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#3241 Cyrilla

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 23:00

...'grammar taught at the right age...'

 

Precisely!  

 

These poor children are force-fed grammar rules and names (which, ho ho, not everyone can agree on and they keep changing the terminology) at developmentally inappropriate ages. 

 

A nine year-old is not a small 14 year old.


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#3242 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 09:40

My school was utterly bizarre. It's now a maths academy and was always heading that way, even in 1971 when I went there. It was, truth in jest, the only grammar school in Britain that didn't teach Latin. The English lessons were freestyle 1960s maieutic drivel (what do you think of Romeo? What do you think of Juliet? End of lesson, zero input from the teacher) with the occasional grammatical correction if they heard someone say something badly. Really the German lessons were the only place where I learnt any English grammar, but that had to wait 2 years for the first teacher to be replaced by someone competent. That was German instead of French, NOT German in addition to French! Only half the school did French. I remember we had a science fair, and a teacher was shocked by our spelling and then had a Doh moment when she discovered we were in the German stream!

All I remember from 5 years of English at that place is "it's weather: wether is a castrated ram". My friend's wife's favourite school quote is "Remember, girls, it's FEWER cigarettes, LESS gin!"


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#3243 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 10:05

There is a serious point I could make about "grammar", but it might take a long time.

 

There was a tendency in the past (were the Victorians the most culpable?) towards what I term "taxonomania", in other words, every grammatical construction was classified. Then they wrote enormous grammar books containing all these classifications. And when a grammar book runs out of categories it has a small appendix called "constructio ad sensum" (construction according to sense), which is a catch-all for anything they can't categorise.

I would urge writers of grammars to downsize, and explore this realm of constructio ad sensum more. It's a technical term for free-expression.

 

My Greek (Smyth) and Latin (Gildersleeve and Lodge) grammars are not the biggest, but they are big and unwieldy - it takes years to find your bearings in such a book (when your worries are about syntax more than accidence), and switching horse midstream is tricky - I switched from something else to Smyth and had to re-orientate myself. 

Also these grammars tend to be language-exclusive, whereas some points are simply general - how many of you know what an "epexegetic infinitive" is? For things like this, small comparative grammars can be more useful than larger more language-specific grammars.

 

So a summary is probably that I'd agree with some kind of reduced grammar teaching, as long as a sensible compromise is found.

 

Ancient (9th century AD) West-Germanic grammar was modelled on the Latin in Jerome's NT, whereas ancient East-Germanic grammar was modelled on the original Greek NT (but then Gothic died out). We perhaps see something similar happening at the moment - American English had been incorporating elements of German/Yiddish grammar (as opposed to Augustan Latin English - hence Victorian taxonomania, although Gildersleeve and Lodge were American. And Smyth might have been, lol. But Americ's big period of immigration didn't begin until after the big grammars were written), and English English has been adopting this from American for a few decades. I won't give examples, but we do have to find an alternative to Victorian teaching.

 

I have to disappear off for an unspecified time offline to help my ailing parents, so if there's any discussion after this, I won't be able to join in.


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#3244 Aquarelle

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 13:57

"Remember, girls, it's FEWER cigarettes, LESS gin!"

 

Hope your off line time isn't too stressful GS. I simply had to say I really liked that!! Best example I have ever come across for getting that point over!!!


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#3245 Maizie

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 15:22

That reminds me of my French teacher, who maintained a look of perfect innocence when she bellowed "Words have gender, people have s*x" at a bunch of unruly 14 year olds :D


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#3246 Aeolienne

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 10:03

From the intranet:

 

The [Departmental Operations Centre] is a central team that's role is to coordinate and ensure flows of information and appropriate escalation of risks relating to a no-deal scenario.


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#3247 Hedgehog

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 12:09

...'grammar taught at the right age...'

 

Precisely!  

 

These poor children are force-fed grammar rules and names (which, ho ho, not everyone can agree on and they keep changing the terminology) at developmentally inappropriate ages. 

 

A nine year-old is not a small 14 year old.

I do think it's ridiculous to teach primary school children all the various (and to me obscure) terminology for English words.  Noun, adjective, adverb and a few others are just fine, and all that's needed at this level. Much better to get the spelling correct, the ability to write legibly, and construct a decent sentence at this level, and leave more obscure terminology until later, if we need it at all (and I confess to having forgotten most terminology which was dinned into me in Y8 in the most tedious English grammar lessons that were ever invented.  I never got 10/10 no matter how hard I tried, because I'd forget a comma, or forget to underline something that I was supposed to. Argh.)


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#3248 Cyrilla

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 23:26

Hodgeheg, they're now taught how to construct sentences according to subordinate clauses, fronted adverbials, connectives of time etc. - it's like learning mathematical formulae and they get marks for each element used 'correctly'.    This is supposed to 'make their writing better'.   And this is not even at the top of primary school.

 

I despair.

 

:( :( :(


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#3249 Banjogirl

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Posted Yesterday, 17:33

And in fact their writing is often incomprehensible because they're told silly things like using more 'interesting' words, instead of expressing themselves clearly and succinctly.
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#3250 Cyrilla

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Posted Yesterday, 21:30

Actually, Banjogirl, they're told to 'uplevel' the words they use.

 

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#3251 Hedgehog

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Posted Yesterday, 22:18

Actually, Banjogirl, they're told to 'uplevel' the words they use.

 

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What kind of word is "uplevel"?  Is it in the OED? angry.png


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