A time for Critical Language Awareness

ENG-Leiden-imagePost written by Robin Straaijer

One of the aims of the research project Bridging the Unbridgeable: linguists, prescriptivists and the general public at Leiden University is to construct a mutually beneficial discussion involving those three groups.

My stance is that linguists should not shy away from being ‘critical’ in the sociological sense, nor from engaging with the public, with the practices of those whose language variety they are describing. And being specialists on language, linguists should explain the workings of language to the public, including normative aspects. Historical linguists are especially suited to being engaged in this discussion, since they can place it in a much needed historical and social context.

One of the things I am interested in is how involved linguists are – and how involved they wish to be – in public discussions about prescriptivism and language norms, and in raising critical language awareness. As far as I can can tell, linguists do not to lead these discussions, which seems strange since they are supposed to be the experts. But there are probably other opinions. In the second feature for the project in English Today, I ask you to join the discussion.

 Read more about the collaboration between English Today and Bridging the Unbridgeable here 

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