Contradictions and Regularities in Webster’s Works
Keywords:Analogy of language, contradictions, general usage, language description, Webster
AbstractNoah Webster believed that a pure, regular and better form of the language existed, usually represented by a former variety that is more appropriate. However, he also believed that British English was not a model for American English because it did not follow “the analogy of the language.” Accordingly, he started a search to find the “true principles” of the English language. At that moment, his writings became more descriptive than prescriptive, but, because he was a successful textbook writer, he could not use the same model when he wrote schoolbooks. Consequently, his language analyses and his educational material became contradictory. Moreover, his earlier works and his later works are also inconsistent. This paper investigates the many inconsistencies found in Webster’s writings and tries to interpret them under the light of linguistics historiography. The results show that the contradiction in Webster’s work originates from his continued development as a language scholar and from his uncertainties arising from the linguistic practices of the time.
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