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He further clarifies his motive in the preface, where he explains that he intends to present a compendium of the rules of Latin grammar for those who have studied the authorized grammar by Lily, but have forgotten the rules and do not have time to review them completely.

He continues, 'together with them, haue I heere made an exact Suruey as the time hath yeelded me of the Engtish Tongue, as the same may for the vse of all the parts of Speech in Composition best conduce or accord with the Latines; and so haue I made as a posteriori the English tongue for those that are English, the first ground-worke to the Latine'. That being so, it is not surprising that he should use the grammatical machinery of Latin for his description.

Nevertheless, he recognized structural differences between the two languages, especially in the importance of function words for English: And heere amongst all other points of difference, this is not the least, that the English Tongue dependeth vpon many wordes, which the Latine Dialect doth not expresse at all, and which for this cause in all my Briefes or Tables following, I haue tearmed them Signes, as which demonstrate the vse of the following wordes, and this also in regard of the Latine tongue, which without them cannot bee translated into our vulgar.

In keeping with his observation on the use of 'signs' or function words in English, he regularly translates the Latin genitive with the English preposition of,for example, 'Hominis decus est inge- nium' as 'The glory of a man is his wit',15 even when the use of the English inJlected genitive would have been closer to the Latin struc- ture. Hewes uses the inflected genitive in English only when he is talking about some other subject, as in his discussion of passive verbs, where he renders senilis stultitia as old mens folly.

Chades Butler's English Grammar , was printed in a reformed spelling with a modified alphabet, which is not preserved in the quotations made here from the issue. The Oblique, or genitive is the same in both Numbers: except the Rect plural ende in n: for then the genitive plural is made by adding s to the n: as chickens meat, childrens bread: except also when the plural hath changed soom letter of the singular: as a knifes edg, knives edges.

Note heere that the genitive is alwais set before the noun that governeth it: as Abrahams God: although the Duitch dooe often set it after: as lck ben de God Abrahams, end de God Isaaks, end de God Jacobs. This Teutonik termination of the genitive, soom refined wit hath turned to his: perswading himself that s is but a corrupt abbreviation of his, which hee thought necessary to restore: and therefore hee wil not write, My masters soon is a childe,but my master his soon is a childe: which isjust as good, as if in Latin hee woold say, not Heri filiw,but Herus ejw filiw, est infans.

The other Oblique cases of the Latins, ar supplyed by the Rect, either with, or without prepositions, as the sens shall require: as the learning of the Master, I giv the master or to the master, I prais the master, I speak against or for the mas- ter. Jonson's English Grammar. According to R.

In the second part, on syntax, however, he has several interesting observations. But if the thingpossess'd goe before, then doth the Pre- position of, come betweene: Ignorance is the mother of errour. More significantly, Jonson notes the existence of the phrasal geni- tive, which is the syntactic construction that moves the English geni- tive out of the realm of inllectional morphology and into that of syntactic constructions: Which Preposition [ofl may be coupled with the thing possessed, being in the Genitive In a similar vein, he observes that when two nouns or noun phrases are in apposition, only the last is in the genitive: 'his Brother, Pnnce Arthurs wife' referring to Henry vrlr and Queen Catherine.

Although Jon- son's grammar often seems more like notes for a grammatical descrip- tion than a finished work, he deals with significant aspects of English that have no parallel in Latin structure. Poole's EnglishAccidence.

The grammar of English grammars.

My drift and scope therefore is, to have a childe so well verst in his Mothers tongue, before he meddle with Latine, that when he comes to the construing of a Latine Authour, he shall from the signification of his words in construing, be in some good measure able to tell distinctly what part of Speech every word is And were I worthy to advise, I would not have any Child put to the reading of any Latine, except Vocabularies, nor learne any Latine Gram- mar, till by the help of these and some other Rules he be in some good measure able to make Latine.

For this under correction of better Judgement I judge a more certain, easie, and speedy way to bring children to the understanding of their Latine tongue, then by spending two or three yeares, or more in Grammar. With such an aim, it is not surprising to find that Poole describes English nouns as having the six cases of Latin, expressed by word order and function words. Poole's grammar adds little to what other English grammarians had already said about case categories for nouns or about English gram- mar in general.

