Prescriptive vs. Descriptive linguistics • In linguistics, prescription is the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for the use of a language, or the making of recommendations for effective language usage. It includes the mechanisms for establishing and maintaining an interregional language or a standardized spelling system. (e.g traditoinal grammar) • Prescription is typically contrasted with description, which observes and records how language is used in practice, and which is the basis of all linguistic research. Serious scholarly descriptive work is usually based on text or corpus analysis, or on field studies Unlike prescription, descriptive linguistics eschews value judgments and makes no recommendations, without reference to the histories or to comparison with other languages. • Prescription and description are often seen as opposites, in the sense that one declares how language should be while the other declares how language is. But they can also be complementary, and usually exist in a dynamic tension to each other. Most commentators on language show elements of both prescription and description in their thinking, and popular debate on language issues frequently revolves around the question of how to balance these.
a brief definition