LingLang Lunch (3/18/2015): Václav Cvrček (Institute of the Czech National Corpus)

Descriptive vs prescriptive approach. The case of Czech grammar

The sociolinguistic situation of Czech is usually described as being close to diglossia: there are two competing varieties, one is expected in formal situations, while the other a real vernacular, is a mother tongue of the vast majority of speakers. This situation has its historical reasons with the most important of them being the prescriptive approach to language regulation, which was applied to the description of Czech since the beginning of the 19th century and is still prevailing (cf. Starý 1993). In my talk I will focus on the problem of descriptive and prescriptive approach to language regulation. I will document these contrasting points of view on the example of Grammar of Contemporary Czech (Cvrček et al., 2010) which is the first corpus-based description of Czech and which was designed to form a counterpart to prescriptive reference books.