Grammar, Normative

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Grammar, Normative


the systematized exposition of the grammatical rules of a literary language, including rules of word formation, morphology, and syntax. Normative grammar also includes basic information about phonetics and phonology and, sometimes, orthoepy. Normative grammars serve as reference aids that reflect the current grammatical norms of a language and provide reliable information about the correct use of language.

Normative grammar is based on the scientific concept of the linguistic norm as a socially determined and relatively stable phenomenon. In a living language with rich historical traditions, the linguistic norm is, by its very nature, dynamic. Therefore, normative grammar describes not only the correct and stable forms and constructions of a literary language but also their variants, which are the result of historically determined vacillations of the norm. Normative grammar treats variants in different ways. The most established, regular, and stylistically neutral forms are legitimized as correct and recommended. Variants that reflect obsolescent or as yet unestablished usage, as well as variants that perform specific functions (stylistically colored variants), may either be proscribed by normative grammars (if they do not correspond to the grammatical laws of the language) or be restricted in their function in the language.

Normative grammar is based on models of irreproachable literary speech taken from the most authoritative sources. Modern normative grammars combine grammatical systematization and exposition of grammatical rules with a scientific description of the grammatical systems of a language (normative-descriptive grammars). In such grammars, description is used to characterize the whole grammatical system. Rules for the use of variants, with information about unacceptable and stylistically restricted variants, are an integral part of the description. Examples of normative-descriptive grammars include Russian Grammar (vols. 1–2; Moscow, 1952–54) and many grammars of the languages of the peoples of the USSR.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.