English 319
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English 319. Section 750 & 751 www.csub.edu/~ecase. Quiz. True or False? Grammar sucks!!!. Quiz. True - If you look at grammar prescriptively False – If you look at grammar descriptively. Language. Prescriptive grammarians tell people how they should speak and write

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English 319

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English 319

English 319

Section 750 & 751

www.csub.edu/~ecase


English 319

Quiz

True or False?

Grammar sucks!!!


English 319

Quiz

True - If you look at grammar prescriptively

False – If you look at grammar descriptively


Language

Language

  • Prescriptive grammarians tell people how they should speak and write

  • Descriptive grammarians simply document how people actually speak and write


Language1

Language

  • Descriptive grammarians see language as an interesting puzzle that can be solved

  • As an example, take a look at the following two sentences:


Language2

Language

  • 1) We arrived in Denver after a breathtaking flight that ended in a smooth touchdown.

  • 2) The administration denied all the requests that the students made.

  • In which of these two sentences can the word “that” be deleted?


Language3

Language

  • 1) We arrived in Denver after a breathtaking flight that ended in a smooth touchdown.

  • 2) The administration denied all the requests (that) the students made.

  • Why?


Language4

Language

  • It turns out the answer is fairly simple

  • Each of the two sentences is actually derived from two other sentences

  • Thus:


Language5

Language

  • 1) We arrived in Denver after a breathtaking flight that ended in a smooth touchdown.

  • Is derived from

  • We arrived in Denver after a breathtaking flight

  • The flight ended in a smooth touchdown


Language6

Language

  • In this example, “that” replaces “The flight,” which serves as the subject of the underlying sentence

  • “that” is called a “relative pronoun”

  • Now look at the other example


Language7

Language

  • 2) The administration denied all the requests (that) the students made.

  • Is derived from

  • The administration denied all the requests

  • The students made the requests


Language8

Language

  • In this example, “that” replaces “the requests,” which serves as the object of the underlying sentence

  • The general rule?

  • Relative pronouns that replace subjects cannot be deleted

  • Relative pronouns that replace objects can be deleted


Language9

Language

  • Incidentally, this also helps to explain the “who” versus “whom” distinction (both who and whom can serve as relative pronouns)

  • “who” replaces subjects

  • “whom” replaces objects


Language10

Language

  • Police psychologists calmed the terrorist who had threatened some female hostages.

  • Police psychologists calmed the terrorists

  • The terrorists had threatened some female hostages


Language11

Language

  • The female hostages whom the terrorists had threatened escaped before the shootout.

  • The female hostages escaped before the shootout

  • The terrorists had threatened some female hostages


Language12

Language

  • Why are we in this class?

  • Why are we studying something that we have had mastery over since roughly the age of five?

  • Why do most people cringe when the hear the word “grammar”?


Language13

Language

  • A little history of “grammar”

  • Language “belongs” to all of us

  • Therefore, we all seem to have a strong opinion about it

  • Our ideas about language are usually based on the variety of our place of upbringing, however


Language14

Language

  • Or on the group of people that raised us

  • So, very often, those strong opinions differ greatly

  • Historically, this led to something called Prescriptivism


Language15

Language

  • Prescriptivism is the view that one variety of language has an inherently higher value than others

  • That this variety ought to be imposed on the whole of the speech community

  • This view is especially propounded in relation to grammar and vocabulary


Language16

Language

  • Prescriptivism has a long an varied history

  • One of the most influential grammars of the 18th Century was Bishop Robert Lowth’s Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762)

  • (Lowth lived from 1710 to 1787)


Language17

Language

  • Lowth’s approach was strictly prescriptive

  • That is, he meant to improve and correct, not describe

  • He judged correctness by his own rules (mostly derived from Latin) which frequently went against established usage


Language18

Language

  • In America, Lowth’s approach inspired Lindley Murray’s widely used English Grammar (1794)

  • (Murray lived from 1745 to 1826)


Language19

Language

  • Both Lowth’s and Murray’s grammars went through 20 editions each over several decades

  • Murray’s book had an enormous influence on school practice and popular attitudes in the U.S. (that is still there!!!)


Language20

Language

  • Some examples of his axioms:

  • ‘You should write or say It is I and not It is me’

  • (The reasoning: in Latin, the verb be is followed by the nominative case, not the accusative)


Language21

Language

  • ‘Two negatives, in English, destroy one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative’

  • (The reasoning: based on logic and mathematics)


Language22

Language

  • (Of course, this is not true; two negatives in fact just make a more emphatic negative)

  • “I ain’t done nothin’”


Language23

Language

  • There are several reasons why language was studied prescriptively over the centuries

  • (Crystal, 1997: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language)


Language24

Language

  • 1) Grammarians wanted to point out what they felt to be common “errors” in order to improve the language.

