Prescription and Tradition in Language: Establishing Standards across Time and Space

Edited by: Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Carol Percy

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This book contextualises case studies across a wide variety of languages and cultures, crystallising key interrelationships between linguistic standardisation and prescriptivism, and between ideas and practices. It focuses on different traditions of standardisation and prescription throughout the world and addresses questions such as how nationalistic idealisations of 'traditional' language persist (or shift) amid language change, linguistic variation and multilingualism. The volume explores issues of standardisation and the sociolinguistic phenomenon of prescription as a formative influence on the notional standard language as well as the interconnections between these in a wide range of geographical contexts. It balances the otherwise strong emphasis on English in English language publications on prescriptivism and breaks new ground with its multilingual approach across languages and nations. The book will appeal to scholars working within different linguistic traditions interested in questions relating to all aspects of standardisation and prescriptivism.

Long ignored by professional linguists, or dismissed as 'unnatural' or 'artificial', prescriptivism in language is in this volume the object of serious scientific investigation. This collection explores the vast range of sociolinguistic contexts for prescriptivism, and firmly demonstrates the important place for this research in general linguistics.

Douglas A. Kibbee, University of Illinois, USA

This volume shows how much we gain in our understanding of standardization and standard languages by looking at a wide range of languages over time, in monolingual and, importantly, multilingual cultures. No matter what language you study, papers here will challenge your thinking about theory and methods and how prescription works in today's world.

Anne Curzan, University of Michigan, USA

This anthology provides useful reading for scholars, practitioners and policy makers interested or working in language policy, language planning, variation and change. The book offers the reader a valuable overview of the issues related to standardisation of major and minor language across the globe.

BAAL News, Issue 114, Winter 2019

The diverse contexts which are covered...give a global aspect to this readable and accessible volume. It is an important work in (re)theorizing prescriptivism and the process of language standardization. It 'expands the conceptual framework for dis-cussing standard languages' (p.355), and it does this through the multiplicity and breadth of languages and contexts – both across time and space – which are presented.

Kelvingrove Review Issue 16: Rise and Fall

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade is Professor and Chair of English Sociohistorical Linguistics at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Her research focuses on sociohistorical linguistics, standardisation and prescriptivism, Late Modern English, 18th and 19th-century letter writing, and Jane Austen's language.

Carol Percy is Professor of English at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her main research interests are Late Modern English, standardisation and prescriptivism, history of education, women's studies, and children's literature.




1. Carol Percy and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: Prescription and Tradition: Establishing Standards across Time and Space

Part 1: General and Theoretical

2. Dick Smakman and Sandra Nekesa Barasa: Defining "Standard": Towards a Crosscultural Definition of the Language Norm

3. Florian Coulmas: Prescriptivism and Writing Systems

4. Henning Klöter: "What is Correct Chinese?" Revisited

5. Felix K. Ameka: The Uselessness of the Useful: Language Standardisation and Variation in Multilingual Contexts

6. Katja Lochtman: Prescriptivism and Sociolinguistic Competence in German as a Foreign Language

Part 2: Prescription and Tradition

7. Wendy Ayres-Bennett and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade: Prescriptivism in a Comparative Perspective: The Case of France and England

8. Rita Queiroz de Barros: "A Higher Standard of Correctness than is Quite Desirable": Linguistic Prescriptivism in Charles Dickens' Journals

9. Gijsbert Rutten and Rik Vosters: Competing Language Norms in the Southern Low Countries (1815-1830)

10. Heimir van der Feest Viðarsson: The Syntax of Others: "Un-Icelandic" Verb Placement in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Icelandic

11. Dominik Banhold: School Grammars and Language Guides: Prescriptivism in the German Language Codex in the Early Twentieth Century

Part 3: Usage Guides: An English Tradition

12. Robin Straaijer: A Perspective on Prescriptivism: Language in Reviews of The New Fowler's Modern English Usage

13. Mark Kaunisto: Which Entries Need to be Standardised? Variation in the Choice of Entries in Usage Guides

14. Matthijs Smits: "Garnering" Respect? The Emergence of Authority in the American Usage Tradition

15. Don Chapman: Stalwarts, SNOOTs and Some Readers: How "Traditional Rules" are Traditional

Part 4: Re-defining Boundaries: Current Issues and Challenges

16. Martin Gill: "Goodbye, Sweet England": Language, Nation and Normativity in Popular British News Media

17. Danielle Candel: Prescription and Tradition: From the French Dictionnaire de l'Académie to the Official French Language Enrichment Process (1996-2014)

18. Arto Mustajoki: Challenges in the Standardisation of Contemporary Russian

19. Loreta Vaicekauskienė: Language Regimentation as Soviet Inheritance: Joining Scholarship and State Ideology

20. Aleksandra Gjurkova: Prescription and Language Management in Macedonia

21. Pieter Duijff: The Standardisation Process of Frisian: A Word List as a Result

22. Miren Lourdes Oñederra: The Standardisation of Pronunciation: Basque Today, between Maintenance and Variation

23. Pam Peters: Epilogue: On Establishing the Standard Language – and Language Standards


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