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Importance of language
Language is not just another school course. Language is part the human thinking matter. 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.
The learning habit
The way we learn depends on what we are used to have for our guidance. 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)
Most people are accustomed to have grammar rules, and the rules become memorized. The question yet is: Could human thinking come pret-a-porter, ready-to-wear? And the natural answer remains — NO.
School and life
At school, we can get multiple choice tests, and written exams give some 45 or even 90 minutes to come up with answers, on average.
Everyday life, we speak and write in real time. Often, we do not have the time to think about rules or definitions. Further, the more grammar books we read, the better we realize there is no 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. We need to make up own minds, to express own thought.
I was born in Poland, in 1970. There was no English at school. I learned American on my own until 14 years old, thus independence always has been my element, with the regard.
The same time we might be wielding book definitions, our human minds keep a natural habit to associate time and place. The two co-occur in our daily reality: we do not think about time without place, and we do not think about place in separation from time. Computer virtual realities might isolate time from place, yet human grammar has not evolved in a virtual reality.
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 way home, or getting to school or work, in most economical spatial and temporal extents. 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. Let us think about a cognitive surface. 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.
Why think about variables? Grammatical tense patterns have not changed in centuries.
Cognitive variables are not "changeables". They are values we can apply flexibly. Let us remember: grammar books can give rules on proper phrasing. They cannot tell what we want to talk about.
Importantly, our decision making with variables is most likely to become much faster and more efficient. The variables can operate on all classic grammar rules, without the risk of confusion that may come with following book phrasing on own grammar.
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. Likewise, it does not mean we might have inborn ideas for wheels or houses.
However, just as we can learn to choose a good place and vehicle, we can learn to use variables. Everybody learns, also own native tongue.
This is how we can visualize a basic scope for grammatical Aspect. Let us mind, we do not need to view language as a system. Systems are finite. We can think about grammar as a logical set or scope that can provide for infinite utterances.
As we cannot have our grammars only depending on particular geographical areas, we can think about an abstract cognitive extent that would work for us wherever we are.
Classic grammars are products of human thought as well, same as this generative grammar here. The phrase "the grammatical Aspect" was made by a human being. The decision if to consider cognitive variables belongs with everyone individually.
More: American English generative grammar
- Chapter 4. Time rambles different with different people << Grammar web log
We might like to set own pace with time and language. To achieve this, we need to make our language thinking economical.
I am a university graduate, philologist Master of Arts, today. Following up with my invented way to study, let us compare Perfect Progressive examples, as in grammar books, and note a general pattern for it.
We can compare patterns for other Aspects, and think how the Perfect Progressive might be built.
We tell head verbs from auxiliaries. For the Perfect Progressive, we can picture the auxiliary be from the Progressive to take the place for the head verb in the Perfect pattern.
We also can visualize the Perfect Progressive as a merger of cognitive variables. The variables would be our spatio-temporal IN and TO. The Aspect would help tell what has been progressing IN a stretch of time we refer TO another time.
To name our fourth variable, we can choose AT: the word "into" means the same as "in" or "to" alone, in formal contexts.
Our visualization is not to fix a picture for language. It is only to help. We do not have to stay with the same visuals for all time. We can present our mapping on one extent, or a few extents.
The language journey as I have called it, because we can use the variables for grammar as well as moving about, has more inventions: linguistic relativity, time frame, and modal information pool. Feel welcome.