Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 10:21:18 EST


Subject: Re: double negatives and other prescriptions

Jeutonne Brewer writes,

On Sun, 16 Nov 1997, Kusujiro Miyoshi wrote:

The discussion on double negatives is quite interesting for me in

that it reminds me the arguments in England in the eighteenth

century. This discussion seems to be the one being had between

Priestley and Lowth.

Thanks for mentioning Priestley. He provides a good 18th century

contrast to Lowth later prescriptive popularizing grammarians like

Lindley Murray. Unfortunately, the Lowthian ideas are the ones

?that still appear in school grammars.

18th century grammarians like Lowth proclaimed a whole series

of prescriptive statements about English. I remember that Albert

Baugh's history of the language book has/had an interesting list

of these. Offhand, I remember different than/different from in

the list. The 18th century grammarians were also prescriptively

important in imposing generic "he" as "correct."

Baugh is a fine reference, but let's not omit the valuable work of our own

Dennis Baron, viz. _Language and Good Taste: Reforming the American Language_

(Yale U. P., 1982), with several chapters on the 18th, 19th, and 20th century

prescriptivists and language mavens.