Grammarian Great Schism?

One of my favorite websites to check daily is dictionary.com.  It is more than just a reference guide to find the right word, or the correct definition.  Thanks to their blog, the site is an excellent source of information for all things language.  Today, as I played around, flipping from post to post, I found that Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” (parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, and yes, it will stick in your head) has moved even dictionary.com to comment.

I’m sure all of my readers have seen the video, as it appears to be flying nonchalantly about facebook.  (I have been tagged by four different friends who have shared the video; and that’s after I shared it on my own timeline!)  It certainly seems to be having a bigger impact than the previous release intended to drum up interest in his new album, “Tacky” (parody of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”, which will also, sadly, get stuck in your head).

The post that dictionary.com released illuminates a distinction between grammarians, which I didn’t know existed: prescriptive vs. descriptive.  Having read about these two schools, I find that I, like Weird Al, practice prescriptivism.  I thoroughly believe that rules and standards of language were developed for a reason, specifically to facilitate clarity and precision in communication, and that there is little need for change in the rules.  Descriptive thought tends toward allowing language to change and grow with its speakers, such as that which drives the editors of the OED.

Check out the article, and see where your loyalties lie: tradition or evolution?

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Grammarian Great Schism?

  1. Robert

    Descriptivism doesn’t allow anything: it simply describes language as it is, and because language is in a continual state of flux it will describe the changes that are occurring rather than attempting to deny them. Attempting to prevent language changing is futile.

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