On the Social Nature of Linguistic Prescriptions

Open access


The paper proposes an empirical method to investigate linguistic prescriptions as inherent corrective behaviors. The behaviors in question may but need not necessarily be supported by any explicit knowledge of rules. It is possible to gain insight into them, for example by extracting information about corrections from revision histories of texts (or by analyzing speech corpora where users correct themselves or one another). One easily available source of such information is the revision history of Wikipedia. As is shown, the most frequent and short corrections are limited to linguistic errors such as typos (and editorial conventions adopted in Wikipedia). By perusing an automatically generated revision corpus, one gains insight into the prescriptive nature of language empirically. At the same time, the prescriptions offered are not reducible to descriptions of the most frequent linguistic use.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bańko M. (2008). O normie i błędzie [On norms and errors]. Poradnik Językowy 5 3-17.

  • Drake G. (1977). American linguistic prescriptivism: Its decline and revival in the 19th century. Language in Society 6 (03) 323-340.

  • Finegan E. (2003). Linguistic prescription: Familiar practices and new perspectives. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 23 213-224.

  • Goldman A.I. (1994) What is justified belief. In H. Kornblith (Ed.) NaturalizingEpistemology (pp. 105-130). Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Itkonen E. (2008). The central role of normativity in language and linguistics. In J. Zlatev T.P. Racine C. Sinha & E. Itkonen (Eds.) The Shared Mind: Perspectiveson Intersubjectivity (pp. 279-305). Amsterdam: John Benjamins

  • Lodge R. (1991). Authority prescriptivism and the French standard language. Journal of French Language Studies 1 93-111.

  • Miłkowski M. (2008a). Automated building of error corpora of Polish. In B. Lewandowska- Tomaszczyk (Ed.) Corpus Linguistics Computer Tools and Applications- State of the Art. PALC 2007 (pp. 631-639). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Miłkowski M. (2008b). Postulowanie utajonych funkcji umysłu: realizm kontra antyrealizm [Positing latent functions of the mind: realism versus antirealism]. In S. Wróbel (Ed.) Utajone funkcje mysłu [Latent Functions of theMind] (pp. 15-37). Poznań: Wydział Pedagogiczno-Artystyczny UAM.

  • Miłkowski M. (2010). Developing an open-source rule-based proofreading tool. Software - Practice and Experience 40 (7) 543-566.

  • Miłkowski M. (2011). Automating rule generation for grammar checkers. In S.

  • Góźdź-Roszkowski (Ed.) Explorations Across Languages and Corpora. PALC2009 (pp. 123-133). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Miłkowski M. & Lipski J. (2011). Using SRX standard for sentence segmentation. In Z. Vetulani (Ed.) LTC 2009 Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 6562 (pp. 172-182). Berlin: Springer.

  • Pisarek W. (1978). Słownik języka niby-polskiego czyli błędy językowe w prasie [Dictionary of Quasi-Polish or Linguistic Errors in the Press]. Wrocław: Ossolineum.

  • Rudnicka E. (2007). O kryteriach oceny poprawności językowej i ich roli w warsztacie współczesnego językoznawcy normatywisty [On the criteria of language correctness and their role in the methodology of contemporary normative linguists]. Przegląd Humanistyczny 2007 (3) 111-120.

  • Searle J. (1995). The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press.

  • Strunk W. (1918). The Elements of Style. Ithaca NY: W.P. Humphrey.

  • Woodward J. (2003). Making Things Happen. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.118
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.410

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 1818 1217 73
PDF Downloads 1956 1226 4