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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


The regulation of a language by prescriptive rules based on an analytic description of its structure. Such a description typically takes the variety of a cultural and/or political elite as its object. For example, when Samuel Johnson attempted to codify the English language in his famous dictionary, he selected middle- and upper-class usage, clearly favouring the written forms of groups with social prestige over the spoken language of the lower classes. Through codification, rules are accorded normative status, that is they are designated models for guiding correct usage. Languages are codified in varying degrees and at different linguistic levels: lexical, phonological, orthographical and grammatical. Codification typically presupposes writing, if only because a comprehensive description of all levels of a language system is hard to memorize without written record. There is a long and significant research tradition which assumes that the Sanskrit grammar of Pāṇini may have been elaborated without the use of writing. However, there is mention of writing in Classical Sanskrit texts, and the question of the beginning of writing in the Sanskrit tradition is yet to be resolved conclusively. In any event, codification in the modern sense relies on writing, even with respect to pronunciation. Dictionaries and grammars are the main tools of codification. The task of codification is often ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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