prescriptive grammar

Barbara Need nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Fri Apr 8 13:58:50 UTC 2005

>Everyone has an intuitive knowledge of the grammar of his native
>language. But to teach the language you have to know its formal
>structure, and you have to be able to talk about it intelligently.
>Die Zeit reports on a project run by Wilfried Kürschner, a
>linguistics professor at the University of Vechta in Niedersachsen,
>which teaches Latin grammar to aspiring secondary school teachers.
>The idea is that the teachers will learn to understand and teach the
>grammar of their own language by comparing and contrasting it with
>that of Latin. The program is reportedly very popular among
>teachers. Here’s the article:
>I don’t suppose most linguists, who are committed descriptivists,
>would approve of this approach.
>Paul Frank

I don't know. I will say that any number of speakers of English have
told me that they did not understand [English] grammar until they had
taken a foreign language. My response to that has generally been that
that is because "English" grammar as taught in the schools is really
not the grammar of English and that learning languages that are
better fits for that grammar (e.g. French, German, etc.) allows the
students to see how English translates that grammar.


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