This chapter evaluates how, over the centuries, as English became increasingly used in official institutions, written, taught, codified, and standardized, not only did the language change, but our idea of what the language is changed. All languages have rules—even unwritten, uncodified vernaculars. Linguistic rules are patterns, conventions for making utterances, that conform to certain general (though much debated) principles of human language ability. Languages that are written, codified, and standardized also have explicitly endorsed or prescribed rules. Rules that are taught and enforced to a certain degree, but not necessarily followed. Correctness in language can be defined in relation to rules that are either tacit conventions or explicitly formalized prescriptions. Over time, because language is something people do, both kinds of rules will change. Language also interacts with formal logic, the axioms and rules of inference, but it plays by its own rules. Ultimately, when it comes to language, we are creatures of habit and creatures of creativity.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.