What is Grammar? Lecture 2
Summary • Defining grammar • Grammar and meaning • Grammar and function • Spoken and written grammar • Grammar syllabuses • Grammar rules
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What is grammar? (the serious, more academic definition) “You’ve reached the Smiths. We cannot get to the phone right now. Please, leave a message after the beep.” • This is a text which consists of three sentences. Each sentence consists of words, and when spoken these words consist of sounds. Grammar consists of looking at how these forms are arranged.
The level of the text The level of the words “We cannot get to the phone right now. Please, leave a message after the beep. You’ve reached the Smiths.” “You’ve reach the Smiths. We cannot to get to the phone right now. Please, leave a messages after the bleep.” The level of the sentence The level of the sounds “Cannot now get the we to phone right.” “Right now we cannot get to the phone.” “We cannot get to the phone now, right?” “You’ve reached the Smiths. We cannot get to the oneph right now. Please, leave an agemess after the pebe.”
What is grammar? (the definition for teachers and learners) • Grammar is conventionally considered to be the study of the syntax and morphology of sentences. • Syntax – how words group together to form a sentence. • Morphology – how words change their form.
Chains and slotsHow the words are chained together (syntax)how the words fit the slots (morphology) • The horizontal axis is (fairly) fixed: • Noun phrase, verb phrase, noun phrase, adverbial phrase… • The vertical axis not so much. Switch columns one and two, but not three and four: • Can she get to the phone right now? She can to get… • Slot-filling elements cannot be put into chains: • I like fruit, door, phone.We, Jim cannot like get the door fruit.
A good (amateur) grammarian can recognize how the elements are chained and how the slots are filled. • Look at the following sentences: • Where do you suggest me to go for my holiday? • He mustn’t have picked up the children from school, because she has already done it. • I have chosen to describe Stephen Hawking, a notorious scientific of our century. • The policeman asked me did I see the accident. • Take a minute to correct the sentences and explain the corrections. Think whether you’d use English or Serbian to explain the corrections to your students. You can work in pairs or groups.
Where do you suggest me to go for my holiday? • The verb suggest can be followed by a that-clause in which case we use subjunctive. Where do you suggest (that) I go for my holiday? • Or by: SHOULD + BARE INFINITIVE Where do you suggest (that) I should gofor my holiday? That is generally dropped in informal style. Also note that the present subjunctive has exactly the same form as the bare infinitive for all persons (e.g. I suggest that she call him.).
He mustn’t have picked up the children from school, because she has already done it. • Negative deductions about a past event are expressed by: CAN’T / COULDN’T + PERFECT INFINITIVE; He can’t have picked up the children… • Past Perfect is used in the subordinate clause to denote an activity which was completed before the past event about which a negative deduction is made. He can’t have picked up the children from school, because she had already done it.
I have chosen to describe Stephen Hawking, a notorious scientific of our century. • Notorious means well-known for some bad quality, infamous. A better choice would be: I have chosen to describe Stephen Hawking, a famous / well-known / renowned / prominent... • Scientific is an adjective, and we need a noun: I have chosen to describe Stephen Hawking, a famous / well-known / renowned / prominent scientist of our generation.
The policeman asked me did I see the accident. • Pripretvaranjupitanja u direktnomgovoru (Policeman: ‘Did you see the accident?’) u indirektna (Indirect Speech) potrebno je: • zavisnurečenicuzapočetiveznikomIF (poštodirektnopitanje ne počinjeupitnomreči): The policeman asked me IF... • promeniti red reči u zavisnojrečenicitakoda on budeistikao u potvrdnojrečenici: The policeman asked me IFI saw the accident. • primenitipravilo o slaganjuvremenapremakome se Simple Pastmenja u Past Perfect (budućida je uvodniglagol (reporting verb TO ASK) u prošlomvremenu): The policeman asked me IF I had seen the accident.
