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Measuring the Success of Prescriptivism

Presentation for the workshop "The Effects of Prescriptivism in Language History", Leiden University, 21-22 January 2016
by

Lieselotte Anderwald

on 21 July 2016

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Transcript of Measuring the Success of Prescriptivism

The rise of GET
The Progressive Passive
temporary slow-down
Case Study 1
Case Study 2
The bridge is being built
[ProgPass]
first attested in 1760s sporadically
rapid rise in frequency in 19c

earlier construction:
The bridge is building
[Passival]
semantically more restricted

-> ProgPass genuine innovation of the 19c, in core grammar of English

violently opposed in grammars
'most hated construction of E.'
ON origin, today: colloquial
one of the most polysemous verbs in E.

lexical meanings:
'obtain' (+NP)
get his daily bread
'move' (+Adv)
get in, get out, get to Leiden, get into bed

grammatical meanings:
inchoative
(with A)
get angry
causative

get them to listen
passive
(with PPL)
get killed
possession
(NP)
I have got time
obligation
(
have got to
)
I have got to go

passive since 17c
possession since 17c
obligation before 1820s

€1.25
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Vol XCIII, No. 0815
CENTRAL QUESTION:
Measuring Prescriptivism Now Possible!
Past tense forms:
sang~sung
,
shrank~shrunk
,(
slang
)
~slung
throve~thrived
,
dived~dove
knelt~
(
kneeled
),
leant~leaned
,
leapt~leaped
,
pleaded~
(
pled
)
dwelt~dwelled
,
spilt~spilled
,
burnt~burned
BE-perfect (
he is arrived
) vs. HAVE-perfect
Progressive (
she was walking
)
Progressive Passive (
the bridge is being built
) vs. Passival (
the bridge is building
)
GET-Passive (
he got arrested
)
other GET constructions (
I have got to go, I have got a cold, she got tired, he got the boat ready, he got to London
)
Anderwald 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014a
Anderwald 2014b
Anderwald 2014c, d
Anderwald (forthcoming)
Case Studies
(Anderwald in print)

THE SUCCESS OF PRESCRIPTIVISM
Lieselotte Anderwald, University of Kiel, Germany
Irregular Past tense forms: LEAP, PLEAD
Case Study 3
Overall trend: Regularisation
(strong verbs become weak)
but some weak verbs have become irregular (e.g. sound changes)

LEAP: OE strong, ME weak
lepte
and
lepide
, GVS /e:/ > /i:/, variation
leapt~leaped
PLEAD: Fr. loanword (-> weak
pleaded
), but
pled
sporadically attested
Prerequisites:
Body of "actual language"
CORPUS LINGUISTIC PERSPECTIVE
Body of prescriptive grammars
GRAMMATICOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE
temporal
correlation
causal correlation?
CNG
ARCHER
COHA
CONCE
custom-made

CLMET
258 grammar books
published 1800-1900
in North America (125) and Britain (133)
mostly first editions
huge extra data bases
extracted material
comments on phenomena undergoing language change
analysis: positive - neutral - negative
quantitative analysis per decade
also qualitative analysis of comments
Collection of 19c Grammars
Why the 19th century?

Range of corpus-linguistic resources and studies available
19c in English 'century of prescriptivism'
earlier: even Myth of Stasis
often general attribution of unexpected developments to 'prescriptive grammar'
explosion of publication of grammar books (almost 2,000 documented, probably more)
many now accessible as full texts (Google Books)
Measuring
Ideal Scenario
100% use
Counterexample:
-> clear case of
Prescriptive Effect
but: the more sources, the less agreement
influence of individual grammars?
delay of effect - how long?
pervasiveness/strength of effect?
actual language not 100%
-> clear case of
Change in Description
but: the more sources, the less agreement
influence of individual grammars?
delay in description - how long?
possibly feedback loop

Is actual language influenced
by comments in prescriptive
grammars?
prescriptive dictum
0% use (or clear reduction)
Ongoing language change
grammars 'notice' it
Corpus data
Grammars data
a tautology, a contradiction, unnecessary, ambiguous
a solecism, an absurdity, ungrammatical, uses incompatible terms
cumbersome, awkward, ugly, deformed, uncouth, inelegant, objectionable, disagreeable
upstart, not sanctioned by authority, introduced by the lowest class of writers, affected, inappropriate, in bad taste, barbarous
shamefully bad, despicable
careless, loose, shameful, of doubtful propriety, not respectable, an illegitimate form, not pure
...
Some qualitative comments
LOGIC
GRAMMAR
AESTHETICS
Text-type specific rise of the Progressive Passive in AmE
Grammars data
Some quantification
mentioned by 73 American grammars, 74 British grammars from 1810s, 1820s onwards (over 50%)
criticized by 2/3 of American grammars, 1/3 of British grammars
criticized by the majority (who mention it) until 1870s in America, 1840s in Britain
-> American grammars were more prescriptive, used stronger terms, prescription lasted longer


