Descriptive And Prescriptive Approach

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Descriptive and prescriptive approaches are two opposed views of language studying. On one hand, prescriptive approach tries to explain what is really happening with language, attempting to find rules that people unconsciously have when they build up sentences while speaking or writing. This approach considers that languages change over time and so their rules; it also recognizes the validity of dialects over standards. Linguists tend to favor description over prescription because for instance, English dialects have their own consistent grammar rules and according to their common and natural use of them some uses of the language are fine, while standard grammar rules often reproof this use – this is the case of “double negatives” and “split infinitives.” On the other hand, descriptive approach to language study regulates how a person must talk or write correctly. Rules are permanent - don’t change - since their purpose is to preserve the language and identifies its standard way of speaking and writing. For example, this approach is used by prescriptivists with Grammar textbooks because they tend to keep them over years and often ignore linguistics findings of language even though at some point they would become outdated. Another example of the use of this approach would be when adults are learning a foreign language, they use to ask the teacher for the correct way they should speak or write this new language; in other words, they ask the educator a “prescription” of the language. Indeed, descriptive and prescriptive pursue language study in a different way. Descriptive approach considers language as it is commonly used rather than how it should be used as the prescriptivists

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