Next generation of prescriptivists?

“I am a pedant. There is no question about it. Everyone I know would agree, and I accept and embrace it. I have no problem with being called a nerd, or a geek, or any synonyms of these words.”

Albert Gifford

These are the words of Albert Gifford, a 15-year-old schoolboy from Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Despite his young age, Albert has the courage to take on big giants when it comes to grammar. Recently, he has managed to force the supermarket giant Tesco to change its Orange juice packaging over a grammar mistake. Apparently, Tesco’s orange juice is the “most tastiest”. Albert, however, won’t rest on his oars and has his eyes set on BMW. Read his comment in The Guardian to find out more about it.

Whether to correct or not to correct other people’s mistakes was discussed in a previous blog post by Robin Straaijer. Would you correct your family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances? Albert says the following in The Guardian:

” … I try to hold back the temptation to correct people. My friends and family get quickly irritated if I point out their mistakes, and I have tried to accept that people make errors in speech, as they often just blurt things out with little thought …”

What surprised me was Albert’s dedication and his reasoning for complaining to the media and commercial giants. According to him, large companies have a responsibility and need to set a good example.

As I am investigating attitudes towards usage problems in British English, I am always interested in finding out what people think about “poor” language use. Reading Albert’s account makes me wonder whether the phenomenon of language prescriptivism will ever cease to exist or whether it will be a constant companion. Is there a next generation of prescriptivists?

About Carmen Ebner

Carmen Ebner is a sociolinguist. In September 2017, she has obtained her PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) in the Netherlands, where she worked on a project on language attitudes and prescriptivism in British English. Carmen's research interests include all things sociolinguistics. In particular, she is interested in linguistic discrimination, attitude elicitation techniques, language variation and change, and historical sociolinguistics.
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1 Response to Next generation of prescriptivists?

  1. tpr says:

    But is this about prescriptivism? It would also be a mistake from a descriptive point of view. The only way it wouldn’t be a mistake is if “most tastiest” is actually representative of usage in a particular linguistic community / register.

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