Prescriptivism in different linguistic fields

Lynne Truss’s Eats Shoots and Leaves (2003) deals with punctuation, while Fowler’s Modern English Usage (1926 and later editions) deals with grammar and lexis. Do we find usage guides in fairly equal numbers for all linguistic fields, spelling, punctuation, grammar, pronunciation? Have there perhaps been any changes in focus in this respect over the years?

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2 Responses to Prescriptivism in different linguistic fields

  1. The King’s English (1997) by Kingsley Amis contains entries on various linguistics fields (except maybe punctuation). There’s a fairly equal number of entries on grammar, pronunciation and etymology. We don’t find many of those on spelling though.
    As for Fowler, what about the entries with “pronounce …” or “pronounce … not …” (for example, in eschscholtzia).

  2. Paul Bennett says:

    Now that the whole world uses English as the international language (to the extent that we now speak of “Englishes”) it might be dangerous to publish a guide on how to pronounce English words. If anybody who speaks English as their second language wants such a work, you can guide them towards the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s OK to help people understand the difference in meaning between “auger” and “augur”, or “sunk” and “sank” but it would be asking too much to expect everyone to pronounce a word a certain way, especially when the native speakers from Britain pronounce things differently in towns only a few kilometres apart.

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