Analyzing the Grammar of English

By Richard V. Teschner; Eston E. Evans | Go to book overview

Analyzing the Grammar of English (which we abbreviate AGE) is an analysis of the grammar of a particular language (English) and not an introduction to linguistics whose examples end up coming from English. A textbook and not a reference grammar, AGE also constitutes a reasonably brief examination of its topics that the authors' classroom experience has shown can be completed in a fifteen-week semester. AGE keeps end-of-chapter notes to a minimum and attempts no bibliographical coverage. On the other hand, exercises abound—even more so in the present edition—that complement the text as fully as possible and are prefaced in most cases by examples of how to proceed. (AGE also contains a lengthy glossary of terms—new to this edition—along with an index of topics.)

AGE's third edition has been partly redesigned so it can better function in skills-building classes—developmental English or advanced ESOL—and serve its users as a review grammar as well as a course in the morphosyntactic analysis of English. So while AGE's main target populations continue to be majors in linguistics or its allied disciplines (English, communication, education, etc.) for whom a course in English grammatical analysis will always form part of a welldesigned curriculum, AGE can now also be used by students who are not as far along in their college careers and whose needs are developmental or allolingual rather than strictly analytical or pedagogical. (Several chapters of the third edition have been revised extensively to achieve this; this is especially true of the largely rewritten chapter 1.)

In essence, grammar is the analysis of language elements that convey meaning. These elements include sounds (phonetics and phonology), individual words (the lexicon), the constituent meaningful elements of words (morphology), the arrangement of words into phrases, clauses, and sentences (syntax), accent and stress (prosody), and the appropriate overall application of all these things in a given situation (pragmatics). Humans rarely analyze their language in any formal way, at least not unless they are made to do so by language-conscious parents or instructors. In days of yore, teachers sought to advance children's linguistic skills—not only reading and writing, but speaking as well—by chiding them to monitor their language and follow certain norms when using it. This sort of language activity is known as prescriptive grammar or prescriptivism. Children were expected to impose conscious rules of language usage on the unanalyzed language they already spoke proficiently. To do so, they were often told to change the way they spoke, and they were told that to avoid being looked down on (or stigmatized) as uneducated (or trashy, rude, dumb, coarse, etc.) by using [bad

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