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On 17/10/2012 08:05, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
> On 17 October 2012 08:32, R A Brown wrote:
[snip]
> I just contend that if you want to understand how the
> Latin that gave birth to the various Romance tongues was
> actually spoken, only studying the high-brow "posh" works
> will help you little.

Indeed not - in fact using only written Classical Latin can
be misleading.  All data that points towards the actual
spoken language is helpful. Graffiti are particularly helpful.

> My point isn't that the linguist shouldn't be aware of
> the various registers present in any language, or should
>  ignore registers that are only (or mostly only) present
>  in written form. It is that they shouldn't discriminate
>  and ignore data based on value judgements about what is
>  "good language" or not.

Indeed, they should not.  A linguist may observe that
certain characteristics are typical of one layer of speech
or or the other; but judgments like "this is bad language"
or "this is correct language" are not part of the linguist's
work.

E.g. it is not up to the linguist to label the "between you
and I" construction as "bad English".  A linguist has to
accept that this construction has now become very widespread
in all strata of society and account for it.  S/he will
discover that the popular language would have had "between
me and you" if it were not for interference from
prescriptivists in the past, and that "between you and I"
developed as a hyper-correction.  But it has now become so
commonplace among both 'the educated' and 'the uneducated'
that it cannot be ignored.  The linguist will surely see the
phenomenon as showing that the traditional
nominative-accusative between "I" and "me" no longer
operates and that the difference has to be explained some
other way.

The linguist should IMO observe and describe, not prescribe
- leave that to prescriptivist grammarians  ;)

-- 
Ray
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http://www.carolandray.plus.com
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Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.
[WELSH PROVERB]