Descriptive Linguistics Task

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A Descriptive Linguistics Task is a linguistic analysis task that consists of describing the language as it is actually used.



  • (Wikipedia, 2017) ⇒ Retrieved:2017-6-18.
    • In the study of language, description or descriptive linguistics is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is actually used (or how it was used in the past) by a group of people in a speech community.

      All academic research in linguistics is descriptive; like all other sciences, its aim is to describe the linguistic world as it is, without the bias of preconceived ideas about how it ought to be. Modern descriptive linguistics is based on a structural approach to language, as exemplified in the work of Leonard Bloomfield and others.Linguistic description is often contrasted with linguistic prescription, which is found especially in education and in publishing. Prescription seeks to define standard language forms and give advice on effective language use, and can be thought of as a presentation of the fruits of descriptive research in a learnable form, though it also draws on more subjective aspects of language aesthetics. Prescription and description are complementary, but have different priorities and sometimes are seen to be in conflict. Descriptivism is the belief that description is more significant or important to teach, study, and practice than prescription.


  • (Reynolds, 2017) ⇒ Amy Reynolds - Understanding Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Grammar
    • (...) Descriptive grammar, on the other hand, focuses on describing the language as it is used, not saying how it should be used. For example, think about a prescriptive rule like Don’t split infinitives. A descriptive grammarian would see a sentence like “To boldly go where no man has gone before” and would try to describe how the mental grammar can cause that ordering of words, rather than saying that the surface form is faulty due to prescriptive rules (which would require the sentence “To go boldly where no man has gone before”). Linguistics takes this approach to language.


  • (TE, 2017) ⇒ Retrieved:2017-6-18.
    • A descriptive grammar is a set of rules about language based on how it is actually used. In a descriptive grammar there is no right or wrong language. It can be compared with a prescriptive grammar, which is a set of rules based on how people think language should be used.


      • A descriptive grammar might include ‘He goes...', meaning ‘He said'.
In the classroom

Learners can be encouraged to move away from a prescriptive approach to grammar by using a guided discovery, or inductive, approach, in which they look for examples of variations in use in authentic texts. These examples can be compared to prescriptive rules in order to decide if they are useful or not.


  • (Crystal, 2008) ⇒ David Crystal. (2008). “A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 6th edition." Blackwell Publishing.
    • grammar A central term in LINGUISTICS, but one which covers a wide range of phenomena .... Several types of grammar can be distinguished. … (1) a descriptive grammar is … a systematic DESCRIPTION of a LANGUAGE as found in a sample of speech or writing …