Purism is an aspect of linguistic study which appeals not only to the
scholar but also to the layperson. Somehow, ordinary speakers with many
different mother tongues and with no formal training in linguistics share
certain beliefs about what language is, how it develops or should develop,
whether it has good or bad qualities, etc. The topic of linguistic purism
in its many realisations is the subject of this volume of 19 articles
selected from the contributions presented at a conference at the University
of Bristol in 2003.
In particular, the articles deal with the relationship of purism to
historical prescriptivism, e.g. the influence of grammarians in the 17th
and 18th centuries, to nationhood, e.g. the instrumentalising of purism in
the standardisation of Afrikaans or Luxembourgish, to modern society, e.g.
the existence of puristic tendencies in computer chatrooms, to folk
linguistics, e.g. lay perceptions of different varieties of English, and to
academic linguistics, e.g. the presence of puristic notions in the
historiography of German or English.
Nils Langer is a Lecturer in German Linguistics at the University of
Winifred Davies is a Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Wales
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