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Prescriptive Grammar Essay

721 words - 3 pages


English grammar had its shape formed in the 18th century. A number of rules and norms on the correct use of English were formulated in the 18th century and copied from book to book all these years. It was assumed that the authors were to be trusted and they were regarded infallible. This grammar of English that originated in the 18th century is called traditional grammar or prescriptive grammar.

Ignoring the truth that language is a record of the conventions followed by the members of the language community and also that the authority that the grammarians refer to is the native speakers, the traditional grammars unscrupulously made English grammar a copy of ...view middle of the document...

The semantic fallacy of traditional grammarians accounts for the definitions of many of the parts of speech. They define an interrogative sentence as one that asks a question:: ‘What have you have done?’ But all questions need not be interrogative.
: ‘You are ready for the test?’

Structurally the sentence is a statement, but it becomes interrogative in nature when it is said with a rising intonation. Traditional grammarians are preoccupied with the same prescription of rules and ‘norms’ or standards of usage. Hence their normative fallacy. They were very particular that language activities should be logical. Sentences like ‘Make the circle rounder’, ‘I am going home tomorrow’ suffer from their logical fallacy. If it’s a circle it must be round and in their view it may be absurd to ask to make it rounder. It is difficult to find the logicality of the word ‘his’ in ‘He put his hand in his pocket’. The question they ask is ‘Do we think that he put somebody else’s hand in to somebody else’s pocket?

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