a query about sentences
ardise at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 12 18:05:37 UTC 2003
Hi! I guess that all this discussion is basically centered around English
teaching, but I thought I'd add from a different perspective anyway.
I work with a team to teach a Native American language at the highschool
level to non-native speaker Native children. The basic unit for us is the
verb. The verb has the bulk of morphological operations (except
compounding) and exhibits the basic phonological processes (example:
devoicing with affixation) that also affect noun phrases. In a way, this is
sentence level as well as a single verb can be a sentence. Though I've not
attempted to teach too much intonation, post-verbal operators (clitics)
provide illocutionary force in this language anyway. Also, sentences are
used to chunk information into digestible blocks for students to process.
When we transcribe, we use inflected verbs to provide stop points
(effectively these provide when we stop a sentence and break it down and
translate) to create a chunk to look into. It helps prevent hassling over
what is a sentence.
So, perhaps, for different languages a different focus may be necessary. Or
perhaps this is simply a difference in goals of programs.
>From: Dick Hudson <dick at LINGUISTICS.UCL.AC.UK>
>Reply-To: Dick Hudson <dick at LINGUISTICS.UCL.AC.UK>
>To: FUNKNET at listserv.rice.edu
>Subject: Re: a query about sentences
>Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 08:20:50 +0100
>Good question. Here in the UK, as you know, grammar has got quite well
>embedded in the school curriculum, especially in primary schools. One of
>the many achievements of the people who have introduced it as part of
>government strategy is to introduce it in the context of a very basic
>theoretical framework which deliberately takes the focus of sentence
>structure. It divides grammar into three levels:
>1. word-level grammar - word classes, inflectional and derivational
>morphology, 'word families' = lexical relations, spelling, some punctuation
>2. sentence-level grammar - phrases, clauses, sentence types, most of
>3. text-level grammar - cohesion, coherence, especially tense, person and
>information flow (not presented in those terms).
>In my opinion it's just as important to include word-level stuff as
>text-level; but the main point is that grammar is not just sentence
>structure, as some people assume.
> To see how it pans out concretely, you might like to look at some
>training material (for year 7-9 teachers) that I've almost finished putting
>on my web site at http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/tta/KS3.htm, where
>the index follows this three-way division. This material is meant to follow
>on from the "Grammar for Writing" materials for earlier years (which you've
>seen); that followed the same three-way structure.
> Hope this helps,
> Dick Hudson
>>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
>Richard (= Dick) Hudson
>Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London,
>Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
>+44(0)20 7679 3152; fax +44(0)20 7383 4108;
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