LINGUIST List 9.191

Sun Feb 8 1998

Disc: Last Posting: Prescriptivism

Editor for this issue: John H. Remmers <>


  1. Karl V.(van Duyn) Teeter, My typos re prescriptivism

Message 1: My typos re prescriptivism

Date: Mon, 02 Feb 1998 15:55:18 -0500
From: Karl V.(van Duyn) Teeter <>
Subject: My typos re prescriptivism

[Moderators' note: This message was sent to us 2 weeks ago but
unaccountably lost, so Prof. Teeter's apologies are just now reaching
subscribers. Had the message been posted faster, it would have
pre-empted some of the subsequent criticism of his position. The
LINGUIST staff regrets this misunderstanding. ]

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

In a message on this subject sent to the List just before Xmas, I
quoted a sentence which was so opaque it caused me to wonder if I were back
teaching freshman English. The author of that sentence, Mr. Stirling
Newberry, has now kindly written to point out several typos in my
rendition of his prose, and I do owe him and you an apology for this. The
correct original sentence was as follows:

The reason that linguistics avers prescriptivism is that this is the
function of the day to day activities of language itself.

Aside from the fact that activities cannot be ascribed to an abstract
concept, I now have to confess, having apologized and gotten that off my
chest, the sentence still remains opaque to me. Linguistics does not aver
prescriptivism at all, but rather achieves its analyses by establishing
norms. So I do apologize for a bad quote, Mr. Newberry, but still find
myself unable to figure out what you are saying, and for that apologies
again! I'll be happy to be edified. Yours, kvt
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