Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History

Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History

by Anne Curzan
     
 

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Over the past 300 years, attempts have been made to prescribe how we should and should not use the English language. The efforts have been institutionalized in places such as usage guides, dictionaries, and school curricula. Such authorities have aspired to 'fix' the language, sometimes by keeping English exactly where it is, but also by trying to improve the current

Overview

Over the past 300 years, attempts have been made to prescribe how we should and should not use the English language. The efforts have been institutionalized in places such as usage guides, dictionaries, and school curricula. Such authorities have aspired to 'fix' the language, sometimes by keeping English exactly where it is, but also by trying to improve the current state of the language. Anne Curzan demonstrates the important role prescriptivism plays in the history of the English language, as a sociolinguistic factor in language change and as a vital meta-discourse about language. Starting with a pioneering new definition of prescriptivism as a linguistic phenomenon, she highlights the significant role played by Microsoft's grammar checker, debates about 'real words', non-sexist language reform, and efforts to reappropriate stigmatized terms. Essential reading for anyone interested in the regulation of language, the book is a fascinating re-examination of how we tell language history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Anne Curzan takes prescriptivism seriously; this informative, engaging and readable book deserves serious attention from anyone with an interest in the history - or the future - of English."
Deborah Cameron, University of Oxford

"This is the most sensible study I have read of the urge to fix and regulate the English language. Anne Curzan is one of the most accomplished historical linguists at work today, and Fixing English represents a clear and effective case for why, like it or not, "prescriptivism" has always been with us."
Seth Lerer, University of California, San Diego

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781139949118
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
05/08/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Anne Curzan is Professor of English in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.

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