How Linguistics Killed Grammar

Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Mon Jan 22 19:50:06 UTC 2001

Laurence Horn and Joe Pickett have been discussing a posting with this claim:

> >The author of this article, Peter Corey, is an extreme traditionalist,
> >whose quest seems to be logical consistency in language. An "epilogue" to
> >his book is entitled "How Linguistics Killed Grammar."
> ..................

> >
> Hi, Joe.  I did notice the references in his web site to _How
> Linguistics Killed Grammar_, and figured he was Mrs. Grundy
> personified, which he has certainly done nothing to dispel with his
> current crusade.

>From my experience in working with colleagues in English education and reading education,
I would say that it was compositionists who killed grammar study.  A study in the 1960s by
Braddock claimed that there was no carryover from the teaching of formal grammar to
teaching/learning writing skills in the classroom.  That was all the English teachers
needed to say, "Well, now we don't have to do THAT any more!  Good riddance!"  Then they
espoused the myth that reading lots and lots of books that English teachers like ( =
fiction) will make a good writer of any student.  Yeah, really good for budding biologists
and medical doctors!  One result is that computer programmers assume that the term
"syntax" originated in their field.  Maybe I exaggerate.  (I served on about 20
dissertations in English ed and that many in reading ed.  I've also attended some CCC and
NCTE annual meetings.)


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