Language Prescription Values, Ideologies and Identity Edited by: Don Chapman, Jacob D. Rawlins

Hardback - 328 pages
Related Formats:
30 Sep 2020
Multilingual Matters
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


This book is a detailed examination of social connections to language evaluation with a specific focus on the values associated with both prescriptivism and descriptivism. The chapters, written by authors from many different linguistic and national backgrounds, use a variety of approaches and methods to discuss values in linguistic prescriptivism. In particular, the chapters break down the traditional binary approaches that characterize prescriptive discourse to create a view of the complex phenomena associated with prescriptivism and the values of those who practice it. Most importantly, this volume continues serious academic conversations about prescriptivism and lays the foundation for continued exploration.


In this useful and illuminating collection, contributors methodically demonstrate whether specific norms affect language change and how prescriptive attitudes index group or individual identities—multilingual, postcolonial, national, religious, professional. Indeed, linguists should be led to question their identification with ‘descriptivism’, as binaries like ‘descriptive vs prescriptive’ are examined and dismantled.

- Carol Percy, University of Toronto, Canada

In linguistics, prescription is usually opposed to description. But this volume explores a variety of ways in which this binary can be seen to function as only one of many. Several of these represent truly innovative perspectives, and will serve to inspire further study in this highly topical field of research.

- Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, The Netherlands

A rich and diverse collection exploring competing and overlapping values represented in prescriptive and descriptive approaches to language. With historical and contemporary data from English and other languages, the authors demonstrate that the continuum of complex values between the poles undercuts a binary distinction and much else that has handicapped analyses couched in antipodal terms.

- Edward Finegan, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California, USA

Author Biography:

Don Chapman is an Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at Brigham Young University, USA. His research focuses on the history of the English language, prescriptivism, and the intersection of those two topics.

Jacob D. Rawlins is an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at Brigham Young University, USA. His research focuses on the editing and publishing profession, interactive data displays, and applied rhetorical theory.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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