Inner Prescriptivism

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Dec 4 21:18:02 UTC 2005

When prescriptivism serves the cause of lucidity, it is no sin.

  When it undermines that cause, it is no virtue.

  Sez me.

Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Fred Shapiro
Subject: Inner Prescriptivism

Jesse Sheidlower just referred in a posting to his "inner prescriptivist."
I notice that it is not uncommon for linguists and lexicographers on this
list to criticize pet-peeve linguistic usages, contrary to the usual
descriptivist ideology of linguistic scholars. I wonder whether there
have ever been any studies done of closet prescriptivism among linguists.
(I did see a study a few years ago revealing that members of the UCLA
English Department, in their own private reading for pleasure, actually
preferred the literature of dead white European males.)

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
Access and Lecturer in Legal Research Yale University Press,
Yale Law School forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at

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