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How to compare two grammatical structures

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report by Bethlehem Moneza

report by Bethlehem Moneza

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  • 1. • Not grammar as definitions or as grammatical terms in the older sense. – Like defining a noun, a subject, a direct object, or writing N above the nouns, V above the verbs, and D O above the direct objects in given sentences• Not absolute rules of correctness. – the correctness point of view assumes that grammar sometimes is a set of absolute rules to which the language must adjust – when a speaker of a writer uses language that is not in accord with these fixed rules, the correctness point of view assumes that he is guilty of bad grammar • e.g. the traditional rules of will and shall would be considered a problem
  • 2. Reported by:Bethlehem B. Moneza
  • 3. • Not usage as merely usage. – Grammatical structure deals with the thing people say, but it means more than the mere recording of examples of usage. • e.g. He is capable to go.- incorrect; watch pocket-incorrect when the speaker wishes to mean a pocket watch But as grammatical structure as matters of form that correlate with matters of meaning. – Systematic formal devices used in a language to convey certain meanings and relationships. • e.g. Is he there? If spoken with a falling-high-low intonation is the signal for one type of question in English To describe the grammatical structure of English is not to describe every observable feature of usage but to describe those features that systematically convey meanings and relationships.
  • 4. • Form and Meaning. – any structure, or pattern, and is often call a unit, is assumed to consist of form and meaning. • e.g. book-books, idea-ideas, heart-hearts• Elements of form used in grammatical structures. – word order, inflection (bound morphemes), correlation of forms, function words, intonation, stress, and pauses.• Word order as a grammatical signal. – In English, Can he come? Signals a question. He can come. Signals a statement – In Spanish, Guantes de lana para ninos means Wool gloves for children, but the same words in a different order, Guantes para ninos de lana, would mean Gloves for wool children.
  • 5. • Inflection as a Grammatical signal. – In English, the –s ending to signal plural • e.g. book-books, shirt-shirts • -the –ed ending to signal preterite in verbs (past tense) e.g. jump-jumps, call-called – In Spanish, the –o ending to indicate first person singular of verbs • e.g. ( -ar, -er, -ir) of the infinitive as in amo: amar, salto: saltar: llamo: llamar, veo; ver, subo: subir• Correlation of form as a grammatical signal. – In English, the correlation of the inflection “-s‟ in verbs with a third person singular subject such as he, she, it, John, etc.  e.g. he knows: she knows: John knows to signal a sentence nexus ( connection or link ), a subject-verb connection, in contrast to a modifier-head construction. • e.g. The list of the books which is good.... The list of the books which are good... The lists of the men who are good...
  • 6.  Function words as grammatical signals. ◦ In English, John came; He came; The boy came; Who came, all spoken with the same high-low falling intonation pattern. ◦ In Spanish, Juan vino, „John came‟; Quien vino? „Who came? Intonation as a grammatical signal. ◦ An intonation rise from mid to high signals a special type of question in English.  e.g. Question: He‟s a student? Statement: He‟s a student. Stress as a grammatical signal.  e.g. ConSIDer it. Consider IT. The position of primary stress may signal a form class difference:  e.g. present present subject subject Pause as a grammatical signal. ◦ Notice the change in the modification structures when the tentative pause, signalled by a comma, changes position. e.g. Twenty, THREE-cent stamps Twenty-THREE, cent stamps
  • 7.  System. Each pattern, each structure, contrasts not just with one other pattern but with many others. It is a complex net of these contrasts which constitute a system for each language. -He showed us the light house. -He showed us the house light. -He showed us a house light. -He showed us the light houses. -She showed us the light house. -He has to show us the light house. -He‟ll show us the light house. -He shows us the light house. -Show us the light house. -Don‟t show us the light house. -Who showed us the light house?
  • 8. Habit. In practical terms we understand that the use of a grammatical structure by a speaker depends heavily on habit. Problems in Learning a Foreign Grammatical Structure  Transfer. The student tends to transfer the sentence forms, modification devices, the number, gender, and case patterns of his native language.  It is important to add that every structure has distribution, that is, it occurs in certain situations or environments and does not occur in others. Ex. In English, the –s plural occurs in noun heads as in books, telephones, etc., but it does nor occur in modifiers of noun heads as good in good books, or telephone in telephone books.
  • 9. • Similarity and difference as determiners of ease and difficulty. -Those structures that are similar will be easy to learn because they will be transferred and may function satisfactorily in the foreign language. -Those structures that are different will be difficult because when transferred they will not function satisfactorily in the foreign language and will therefore have to be changed.• Production versus Recognition - The effects of native language transfer are not identical when the learner speaks the foreign language and when he listens to it. ex. Can he speak English? He speaks English.
  • 10. • What constitutes “difference” and therefore difficulty as to meaning. • The lesser difference remains within the same “medium”, for example function words, inflection, word order, to be found between two different items: a function word, a different inflectional ending, or a different word ending. • The greater difference goes from one medium in one language to different medium in the other language; for example, function words in the mative language but inflection in the foreign language, or word order in one language but a function word in the other, etc.  Same medium, different item: function words. -Who came? ¿ Quien vino?  Different media: word order in one language versus intonation in the other. -Are you a student? ¿Es usted un estudiante?
  • 11.  Problems caused by differences in distribution. A structure that constitutes no particular difficulty as to meaning and form turns out to be a problem because of different distribution in the two languages.  In English „the white dove‟ the plural the white doves  In Spanish „la paloma blanca‟ las palomas blancasProcedures in comparing two grammaticalstructures. -General Procedure Begin with an analysis of the foreign language and begin it structure with the native language.  For each structure we need to know if there is a structure in the native language • signalled the same way, that is by the same formal device • having the same meaning • similarly distributed in the system of that language
  • 12.  Both English and German have the kind of sentences called questions. Both use word order as the signal in many questions too. English uses the function word do, does, did before the subject to achieve the word order signal of that type of question. German does not use that device. e.g. Do you know where the church is? -English Wissen Sie wo die Kirche ist? Know you where the church is? – German speaker More specific procedures  Locate the best structural description of the languages involved. both description should contain the form, the meaning, or the distribution of the structures.  summarize in compact outline form all the structures If English is one of the languages involved, describe the sentence type in it as questions, statements, or requests.
  • 13.  Actual comparison of the two language structures, patternby pattern. If English and Spanish are being compared we would find aquestion pattern is Spanish illustrated by ¿ Es un compesino?Literally, is a farmer? but actually uquatable to English Is hea farmer? The inventory of formal signals of the Spanish patternincludes: -the form of ser „ be‟ - rising intonation sequence from mid to high ora rise to extra high and a drop to mid or low, or some othersequence which is also an intonation signal for this type ofquestion.