However, no other grammarian had explained more clearly than he the motive for teaching English grammar, namely, the preparation of the child to learn Latin. The Latin Foundation. The grammars of English written before were indeed based upon the categories of Latin grammar. They could not have been otherwise. But the Latin base was not used merely for lack of a better; it was in fact the best one for the uses to which English grammars were put.

To be sure, the early English grammars were frequently flawed in their execution, with great gaps in their coverage, but an argument can be made that their Latinate approach was the optimal one for their purposes. Early English grammars were not written to teach their users about English grammar in a vacuum. They were not disinterested statements of the structure of English. They were not intended to describe English sui generis, and any criticism of them as though they were so intended is wrong-headed. English speakers already knew the English language; they had no need of a book to teach it to them.

To trans- late a passage of English into Latin, the student needed to be able to analyse the grammar of the English passage in a way that could be related to the target text. The earliest grammars of Englishintroduced students to the structure of English so that they could more readily learn Latin and compare the two languages for purposes of transla- tion. For such a purpose, a grammar of English that described it solely in its own terms, without reference to the grammat of Latin, would have been not only less appropriate, but thoroughly unsuitable.


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Even if the early grammarians had been capable of writing a non-Latinate grammar of English, their common sense would have told them that such a grammar could not do what their students needed. Even before the first English grammars were written, there had been a long tradition of teaching English grammar while teaching Latin. Foreign language teachers still teach English grammar, of course. It is inescapable. Even if a student of a foreign language knows something about the grammar of his native tongue, he has to be aware of those things about it that are specifically different from the structure of the foreign language.

He has to study comparative grammar, and the best way to do so is in terms of the target language. Thus grammars of Latin began early to teach about English. For example, William L17y's Shorte Introduction of Grammar , the grammar authorized by Edward vr for teaching Latin in England, includes instruction in the basic grammatical categories with English illustrations. Thus young scholars who were given instructions for translating English into Latin were told: Whan ye haue founde the verbe, aske this que stion,whro, or what, and that woorde that aunswereth to the question, shall bee the nominatiue case to the verbe: excepte it bee a verbe impersonall, whyche will haue no nominatiue case.

And the nominatiue case shall in makynge and construyng latine, bee sette before the verbe, excepte a question bee asked, and tha:r the nominatiue is sette after the verbe, or after the signe of the verbe [English auxiliary] : as, Amas tu? Louest thou? Venit ne rex? Dooeth the kyng come? By what meanes may the nominatiue case be found out? By askjng this questi on who, or what : for the word that answereth to this question, shall be the nominatiue case to the verbe.

Shew me this by some example. When I say in English: God is good, tf I would know which word in this sentence is the nominatiue case, I shal find it by putting this question who, or what before the verb rs, after this maner, saying, who, or what is good,and the answer is, God, the which heerby I know to be the nominatiue case.

The Grammar of English Grammars

A 'plaine and ready maner' involved illustrating the rules with English examples, and thus analysing English with the categories to be tairght for the sake of Latin. About fifty years ago, sanford Meech recognized that eady 'Larin, qrammam have a good deal to say about the English language'. Schoolmasters, instructing their pupils in Latin either orally or by the written word, equated-Latin inflections and constructions with English ones to help the students with their Latin.


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In doing so, the schoolmasteri and pupils came to regard them as belonging to the same formal categories and applied the names of Latin forms to English. That is, the application of the concepts of Latin gru to our language may have begun as a mears of helping English schoolboys to learn Latin. The motive and procedure he inferred are as certain as anything we can say about the past.

Despite the wide-spread assumption that English was not taught in the grammar schools, Nelson wrote, 'I propose to argue that the grammar masters of the sixteenth century conceived it an essential part of their duty to train their students in the correct and comely use of the vernacular'.

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The appearance of English examples in Latin grammars from the fifteenth century on supports Nelson's argument. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers.

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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Grammar of English Grammars , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Grammar of English Grammars. As the study of language became more analytical, grammarians also became more aware of subordination in sentences. From this stage onwards, American grammar writing took on new trends, which focused on the binary structure of the sentence as well as on the role of combination and relation within it. John Algeo describes 20th-century American grammaticography, and acknowledges the influence of both the historical schools of the continent and the American contributions to linguistic theory.

Mencken, Curme and Fries are the most outstanding representatives. Among these, the Dutch school Poutsma, Kruisinga, Zandvoort, etc. Other articles deal with the Czech and German achievements. The third section deals with the linguistic background in the presentation of selected grammatical areas e.