Aspects de la linguistique prescriptive: Les perceptions des vocabulaires de specialité à travers des dictionnaires français (XIXe et XXe s.)

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The aim of this study is to point out some characteristics of prescriptivism and their links to descriptivism. We first analyse the representation of how specialized vocabulary, scientific and technical words should be used, according to Biscarrat’s dictionary (1835): we uncover a typology of terms presented in this dictionary which are simultaneously specialized and featuring a prescriptive mark. We then study this corpus of terms through institutional lexicography, including the contemporary period. It appears that in specialized fields, and over the centuries, lexicographers follow a kind of current agreement in their usage recommandations. One also notices that what may be considered as a separation between prescriptivism and descriptivism tends to disappear: there is a convergence between how one should and how one does write or talk. This analysis leads to the conclusion that prescriptive developments are part of descriptive activity. Understanding these prescriptive and descriptive movements should help us in improving new developments in language policy.


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