The aim of this booklet is to present in brief summary the techniques of analysis which are necessary for learning a foreign language by the method of working with native speakers and arriving inductively at the grammatical system of their language. The material may be studied by a class or group under the guidance of a trained linguist, or by an individual student working alone. We believe also that the booklet will be useful to the professional teacher of languages in high school and college, and even to the educated layman, as an introduction to linguistic method and to the scientific attitude toward language- learning.
It is becoming necessary today for more and more Americans to acquire foreign languages; and for many of the languages which they must now study, no satisfactory handbooks or teachers are to be found in this country. This situation makes more acute the long-standing need for a guide that will help teachers and learners alike in applying the results of linguistic science to language study. We have tried to make this booklet clear enough to be of service to anyone, regardless of his previous training, who is now engaged in the study of a foreign language. If he will first read ProfessorLeonard Bloomfield Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Language's (published at the same time and in the same series as the present work), and if he will then study and practice the techniques here described, he should be able, with the help of a native speaker, to acquire a good speaking knowledge of any foreign language in a relatively short time.
We make no claim to originality in the material here presented. Most of the facts and many of the interpretations will be thoroughly familiar to linguists, for we have borrowed freely from our colleagues. Since, however, the booklet is intended for non-specialists, we have thought it better to acknowledge here, once and for all, our general indebtedness to other workers in the field, than to interrupt our presentation by footnotes pointing out specific debts on almost every page.
On the other hand, the treatment in Chapters II-IV, as distinct from the material treated, may fairly be called our own; and the principles of classification upon which the treatment is based--though they derive to some extent from the influence of other linguists--are the result of several years' discussion, correspondence, and practical testing.
The preparation of this guide was undertaken at the suggestion and under the auspices of the Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on the National School of Modern Oriental Languages and Civilizations; it is published by the Linguistic Society of America on behalf of the Committee.
Two long passages--§4.8 on the suffix -ous and all but the first section of Chapter V--were written in first draft by Professor Leonard Bloomfield. The whole booklet owes much--far more than we can adequately express--to the searching criticism of Professors Bloomfield, Franklin Edgerton, and Edgar H. Sturtevant. All three have read the manuscript in each of its several drafts; and their comments have invariably resulted in clearer phrasing, better examples, and the elimination of downright errors.