A friend of mine , who does not want me to mention him , lent me a book today : A Student’s Introduction to ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum . ( 2005 — 5th printing 2009 )
The book lists parts of speech as :
Subordinator ? Coordinator ? The nuns never mentioned these to me during all my years at Corpus Christi Elementary so far as I remember . I know limbo went out of style since I studied grammar in school , and typewriters , and now twinkies , but , did they take out the old parts of speech too and put in these new ones ? I wasn’t paying attention .
I was paging through the ENGLISH GRAMMAR and wondering what canonical and non-canonical phrases are . I’m immediately over my head reading just the section headings , eg. Word and leximeme categories , or , Modal auxiliaries , with a sub-heading of (a) Lack of secondary inflectional tones .
This book is called A Student’s Introduction….. Really ? I’m glad I’m not a student . That’s what’s wrong with American education these days . That’s why kids these days don’t know nothing . How they ‘sposed to absorb all this complicated information when they can’t even write a decent sentence ! Leximemes ? Who cares ? Amend that : Who in their right mind cares ?
Am I too cynical ? Perhaps . I’m retired after all , tired of the shop-talk discussions , mostly unconcerned , uninterested , and unattentive to the nuances and workings of the education process , of school curriculae ………..curriculi ?…………curriculums ? ( no ! ) ……curicula ? issues .
Parts of speech ? Is Saint Peter going to say at the Pearly Gates checkpoint , ” Can’t get into heaven , laddie , ’til you recite the parts of speech . Go .” Could it be that the state will distribute water , when supplies run out in the near future , on the basis of who knows the parts of speech , who knows all about canonical this or non-canonical that , etc . Grammar . Like doctors with their idiosyncratic medical terminology and their non-readable prescription scribblings , maybe the teachers of English Grammar have become another hierarchy of hardly-reachable idiosyncratic experts . Like the old witch doctors , magicians , palm readers and tinkers , the modern grammar teachers have insulated themselves in some hope of propping up their profession , their status , their cache . Is that what’s going on ? Can’t we all get along in plain English ?
I was talking to a friend this morning on our way walking down to the coffee joint that used to be a church ( maybe still is ? ) about writing . What’s good writing ? What about values ? What are the writer’s goals ? My friend recommended that a writer just write what they want to write and not try to write something ” good ” , an illusive construct . I think that’s what he said . He’s the guy who lent me the grammar book . He pointed out the differing points of view on using ” they ” as I just used it in this paragraph .
I don’t know . I think that I’m in intellectual limbo . Everything seems to have shifted in the world and I haven’t been paying attention . Let us refer to the English Grammar for guidance : a. Bare passives as complement in complex catenatives .
i. we had the documents checked by a lawyer
ii. you should get yourself vaccinated against measles
iii. She ordered the records destroyed
iv. He saw his son knocked down by a bus
b. Bare passives as modifier ………………………………………
Does that help ?
Can’t we all just get along ?
Everything seems to have shifted in the world since I haven’t been paying attention . It used to be so simple . Wasn’t it ?