Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

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aokoye
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby aokoye » Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:18 pm

Speakeasy wrote:Cainntear, your assertion “there is such a thing as right and wrong thought” evokes the very worst aspects of political and religious dogma … “thoughtcrime” would be Orwellian formulation.

Cainntear and Serpent, your representation of prescriptivism as being inexorably linked to “discrimination, wrong thought, favouritism by birth, racist ideas” requires substantiation. Putting your hyperbole aside for the moment, I wonder if you could please direct us all to some widely-accepted sociological studies that provide objectively-verifiable support for your points of view? Uh, that is, something other than subjective pseudo-studies supporting a “new” dogma.

So I don't have the energy to address all of your requests right now but I wanted to address two of them even though I neither Serpent or Cainntear. To your first bit in terms of whether or not there can and can't be wrong thoughts. I think I understand where you're coming from but at the same time I would say that somethings are just wrong. Thinking that someone is a lesser human being because of a Y race race or being X nationality for example. That's not ok. Sexism? Also not ok. Yes we all have implicit biases but I also think we should work on dealing with how to unlearn them.

I'm confused what you mean in terms of a "new dogma". Linguistics as a field has been pretty anti prescriptivism for decades so it's nothing new. It doesn't take a lot of Google scholar searching to find linguistic prescriptivism linked to discrimination. Also would you define what a "pseudo-study" is and give an example of where one has been cited in this thread? I will admit to having skimmed a chunk of it a while ago.
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby galaxyrocker » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:07 pm

Speakeasy, I feel like you're trying to deny the fact that prescriptivist-based discrimination exists. Have you never heard some be called stupid because of their accent/dialect? Have you never heard anyone throw on a Southern Dialect, or try (and often butcher) to speak African-American Vernacular English when mimicking how African-Americans talks? If that's not discrimination, what is? It's quite clear that people still associate non-standard dialects with lower education, when they're equally as valid as any standard version.
Last edited by galaxyrocker on Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:21 pm

The level of support leaves me breathless! Being the favoured "paratonnerre", please allow me state simply and clearly that I am not so insensitive or so ill-formed as to ignore the existence of what-even-I-would-accept-as discrimination based on values and beliefs that stand in stark contrast to widely-held principles of equality and justice. Nevertheless, I refuse to accept that support of prescriptivism in matters of language promotes such discrimination as an inexorably resultant effect. You may all chose to differ, but I will stand by my beliefs in this matter.
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aokoye
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby aokoye » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:42 pm

Speakeasy wrote:The level of support leaves me breathless! Being the favoured "paratonnerre", please allow me state simply and clearly that I am not so insensitive or so ill-formed as to ignore the existence of what-even-I-would-accept-as discrimination based on values and beliefs that stand in stark contrast to widely-held principles of equality and justice. Nevertheless, I refuse to accept that support of prescriptivism in matters of language promotes such discrimination as an inexorably resultant effect. You may all chose to differ, but I will stand by my beliefs in this matter.

So in fewer words what you're saying is that you refuse to accept the idea that linguistic prescriptivism can promote discrimination based on the linguistic features of someone's speech?
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Cainntear
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby Cainntear » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:46 pm

Speakeasy wrote:PS to Cainntear: To my mind, the jarring “woah, there” was totally uncalled for. It displays a lack of respect for your interlocutor, who has just as much right as you to express his opinions in a civil and respectful manner.

At the risk of saying "you started it", you might want to look back at what you wrote that I was responding to. I'm afraid that was about as civil as I was able too be after your somewhat Islamophobic choice of insult in the message I was responding to.

