English grammar

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by skaught, May 8, 2010.

  1. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    Ok so this is very humbling. I'd like to improve my understanding of english grammar and rules and names of things. I know what verbs, nounds, and adjectives are. But whats a proper noun, and a prepositional phrase, and an adverb and all those other things.

    The High school I went to was horrible, and I seriosuly never learned these things. Or if I did, the importance of knowing these things was not stressed, and so I forgot learning about them. Knowing this of me, Have any of you who have read my posts found my grammar to be good or bad? What can I do to improve it?

    Thanks
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    English grammar is a lie. It's based on confused latin copying. Read "The Miracle of Language" if you have any doubts. Every native speaker of english naturally knows english grammar and if they didn't no one would understand them.

    Your grammar seems good to me. I understand clearly what you've written here. Articulating your thoughts and trying to express exactly and clearly what you want to say seems like a much more fruitful endeavor than learning all the names of parts of speech that aren't really understood in the first place.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    So how does that make it a lie?

    Naturally?
    What utter nonsense.
    The rules of grammar are learned, through listening to others as we grow up as much as anything.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    The origins of english grammar derive from the conviction that latin grammar WAS grammar. These first linguists didn't realize that english had its own grammar and so they tried to force english into the latin rules.

    I was assuming it was learned through listening to others... are you serious? You really think I asserted that babies come out knowing english if they come from english parents? C'mon man...

    If you believe "the rules of grammar must be learned" then do you believe that grammar didn't exist in the 11th century when there were no grammar schools? When was grammar created then? How did these grammarless people communicate without grammar? What does a grammarless language look/sound like?
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    Two pints.
    1) Not all the rules of English grammar derive from Latin and
    2) It still wouldn't make it a "lie" - they are the rules that we have.

    So why use the word "naturally"? You may as well assert that mathematics is "natural".

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    You think grammar is only learned in grammar schools?
    Grammar is the rules of construction: it was learned, as I stated, from listening to others speak (and common usage defines/d those rules - whether formalised or not).
    Oh wait, do you think that ONLY people who have been to grammar schools use grammar?
     
  9. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    Okay there was a miscommunication here. When I said "grammar is a lie" I was insinuating the grammar taught in grammar school about parts of speech like "subject", "preposition", "prepositional phrase", "gerund" etc. Undoubtedly if you are a native english speaker (learned it from listening to it) you already know proper grammar or else you wouldn't be comprehensible.

    Skaught a proper noun is a capitalized noun like "Mr. Thompson" or "Petco". An adverb is just an adjective that "modifies" (describes or gives further detail to) a verb. So with "She ran." we have "She" being the subject and "ran" being the verb. Now if we say "She ran swiftly." we have added the adverb "swiftly" which describes the verb "ran".

    Prepositional phrases are useless to learn about and aren't illuminating at all as far as grammar is concerned. There's too many holes in the whole theory behind them that I don't feel like digging into. Again if you're interested read "The Miracle of Language" by Charlton Laird. Honestly it's pretty boring and is only useful I guess in situations like this where you're arguing with someone who hasn't really considered the possibility. You won't speak or write better by knowing them (if you could even call it knowing...)
     
  10. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    That, also is untrue. One can make oneself understood (let alone not being incomprehensible) without using "proper" grammar.
    Foreigners don't know the rules of English grammar yet they aren't, by and large, incomprehensible when they fail to use it "correctly".

    And I would suggest that native English speakers probably perpetrate far more "ungrammaticisms" on a daily basis than do foreigners.
    Like, you know what I mean, like? Duncha, really?
     
  11. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    You could google for online sites that have grammar rules and have exercises. There are a lot of them out there...

    here's one...

    http://www.ego4u.com/
     
  12. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    Again my choice of words is poor. "Proper grammar" has come to mean the grammar taught in grammar schools. What I meant is what one could call "comprehensible grammar". "Proper grammar" is a long list of rules with an even longer list of exceptions to those rules.

    Here is a violation of english grammar:

    Here a is violation english of grammar.

