A journey in language
Language is not just another school course. Language is part the human thinking matter. Further, good language skills can be a good idea for a better job and a better living.
English is one of the linguae francae of the contemporary world. More and more people learn it. More and more people happen to experience failure, too.
The language has become mandatory in many educational systems. This means that success or failure with English weighs on the student's overall progress in gaining educational recognition, as well as prospects for employment.
Could human thinking come pret-a-porter, hand-made, and ready-to-wear? Naturally, the answer is — NO. At the same time, most grammar books will offer rules and definitions, as
We use the present simple to talk about general facts ... (Cambridge);
The simple present tense in English is used to describe an action that is regular, true or normal. (Woodward Grammar)
We would have to take on some philosophical job, to tell what is true or permanent — generally. There would be another job, in psychology and similar fields, to tell what is as generally normal. Many people just memorize the rules, and many teachers grant credits just for the theoretical knowledge.
Space and time
In Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey, the girl says that mommy's gone TO shopping.
Not only children think there has to be a place for a thing to be done. This natural thinking only is more visible in childhood, we do not leave it behind with maturation.
All natural languages spatialize. We can say before that house at the end of the road, as well as before twelve hours. Toddlers, we people learn places first. Growing up, we learn the hours. Hence spatialization: use of part the terms we have learned regarding earthly space also for time.
Importantly, however we learn to say someone has gone __ shopping, without an overt marker for space, we still know the person has gone some place.
The linguistic spatialization is different from that in psychology or social sciences. It is not a recommendation to make things happen. It observes on the natural fact that part verbal reference for space expands on that for time, in all natural languages.
Dynamic Language Mapping
Whether we speak one language or many, we can make an abstract map. We always use abstract thinking for grammar, whatever the language. We can use a picture generally of a suburban area. We do not have to know where the place could be exactly. We do not need to find out. The picture can symbolize an area.
We can process the picture, to mark it is abstract. What and how we think cannot be bound to particular geography. People can speak English world-round.
We can think about grammatical tense patterns and human cognitive variables. We can give the patterns spatial attributes, and focus on first elements.
Naturally, we need the Present, Past, and Future. We can remain visual, and view our knowledge as the light we have. Knowledge needs memory. We happen to forget the detail in PAST things, as the study matter we do not work with. We can envision the light as with a setting sun: there is shine enough, if we want to return to the matter. We do not have memories of the FUTURE, but we can plan our learning: our shine can be as with sunrise. It is our PRESENT we are most capable of shaping.
We can keep our Fields of Time the same, for all languages we speak. Labels such as the Unreal Past or Future in the Past may become redundant, when we develop our linguistic relativity. Everyone can have one Present, one Past, and one Future really.
Our relativity is not about families or physics. It is about language and natural, brain logic:
If you had eaten the cookie, you would not have it now.
In the example, we use a verb form we can associate with a time before a past, to tell about the Past. We use a Past Modal form, to tell about the Present. Again, we find such relativity in many languages, to include French, German, or Russian.
Why think about variables? Tense patterns are permanent. They have not changed in centuries.
Cognitive variables are not "changeables". They are values that we can apply flexibly. Verbal first elements and relative time reference are strong regularities. They are worth integrating.
There is not and there cannot be a grammar rule to decide if we want to say that we live somewhere, we are living somewhere, we have lived, or we have been living somewhere, especially as long as we make correct phrases and sentences. Our grammar will depend on how we perceive our staying in a place
Nature versus nurture
At the same time, we do not have to believe we are discovering principles in human thinking. If we can make wheels or build houses, this does not mean we have wheels or houses in our heads. It does not mean we were born with ideas for wheels or houses. We yet can learn to choose a good place and vehicle. Likewise, people can learn to use variables.
Visuals are just to help learning, as with the often confusing "stative verbs". We can think about stative verb uses and mapping. With practice, we become less dependent on the picture.
Further, we do not need to view language as a system. Systems are finite. We can think about grammar as a logical set that can provide for infinite utterances. By infinity, we do not mean speech or writing never ends. We mean language is not mathematically calculable.
Importantly, we do not change language at all. We refer for examples to the Corpus of Contemporary American English: This is a dream come true. And I am loving every minute of it.
More: American English generative grammar
- Paths of Part 1 << Grammar web log
Language has much reference to time. We could hardly talk without the Present, Past, or Future. However, we cannot touch time. We cannot see or hear time. How do we learn time?
- Paths of Part 2 << Grammar web log
The concepts of a time frame and linguistic form relativity can help manage the Unreal Past, Conditional, or Future in the Past without effort or confusion.
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