Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Description becomes Prescription

    Hello! I was interviewing for an article yesterday and he used the phrase "Description becomes Prescription." I said I was not familiar with that phrase, and he said it was an old saying. He declined to explain what it meant! anyone here familiar with it? thanks!

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,645
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Description becomes Prescription

    Quote Originally Posted by Peggy1026 View Post
    Hello! I was interviewing for an article yesterday and he used the phrase "Description becomes Prescription." I said I was not familiar with that phrase, and he said it was an old saying. He declined to explain what it meant! anyone here familiar with it? thanks!
    I think I've met it, but very rarely. What it is saying is that present-day prescriptions about aspects of language often derive from descriptions of a change that happened long ago. For example, in the time of Chaucer there was a word pronounced (more or less) ['nıxtǝ] - where [x] represents the sound at the end of Scottish "loch"; a description of the sound at the time would have said so. Today, the prescribed spelling includes the silent letters "gh" but they once represented a sound (that could have been described); night club owners often spell it 'nite', and so do night-club advertisements (and indeed customers, sometimes) but the prescription is the norm.


    b

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,645
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Description becomes Prescription

    PS

    'Description becomes prescription' could be said of many apparently arbitrary spelling rules in English, but not all. The silent 'b' in "debt" for example was a prescription dreamed up by an interfering busy-body who wanted to show off his Classical learning (L. debitum) and make life difficult for English learners. Centuries before the 'b' appeared there was a perfectly good and b-free word that English had borrowed from French - dette.

    b

Similar Threads

  1. Allie put a description of her cat on a poster
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-Jan-2008, 08:37
  2. amazes me with her vivid description
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Oct-2007, 23:48
  3. Backyard /house description
    By Erica23 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-Mar-2007, 12:28
  4. The function of "said" in patent description
    By jw1212 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-Aug-2005, 03:37

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •