The English Language Arts

By Commission on the English Curriculum of the National Council of Teachers of English | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 12
The Modern View of Grammar and Linguistics

LANGUAGE AS A LIVING AND CHANGING INSTRUMENT

FOR GENERATIONS THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE HAS BEEN TAUGHT to children and youth as a set of fixed facts and principles, a logical structure of rules which govern the use of English in speech and writing. Deviations from this fixed set of rules have been considered to constitute errors; the observation of these rules presumably resulted in the correct use of English. This static and authoritarian point of view has persisted despite certain objective and glaring evidences to the contrary and despite the published work of generations of competent linguists who have without exception repudiated the authoritarian position. Countless children, for example, have been taught that an English sentence may not end with a preposition although any reader can note in the literature of the last two centuries such sentences as "What is it for?" and "I don't want to." even in our best authors.


Basic Concepts Evolved by Linguists

In the last half century linguists who have devoted themselves to the study of the English language have evolved five basic concepts which are, or should be, the foundation of the current attitude toward any teaching of the English language today.

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