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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

English 319

Section 750 & 751

www.csub.edu/~ecase

slide2

Quiz

True or False?

Grammar sucks!!!

slide3

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
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  • Descriptive grammarians see language as an interesting puzzle that can be solved
  • As an example, take a look at the following two sentences:
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  • 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?
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  • 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?
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  • It turns out the answer is fairly simple
  • Each of the two sentences is actually derived from two other sentences
  • Thus:
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • Police psychologists calmed the terrorist who had threatened some female hostages.
  • Police psychologists calmed the terrorists
  • The terrorists had threatened some female hostages
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  • 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
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  • 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”?
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  • 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
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  • Or on the group of people that raised us
  • So, very often, those strong opinions differ greatly
  • Historically, this led to something called Prescriptivism
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  • 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
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  • 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)
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  • 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
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  • In America, Lowth’s approach inspired Lindley Murray’s widely used English Grammar (1794)
  • (Murray lived from 1745 to 1826)
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  • 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!!!)
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  • 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)
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  • ‘Two negatives, in English, destroy one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative’
  • (The reasoning: based on logic and mathematics)
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  • (Of course, this is not true; two negatives in fact just make a more emphatic negative)
  • “I ain’t done nothin’”
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  • There are several reasons why language was studied prescriptively over the centuries
  • (Crystal, 1997: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language)
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  • 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.
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  • 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).
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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.
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • Let’s try another one:
  • yutiervins
  • 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 =
  • 3,628,800
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  • 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
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  • How about these words:
  • balloon
  • rearming
  • re+arm+ing
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism
  • Anti + dis + establish + ment + ari + an + ism
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  • 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:
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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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
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  • 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
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  • This class will focus on the first four competencies:
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
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www.csub.edu/~ecase

Click on “syllabi”

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