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Prescriptivism and Language Ideologies: A Comparison between Croatian and English Usage Guides


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Berlengi, Filip. (2018). Prescriptivism and Language Ideologies: A Comparison between Croatian and English Usage Guides. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Starčević, Anđel].

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This thesis provides an overview and analysis of prescriptive language practices that can be seen in usage guides. The theoretical framework is based on the notion of ideology in language, particularly the concept of standard language ideology, along with its social and sociolinguistic implications. The theoretical part of the thesis is based on Critical Discourse Analysis and critical approaches to ideology in language planning and language policy (LPLP). The empirical part of the thesis comprises a study based on two usage guides, June Casagrande’s English usage guide titled Mortal Syntax and Nives Opačić’s Reci mi to kratko i jasno: Hrvatski za normalne ljude, a Croatian usage guide. By performing a qualitative comparative analysis of prescriptive practices and ideologies that occur in these usage guides, we have classified the ideological attitudes and positions taken by the two authors. We have analyzed one example of each of the predominant prescriptive ideologies present in the guides. The ideologies analyzed in this thesis are: etymological fallacy, ideology of dictionary attestation, ideology of fixed-code telementation, ideology of monosemy, ideology of symmetry and ideology of zero redundancy. We have defined and explained each of these ideological mechanisms and later on elaborated on the sociolinguistic implications of this type of language advice and the effect that this type of usage guides have on the speakers of a language. The focus of the critical discourse analysis was placed on the authors’ assumptions about extralinguistic qualities of the users of non-standard linguistic constructions in the Croatian language and in the English language. This primarily encompassed assumptions about the social status of the speakers of non-standard varieties of a language, and the results of the study show that both authors use ideologically charged terminology in their discourse and exhibit bias against speakers of non-standard varieties of language. These findings demonstrate that prescriptive authors tend to use pseudoscientific argumentation based on personal preference to support their theories instead of relying on empirical evidence based on linguistic research. The findings and the conclusions of this thesis therefore emphasize the possible risks and repercussions of a nonscientific approach to the study of language.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: critical discourse analysis, language ideology, prescriptivism, usage guides
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Starčević, Anđel
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2018 12:53
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2018 12:53

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