    If you took that second sentence at face value without any contextual inference you would have to agree that it is jibberish and without any recognizable meaning. Could we infer guesses as to what it means? Sure. Just as if we compiled a list of 7 randomly generated words and strung them together I'm sure we could come up with a few interpretations as to what it means... but it would be impossible to know with any certainty.

    In regard to your foreigner example, often times what happens when an important grammatical error is said is that the person listening to it must deduce from the clues given by the context of the situation. If the statement was taken at face value however, it would be impossible to deduce its true meaning. Also in such situations we often try to get a confirmation from the person as to what they meant by asking them yes or no questions - which is another indication of the meaninglessness and ambiguity of grammarless english.

    English is incomprehensible without its grammar and so to speak english is to know its grammar.

    Native english speakers speak in different styles depending on the area they were raised in and many other cultural influences each with their own "quirks". I'm willing to bet that native speakers make far fewer important grammatical errors though.
     
  13. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    Oops, no. Grammar schools, despite the name, do not particularly specialise in (or make a point of) teaching English grammar. The name is a hangover from a time when they used to teach Latin grammar.

    On the contrary, as you yourself stated: we can infer what is meant despite the "garbled grammar".

    When, ever, is any statement devoid of context?

    That is like, so wrong it's, like, untrue.
    As previously illustrated. English grammar is misapplied, abused or ignored every single day by large numbers of native English speakers.
    Devoid of comprehensibility without correct grammar , English is not. As Yoda (ungrammatically) might say.

    Yeah?
    Check out the ungrammatical uses of "whom" for "who" and vice-versa, or "then" for "than" on this forum alone.

    Examples (picked from randomly opening a couple of threads and looking at posts):
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  14. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    But that wasn't devoid of grammar. In fact the sentence is remarkably close - when compared to random - to a grammatically correct sentence that most non-native users could not possibly come close to. It is also a variation on 'correct' grammar that shakespeare uses, not just Yoda. Usually you need some correct grammar in a sentence to get the meaning across. Some errors are OK, but

    comprehensibility devoid is not English without grammar of, correct.

    would leave most native speakers in some brain pain.

    (I am just jumping in nearly randomly to your disagreement with stateofmind, which, frankly, has wandered all over the place and I am not even sure you actually disagree over the core issues.)
     
  15. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    To some degree yes. I mean, this all depends on the context. I am a big defender of everyday use of language. I think this is correct in most contexts, even though it has errors that grammar classes will try to eliminate. In fact I love the way people speak 'in the street', it is often wonderfully alive creative language. Once you get to the language of academic papers, legal documents, product information, non-fiction books, newspaper articles, something tighter than everyday grammar use is often necessary. This does not make that language better, because much of it would be terribly inefficient and inexpressive in other contexts. But there is some justification for teaching grammar, much as it makes my teeth gnash. It should however not be taught as this language we should all strive to match in all contexts. It is not correct per se, just has rules that are agreed on - with exceptions - in certain contexts.

    I mean you want it to be very clear what purpose a certain clause is serving in the abstract of an article on a particular medicine, for example. Also in a contract. In an article on the reasons why we are going to war or when one should restart drinking the water in a certain county, the grammar is important. And everyday speech might be misleading.

    Skaught a proper noun is a capitalized noun like "Mr. Thompson" or "Petco". An adverb is just an adjective that "modifies" (describes or gives further detail to) a verb. So with "She ran." we have "She" being the subject and "ran" being the verb. Now if we say "She ran swiftly." we have added the adverb "swiftly" which describes the verb "ran".

    Prepositional phrases are useless to learn about and aren't illuminating at all as far as grammar is concerned. There's too many holes in the whole theory behind them that I don't feel like digging into. Again if you're interested read "The Miracle of Language" by Charlton Laird. Honestly it's pretty boring and is only useful I guess in situations like this where you're arguing with someone who hasn't really considered the possibility. You won't speak or write better by knowing them (if you could even call it knowing...)[/QUOTE]
     
  16. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    Pfft I didn't say "devoid of grammar a sentence incomprehensible is" but "devoid of comprehensibility an ungrammatical sentence isn't".

