The prevalence of prescriptivism and pedantry: A mixed method study of descriptive and prescriptive attitudes’ predominance in two British newspapers
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- Master's theses (HF-IKS) 
This thesis is a quantitative and qualitative study of the prevalence of descriptive and prescriptive attitudes in the Guardian and the Telegraph articles about linguistics between 2000 and 2019. The main inspiration behind the study is the folk belief that non-standard English and “incorrect” English is connected with traits such as low intelligence, laziness, bad morale and criminality. In addition to measuring descriptivism and prescriptivism, the study quantifies the type of linguistic information found in the articles. It creates an overview of what type of information about linguistics each newspaper has published since the year 2000. The thesis is a cross- quantitative qualitative study. The main method used is the compilation of articles found by searching for specific linguistic terms on the newspapers websites. Essential information from each article has been logged in two appendices. The most significant column in each appendix is the descriptivism-prescriptivism scale, a tool developed specifically for this thesis which gauges each article’s descriptive- or prescriptiveness. The information in the spreadsheets is shown in different figures, summarising, quantifying and labelling the linguistic information found in each newspaper. This enables the comparison of the newspapers, the most interesting revelation is which of them is more descriptive or prescriptive. The qualitative part of the study lies in the analysis of the most significant of the compiled articles. The findings are grouped into suitable categories of similar or related articles, presented and interpreted. In a few cases where articles refer to other sources, such as blog entries, these are also presented. The Telegraph was proven to be slightly more prescriptive than the Guardian all over. In spite of this, the Telegraph more wholly descriptive articles than the Guardian, the reason for this may be that they write more descriptive scientific articles about linguistics, and the Guardian writes more colloquial ‘mostly descriptive’ opinion pieces criticising prescriptivism. The correlation between recent articles and higher descriptiveness does not appear to be present in either of the newspapers. However, the lower number of articles about linguistic correctness and language change in more recent years suggest that journalists write less about I these topics within linguistics. This can be interpreted as a sign that the debate has ended, and prescriptivism has been proven unscientific, at least within the domain of newspaper articles about linguistic correctness.
Master's thesis in Literacy Studies