Are these errors in syntax or morphology? • Where do you suggest me to go for my holiday? • suggest + that clause and bare infinitive – syntax • He mustn’t have picked up the children from school, because she has already done it. • can’t instead of mustn’t – morphology • had instead of has – morphology • I have chosen to describe Stephen Hawking, a notorious scientific of our century. • notorious expresses the wrong meaning – vocabulary • noun instead of an adjective – morphology • The policeman asked me did I see the accident. • if to introduce the reported yes/no question – syntax • Past Perfect instead of Past Simple – morphology
Grammar and meaning “You’ve reached the Smiths. We can get to the phone right now. Please, leave a message after the beep.” • Grammatically correct but does it make sense? “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” by Noam Chomsky(1957) Syntactic Structures Grammar communicates meaning! Teachers should not only focus on the forms, but also on the meaning these forms convey.
Lexical and grammatical meaning • Lexical meaning (almost no grammar) Fresko lokomoko! Tickets! • The language of early childhood (here and now, can be interpreted) Cookies! Where mommy? All gone milk. • Grammar makes meaning clear when context is missing. Molly needs to ask Dolly where Jenny put the cookies she (Molly) bought yesterday. Cookies? Do you know where Jenny put those cookies I bought yesterday?
Language learners • A period of baby-like talk (works for a while until they learn enough grammar): Host: “Tea?” Guest: “Please.” Host: “Milk?” Guest: “Just a drop.” • A time comes when baby-like talk is not enough: Native speaker: “Ho long will you stay in London?” Learner: “Since two weeks.” Native speaker: “No, no. I mean, how long are you here for?” Learner: “I am here for since two weeks.” Ja: Kakoste se provelisinoć u klubu? Nikola: Imali smo lepo vreme. Ja: Nije padala kiša? Nikola: Ne, ne, imali smo lepo vreme. (We had a good time.)
Look at these shades of meaning… • Tickets! • Tickets, please. • Can you show me your tickets? • Could you show me your tickets? • May I see your tickets? • May I see your tickets, please? • Would you mind if I had a look at your tickets? • Would you mind terribly if I had a quick look at your tickets, please? We soften the meaning with grammatical means: adjectives, modals, tense, subjects, objects, etc.
Grammar and function (A young man came to pick a girl up. He is taking her out on a date. While he waits for her to get ready, he has the following conversation with her dad.) Father: Do you drink? Young man: No, tanks, I’m cool. Father: I’m not offering. I’m asking IF you drink. Do you think I’d offer alcohol to teenage drivers taking my daughter out? The young man understands the words the father uses, and the grammar, but he misunderstands the FUNCTION, and we need to teach that as well!
Form and function – correlation • Easy to identify Would you like…? invitation or offer If only I hadn’t… regret • Many forms for one function (warning) Don’t do that! I wouldn’t do that if I were you. If you do that, you’ll be in trouble. You’d better not do that. • Many functions for one form Do you drink? an offer or a general question If you do that, you’ll be in trouble. (warning) If you do well in the exam, I’ll buy you a car. (promise) If you exercise more, you’ll be fitter. (advice) If we miss the bus, we’ll take a cab. (plan)
Spoken and written grammar S1: Great lecture, right? S2: It certainly was memorable. I do agree. S1: Who’s that bloke over there? S2: I believe it is Mr. Robertson. He was hired by the University to conduct research on nuclear fusionwhile Mr. Rodgers is on leave. S1: Saw him yesterday. Had to laugh, though. Those mustaches! Wanna fag? S2: I certainly do not want a cigarette. Smoking has been prohibited on campus. Moreover, it is extremely detrimental for your health.
Student 2 Student 1 The teacher
Spoken and written grammar S1: Great lecture, right? S2: It certainly was memorable. I do agree. S1: Who’s that bloke over there? S2: I believe it is Mr. Robertson. He was hired by the University to conduct research on nuclear fusion while Mr. Rodgers is on leave. S1: Saw him yesterday. Had to laugh, though. Those mustaches! Wanna fag? S2: I certainly do not. Smoking has been prohibited on campus. Moreover, it is extremely detrimental for your health.
