The Languages of Nation Attitudes and Norms Edited by: Carol Percy, Mary Catherine Davidson

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25 Jul 2012
Multilingual Matters
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


This collection brings together research on linguistic prescriptivism and social identities, in specific contemporary and historical contexts of cross-cultural contact and awareness. Providing multilingual and multidisciplinary perspectives from language studies, lexicography, literature, and cultural studies, our contributors relate language norms to frameworks of identity beyond monolingual citizenship - nativeness, ethnicity, politics, religion, empire. Some chapters focus on traditional instruments of prescriptivism: language academies in Europe; government language planners in southeast Asia; dictionaries and grammars from Early Modern and imperial Britain, republican America, the postcolonial Caribbean, and modern Germany. Other chapters consider the roles of scholars in prescriptivism, as well as the more informal and populist mechanisms of enforcement expressed in newspapers. With a thematic introduction articulating links between its breadth of perspectives, this accessible book should engage everyone concerned with language norms.


A fascinating and significant collection of essays which offers both historical range and geographic scope. Taken as a whole this is a text which provides the latest thinking in relation to the most important questions related to language and the creation of nationhood. Students and researchers of all levels will find much to discuss and reflect upon in this invaluable collection.

- Tony Crowley, Hartley Burr Alexander Chair in the Humanities, Scripps College, USA

This volume is a timely and fitting contribution to the issue of norms, prescriptivism and language attitudes and the role of language in the formation of nations. It is broad in range, covering all facets of the overall topic. In its organisation it is well structured and is well presented by its editors.

- Raymond Hickey, University of Duisburg and Essen, Germany

Author Biography:

Carol Percy is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her work on eighteenth-century normative linguistics began with Captain Cook and his editors, and women grammarians. Recent articles provide literary and cultural contexts for popular grammars, and consider prescriptive attitudes in the popular press â?? book reviews and classified advertisements.

Mary Catherine Davidson is Associate Professor of English at Glendon College, York University, Canada. Her book Medievalism, Multilingualism, and Chaucer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) examined multilingual identity in the writing of Gower, Langland, and Chaucer. Her current book project charts the changing status of American English in the representation and reception of dialects and second languages in Hollywood film in the 1940s and 50s.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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