Day: October 16, 2014

Linguistic Variations Outside the Mainstream

As linguists we make the distinction between descriptive grammar and prescriptive grammar, and insist that we are more concerned with the descriptive facts and try to come up with theoretical analyses and explanations of these facts, rather than focusing on what is considered proper grammar, or even so-called correct usage. Admittedly there are definite merits to linguistic standardization and proper usage should be encouraged, e.g. in schools and in academia. But that’s not what most linguists are interested in. However despite our focus on linguistic usage, sometimes it seems that in most aYaleGrammarrticles we do not really see much reference to non-standard usages. Linguists are normally very good at proper grammar and sometimes this advantage in language becomes a disadvantage, because it is not easy for us to take notice of real non-standard linguistic variations. Recently I came across the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project, which is indeed a very fascinating project. A few years back when I was still in graduate school, I had the pleasure of being in the audience of a talk given by Professor Raffaella Zanuttini on Appalachian English. It was definitely a great talk which drew our attention to lesser-known facts of English outside the mainstream. So it is only natural that Professor Raffaella Zanuttini is actually the leader of this Yale Grammatical Diversity Project. Read more… »