Anyway, as to objectivity and subjectivity, I have never heard of anyone whose habitual speech matches any particular prescriptivist grammar book. This means that prescriptivism is empirically and objectively wrong.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:21 am

aokoye wrote: So in fewer words what you're saying is that you refuse to accept the idea that linguistic prescriptivism can promote discrimination based on the linguistic features of someone's speech?
There are numerous causes of discrimination. I wrote that support of prescriptivism does not lead, inexorably, to discrimination. I would add that I not believe that all prescriptivists are condemned to devalue other human beings (as you seem to suggest). You may choose to believe this, but I do not share your opinion.
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby galaxyrocker » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:29 am

Speakeasy wrote:
aokoye wrote: So in fewer words what you're saying is that you refuse to accept the idea that linguistic prescriptivism can promote discrimination based on the linguistic features of someone's speech?
There are numerous causes of discrimination. I wrote that support of prescriptivism does not lead, inexorably, to discrimination. I would add that I not believe that all prescriptivists are condemned to devalue other human beings (as you seem to suggest). You may choose to believe this, but I do not share your opinion.



Then how do you explain the fact that people judge people's education levels simply based on how they talk and associate non-standard forms (i.e. "wrong" forms to the prescriptivist) with lower education?
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Cainntear
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby Cainntear » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:35 am

Speakeasy wrote:
aokoye wrote: So in fewer words what you're saying is that you refuse to accept the idea that linguistic prescriptivism can promote discrimination based on the linguistic features of someone's speech?
There are numerous causes of discrimination. I wrote that support of prescriptivism does not lead, inexorably, to discrimination. I would add that I not believe that all prescriptivists are condemned to devalue other human beings (as you seem to suggest). You may choose to believe this, but I do not share your opinion.

The fact that prescriptivism doesn't lead to everyone discriminating is different from the fact that it doesn't inevitably lead to (some) discrimination.

Not wearing a seatbelt doesn't lead to everyone dying, but it does make death in crashes more likely. We wear seatbelts not because they do necessarily save our lives, but because they might.
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby dampingwire » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:43 am

Serpent wrote:@dampingwire we're discussing linguistic discrimination because it's a language forum. There are other kinds of discrimination too, of course.


I realise that, but your are starting from the position of "prescriptivism means some things are right and some things are wrong, that gives people a stick with which to beat other people, therefore prescriptivism must be bad". I disagree with the bit that follows the therefore. If people choose to equate a particular speech pattern with a particular negative (or positive) attribute, that's their lookout. It's not (IMHO) a good reason to have a downer on prescriptivism.

Cainntear wrote:Anyway, as to objectivity and subjectivity, I have never heard of anyone whose habitual speech matches any particular prescriptivist grammar book. This means that prescriptivism is empirically and objectively wrong.


Unless any particular descriptivist grammar book happens to state "anything not in this book is fine too" then you'll find any given person failing to match that book too, unless the grammar was built around that person and their speech patterns remain constant.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Descriptivism, prescriptivism and the evolution of language

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:45 am

Cainntear wrote: ... your somewhat Islamophobic choice of insult in the message I was responding to.
For the record, my post read as follows: "Should the Ayatollah's of "Right Thought" ever read Orwell, they would likely conclude that Smith's ultimate submission was his salvation."

As a descriptivist, you are undeniably aware that, in Western Popular Culture, the term “Ayatollah” has become synonymous with unrelentingly harsh, dogmatic, arbitrary, authoritarian rule. Had I chosen to use the over-wrought term “Fascist”, would you have called me a Marxist-Leninist?

My point is that you seem to have adopted a position that knows no middle ground. The copy/paste post that was transferred from a separate discussion thread, and which served as a prompt for this latest round of intolerance, was "the adoption of a "prescriptivist" or a "descriptivist" point of view is a matter of personal preference and that neither position can be proved as being more correct or having greater value than the other."

It is quite apparent that you hold quite strongly to your beliefs. What leaves me absolutely flummoxed is that (1) you cannot accept that they are merely your chosen "beliefs" and not "absolutes" and that (2) you do not perceive the inherent danger of maintaining that “there is such a thing as right and wrong thought” which, to me, evokes the very worst aspects of political and religious dogma. To wit, my comment "they would likely conclude that Smith's ultimate submission was his salvation", was meant to underscore your unquestioning adherence to your own set of beliefs.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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