Where Lexicon and Syntax Meet

Where Lexicon and Syntax Meet

Where Lexicon and Syntax Meet

Where Lexicon and Syntax Meet


"In education argumentative theoretical books are two a penny so it is very good to read Michael Reiss' longitudinal account of 21 children's progress through an 11-16 secondary school learning science, year by year, up to the end of their compulsory schooling. Reiss includes the views of their teachers, the aspirations of their parents and their own hopes for the future. It adds up to a book that beginning and experienced teachers and concerned parents will find rewarding." - Professor Joan Solomon, The Open University

• What is it like to be a pupil studying Science in a school in England?

• How important are home background and school teaching for pupils to succeed?

• Why do some children maintain an interest in Science while others don't?

Understanding Science Lessons reports the findings of a major five year longitudinal study into pupils' learning of science. One group of mixed ability pupils were followed throughout their 11 to 16 science education. A combination of extensive classroom observations and in-depth interviews with pupils, parents and teachers provides a rich mass of data. These findings are interpreted with respect to such factors as the behaviours of girls and boys in lessons, the importance of the teacher, the purpose of investigations in science education and the effects of the English National Curriculum on classroom teaching and pupil motivation.

Throughout, the emphasis is on the individual pupils and their experiences. All pupil and parent interviews were carried out in their homes and the ethnographic approach allows the reader to gain a convincing insight into what it is like to be a pupil studying science at secondary school.


It is common for linguists (myself included) to
describe their own analyses as natural, reserving the
term unnatural for the analyses of other
investigators. From this one deduces that naturalness
is something to be desired in a linguistic description.
Yet the term natural is elusive and largely
unexplicated, having so little intrinsic content mat in
practice it easily comes to mean simply “in
accordance with my own ideas”. (Langacker 1987:

Linguistic models of the present time claim to be more or less explanatory, i.e., they claim to be able to explain how a competent speaker of a language acquires this competence. This also implies among many other things – statements about the way the linguistic subsystems or -components artificially separated in the descriptions of the language system for methodological reasons actually interact. the validity of such statements can be measured against the facts revealed by the research into language processing, and such an evaluation is exactly what I aim at in the project presented here. It can be roughly described as the search for a “natural” linguistic model, a model which is compatible with findings about language use and which can, apart from defining any “grammatical” (in the sense of grammatically correct) linguistic product as a result of the language user’s competence, also explain various performance data, in particular those which seem to be aberrations from “grammatical” or well-formed constructions.

Since in a project like this, it is hardly feasible to discuss the assumptions made with regard to the interrelation/interaction of all the components in linguistic models, I felt the requirement to restrict myself to some representative subgroup of them. Stimulated by the growing linguistic interest in the lexicon, by the increasing importance . . .

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