Posts tagged ‘grammar’

April 3, 2016


by eirenehogan

Are Grammar Nazis insecure lonely people who feel unloved, so are using their antiquated knowledge of primary school grammar to make themselves feel more important?


Where does language come from?  Does it come from grammar books and dictionaries?  Did God send down an English grammar and English dictionary?


Has English always been spelt the same way, and have English sentences always been constructed the same way?




Language is a tool used by humans to communicate to each other.  Successful communication occurs when two people can understand each other.  What words are used, how ‘grammatically correct’ they are or whether they are to be found in dictionaries do no matter, if the two people understand each other, that is communication and that is language.


The basis of language is verbal communication and that is the most current and up-to-date.  Written language is a description of verbal language and is often a more out-dated version of spoken language.  Changes in language tend to occur in the spoken language first, and then filter down to written language.  In this modern era of internet and mobile phones and texting that is changing, as now there are many written innovations that occur in the online world before being copied by spoken.


Grammars and dictionaries are merely descriptions of the language.  They are always out of date as the language practises needs to be established and studied before they can be recorded.


Grammars and dictionaries do not prescribe how a language is written, let alone spoken, they merely describe it.  The language does not belong to the grammar books or dictionaries, and does not belong to the grammar teachers – or websites.  The language belongs to the people who use it.


Language changes and evolves over time, and it is through that verbal communication that it does.  Over time dialects will develop and ultimately new languages, and the grammars and dictionaries will reflect that.


The formal rules of written language describe a certain type of usage which is in effect its own dialect.  People learn the spoken dialect of their region and their generation, but then also need to learn the written dialect of their language.


It is certainly useful for people to write and spell in a similar way, but to criticise people for not getting their written grammar correct (the written dialect) is ignoring the content of what the person is trying to say.  Which is more important?  And English spelling is so mixed up and messed up, so full of antiquated spellings that no longer reflect the pronunciation of the word, that it is more the fault of the language than the speller, if someone cannot spell it.



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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