Following every linguist’s mantra of “Linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive”, some of my readers might be intrigued by the lack of quotation marks around the little, yet powerful word proper. I made this choice intentionally to illustrate an important fact noted by Deborah Cameron in her book Verbal Hygiene (cf. 1995): Linguists have often avoided taking part in a scientific discussion of prescriptivism.
As the focus of my project is on members of the general public and not on prescriptive usage guide writers, I decided to use the general public’s linguistic label. As Cornips, Jaspers and de Rooij (2014, p. 3), some labels or linguistic concepts may be true for non-linguists, but “may be fiction to us [linguists]”.
Cameron, D., 1996. Verbal Hygiene. London: Routledge.
Cornips, L., Jaspers, J. & de Rooij, V., 2014. “The politics of labeling youth vernaculars in the Netherlands and Belgium”. Working Papers in Urban Languages & Literacies. pp.: 1-23.