eslHQ Home
User Name Password
Lost Password? | Join eslHQ.com, it's FREE!
View today's posts
Search Extras Help   

Reply
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 5th, 2012, 02:42 am
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default the strange OF and FOR

in PREFACE TO A DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Quote:
and some still continue to be variously written, as authours differ in their care or skill: of these it was proper to enquire the true orthography
from what I have learnt, OF can always be traced and put to another place when used at the beginning of a sentence; so the above sentence can be rewritten as it was proper to enquire the true orthography of these

Quote:
or words of which I have reason to doubt the existence
can be rewritten as or words which I have reason to doubt the existence of

Quote:
Of the laborious and mercantile part of the people, the diction is in a great measure casual and mutable
can be written as the diction of the laborious and mercantile part of the people is in a great measure casual and mutable


however, in the sentence below,

Quote:
Of many words it is difficult to say whether they were immediately received from the Latin or the French, since at the time when we had dominions in France, we had Latin service in our churches.
I don't know why Johnson used OF to start the sentence; his meaning is clear, and I would replace OF with FOR.

Could anyone solve my doubt?
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 5th, 2012, 10:25 am
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
Posts: 1,336
susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

Johnson was writing in the 1760s, and the language has changed radically since then. It makes no sense to look at something written 250 years ago and ask "why?" comparing it with what we might say or write now. It's difficult to to find any stretch of more than five words in the sentences you quote, where there wouldn't be radical differences if the writer was using contemporary English. The language of the 18th century had different rules of grammar, used different vocabulary, and had different stylistic tendencies from the language we use now.
__________________
An ELT Notebook
The DELTA Course
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 7th, 2012, 06:14 am
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

I was wondering whether there was grammar (when did it actually start?) in johnson's times?

your answer is absolutely reasonable; but I simply can't use such an answer to tell a student (probably I will be thought indifferent). Is there any book teaching 18th century grammar?
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 11th, 2012, 10:26 am
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
Posts: 1,336
susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

"grammar" is just the word we use to describe how we out words together to make meaning. once upon a time there was a little group of prehistoric cavemen. Every time they saw a deer they used the word grorg. When the guy who was the Gordon Ramsey of the tribe called them to dinner and told them to eat, he used the word blegga. For a long time these words were used in isolation. Then one day the chef pointed at the meal and said Blegga grorg!. They seemed to understand so the next day he tried again but this time said Grorg blegga! This went on for a time. they would put words together but the order was irrelevant. However, gradually they got in nto the habit of always saying Grorg blegga! and would laugh at anyone who got it wrong and said Blegga grorg! A rule had been invented : the object always precedes the verb. Grammar had been born.

Excuse the fable - but that's all grammar is : the rules that a specific group of people agree on in order to combine words and express meanings. And as I've said, this changes over time (I've never heard the current Gordon Ramsey say Blegga grorg! for example).

Buit why can't you tell your students this ???? If they have to study non-contemporary literature it's essential that they understand that they should never try and copy the language patterns they would find there - they would sound ridiculous. Literature study is valid as a way of appreciating the art and philosophy of past ages (which often have a lot to teach us about modern life too). But it's certainly not a valid way to learn a contemporary language.

There aren't any authoritative grammars of 17th century English, no. Those that existed tended to be prescriptive rather than descriptive - ie they included the rules that the writer thought shouldd be included rather than describing how language is really used. It's only fairly recently, first with the invention of recording and now with the use of computers and corpora that we can really do that.

However, your students don't need one. They need to understand contemporary grammar and to know that if they see anything different in 17th century texts, the explanation will be that the language has changed. They'll never need to speak or write like that, so they don't need to analyse it any further.
__________________
An ELT Notebook
The DELTA Course
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 11th, 2012, 08:19 pm
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

very detailed answer. Thank you very much.

(I will have to think about this problem. In fact, my job is to teach grammar only, and I asked that question because a senior student fond of Johnson raised it to me, but I didn't know how to answer it. thanks again.
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 13th, 2012, 07:24 pm
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

In the discussion of grammar, one thing has sprung to my mind.

Hamlet: sleeping in mine orchard, a serpent stung me.
of course the subject doesn't agree with the action SLEEPING.
Two non-Englishmen famous for teaching English had different opinions.

A: This sentence by Shakespeare is correct, only time has changed.
B: This sentence is grammatically wrong.

