Daily Archives: February 8, 2013

parts of speech

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 :

i. noun

ii. verb

iii. adjective

iv. determinative

v. adverb

vi. preposition

vii. coordinator

viii. subordinator grammar

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 ?

Oregon Feb. 2013 044

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 ?

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oregon rambling

We’re in Portland . Just finished dinner at Gustav’s . It stopped raining . Rain came for a couple of hours , just to let us know where we were . You’re not in Kansas  anymore , or you’re not in Arcadia anymore , Dorothy . Dorothy wasn’t with us , though . Neither was Judy . Just Joe and Susan and Ada and I . I was there with us . I were  there ?Oregon Feb. 2013 020

I had a beer earlier at a British pub with three teachers . They discussed curriculum and syllabi and the follies of naming the beginning English classes Composition  and other teacher stuff . I’ve had thirty-five years of that school-related shop-talk stuff . Enough . The four of us couldn’t name the parts of speech . Are there seven ?  Are there eight ? Is  interrogative  one ?  No wonder the schools are in trouble !  No wonder kids these  days don’t know nothing . Meanwhile , how is that Belgian dry pale ale ? Want another ?Oregon Feb. 2013 047

We were in Coos Bay yesterday . Coos Bay , on the Oregon coast , is not on the way to anywhere . That’s what my sister , who lives there ,  says .  ” Bandon ! Bandon is the place to be  .”  Bandon is a few miles south of Coos Bay . It , apparently , is an international golfing hot spot . According to my sis . Tiger Woods knows Bandon like the back of his hand . Bandon’s going places and Coos Bay is sitting still , waiting in vain for the lumber and shipping trade to come back ,  hat -in-hand  . I only know what my sister tells me . She lives there .Oregon Feb. 2013 014

Ada and I drove north along the coast highway passing bridge after bridge . Beautiful ! A little wet this time of year . Beach towns . We passed the Sea Lion Caves again this time . We fell for it once and paid to climb down some steps to see a sea lion . One measly lonely over -worked sea lion . But there is an extensive knick-knack shop there . You can buy lots of local Oregon coast stuff , all made in China of course , to bring home to prove you were here . Souvenirs .  As much as we were tempted to go in (not) we rolled on along the highway toward Lincoln City .  North of Lincoln City we turned to go east toward Salem , then north on the 5 to Portland .Oregon Feb. 2013 004

Last time we got to Portland after dark . We had gone farther north along the coast past Astoria and had come down into the city , tired and confused . Which bridge do we cross over on ? We called our Portland friends Joe and Susan . They gave us directions . We crossed the Burnside Bridge three or four times and managed to get lost on some small downtown Portland streets .Oregon Feb. 2013 031

This time I made sure that I had a handle on how to get to Mount Tabor , to Joe and Sue’s house . No frantic phone calls this time . No bridge crossing  this time at all . My sister in Coos Bay reviewed the Portland map with me . Twice . She made me a gift of her map .  It worked . Joe called us on the mobile phone to give us last minute directions . We all held our creeping frantic panic under control . Stay calm . Stay calm . And we didn’t even realize at the time that I  didn’t  even know the parts of speech . But we made it .Oregon Feb. 2013 009

We all went out in the rain this afternoon to the downtown art galleries for their first Thursday of the month open houses . Everyone was very  cool . It’s Portland . I had my eye on one oil and grease pencil on acrylic board for $ 5,800 .

” Conjunction ,” I announced to Joe during dinner . ” That’s the missing part of speech .”  Joe said , no , that one was already mentioned . Right , we named that one already .Oregon Feb. 2013 027

” Dan , what word did I use ? Was it interrogative ? “

”  Yeah . ”
” No , that’s not right . It’s interjection .”

” What about participle ? “ someone said . ” Or gerund ? ” Oregon Feb. 2013 019

Oregon Feb. 2013 059The artist was hovering around her art pieces in the first gallery . ” We love your work ! ”  I heard people say to her . I didn’t see anyone forking over any cash , though . I think the art world works behind the scenes , artists connecting with monied patrons  in private and not so much on open house nights . But , what do I know ! I’ve even forgotten the parts of speech .Oregon Feb. 2013 056

When we got back to the house the cat growled at me for no apparent reason . The rain had stopped . Joe was researching parts-of speech , I think , on Google .

Did the people who built those Oregon coast bridges, I wondered ,  know the parts of speech ? Did they have expensive artwork  on their walls ?  Did they go to Bandon to golf ? Sitting indoors this morning in Portland fog , I have time to think about such things .Oregon Feb. 2013 064


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