The Similarities and Differences Between Prescriptive and Descriptive Grammars.

Topics: Linguistics, Grammar, Linguistic prescription Pages: 4 (473 words) Published: December 19, 2012
What is Linguistics? Descriptive vs. Prescriptive rules/grammars Linguistic competence vs. performance

Readings: 1.2-1.3
LING 200 -- McGarrity 1

What is Linguistics?
The scientific study and analysis of human language.

LING 200 -- McGarrity


Core Subfields
Phonetics: the study of the physical properties of speech sounds (acoustic phonetics) and how they are made (articulatory phonetics) e.g., Park the car in Harvard yard. [p k k n h v d j d] [p a k d k a n ha v d ja d ] LING 200 -- McGarrity 3

Core Subfields
Phonology: the study of how speech sounds pattern and how they are organized (i.e., the sound system) e.g., brick is a real Eng word blick isn’t an Eng word, but could be bnick isn’t an Eng word and couldn’t be LING 200 -- McGarrity 4

Core Subfields
Morphology: the study of the formation of words.

e.g., unlockable


LING 200 -- McGarrity


Core Subfields
Syntax: the study of the structure of sentences.

e.g., She hit the man with a hammer.

LING 200 -- McGarrity


Core Subfields
Semantics: the study of meaning in language.

-- Vizzini,
The Princess Bride

Pragmatics: the study of how linguistic meaning depends on context. LING 200 -- McGarrity 7

Linguistics is NOT…
… the study of writing …the study of how to speak properly

LING 200 -- McGarrity


Prescriptive grammar
Prescribes rules governing what people should/shouldn’t say

Descriptive grammar
Describes the rules that govern what people do or can say

LING 200 -- McGarrity


Prescriptive rules
“Don’t end a sentence w/ a preposition!” “Don’t split infinitives!” “Don’t use double negatives!”

Clip: “The State of American” LING 200 -- McGarrity 10

Descriptive rules
Phonological: In English, the sounds [rt] can end a word, but not begin it e.g., art, *rta (‘*’ = ungrammatical)

Syntactic: In English, adjectives precede the...
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