Prescription and Tradition in Language Establishing Standards across Time and Space Edited by: Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Carol Percy

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14 Nov 2016
Multilingual Matters
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


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 - Dina Strong, Birkbeck University of London, UK

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 - Colin Reilly, University of Glasgow, UK

Author Biography:

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.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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