  • 2) They wanted a means of settling disputes over usage. In other words, they wanted to provide a standard.


Language25

Language

  • 3) They wanted to codify the principles of their languages (standards), to show that there was a system beneath the apparent chaos of usage.

  • 4) A standard allows a speaker to be understood by the greatest possible number of individuals (and also over time).


Language26

Language

  • 5) A set of standard rules is necessary for students learning English (or any other language) as a second language.

  • 6) Existence of prescriptive rules allows a speaker of a nonstandard variety to learn the rules of a”standard” variety and employ that variety in appropriate settings.


Language27

Language

  • In this view, usage was either right or wrong

  • This attitude is obviously still with us

  • The alternative viewpoint (which this class espouses) is less concerned with standards


Language28

Language

  • More concerned with facts of linguistic usage

  • In other words, the intent of modern linguistics is to describe, not prescribe

  • But as a future teacher, this view may cause you problems


Language29

Language

  • We need to find a balance – the more you know about language, the better (more informed) your decisions about usage and teaching will be

  • IOW, it is usage, not logic, that must determine the descriptive rules of a language


Language30

Language

  • As my old linguistics teacher, David Marshall, used to say:

  • “You don’t have to know how to fix an engine to drive in the Indy 500 . . .

  • But you do have to know how to fix an engine to be in the pit crew.”

  • You are all, henceforth, grammar mechanics


Language31

Language

  • So what parts of the engine (aspects of language) do you know?

  • One of the aspects of language in which you have competence is phonetics

  • Phonetics is the part of linguistic competence that has to do with your knowledge of the sounds of a language


Language32

Language

  • Let’s look at the t sound in two words: 

  • top vs. stop 

  • Did you know that there is a difference between them?

  • In spite of the fact that these two sounds are different, you know how to produce them without thinking about them


Language33

Language

  • Another of the aspects of language in which you have competence is phonology

  • Not only can you physically produce and perceive the sounds of your language, you know how these sounds work together as a system


Language34

Language

  • Let’s look at the sequence of letters in:

  • g-i-s-n-t

  • In this sequence of letters, there are 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120 possible combinations


Language35

Language

  • Let’s try another one:

  • yutiervins

  • 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 =

  • 3,628,800


Language36

Language

  • Another of the aspects of language in which you have competence is morphology

  • For the most part, speech consists of a continuous stream of sound with few pauses between words

  • However, you have little trouble breaking your utterances down into the words that make them up


Language37

Language

  • How about these words:

  • balloon

  • rearming

  • re+arm+ing

  • Antidisestablishmentarianism

  • Anti + dis + establish + ment + ari + an + ism


Language38

Language

  • Another of the aspects of language in which you have competence is syntax

  • At the same time that you are doing all of the above, you also recognize well-formed (that is grammatical) sentences:


Language39

Language

  • you up pick at o’clock will eight

  • I will picks you up at eight o’clock

  • I will pick you up at eight o’clock

  • At eight o’clock, I will pick you up


Language40

Language

  • Another of the aspects of language in which you have competence is semantics

  • You can also distinguish between grammatical acceptability and meaning acceptability:

  • contented little cats purr loudly

  • colorless green ideas sleep furiously


Language41

Language

  • So part of your linguistic competence has to do with your ability to determine the meaning of sentences 

  • For example, you understand the ambiguity in the following sentences:  

  • I saw her duck

  • Visiting relatives can be dreadful


Language42

Language

  • The chickens are too hot to eat

  • Students hate annoying professors

  • Drunk gets nine months in violin case

  • Kids make nutritious snacks

  • Grandmother of eight makes hole in one


Language43

Language

  • Another of the aspects of language in which you have competence is what we will call pragmatics

  • You understand how the context of utterances influences their meaning:

  • Its rather cold in here

  • You make a better door than a window


Language44

Language

  • Part of your pragmatic competence is understanding discourse

  • You can understand the contexts or situations in which different styles of language may be used

  • Discourse can vary in pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax, among other things


Language45

Language

  • Thus, you know that saying:

  • “How’s trick, your Majesty?”

  • when waiting in line to shake Queen Elizabeth’s hand is probably not a good idea


Language46

Language

  • This class will focus on the first four competencies:

  • Phonetics

  • Phonology

  • Morphology

  • Syntax


Language47

Language

www.csub.edu/~ecase

Click on “syllabi”


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