I wonder which one's opinion is correct? Was there anything like grammar in 15th century?( I presume NO, but I am not sure
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 14th, 2012, 04:21 am
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
Posts: 1,336
susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

As I said above, the first time someone put two words together in a set order, there was "grammar". So of course there was "grammar" in the 15th century - and in the 10th, and in the 10th BC and in the 300,000th BC, and since people started talking. just look at the sentence you quote - there are loads of grammatical rules evident - the SVO word order of the second clause,the use of the indefinite article before the noun and not after it or omitted, the transformation of sting to stung to indicate past time, . Shakespeare could have written : sting serpent I a but didn't, because it wouldn't have meant anything. It breaks a host of grammatical rules which everyone follows and therefore becomes indecipherable.

However, the "rule" you pick on is different. It is one which is trotted out in all the grammar books, but this time the rule does not describe what people say but what certain "authorities" think people "should" say. And as your quote shows, this was a lost cause even in Shakespeare's time. People often use this type of subordinate clause, where the subject of the non-finite verb (here, sleeping) is not the same as the subject in the main clause. The grammar mavens would object that the subject of sleeping is "really" a serpent. But no one would ever interpret the sentence like this. The meaning is fully clear and retrievable - and so people are going to go on using this construction regardless of what anyone writing a grammar book might "decide".

Grammar is not the opinion of worthy gentlemen who decide what "should" and "shouldn't" be said - it's a set of rules based on the "description of what is actually said.
Stick to descriptive grammars for your account of the language and avoid prescriptive ones.

Avoidance of this type of sentence is often advised as a stylistic rule for written English, but simply because it can either make meaning unclear or lead to unintentionally funny consequences : If properly secured, you shouldn't be able to remove the cover./ After being beaten, the cook boiled the egg. But there's a big difference between a stylistic rule and a grammatical rule. And, as Shakespeare shows, you can often get away with it anyway.

This particular rule has been discussed before incidentally - see here : I don't know what to title this one
__________________
An ELT Notebook
The DELTA Course
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 18th, 2012, 09:37 pm
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

an answer can't be better. thank you very much.

(by the way, susan you said it's no good way to learn English by reading something written in 18th c.; then what's the usual or most common way for Englishmen to learn their mother tongue?
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 19th, 2012, 01:33 am
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
Posts: 1,336
susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

By listening to their mother and/or other caretakers speaking to them - the same way any child learns its mother tongue.
__________________
An ELT Notebook
The DELTA Course
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 19th, 2012, 08:58 am
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

but... maybe I was unclear in stating the question

let me rewrite it:

could you tell me what's the most usual or common way Englishmen learn English?
(eg The Chinese study articles written two thousand years; of course I don't think this apply to the English, as even Chaucer's tales are difficult to understand
Reply With Quote
  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 19th, 2012, 11:14 am
Sue
 
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
Posts: 1,336
susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

The answer is the same. Englishmen - and women - don't learn English. They acquire it as children. At school they may learn French, or Spanish or German (or any other foreign language) but why would they need to learn English ?? They learn to read, they may learn creative writing in English, or later they may study literature - but that's got nothing to do with learning the language. As I said, you do that as a small child interacting with others.

I imagine that when Chinese students study 2000 year old articles that too has a secondary aim - learning new characters, studying written style or whatever - ?? And if your question is really how do English speaking students do that, they don't. Obviously, there isn't the problem of characters - by the time they are about six most kids can read. And in terms of developing the ability to write, simple specially constructed texts would be more likely to be used. The BBC has some good resources for teachers/kids for use in literacy and English classes - click on the links to see the type of approach taken.
__________________
An ELT Notebook
The DELTA Course
Reply With Quote
  #12 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 25th, 2012, 08:38 pm
eslHQ Member
 
Join Date: May 25th, 2012
Posts: 23
wendy3 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: the strange OF and FOR

I'll go and see it.

thank you very much for your recommendation.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Find the Best TEFL, TESL, TESOL & CELTA Certification Courses - User Submitted Ratings & Reviews for Online, Distance & Abroad TEFL Courses. Over 3,500 reviews of 100+ TEFL schools!

Teach English in Thailand - Onsite and Combined TEFL certification courses in Phuket, Thailand.


Free ESL Flashcards




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:17 pm.

All materials from this website are for classroom-use only. Digital redistribution of materials, in part or in whole, is strictly forbidden!

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2