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Tag: Consider the Lobster

Descriptive or Prescriptive?

Last month, I was reading David Foster Wallace‘s 2006 collection Consider the Lobster and Other Essays and got sucked into his sixty-page review of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage titled “Authority and American Usage.” In it, Wallace winds his way through a number of linguistic and semantic topics, among them the pros and cons of the dueling types of lexicographers and scholars who write dictionaries and usage guides: descriptive and prescriptive. The former type, of course, focuses on accurately describing the language as it being used, while the latter attempts… Read more Descriptive or Prescriptive?