Ascriptive vs. Descriptive - What's the difference?


  • Descriptive

    In the study of language, description or descriptive linguistics is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is actually used (or how it was used in the past) by a group of people in a speech community. All academic research in linguistics is descriptive; like all other sciences, its aim is to describe the linguistic world as it is, without the bias of preconceived ideas about how it ought to be. Modern descriptive linguistics is based on a structural approach to language, as exemplified in the work of Leonard Bloomfield and others.Linguistic description is often contrasted with linguistic prescription, which is found especially in education and in publishing. Prescription seeks to define standard language forms and give advice on effective language use, and can be thought of as a presentation of the fruits of descriptive research in a learnable form, though it also draws on more subjective aspects of language aesthetics. Prescription and description are complementary, but have different priorities and sometimes are seen to be in conflict. Descriptivism is the belief that description is more significant or important to teach, study, and practice than prescription.


  • Ascriptive (adjective)

    ascribing; relating to ascription

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    Of, relating to, or providing a description.

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    Of an adjective, stating an attribute of the associated noun (as heavy in the heavy dictionary).

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    Describing the structure, grammar, vocabulary and actual use of a language.

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    Describing and seeking to classify, as opposed to normative or prescriptive.

  • Descriptive (noun)

    An adjective (or other descriptive word)

Webster Dictionary

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    Tending to describe; having the quality of representing; containing description; as, a descriptive figure; a descriptive phrase; a descriptive narration; a story descriptive of the age.

Princeton's WordNet

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    serving to describe or inform or characterized by description;

    "the descriptive variable"

    "a descriptive passage"

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    concerned with phenomena (especially language) at a particular period without considering historical antecedents;

    "synchronic linguistics"

    "descriptive linguistics"

  • Descriptive (adjective)

    describing the structure of a language;

    "descriptive linguistics simply describes language"



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