Prescriptivism

PRESCRIPTIVISM 5

Fordecades, language has been evolving continually. The English Languagehas progressed from Old English to Middle English and later to EarlyModern English, which developed to Modern English. Modern English isthe English, which is spoken these days, and there seems to beanother type of English coming up (Bauer and Trudgill, 2008). Thesemonumental changes pose the question on where English started andwhich type of English is the best. Two schools of thought are theresult of these questions descriptivism and prescriptivism.Prescriptivists are those who believe that the best type of Englishis the one that is written in standards.

Prescriptivelanguage involves aspects like the use of imperatives and commands.It involves statements that have the aspect of command such as ‘giveme an apple’. The commonplace view is that the purpose of thecommand is to make someone perform some an action (Bauer andTrudgill, 2008). However, the command can apply in two ways. Commandscan be used to get someone to do something. Commands can also be usedto tell someone to do something. These two uses of a command aretotally different. We begin by telling or commanding a person to dosomething. However, they may decide not to do it, and this is when acommand is used to get them to perform an action.

Theinitial step in making an attempt to get an individual to perform anaction uses purely prescriptive language (Bauer and Trudgill, 2008).This fact is completely transformed in the progressing sentence.First, the language may become partly persuasive through emotion. Theone giving the command may be forced to provide reasons behind thecommand. For example, ‘shut the door’ is persuasive. On the otherhand, ‘shut the door because it is cold’ sounds more persuasive.This step is fully prescriptive, and it may involve verbal orphysical means of persuasion. It is important to note that thispersuasion has a reason behind it.

Apparently,sentences that are commanding in nature are, usually, in theimperative mood. They look like complete statements meaning that theyhave every part of the statement. The parts can be used to makelogical relations and are even formal in some instances. Philosophersfind it hard to deny that there is an aspect of complete statementsin moral judgments. Commands are not just expressions or feelingsshowing attitudes they have a logical pattern. A similar argumentcan be used in analyzing scientific statements.

Forsome philosophers, it is important to emphasize the prescriptiveaspect in moral judgments. However, the moral judgments cannot betranslated directly into commands that are in the imperative mood.Moral judgments are completely different from normal, commonplacecommands in a number of ways. Moral judgments are allowed andapplicable in every part of the world. A good example in this case is‘No Smoking`. This is a moral judgment. On the other hand, commandsare not applicable everywhere neither are they universal. In additionto this, commands are, usually, uttered in the second personposition. Commands are only used on a particular person to whom theyare directed.

Moraljudgments can be made from first, second and even in third person.Commands are, usually, stated in an imperative mood, which refers tothe present or the near future. Universal commands only becomeapplicable when they are uttered or created, or when they are madewith some moral principle. When creating moral commands, it isimportant to have empathy. This is why moral commands are stated likeadvice in the second person. They also have an imperative mood, whichrouses a feeling of guilt when not followed. This makes sentencesemotive to some extent, and this is a good way of instigating actionfor change.

Researchshows that direct commands often stimulate resistance. However, whenstated in a positive manner like a polite request, they transform theindividual being commanded to respond in a positive way. For thisreason, a direct command is seldom an effective a tool of persuasionlike a moral judgment. This is because it lacks emotive meanings thatprovoke the feelings that stimulate action. There are instances wheremoral language provokes resistant in an individual.

Anormal command can rouse a person to perform an action. Moraljudgments have the same capability but are completely different basedon their functions. When giving a command, it is not necessary toprovide an explanation or reason behind the command. However, thismay be needed in some cases especially when an individual is hesitantin performing an action. lies on the premise thatwords are, usually, uttered in a commanding mood. Moral commands are,usually, universal, and they give a moral exhortation. In otherwords, the whole idea on whether or not to follow a command lies withthe individual. They decide whether they should perform an action ornot. This is normally determined by the morality of the individual.

Reference

Bauer,L, and Trudgill, P. (2008). Language Myths. New York: PenguinBooks.