By Katherine Demuth
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B) Suspect Two: Incorrect speech is illogical. (c) Suspect Three: Incorrect speech represents the decline of English and of standards generally. In fact, says the descriptivist, each of these claims is dubious. Suspect One presupposes a rather intimate link between language and thought. But there are good reasons to doubt that there is such a close connection. Animals and pre-linguistic infants don't have language, but they have thoughts; moreover, everyone is familiar with the sensation of looking for le mot justethat is, having a thought but Page 25 not having the words to capture it; and, there may even be ineffable thoughts, thoughts we simply can't put into words.
Verb) (d) c-command, etc. 5 No language yet studied violates this principle. Isn't this principle vacuous? No. It disallows rules that apply solely on the basis of word order, for example. And this is more than a little surprising. To take specific cases, the structure dependence principle disallows rules like (20 ab), favouring instead the rules (21 ab). (20) Rules not observed (a) Fake Rule 1: Invert the first and second word in a declarative sentence to form a question. (b) Fake Rule 2: Delete every third word, if its meaning can be recovered.
Epilogue: Prescriptive and Descriptive Syntax I want to end by stressing an important distinctionbetween prescriptive and descriptive syntax. To put it roughly: a prescriptive syntax for a language (or, as it's more commonly called, a prescriptive grammar) tells you how its users ought to speak, according to who-knows-what authoritative body; a descriptive grammar, on the other hand, details Page 24 how people actually speak. In the view of most linguists, descriptive grammar isn't just a different topicit's a better-motivated topic.
Basic Sesotho: An Oral Approach by Katherine Demuth