19th century
67%
50%
70%
75%
22%
period of strongest criticism
YES: potential influence on newspapers,
small influence on non-fiction
Prescriptive effect?
% of grammars critical
grudging acceptance
compare X in variety A and variety B
SOCIAL EVALUATION
MORALS
Rise of GET in COHA (all constructions)
Corpus data
Grammars data
HAVE GOT TO
common errour, vulgarism, false grammar, impropriety, unnecessary, superfluous

HAVE GOT
improper, vulgar, low, ungrammatical, false grammar, superfluous, redundant, unnecessary, solecism, tautology, misuse

GET:
loose use, overuse, gross
Some qualitative comments
Grammars data
Some quantification
rarely mentioned: by 28 American grammars, 14 British grammars (16%)
almost always criticized: by 90% of American grammars, 80% of British grammars
criticism extends to all uses (even as lexical verb)
GET-passive not singled out for criticism


Prescriptive effect?
decade of strongest criticism
21%
50%
27%
28%
YES: slowdown in the 1840s
19th century
HAVE
HAVE TO, MUST
GET TO >
ARRIVE AT
...
GET >
OBTAIN, RECEIVE
GET UP >
RISE, MOUNT
GET RID OF >
REMOVE
GET BACK >
RETURN
corrected to:
Century of prescriptivism?
Very
few
features show any effect (2 out of 12 lexemes, 2 out of 5 constructions)
Effects are a little
delayed
(10-15 years)
Effects are
small
in range (few %)
Effects are
not long-lasting
(1-2 decades)
Effects are
reversible
(change continues)
-->
temporary "slow-down"

Mostly, grammars come to
acknowledge change
descriptive delay

of at least one generation
often
"grudging"
acceptance
Results
References
Grammars cited:
Brown, Goold. 1857.
The Institutes of English Grammar, Methodically Arranged; with Forms of Parsing and Correcting, Examples for Parsing, Questions for Examination, False Syntax for Correction, Exercises for Writing, Observations for the Advanced Student, Five Methods of Analysis, and a Key to the Oral Exercises: to which are Added Four Appendixes. Designed for the Use of Schools, Academies, and Private Learners.
New stereotype edition, carefully revised by the author. New York: Samuel S. & William Wood. [First published 1823].
Welch, Adonijah Strong. 1873.
Analysis of the English Sentence, Designed for Advanced Classes in English Grammar.
Improved edition. New York and Chicago: A.S. Barnes & Company. [First published 1854].

