Approaches to Language
Prescriptivists believe thatEnglish is governed by a set frules which dictate a
‘proper’ & ‘correct’ use of
They believe that if the ‘rules’
are not obeyed, the speaker
or writer is ‘wrong’.
The form of English they see
as ‘correct’ has a high social
it is associated withformal written & spokenlanguage & is used indictionaries, grammar, books& language handbooks.
Descriptivists observelanguage as it is spoken or written in different situations.
They aim to describe theways in which languagevaries according to the user,the use & the context.
Descriptivists recognise theneed for a standard form oflanguage as a point ofcomparison. Although theybelieve that some usage is
‘wrong’ (I in live town the),
they are more interested indescribing variations from
the standard as ‘non
standard’ than as ‘incorrect’.