Purism is an aspect of linguistic study which appeals not only to the scholar but also to the layperson. Somehow, ordinary speakers with many different mother tongues and with no formal training in linguistics share certain beliefs about what language is, how it develops or should develop, whether it has good or bad qualities, etc. The topic of linguistic purism in its many realisations is the subject of this volume of 19 articles selected from the contributions presented at a conference at the University of Bristol in 2003.

In particular, the articles deal with the relationship of purism to historical prescriptivism, e.g. the influence of grammarians in the 17th and 18th centuries, to nationhood, e.g. the instrumentalising of purism in the standardisation of Afrikaans or Luxembourgish, to modern society, e.g. the existence of puristic tendencies in computer chatrooms, to folk linguistics, e.g. lay perceptions of different varieties of English, and to academic linguistics, e.g. the presence of puristic notions in the historiography of German or English.

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