Spoken and written grammar • Spoken grammar • contractions • omission of words • question tags • Written grammar • passive • complex tenses • subordinate clauses • We need to teach both grammars, not only the written grammar. • Written grammar is easier to teach, found in course and reference books, spoken grammar has regional and idiomatic features. • When in doubt be moderate. Analyze your students’ needs.
Grammar syllabuses Syllabus ('sɪləbəs) an outline or a summery of the main points of a text, a lecture or a course of study • Syllabuses tell us what is to be covered (selection) in a course, and in what order (grading). • Selection criteria: • usefulness • frequency • Note: most frequent words (the, a, I, of, and, to…) are not the most useful ones. • Most frequent and useful grammatical structures are determined by computer data bases, but syllabus designers go by hunch. • Analyze your students’ needs.
Grammar syllabuses • Core grammar – should be useful to everyone (alphabetical order) • articles: a/, the • adjectives: comparative, superlative • be: present and past • can/can’t: ability, request • going to: future • have got: possession • like + noun, like + -ing • past simple • possessive adjectives • prepositions of place and time • present continuous • present simple, etc.
Grammar syllabuses • Grading criteria: • complexity • learnability • teachability • Complexity • Jane is working. • Jane has been working for 10 hours now. Go and tell her to stop. • By the end of 2016 Jane will have been working for this company for 10 years. • Jane is nice. Is Jane nice? • Mike likes chocolate. Does Mike like chocolate? It makes sense to teach less complex structures first. It makes sense to teach one-step operation structures first.
Grammar syllabuses • Learnability • If the item is more simple it is more learnable (traditional view). • Natural order of language acquisition – regardless of their mother tongue and the order of teaching, learners acquire grammar in a predictable way. • Most learners say it going for a while. • They learn irregular verbs more quickly than the regular ones. • The third person singular -s is picked up very late. • Should this affect syllabus design? • Natural order talks about output (what learners produce), but should it affect the input (what they are exposed to)? • Teach but don’t insist on immediate production.
Grammar syllabuses • Teachability • What is easier to teach, Present Simple or Present Continuous, or articles in English? What is more frequently used, what is more useful? • Present Simple: more complex structure, but how frequent and useful is it? • Present Continuous: simple structure, easy to demonstrate, but is it useful? (more frequently used because of cell phones) • Articles: very complex usage, difficult to describe or demonstrate, but frequent and useful.
Functional syllabuses Task/topic/genre syllabuses • Organized to accommodate communicative purposes (CLT in ‘1970s) • inviting • describing • asking/giving directions… • Tasks (design an add and present it) • Topics (home, travel, environment, etc.) • Genres (informal letters, business emails, etc.) Other kinds of syllabuses Multi-layered nature of language – multi-layered syllabuses
Grammar rules • Prescriptive – how something should be done • Do not use by someone/them in passive constructions. • Descriptive – what usually happens • Usually, you do not use the with names of towns and cities. • Generally, you use some in affirmative sentences and any in questions and negative sentences. A: Which apple would you like? B: Any is fine. The primary difference between some and any is that some is specific, though unspecified, while any is nonspecified. That is, some implies an amount or number that is known to the speaker. This difference tends to correlate with the difference between positive and negative contexts.
Rules of form Rules of use • You form Past Simple of regular verbs by adding -ed to the infinitive. • They are easier to formulate and explain. • carry – carried • stop – stopped • love - loved • Past Simple is used for past actions or states. • Not black and white, depend on context. • How did you say you spelt your name? • I was wondering if you had any good books I could borrow. • It’s time the kids went to bed. Rule number 3, specially designed to save teachers Pedagogic rule – a rule that makes sense to learners and at the same time gives them the tools and confidence to produce language with a reasonable chance of success.
Summary • Defining grammar • The serious definition • The definition for learners • Grammar and meaning • Lexical and grammatical meaning • Grammar and function • Form and function • Spoken and written grammar • Grammar syllabuses • Selection (usefulness and frequency, core grammar) • Grading (complexity, learnability, teachability) • Functional, task, topic, genre syllabuses • Grammar rules • Prescriptive, descriptive and rules of form