rules that govern English usage


Senior Member
"What we are mainly concerned with in this chapter are those parts of orthography where German deviates from the rules that govern English usage

Source:Barron's German Grammar.

Relevant Link:

Context: It is about linguistics.

what does "rule that govern English usage refer to?

Thank you.
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    It means the general rules that are used to speak and write English. I have a feeling, though, that this isn't really answering your question. Can you explain what it is about "the rules that govern English usage" that confuses you?


    Senior Member
    It was that how rules can govern a language's usage. But your answer is enough.

    Thank you.


    Moderate Mod
    Oh, I see. Yes, govern isn't being used literally, of course - there is no central authority that determines what is proper English and what is not. Its meaning here (more or less) is "influence."


    Senior Member
    Hi JustKate,

    is this true for any country where English is an official language - that there isn't an institute where linguists determine what is proper English?

    thank you


    Senior Member
    For English, there are many "schools of thought" or Style Guides, e.g., APA, The Chicago Manual of Style, etc. The US does have an "academy" though it is not well-known.


    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    The US does have an "academy" though it is not well-known.
    Any "academy" in the US is a private, and not an official or governmental body, and it has no power or authority to determine what is or is not proper English. There is nothing in the English-speaking world that corresponds to l'Académie française.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Descriptive linguists* talk about 'rules' in a language, and by that they mean users of a language agree about which usage is acceptable (grammatical) and which is not. In other words, acceptability (grammaticality) - and therefore the rules - rests with the speakers. English speakers have tended to resist academies.

    *As opposed to prescriptive linguist who might say things like 'Don't split the infinitive' or 'Don't start a sentence with "and"'. Style guides, mentioned by ABunny, are also prescriptive.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    As amatter of fact, when we follow the link, we see that the book is Master the Basics: German. It is an introductory German course, not a linguistics text.

    The section quoted is about orthography (spelling and punctuation) and the sentence is referring to those parts of the German rules on spelling and punctuation which differ from the English rules on the same topic.
    < Previous | Next >