be interested to read about them -- on a diagonal note: can you incorporate the blogs of peevologists into your academic work, or is that dipping too low into the barrel?

    Just curious. When I was in the throes of dissertating, there were a few literary blogs I wished I could have introduced, but it was (alas) "too early."


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