On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 2:43 PM, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> George Corley, On 17/10/2012 19:38:
>> On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM, Jim Henry<[log in to unmask]>
>>  wrote:
>>> On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM, David McCann<[log in to unmask]**
>>> com <[log in to unmask]>>
>>> wrote:
>>>> There's a lot of leftist and populist
>>>> ideology in 20th century linguistics, especially that emanating from
>>>> the USA.
>>> I'm not sure that descriptivism per se is politically left and
>>> prescriptivism is politically right.  But perhaps thinking that all
>>> lexicography ought to be prescriptive, or ought only to be
>>> descriptive, is correlated with left or right politics.
>> I really don't think that descriptivist/prescriptivist has any
>> relationship
>> to partisan politics at all.
> [...]
>> I'm sure someone could dig up a survey on this, but I have a suspicion
>> that
>> descriptivist/prescriptivist distinctions won't break down in any clearly
>> partisan way.
> I'd understood Jim's point to be that prescriptivism correlates with
> conservatism, authoritarianism and reverence for the Establishment (i.e.
> the economic and political Haves, especially those who've been Haves for
> generations), which are characteristics correlated with the political
> right. That doesn't mean your typical Republican is a prescriptivist or
> your typical Democrat isn't. But it does mean that if you know somebody's a
> prescriptivist, and you're offered equal odds on them being politically
> right or left, bet on right.

I turned up a Language Log piece by Geoff Nunberg that gives an excellent
historical review of "language criticism" in politics:

> (I will sheepishly confess to being a bit of a prescriptivist myself,
> militant scourge tho I am of most sorts of prescriptivism. My team of
> linguistics colleagues was once addressed by a manager (a former academic)
> to whose demesne we belonged who kept on talking about /fowkay/ (/f@UkaI/),
> _foci_, rather than /fowsay/ (/f@UsaI/) or _focuses_; this (plus other
> nonlinguistic things, I had better add in exculpation) had me in suppressed
> apoplexy so much that when the manager left the room I ejaculated
> vehemently and bitterly about our having to suffer being managed by
> somebody who says /fowkay/, whereupon with deep embarrassment I realized
> what a frightful act of hypocrisy and arrant prescriptivism I'd committed
> in front of my colleagues. I wonder if anybody has done a study of the
> psychology of the strange phenomenon that is prescriptivist rage.

We all have usages that bother us.  /foʊkaɪ/ wouldn't much bother me, since
I often will pronounce Latin < c > as /k/ in all positions just for fun.
 But there are other things.  No one is purely prescriptivist or purely
descriptivist in their daily lives.  They key is knowing when to shut up
and realize when your emotional reactions aren't important, or when
attempting to correct people will be futile.