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Language grammar

Updated on January 5, 2020
teresapelka profile image

Linguist, specialized in American English and psycholinguistics; inventor of Language Mapping, a generative grammar; author and translator.

Grammar is part our lives, our past, our present and future. I prefer to envision the future in bright colors.


Language is important

English is one of the linguae francae of the contemporary world. Good language skills can be a good idea for a better job and a better living. More and more people learn English, and more and more happen to experience failure, too.

Mandatory in many schools, English and success or failure with it does weigh on the student's overall progress in gaining educational recognition, as well as his or her prospects for employment.

The learning habit

Most people want to know language. It motivates natural curiosity already in the child, and lack of refinement may remain a grievance in the grown-up. The thing is in how to learn.

Classic grammar books will offer rules and definitions. Real time may become labeled, as the Present Simple for example, which we learn to use for general facts ... (Cambridge); or to tell what is regular, true or normal (Woodward Grammar).

However, language is part in human thinking matter. Could human thinking come pret-a-porter, ready-to-wear? The natural answer remains — No. Try Grammar Granny.

Even if nobody knows how, it happens in life that we read stories as those about adventures of Huck Finn, though we have not graduated in language. Knowing how is not always the most important, maybe except counting strawberries with Grammar Grapevines.

Sometimes you learn you go minus or plus infinity about the number of strawberries, but mind you, the Founding Fathers said you couldn’t owe for strawberries that never existed, so to speak.
Sometimes you learn you go minus or plus infinity about the number of strawberries, but mind you, the Founding Fathers said you couldn’t owe for strawberries that never existed, so to speak. | Source

By the way, feel welcome to my Internet Archives account. The US civics texts and posters are free to use. Some are linguistics updates, that is, present the content in American English as today.

USA Charters of Freedom, text and posters.
USA Charters of Freedom, text and posters. | Source

School and life

There cannot be a grammar book to decide if we want to say that we live somewhere, we are living somewhere, we have lived, or we have been living somewhere. Life has it, we make up own minds, to express own thought.

Grammar and mind

In our earthly reality, we map cognitively. Our cognitive maps do not have the exactness of geographical measurement, but they are important in our finding the way home, or getting to school or work, in extents that are most efficient for space and time. Human cognitive mapping joins time and place. Would human grammar join them as well?

There are a few basic words to talk about space, they are ON, IN, and TO. We people live ON Earth, we give at least psychological borders to places IN which we are, and we can learn and remember ways TO places.

Let us think about the grammatical Aspects most kids are able to use before school tuition. They are the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect.

The Simple: we can use it to talk about thinking and feeling, or habits — all that does not change often. We can have the habit to do something often, as well as... never. The Simple Aspect would help tell what generally exists, existed, or we think is going to exist ON a cognitive map.

The Progressive: we can use it to tell that something is IN progress, IN its course. We could picture activity or faculties IN an area.

The Perfect: we can use it to tell what has happened, had happened, or we think will have happened TO some moment in time. The moment does not have to mark the end of the activity or faculty. We may picture the Aspect as a way TO a place.

Integrating the grammatical Aspect with our spatio-temporal orientation, we would use the prepositions ON, IN, and TO as our cognitive variables. For the Perfect Progressive, we can merge the Perfect and Progressive, into the fourth variable, AT.

Why think about variables? Grammatical tense patterns have not changed in centuries.

Cognitive variables are not "changeables". They are values we can apply flexibly. Our decision making with variables is most likely to become much faster and more efficient.

At the same time, we do not have to believe we are discovering principles in human thinking. Everybody learns, also own native tongue, and variables can be learned.

We are not developing a language system, either. Systems are finite. We can think about grammar as a logical set or scope that can provide for infinite utterances.


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