Sunday, October 21, 2007

Prescriptive and descriptive grammar

The August 22nd lecture "Prescriptive vs Descriptive Approaches to Grammar" by Dr. Amy Fountain, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona is the introduction to a linguistics lecture series that I found through iTunes U and is available as a podcast.

I used to be a stickler for rules in language. Not only in Dutch, also in English and Hebrew (and other languages I dabble in). Being explained in the is lecture the difference between prescriptive grammar (the stickler) and descriptive (whatever we find people use and passes for comprehensible and correct language), brightens up a whole area in my life. With regret I recall the useless discussions in my childhood whether a certain use of Dutch was correct or not. It was prescriptively incorrect en descriptively correct - nothing more nothing less. Could have thought of it myself, but never did.

So, I am going to go for more lectures. As opposed to what you might expect from a linguistic lecture, there is a lot of visuals going on. Even to the point of certain texts, sentences, words, shown in Dr. Fountain's power point and she doesn't even read them out loud to the poor podcast audience. A bit of a drawback that I will hope won't prove to be disastrous. Need not be.

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