English Grammar Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the GRAMMAR of the language. - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian Philosopher Grammar deals with syntax and morphology. DEFINITIONS OF GRAMMAR 1. The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences. 2. The study of structural relationships in language or in a language, sometimes including pronunciation, meaning, and linguistic history. 3. The system of inflections, syntax, and word formation of a language. 4. The system of rules implicit in a language, viewed as a mechanism for generating all sentences possible in that language. 5. A normative or prescriptive set of rules setting forth the current standard of usage for pedagogical or reference purposes. 6. Writing or speech judged with regard to such a set of rules. 7. A book containing the morphologic, syntactic, and semantic rules for a specific language. 8. The basic principles of an area of knowledge: the grammar of music. 9. A book dealing with such principles. [Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grammar.]
Quotations about Grammar
Noam Chomsky: The syntactic component of a grammar must specify, for each sentence, a deep structure that determines its semantic interpretation and a surface. - Noam Chomsky
Richard Trench: Grammar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason. - Richard Trench
Rosenstock-Huessy: Grammar and logic free language from being at the mercy of the tone of voice. Grammar protects us against misunderstanding the sound of an uttered name; logic protects us against what we say having double meaning. - Rosenstock-Huessy
Edgar Allan Poe: The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood for the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid. - Edgar Allan Poe
Bill Bryson: English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin - a language with which it has precious little in common. In Latin, to take one example, it is not possible to split an infinitive. So in English, the early authorities decided, it should not be possible to split an infinitive either. But there is no reason why we shouldn't, any more than we should forsake instant coffee and air travel because they weren't available to the Romans. Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football. It is a patent absurdity. But once this insane notion became established, grammarians found themselves having to draw up ever more complicated and circular arguments to accommodate the inconsistencies. - Bill Bryson
Mark Twain: And another thing: I've noticed a good deal, and there's no bird, or cow, or anything that uses as good grammar as a bluejay. You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does - but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you'll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it's the NOISE which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use. Now I've never heard a jay use bad grammar but very seldom; and when they do, they are as ashamed as a human; they shut right down and leave. - Mark Twain.
Topics for Discussion Discuss the following topics with your students: 1. Grammar is broad. 2. Grammar has no clear boundaries. 3. The KS3 Framework for English is based on grammar. 4. Grammar is technical. 5. Grammar is only a part of 'knowledge about language'. 6. Grammar provides tools for expressing meanings. 7. Every kind of English has a grammar. 8. Grammar should be descriptive, not prescriptive. 9. English grammar is relevant to other languages.
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