    In other words you can have a comprehensible sentence that doesn't follow all the rules of grammar, which negates SoM's contention that "English is incomprehensible without its grammar" and, specifically, "you already know proper grammar or else you wouldn't be comprehensible".
    One does not need "proper grammar" to remain comprehensible (as illustrated by my quotes taken from this site).

    I wouldn't make claims about "devoid of grammar" being comprehensible, but perfect (or proper) grammar isn't required for comprehensibility.
     
  17. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,362
    dywyd - you're out of your league here and it's just too taxing on my time and energy to hold you by the hand and walk you through things.

    I agree to some extent Doreen - that "proper grammar" is an agreed upon norm. But I find writings that are properly grammatical to be sometimes more ambiguous than the not-so-proper ones - if eliminating ambiguity is indeed the purpose of it. It seems to me that clarity of thought is a more important factor in eliminating ambiguity than proper grammar.

    But I think proper grammar creates an unnecessary gap between the written and spoken word. There are no conscious "rules" for spoken language (at least grammatically speaking)... there's only conveying your intended meaning or not conveying your intended meaning.. it just seems like grammarians have created something that wasn't there to begin with...

    An honest grammarian wouldn't enforce rules, they would discover rules - because the written language is the child of the spoken language and not the other way around. In my opinion the written language should strive to be a pure expression of the spoken language.

    I guess the fact that we don't have one symbol to represent one sound doesn't help in bridging that gap between speech and writing either... spelling shouldn't be any more a feat of memorization than learning the alphabet!
     
  18. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    Actually you said....
    Which is ambiguous, since a sentence without correct grammar could be breaking one rule or many. But OK, now we know what you meant. By the way your construction in that sentence was an example of 'fronting' and the more I look at it, the more it seems fine to me. In context it is a little ambigous, given the argument between you two leaves me a bit confused about your main points. But in some contexts that is a perfectly fine sentence, I think. OK, tolerable.

    Yes, you don't need to follow all the rules of a particular context's grammar.
    OK, but does stateofmind really disagree with this? It seems like he is saying that school grammar is wrongheaded and to some degree unnecessary. That's why I get this nagging sense you guys agree to a significant degree. I read the above exchange and it reminded me of couples arguing and their positions seem to overlap to a high degree but never quite at the same moment.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  19. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    I have sympathy for this position. I like spoken language and I wish it formed the basis for written language to a greater degree. Of course many constructions are almost never used in spoken language. Long sentence with lots of subordinate clauses. These can be useful in writing - fiction for example in Henry James - but also in a variety of non-fiction forms. We would probably never develop rules for the usage from speech. I'll have to check this by listening to people for a while.

    Sure, some people do it. But they tend to either be products of fussy upper class educations or are emulating such people - one pernicious example of the former is William F. Buckley, may he rest in silence. He could handle long, multi, multi clause sentences but I think this is because he mimicked what he learned from the written language. Made me want to strangle him, but others manage it without giving me this urge.

    You could also say there are no conscious rules for written language. I mean, most people will break rules when they write.
     
  20. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    159
    All the arguing and no one answered you!

    A proper noun is simply a name: Skaught, Earth, Moscow, Rome, Tom...

    An adverb describes the verb like an adjective describes the noun: He drove his red car slowly. Slowly describes the verb drove.

    Prepositional phrase: Well, there is a list of prepositions (with, on, in...just to name 3) and a noun follows the preposition and that's the phrase: He hit the ball with the club.

    A decent site that explains the parts of speech:
    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/definitions.htm

    How's you grammar? Better than many. A few minor errors here and there, but that is to be expected.

    Being dyslexic, I like using Firefox since it has a built in spell checker for forums. It keeps my posts legible.
     
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    I see you like to make suppositions as opposed to actually answering my points.

    Then I suggest you read a more modern book on what the actual rules of English grammar are.

    See above.
     
  22. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    QED. A sentence that doesn't stick to grammar is not incomprehensible (which was SoM's claim).

    I ain't got nuthin' more to say.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  23. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,645
    Then he's expressing himself particularly badly...
     

Share This Page