Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Psychology of Language and Communication

The Journal of University of Warsaw

1 Issue per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.200
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.380

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

On the Social Nature of Linguistic Prescriptions

Marcin Miłkowski
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-09-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/plc-2013-0011


The paper proposes an empirical method to investigate linguistic prescriptions as inherent corrective behaviors. The behaviors in question may but need not necessarily be supported by any explicit knowledge of rules. It is possible to gain insight into them, for example by extracting information about corrections from revision histories of texts (or by analyzing speech corpora where users correct themselves or one another). One easily available source of such information is the revision history of Wikipedia. As is shown, the most frequent and short corrections are limited to linguistic errors such as typos (and editorial conventions adopted in Wikipedia). By perusing an automatically generated revision corpus, one gains insight into the prescriptive nature of language empirically. At the same time, the prescriptions offered are not reducible to descriptions of the most frequent linguistic use.

Keywords: descriptivism; prescriptivism; normativity; corpora research; Wikipedia

  • Bańko, M. (2008). O normie i błędzie [On norms and errors]. Poradnik Językowy, 5, 3-17.Google Scholar

  • Drake, G. (1977). American linguistic prescriptivism: Its decline and revival in the 19th century. Language in Society, 6 (03), 323-340.Google Scholar

  • Finegan, E. (2003). Linguistic prescription: Familiar practices and new perspectives. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 23, 213-224.Google Scholar

  • Goldman, A.I. (1994), What is justified belief. In H. Kornblith (Ed.), NaturalizingEpistemology (pp. 105-130). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Itkonen, E. (2008). The central role of normativity in language and linguistics. In J. Zlatev, T.P. Racine, C. Sinha, & E. Itkonen (Eds.), The Shared Mind: Perspectiveson Intersubjectivity (pp. 279-305). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Google Scholar

  • Lodge, R. (1991). Authority, prescriptivism and the French standard language. Journal of French Language Studies, 1, 93-111.Google Scholar

  • Miłkowski, M. (2008a). Automated building of error corpora of Polish. In B. Lewandowska- Tomaszczyk (Ed.), Corpus Linguistics, Computer Tools, and Applications- State of the Art. PALC 2007 (pp. 631-639). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

  • Miłkowski, M. (2008b). Postulowanie utajonych funkcji umysłu: realizm kontra antyrealizm [Positing latent functions of the mind: realism versus antirealism]. In S. Wróbel (Ed.), Utajone funkcje mysłu [Latent Functions of theMind] (pp. 15-37). Poznań: Wydział Pedagogiczno-Artystyczny UAM.Google Scholar

  • Miłkowski, M. (2010). Developing an open-source, rule-based proofreading tool. Software - Practice and Experience, 40 (7), 543-566.Google Scholar

  • Miłkowski, M. (2011). Automating rule generation for grammar checkers. In S.Google Scholar

  • Góźdź-Roszkowski (Ed.), Explorations Across Languages and Corpora. PALC2009 (pp. 123-133). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Miłkowski, M. & Lipski, J. (2011). Using SRX standard for sentence segmentation. In Z. Vetulani (Ed.), LTC 2009, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 6562 (pp. 172-182). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Pisarek, W. (1978). Słownik języka niby-polskiego, czyli błędy językowe w prasie [Dictionary of Quasi-Polish, or Linguistic Errors in the Press]. Wrocław: Ossolineum.Google Scholar

  • Rudnicka, E. (2007). O kryteriach oceny poprawności językowej i ich roli w warsztacie współczesnego językoznawcy normatywisty [On the criteria of language correctness and their role in the methodology of contemporary normative linguists]. Przegląd Humanistyczny, 2007 (3), 111-120.Google Scholar

  • Searle, J. (1995). The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar

  • Strunk, W. (1918). The Elements of Style. Ithaca, NY: W.P. Humphrey.Google Scholar

  • Woodward, J. (2003). Making Things Happen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2013-09-06

Published in Print: 2013-09-01

Citation Information: Psychology of Language and Communication, ISSN (Print) 1234-2238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/plc-2013-0011.

Export Citation

This content is open access.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in