In the previous two chapters I have tried to show both how popular conceptions of English assume that there is a ‘best’ English which should be promulgated (or prescribed) in schools, and how many writers professionally concerned with the language have, wittingly or unwittingly, given comfort to these popular notions. In particular, I have discussed some parts of the ‘standardisation cycle’ with a view to showing how different concerns have been paramount in different historical periods during the development of the language. These concerns have usually been driven by forces from outside the language. For example, Caxton’s ‘editorial’ work was undertaken primarily to make money. In the process, he was instrumental in selecting a particular regional and functional variety of the language as the model for future written English. In the seventeenth century, writers wished to expand what could legitimately be written in English, thereby contributing to functional elaboration, but also adding to the vocabulary and the development of different ways of writing. In the eighteenth century, the need to forge a United Kingdom which included the new merchant classes encouraged a form of prescriptivism which in turn depended on a way of describing the language. Inevitably, the variety selected for description tended to be that used by the ‘best’ writers from within the most ‘polite’ stratum of society.