word order (was Re: Random DWJ discovery of the day)

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Wed Apr 6 12:01:57 EDT 2005


Speaking as someone whose daily job it is to deal with people who are 
completely unaware of prescriptive language, and whose useage is 
entirely descriptive, I have to say, the idea that seems to be 
underlying the glorification of the descriptive is flawed. I also 
apologise, Philip, for misreading your post, but you didn't make it 
clear at the beginning that you were talking about personal choice in 
the face of an understanding of usage. As someone who is dialect 
displaced, and who was also brought up, like deborah, by a pedantic 
asshat, my personal (descriptive) English is almost identical to 
prescriptive. I don't see that there has to be a difference between the 
two, and I will certainly go to the wall arguing against a number of 
descriptive usages which may be popular but I would hate to see evolve 
into "correct".

Also, one person's descriptive English is another person's I have no 
idea what you are talking about. I find often when I read students' 
writing that although they are expressing themselves, as they would 
think, naturally, it isn't actually possible for a person who reads 
their language to understand what they are saying. The same is true of 
spoken language, but in that case, I have the opportunity to say "can 
you elaborate on that" or otherwise ask for clarification.


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