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Are you a rebellious grammar student?

  Tags: Linguistics | Grammar
 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
19 messages over 3 pages: 1 2

Super Polyglot
Joined 5619 days ago

9078 posts - 16472 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 17 of 19
03 April 2013 at 4:40pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:

Iversen, when you mean tables about Russian, that would be like a table of, say, большой театр?

Yes, in Russian there aren't articles so there it would be adjectives + substantives for 3 genders and 7 cases (including the vocative, although you might put that as a remark), each represented by 2-4 common patterns. On the other hand there are both both prepositioned and postclitic articles in Icelandic so there you would need two columns to show the articles. But it can be done.

In a language like Latin (which also lacks articles) the endings of adjectives and substantives are more or less the same so there you may not feel the need, but in Russian the endings are utterly different so there it is very informative to put both adjectives and substantives on the same page. I suspect that it is the influence from Latin grammar books which has kept the grammar authors from showing the combined tables.

Edited by Iversen on 03 April 2013 at 4:44pm

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Senior Member
Joined 3449 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 18 of 19
03 April 2013 at 5:42pm | IP Logged 
When I started learning German I read through a simple but comprehensive grammar over the course of a month, I read a few pages a day in the bath, and then added relevant grammar points to my Anki deck. So over the last nine months I have learned various cards like "how do you decline an adjective after a definite article in the genitive case?" or "where is the object pronoun placed in a sentence?" or "how is the past passive generated?" etc. I can now regurgitate these rules at will, but I only use them to help parse sentences.

Now that I am at the B1/B2 border I still don't really use grammar rules explicitly, and I don't think I will until I get at least to C1. I am happy with concentrating on input and so spend most of my day reading, using Anki to practice new words/sentences, and watch TV/movies. At some point I'll start trying to talk/write correctly, and at that point I'll probably use a grammar much more carefully, but I have no desire to do so until I get to a much higher level.

Having said that I like using grammars in English, but I just haven't found them that useful yet in my language learning.
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Senior Member
Joined 4189 days ago

81 posts - 180 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, French

 Message 19 of 19
03 April 2013 at 7:39pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Now, I'm a staunch descriptivist, and I don't give two cents for "official" grammar of a language, as opposed to the grammar actually used by the best writers of that language.

Although I agree with your stance, it should be pointed out that using "the best writing of the best writers" as a norm is already making a decision to treat the language of some speakers and writers as better models than that of others. And that, in the view of some descriptive linguists, already means that a prescriptive approach to grammar is being used. Yes, it allows for the fact that language changes over time, and yes, it means that we are no longer trying to force a language into, say, a Latin mold. But it is still taking a subset of the language's speakers, and declaring their dialect to be more suitable than others.

Not that this is necessarily a bad idea, and indeed many speakers, both native and non-native, will want to emulate the language of these writers. But I think we should realize that there is still a strong prescriptivist flavour to this approach.

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