剑桥雅思9Test3阅读Passage1原文翻译 Attitudes to language 对待语言的态度
剑桥雅思9 Test3 Passage1阅读原文翻译
It is not easy to be systematic and objective about language study. Popular linguistic debate regularly deteriorates into invective and polemic. Language belongs to everyone, so most people feel they have a right to hold an option about it. And when options differ, emotions can run high. Arguments can start as easily over minor points of usage as over major policies of linguistic education.
Language, moreover, is a very public behavior, so it is easy for different usages to be noted and criticised. No part of society or social behavior is exempt. Linguistic factors influence how we judge personality, intelligence, social status, educational standards, job aptitude, and many other areas of identity and social survival. As a result, it is easy to hurt, and to be hurt, when language use is unfeelingly attacked.
In its most general sense, prescriptivism is the view that one variety of language has an inherently higher value than others and that this ought to be imposed on the whole of the speech community. The view is propounded especially in relation to grammar and vocabulary, and frequently with reference to pronunciation. The variety which is favoured, in this account, is usually a version of the ‘standard’ written language, especially as encountered in literature, or in the formal spoken language which most closely reflects this style. Adherents to this variety are said to speak or write ‘correctly’ deviations from it are said to be ‘incorrect’.
All the main languages have been studied prescriptively, especially in the 18th century approach to the writing of grammar and dictionaries. The aims of these early grammarians were threefold: (a) they wanted to codify the principles of their languages, to show that there was a system beneath the apparent chaos of usage; (b) they wanted a means of settling disputes over usage, and (c) they wanted to point out what they felt to be common errors, in order to ‘improve’ the language. The authoritarian nature of the approach is best characterized by its reliance on ‘rules’ of grammar. Some usages are ‘prescribed’, to be learnt and followed accurately; others are ‘proscribed’, to be avoided. In this early period, there were no half-measures: usage was either right or wrong, and it was the task of the grammarian not simply to record alternatives, but to pronounce judgment upon them.
These attitudes are still with us, and they motivate a widespread concern that linguistic standards should be maintained. Nevertheless, there is an alternative point of view that is concerned less with standards than with the facts of linguistic usage. This approach is summarized in the statement that it is the task of the grammarian to describe, not prescribe—to record the facts of linguistic diversity, and not to attempt the impossible tasks of evaluating language variation or halting language change. In the second half of the 18th century, we already find advocates of this view, such as Joseph Priestley, whose Rudiments of English Grammar (1761) insists that ‘the custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language’. Linguistic issues, it is argued, cannot be solved by logic and legislation. And this view has become the tenet of the modern linguistic approach to grammatical analysis.
这些态度仍然存在，并且引起了人们对保留语言标准的广泛关注。然而，有一种观点更加关心语言的事实使用，而非其标准。这种观点可以总结为：语法学家的任务是描述而非规定，即记录语言多样性的事实，而不是尝试完成评价语言变种或者阻止语言改变这一不可能的任务。在18世纪后期，我们已经能够找到该观点的支持者，Joseph Preiestley。他的Rudiments of English Grammar指出：“说话的习惯是最初的语言标准，也是唯一的标准。语言问题不能通过逻辑或立法的方式来解决。这种观点已经成为现代语言学分析语法的宗旨。
In our own time, the opposition between ‘descriptivists’ and ‘prescriptivists’ has often become extreme, with both sides painting unreal pictures of the other. Descriptive grammarians have been presented as people who do not care about standards, because of the way they see all forms of usage as equally valid. Prescriptive grammarians have been presented as blind adherents to a historical tradition. The opposition has even been presented in quasi-political terms—of radical liberalism vs elitist conservatism.