Prescriptivism in other languages?

Fowler is a virtual icon of British prescriptivism. But what about other languages? Do other languages – French, Dutch, Russian, Chinese … – have similar traditions of prescriptive writing on language for a general public?

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One Response to Prescriptivism in other languages?

  1. The Russian language definitely has a similar tradition of usage guides writing. This tradition goes back to (at least) the beginning of the twentieth century, to pre-Soviet times with Černyševʼs Pravilʼnostʼ i Čistota Russkoj Reči (“Correctness and purity of Russian discourse”). This book was published in 1914 as one of the earliest of the genre, and usage guides continued to make their appearance during the Soviet period, when Rozentalʼs Praktičeskaja Stilistika Russkogo Jazyka (“Practical Stylistics of the Russian Language”, 1972) and Govorite i Pišite Po-russki Pravilʼno (“Speak and Write Russian Correctly”, 1979) were published.
    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Russia experienced a veritable boom in the publication of reference books on Russian usage aimed at the general public with catchy titles like Govorim Po-russki s Olʼgoj Severskoj (“Letʼs Speak Russian with Olʼga Severskaja”, 2004), Govorim Po-russki s Marinoj Korolёvoj (“Letʼs Speak Russian with Marina Korolёva”, 2005), Govorim Po-russki Pravilʼno (“Letʼs Speak Russian Correctly”, 2007) and others.The authors of these books are all journalists with a background either in linguistics or philology. These usage guides were largely created as commercial projects, in line with the authors’ work for the national newspapers, radio and television.
    Probably more similar books of this genre were written during the twentieth century (or even earlier) as a consequence of particular social and socio-political processes but this should be further investigated.

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