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Old 10-27-2006, 01:01 AM   #1
Richard Waller
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Default Beyond Words

Beyond Words: How Language Reveals the Way We Live Now by John Humphrys (Hodder & Stoughton)

In a new book on language, John Humphrys argues that we must safeguard grammar and clarity in an age of texting, slang and hype. There is a long quote on
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main...h23.xml&page=1
today (Friday).

John chairs Master Mind and the Today programme on TV. He seems to have got it about right.

   
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:33 AM   #2
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Richard:

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John Humphrys argues that we must safeguard grammar and clarity in an age of texting, slang and hype
He's right but this statement is untrue:

'One of the daftest things we have ever done in our schools was to stop teaching it to children'

I went to English schools, and at no stage were we taught formal grammar, because like all children we learned to speak English chiefly through example. At a later stage we had to be taught 'parsing', because that was required by our examination curriculum, but that was only useful if we wanted to be language teachers. It obviously did Anthony Blair MP much good, for he's one of the prime examples of someone that delivers speeches consisting largely of sentences without a predicate.

   
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Old 10-27-2006, 11:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Michael Rowley View Post
I went to English schools, and at no stage were we taught formal grammar, because like all children we learned to speak English chiefly through example. At a later stage we had to be taught 'parsing', because that was required by our examination curriculum, but that was only useful if we wanted to be language teachers.
We learnt "parsing" as well - but its usefulness (as a means of teaching the basics of grammar though not the only one) is a lot more than just becoming language teachers. Having a grasp of the structural elements of a language is a great help in learning other languages - especially those with a more complicated grammar than your own.

   
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:10 PM   #4
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Marjolein:

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Having a grasp of the structural elements of a language is a great help in learning other languages
Most of the pupils that Humpheys was talking about don't learn other languages. I've an idea that formal parsing is old-fashioned, because our English master seemed to think so in 1944. I mentioned 'English' schools deliberately, because Scotland has its own education system, and I've heard that Scottish schools do still emphasize formal grammar.

   
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Old 11-18-2006, 12:51 PM   #5
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John chairs Master Mind and the Today programme on TV. He seems to have got it about right.
He made a complimentary remark about my website devoted the apostrophe. Said he tried, but could not find fault with it!

http://www.dreaded-apostrophe.com/

   
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Old 11-18-2006, 02:53 PM   #6
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Patrick:

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Said he tried, but could not find fault with it!
Perhaps he wasn't trying hard enough. You don't explain what is being omitted (and therefore needs the customary apostrophe) when the 's' is added to indicate the genitive case; telling children (or greengrocers) that it's a hypothetical (and largely demonstrably non-existent in Old English) '-es' is a bit thin. And it's even thinner when it comes to the s after plural words, because then you have to postulate an imaginary -ses.

Do away with the apostrophe in genitives.

   
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Old 11-18-2006, 03:45 PM   #7
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I have not read the book - and i doubt wether I would - I belive that the spoken word came first and should be written as people speak - the "grammer rules" stop normal people writting because they think that "these so called elitist people " will make fun of them.
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