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Linguistics, Pragmatics & Natural Grammar. Chen Lin Beijing Foreign Studies University. I The Trend. 1. The branches, or disciplines, under the general title of LINGUISTICS as a science: 1) General Linguistics Theoretical Linguistics Applied Linguistics.

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linguistics pragmatics natural grammar

Linguistics, Pragmatics & Natural Grammar

Chen Lin

Beijing Foreign Studies University

i the trend
I The Trend
  • 1. The branches, or disciplines, under the general title of LINGUISTICS as a science:

1) General Linguistics

Theoretical Linguistics

Applied Linguistics

2) Sociolinguistics

Historical Linguistics

Anthropological Linguistics


3) Grammar


Lexicon / Lexicology

Phonology / Phonetics

Semantics / Morphology

Stylistics / Rhetoric

Corpus Linguistics

4) Pragmatics

The study of the use of language in communication, particularly the relationship between sentences and the contexts and situation in which they are used.

Pragmatics includes the study of:

a. How the interpretation and use of UTTERANCES depends on knowledge of the real world

b. How speakers use and understand SPEECH ACTS

c. how the structure of sentences is influenced by the relationship between the speaker and the hearer.

Pragmatics is sometimes contrasted with SEMANTICS, which deals with meaning without reference to the users and communicative functions of sentences.
The general trend today in the study and research of Linguistic Science is:

1. More emphasis tends to be put on Applied Linguistics

2. While different scholars continue to pursue their studies in different individual disciplines each in his own way, many are trying to coordinate the studies of the various disciplines for the one general purpose of improving the way languages are taught, that is, teaching methodology.

3. Hence more and more scholars of Linguistics, particularly language teachers, are turning their attention to the study of Pragmatics and its application to the classroom teaching of foreign languages.
In other words, more and more language teachers are turning to be more and more pragmatic, paying more attention to enabling the students to acquire the real Integrated Language Capability, to use the language in real, meaningful communi-cation, instead of just spoon-feeding them with sheer language knowledge, as many did in the past.
ii natural grammar
II. Natural Grammar
  • What is Grammar?

Grammar is the description of the structure of a language and the way in which linguistic units such as words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the language.

Language is used to express ideas. When you have an idea, you think of words first, for it is words that express the idea. But how are words organized ? That is Grammar.
In other words, Grammar is how words are combined in a certain pattern to communicate an idea. When you use a word, you are obliged to choose from the particular grammar patterns associated with the word.
Hence, we can choose from the vocabulary of a language a certain number of the most frequently used words and study how they are used in patterns, collocations and set phrases.
As Professor John Sinclair puts it:

“Learners would do well to learn the common words of the language very thoroughly, because they carry the main patterns of the language.”

Let’s take the word for as an example:

I. Patterns

1. for + N(noun, or NP, noun phrase)

This talk is for teachers.

2. for + NP (period of time)

I’ve talked for half an hour.

3. for + -ing

I use PPT for explaining my points.

4. verb+ NP + for +-ing

I don’t blame you for not understanding me.

5. For +NP + to-infinitive

The talk is for you to comment.

6. Be +adj. + for + N + to-infinitive

The talk might be difficult for the students to understand.

7. NP + for + NP + to-infinitive

There’s no need for you to agree with me.

II. Collocations

1. Phrasal verbs: arrange for, ask for, bargain for, care for, fall for, long for, look for, plan for, prepare for, provide for, settle for, etc.

2. Nouns frequently followed by for: time, room, soace, need, desire, hope, chance, opportunity, reason, purpose, case, argument, plan, arrangement, search, cure,use, etc.

3. Adjectives often followed by for: good, bad, suitable, ready, famous, sorry, responsible, thankful,useful, late, right, wrong, hard, difficult, easy, dangerous, usual, unusual, possible, etc.

III. Set Phrases

for ages, for long, for now, be all for, for all, but for, as for, for the time being, for God’s sake, what for (for what)? etc.

The promoters of this way of learning the English Grammar call it NATURAL GRAMMAR, for they believe one can learn the English language naturally, through its most frequently used words.
However, the argument will be: Can we BEGIN our learning of the English grammar in this way? Perhaps not. The teaching of Natural Grammar should be well coordinated with the teaching of Traditional Grammar (School Grammar) and Lexical-Functional-Grammar. For the students who have had a systematic training in Traditional Grammar would benefit well in the learning of Natural Grammar as an effective consolidation.