Prescriptivism and sociolinguistics

One of the few introductions to sociolinguistics that includes a discussion on prescriptivism is Mesthrie et al.’s Introducing Sociolinguistics (2nd ed. 2009, Edinburgh University Press).

On p. 110, the book defines prescriptivism as “the dominant ideology in language education [which] holds that changes in language occur to the detriment of the language, and are a result of sloppiness, laziness and a lack of attention to logic”.

The authors add: “Sociolinguists feel that there is thus a need for a more scholarly understanding of the processes of change and their social context”, and it is interesting to see how the notion of prescriptivism – fairly uniquely it appears – is made to feature in this approach to sociolinguistics.

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