Similarities and Differences Between Prescriptive and Descriptive Grammars

888 WordsFeb 13, 20124 Pages
Grammar contributes to the meaningful linkage between words and phrases, making sense of a language semantically in a socially agreed framework. To achieve this, rules and principles are laid down to produce a uniform structure of a language usage. Concerning about social acceptability, different theories have been employed to result in different types of grammatical description (O’Halloran, Coffin 2005). Meanwhile, as language is in a constant state of flux in terms of phonetics, morphology, semantic, syntax, etc (Yule, 2006). Controversial attitudes towards the emotive language evolve, and hence, bringing out two contrasting views – traditional and modern, which correspondingly lead to Prescriptive and Descriptive Grammar. This essay…show more content…
Therefore, being prescriptive, the occurring variants in language cannot be equally treated acceptable, which means that it can never be descriptive. In other words, no similarities exist between prescriptive and descriptive grammars, except that both of them belong to types of grammar, with each having rules to govern the language to mean and function in individual ways. Prescriptivism begins from the 18th century where the favored variety of language has an inherently higher value than others, and that it should be imposed on the whole speech community. The system of unchanging forms of Latin and Greek language is adopted as the model for English language, so prescriptive rules are introduced to English grammar accordingly to ensure the absolute correct usage of it (O’Halloran, Coffin, 2005). In the example of the preposition after \’different’, the Latin form, \’different from\’ is advocated as a Standard English without objections (Crystal, 2003). On the other hand, Descriptivism is put forward by modern USA and Europe grammarians who recognize the changing nature of a language and hence language rules can be flexible, especially to English, which has become a universal language nowadays after years of evolution. If a certain usage of the language is used one way by the majority, a new rule is established.
Open Document