ERIC Number: ED276286
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Why Linguists Should Deal with "Good Language" and "Bad Language."
Linguists generally refuse to make judgments about language or define standards of excellence for it. This perpetuates a fundamental paradox of descriptive linguistics: the inability to describe a language without providing a standard or setting a norm. The discipline's desire to escape from ethnocentrism has caused it to avoid a legitimate and desirable function: evaluating languages according to their suitability for different forms of communication. The speech community expects linguistic judgments from linguists. Just as Latin was consciously shaped into a learned language, other languages can and should be cultivated to serve new communicative needs. Written language has a crucial role in this process, but the precise role is a major challenge for linguists. However, the process of cultivation should not be confused with purification, which is ideological and does not consider the complexity or sophistication of language. In a world where technological innovation is rapid and quickly trickles down to the nonspecialist public, deliberate language cultivation is more necessary than ever. (MSE)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at a Conference on Vernacular Languages for Modern Societies (Bad Homburg, West Germany, June 11-15, 1985).