References:
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2011. Norm vs. variation in British English irregular verbs: the case of past tense
sang
vs.
sung
.
English Language and Linguistics
15: 85-112.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2012.
Clumsy
,
awkward
or
having a peculiar propriety
? Prescriptive judgements and language change in the 19th century.
Language Sciences
34: 28-53.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2012. Variable past-tense forms in nineteenth-century American English: Linking normative grammars and language change.
American Speech
87: 257-293.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2013. Natural language change or prescriptive influence?
Throve, dove, pled, drug
and
snuck
in 19th-century American English.
English World-Wide
34: 146-176.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2014.
Burned
,
dwelled
,
dreamed
: The evolution of a morphological Americanism, and the role of prescriptive grammar writing.
American Speech
89: 408-440.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2014. The decline of the BE-perfect, linguistic relativity, and grammar writing in the nineteenth century. In Marianne Hundt, ed.
Late Modern English Syntax.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 13-37.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2014. Measuring the success of prescriptivism: Quantitative grammaticography, corpus-linguistics and the progressive passive.
English Language and Linguistics
18: 1-21.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2014. "Pained the eye and stunned the ear": Language ideology and the progressive passive in the nineteenth century. In Simone Pfenninger et al., eds.
Contact, Variation, and Change in the History of English.
Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins: 113-136.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. 2015. The 19th-century perspective on 18th-century grammar writing. In Jana Gohrisch and Rainer Emig, eds.
Anglistentag 2014 Hannover.
Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag: 35-47.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. in print.
Language between Description and Prescription: Verb Categories in Nineteenth-Century Grammars of English.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Anderwald, Lieselotte. forthcoming. GET, GET-constructions and the GET-passive in 19th-century English: Corpus analysis and prescriptive comments. In Sebastian Hoffmann and Andrea Sand, eds. [no working title]. Helsinki: Helsinki University, Varieng:
Auer, Anita. 2009.
The Subjunctive in the Age of Prescriptivism: English and German Developments during the Eighteenth Century.
Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Auer, Anita, and Victorina González-Díaz. 2005. Eighteenth-century prescriptivism in English: A re-evaluation of its effects on actual language usage.
Multilingua
24: 317-341.
Baugh, Albert C., and Thomas Cable. 1993. A History of the English Language. Fourth edition. London: Routledge. [First published 1935].
Fleisher, Nicholas. 2006. The origin of passive
get
.
English Language and Linguistics
10: 225-252.
Hinrichs, Lars, Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, and Axel Bohmann. 2015.
Which
-hunting and the Standard English relative clause: A case of institutionally backed colloquialization."
Language
91.
Görlach, Manfred. 1998.
An Annotated Bibliography of 19th-Century Grammars of English.
Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Hundt, Marianne. 2001. What corpora can tell us about the grammaticalisation of voice in get-constructions.
Studies in Language
25: 49-88.
Hundt, Marianne. 2004. The passival and the progressive passive: A case study of layering in the English aspect and voice systems. In Hans Lindquist and Christian Mair, eds.
Corpus Approaches to Grammaticalization in English.
Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins: 79-120.
Hundt, Marianne. 2004. Animacy, agentivity, and the spread of the progressive in Modern English.
English Language and Linguistics
8: 47-69.
Hundt, Marianne. 2009. Colonial lag, colonial innovation or simply language change? In Günter Rohdenburg and Julia Schlüter, eds.
One Language - Two Grammars? Differences between British and American English.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 13-37.
Jespersen, Otto. 1942.
A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles.
Vol. VI:
Morphology
. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard.
Kövecses, Zoltán. 2000.
American English: An Introduction.
Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.
Krug, Manfred G. 2000.
Emerging English Modals: A Corpus-based Study of Grammaticalization.
Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Levin, Magnus. 2009. The formation of the preterite and the past participle. In Günter Rohdenburg and Julia Schlüter, eds.
One Language - Two Grammars? Differences between British and American English
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 60-85.
Michael, Ian. 1970.
English Grammatical Categories and the Tradition to 1800.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Michael, Ian. 1991. More than enough English grammars. In Gerhard Leitner, ed.
English Traditional Grammars: An International Perspective.
Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins: 11-26.
Michael, Ian. 1997. The hyperactive production of English grammars in the nineteenth century: A speculative bibliography.
Publishing History
41: 23-61.
Tottie, Gunnel. 2002.
An Introduction to American English.
Malden, MA & Oxford: Blackwell.
Smith, Nicholas, and Paul Rayson. 2007. Recent change and variation in the British English use of the progressive passive.
ICAME Journal
31: 129-159.

Regularization of LEAP and PLEAD in COHA
Prescriptive effect?
most grammars do not mention LEAP
NO influence on regularization
YES: slowdown in decline of
leapt
after 1870s
(3% > 5% > 8%)
%
leapt
in COHA
some
acknowledgevariation
some prefer irregular
leapt
Prescriptive effect?
most grammars do not mention PLEAD (descriptively correct)
8%
5%
1%
%
pled
in COHA
NO: 1860s' rise = descriptive lag (one generation)
some variation acknowledged,
pled
preferred by a few grammars
period of actual variation
descriptive delay
prescriptive effect
YES: slight rise in 1870s in use of
pled
(0% > 1.2%)
hleapan, hleop, hleopon/hlupon, -hleapen
Grammars
lists irregular verbs
typically note variation

Welch, A.S. 1873 [1854].
Analysis of the English Sentence.
NY & Chicago

Brown, G. 1857 [1823].
Institutes of English Grammar.
NY
prescriptive effect
compute all other factors that might influence variant X, then add prescriptive influence
compare X to Y if similar linguistically, but treated differently by grammars
indirect measurement, 'triangulation'
Auer 2009; Auer & González-Díaz 2005; Fleisher 2006; Hundt 2001, 2004a, b, 2009; Krug 2000; Levin 2009

Baugh & Cable 1993 etc.
Görlach 1998; Michael 1991, 1997
Anderwald (in print)
e.g. Hinrichs et al. 2015
Full transcript