Archive for March, 2014

March 29, 2014

Bad Writing Advice

by eirenehogan

“The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students’ grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.” By Geoffrey K. Pullum
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March 26, 2014

Learning a new language

by eirenehogan

BASICS OF GRAMMAR FOR LEARNING A LANGUAGE     Many language courses begin teaching the language by using the basic grammatical structure of:   Noun + verb + noun.   That is, a person does something to someone or something else.   Eg:   I see the man.   That teaches you the basic indicative structure of the sentence; a sentence in the narrative form, ie, the type you might read in a book.  But how often, when travelling to a new country, do you, on first alighting from the plane, hear the customs officer say;  I see your passport.   No, you hear, ‘Can I see your passport?’, or ‘Show me your passport,’ or ‘Do you have your passport?’   Or do you, once getting through customs, then go to an information desk and say, ‘I see the hotel.’   No, you say, ‘Can you tell me where there is a hotel?’   So to begin learning a language you need to learn specific parts of grammar which are not based on the basic indicative sentence of narration, noun + verb + noun, ie, ‘I see a hotel.’   Below I have listed what I consider, for my language learning, the basic elements of grammar I need to know to learn a language.   BASIC GRAMMAR NEEDS

  1. Pronouns
  2. tense
  3. questions – and answers of ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
  4. requests – use of modals (I want … )
  5. prepositions
  6. interrogatives (wh-words, questions)
  7. conjunctions. (joining phrases)
  8. plural
  9. Nouns and declensions
  10. Verbs and conjugations

The use of nouns and verbs will just come in as part of all of this.  Nouns and verbs, the most basic parts of speech are a given and are words we need to learn all the time, but we learn them as we use the above grammatical structures.   If ALL we learn is nouns and verbs we will NOT learn the language.  We cannot learn the language without the above grammatical structures. Eg;   Dog bite man.   What does that actually mean?   Let’s add the grammatical structure.   The quaddon bit the opikkier.   Even though we don’t know what a quaddon or  an opikkier is, we do know that the opikkier is in pain because it was attacked by the quaddon. We could also have,   The quaddon was bitten by the opikkier.   Which reverses the attacker and the victim.   So, if we use the words: Dog bite man,   We could have either:   The dog bit the man,   Or,   The dog was bitten by the man.   We need to know all those in between grammatical structures in order to make sense of the language.

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