a query about sentences

Johanna Rubba jrubba at CALPOLY.EDU
Fri Apr 11 00:10:29 UTC 2003

Hi folks,

I'm participating in a discussion on another list about what the best
starting point for instruction in grammar (in the context of writing or
composition instruction) in K-12 schools is; the current debate is about
whether the sentence is a good starting point or not.

We've gotten into a discussion about the privileged status of the
sentence in both traditional grammar and generative syntax. One
participant has argued, for example, that the sentence is a basic-level
linguistic category (I guess THE basic-level linguistic category, since
he argues for starting there).

My notion is that a focus on the sentence is too neglectful of the role
of sentences in texts, and especially of the role of text-level
imperatives in determining the structure of sentences.

What are your opinions on the traditional privileging of the sentence
as the basic unit of language over larger or smaller units?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


Johanna Rubba   Associate Professor, Linguistics
English Department, California Polytechnic State University
One Grand Avenue  • San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Tel. (805)-756-2184  •  Fax: (805)-756-6374 • Dept. Phone.  756-2596
• E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu •  Home page: http://www.cla.calpoly.edu/~jrubba

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