Prescriptive and Descriptive Approach to English


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Writing Assignment Read the book review entitled ‘The English Wars’ by Joan Acocella from the May 14th, 2012 issue of The New Yorker which discusses Henry Hitchings’s book, The Language Wars: A History of Proper English (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/05/14/120514crbo_books_acocella?currentPage=1). While that book argues against prescriptivism in favour of a descriptive approach to grammar, Acocella’s review expresses a more prescriptivist view. Consider her positions/views on prescriptivism and write a response using concepts from the course. The first lecture and the first chapter of the textbook(A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar by Rodney Huddleston & Geo rey K. Pullum, Cambridge University Press, 2005) may be particularly relevant but other parts of both the lectures and textbook may also be helpful. Your response should have four or five paragraphs with the following mini-essay structure: • Your first paragraph should briefly summarize Acocella’s position on prescriptivism. It should also provide a short thesis statement outlining your assessment of her stand- point. This should set up the context for the reader. (Hint: If you gave this paragraph to someone who isn’t taking the course, would they understand what the topic is?) • The next two or three paragraphs should present arguments to either support or cri-tique Acocella’s positions and arguments regarding prescriptivism. Where possible you should provide evidence for your arguments. • Provide a short concluding paragraph that summarizes your assessment of Acocella’s positions. Before writing your response, consider the following types of questions. What are Aco- cella’s opinions? How logical/persuasive are her arguments? Does her evidence support her conclusions? Is she making the same conceptual distinctions that we have made? Keep in mind that some parts of her review are more relevant to this assignment than others. Part of your task is to determine what is relevant and what is not. Formatting Instructions Your response should be one page, in 12pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, on plain white US letter (8.5” x 11”) paper. All margins must be 2.5cm (i.e. 1 inch). Do not use any headings and do not include your name or student number on this page. Instead, print out and staple the rubric to the front of you assignment.
Grading Rubric
Your response will be graded according to the grading rubric included in the HW#2 rubric document. In preparing your response, please take into consideration the criteria included there. While there is no single ‘correct’ answer to this assignment, you will be evaluated on how well you argue your position, your clarity and organization, and your understanding and application of the relevant course material. Citations It is possible to complete this assignment without consulting any materials beyond the textbook or lecture notes. If you do cite the lecture you should refer to the lecture notes like this (Lecture 3, slide 4). If you refer to text you can simply cite the page number: (text, p.10). If you only consult the lecture notes and the textbook you do not need to include a list of references. However, if you use any other sources you must provide a separate list of references on an additional page using APA citation style.

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