descriptive/prescriptive

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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by jubilatideo » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:22 am

Please help, What is the difference between descriptive use of the English Language and Prtescriptive use of the English Language?

I'm Desperate.
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:45 am

Descriptive tells it like it is.
Prescriptive tells it like ought to have been, should be, and must remain.
Think describe and prescribe.
Think impressionism and mechanical drawing.
Think do your own thing and ten commandments.
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by Shelley » Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:38 am

jubilatideo, why so desperate? You're on the computer and have many online resources and dictionaries in which find an answer. If you go to Wordwizard's Resources you will find several. Anyway, here's a bit of help from the Oxford American Dictionary:

pre scrip tive |pri?skriptiv| adjective
1 of or relating to the imposition or enforcement of a rule or method : these guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive.
• Linguistics attempting to impose rules of correct usage on the users of a language : a prescriptive grammar book. Often contrasted with descriptive .
2 (of a right, title, or institution) having become legally established or accepted by long usage or the passage of time : a prescriptive right of way.
• archaic established by long-standing custom or usage : his regular score at the bar and his prescriptive corner at the winter's fireside.

DERIVATIVES
prescriptively adverb
prescriptiveness noun
prescriptivism |-?skript??viz?m| noun prescriptivist |-vist| noun & adjective

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: from late Latin praescriptivus ‘relating to a legal exception,’ from praescript- ‘directed in writing,’ from the verb praescribere (see prescribe ).

Thesaurus
prescriptive adjective their instructions are too prescriptive dictatorial, narrow, rigid, authoritarian, arbitrary, repressive, dogmatic.

de scrip tive |di?skriptiv| adjective
1 serving or seeking to describe.
• Grammar (of an adjective) assigning a quality rather than restricting the application of the expression modified, e.g., blue as distinct from few.
2 describing or classifying without expressing feelings or judging.
• Linguistics denoting or relating to an approach to language analysis that describes accents, forms, structures, and usage without making value judgments. Often contrasted with prescriptive .

DERIVATIVES
descriptively adverb
descriptiveness noun

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: from late Latin descriptivus, from descript- ‘written down,’ from the verb describere (see describe ).

Thesaurus
descriptive adjective descriptive prose illustrative, expressive, graphic, detailed, lively, vivid, striking; explanatory, explicative.

See how easy? I'm sure others will direct your attention to other threads which contain lively discussion on this topic. I seem to remember dalehileman's conversion to "former-prescriptivism".
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by hsargent » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:15 pm

Describe is to convey an item or event.

Prescriptive would be how to correction and item or event.

WORD Thesaurus has synonyms of narrow, authoritative, dogmatic, dictatorial, rigid. (These surprise me.)

The Thesaurus for Prescribe has synonyms of fix, lay down, set down, stipulate, order, recommend, advise and impose. (These seem more consistent with my impression of the word.)
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Post by NogaNote » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:02 pm

Descriptive: How things are, look, perceived.
Prescriptive: How things should be.

We are taught in schools how to speak and write "properly". That's how we ought to speak, in accordance with rules, grammar, nice clean language. When we are off school, we are free to use language as we feel, as we wish, creatively, non-standardly, mutinously, ignorantly.

Descriptive: "THE FLOWER GIRL. Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy atbaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them? [Here, with apologies, this desperate attempt to represent her dialect without a phonetic alphabet must be abandoned as unintelligible outside London.]"

Prescriptive:

"THE NOTE TAKER. A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere--no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon."

http://www.enotes.com/pygmalion-text/81409
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by Shelley » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:11 pm

I loathe pigeons.
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by dalehileman » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:39 pm

When it became apparent there's no hope the leftpond deterioration of the Mother Tongue can be halted or even slowed, I turned in my credentials as a frustrated prescriptivist for those of a less critical descriptivist but more at ease

Shelly, I can understand jub's reluctance to address his query by means of the search engine. Many participants, especially beginners, pose queries ultimately resolvable through application to digital techniques, but many of us either lack the patience or the expertise
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:02 pm

Shelley wrote: I loathe pigeons.
I knew Shelley would be there before I scrolled down! Too funny.
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Post by Phil White » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:29 pm

In the field of linguistics, the terms "descriptive" and "prescriptive" refer primarily to the approach adopted by the prople who write dictionaries and grammars of languages. Traditionally, grammars and dictionaries prior to the latter half of the 20 century were designed to explain "the correct" way of using words and grammar. Primarily during the latter part of the 20th century, linguists and lexicographers began to see their task as simply (although it is no simple task) describing the way in which people actually use language without any judgement as to whether such usage is right or wrong. In some ways, the terms can be seen as corresponding to a conservative approach to language (prescriptive) or a liberal approach (descriptive).

Works like Fowler's "The King's English" are generally very prescriptive in their approach, but are still taken by many as gospel, even though the language has moved on a lot since they were first written.

Most modern dictionaries and grammars take a broadly descriptive approach, trying merely to indicate whether a particular usage is mainstream or not. Style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style or Bloomsbury, on the other hand, take a distinctly prescriptive approach.

Most of the time, people actually adopt a mixed approach. Like mine, for instance. I am a decriptivist through and through and I would be very upset if somebody dared to call me a prescriptivist.

Unless, of course, I really dislike a particular usage and regard it as ignorant.

;-)
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by Phil White » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:32 pm


Originally posted by hsargent
...

WORD Thesaurus has synonyms of narrow, authoritative, dogmatic, dictatorial, rigid. (These surprise me.)

It should have included "stupid" and "ignorant".
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descriptive/prescriptive

Post by jubilatideo » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:58 pm

dalehileman Thank-you for your support, though I must point out That I ama she and not a he.

The reason I am so Desperate is that i'm studying for a degree in English language and as I have changed my course of study from music,am finding it really difficult but I think you've all summed up what I need to know so can get on with my next assignment. I also have a three year old and a five month old baby so searching the internet can only be done in the early hours of the morning and conversation is pretty much limited to baby talk.
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