ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Grammar Works

Updated on March 13, 2012
Source

Grammar is the systematic analysis of a language. The purposes for which the analysis is undertaken and the lines along which it is carried out may vary considerably.

Descriptive grammar deals with the analysis of a given language at a given period. It may cover the whole field of a language, or be restricted to a certain sector of it, for example, a regional variety or dialect, or the speech of a social group, or the literary language of a given writer or writers. It is concerned with the forms of the language (morphology) and with the way the forms are organized in meaningful utterances (syntax) and also, if the analysts is not restricted to a written form of the language, with the sounds in so far as they serve a functional purpose. In so far as grammar is purely descriptive, it does not set out to prescribe what is 'correct' or to condemn certain attested pronunciations, forms, or constructions as 'incorrect': a complete descriptive grammar of modern English would list both 'Whom did you see?' and 'Who did you see?', both 'He did it' and 'He done it', both 'As I said' and 'Like I said', and would discuss the levels of speech characterized by these different usages, probably concluding that the first member of each pair is typical of a more formal or more cultivated kind of speech than the second, but that 'Who did you see?', for example, is widely used in circles that do not use 'He done it'— although there would be no attempt to say that the first member of each pair is more 'correct' than the second. There are various techniques for the descriptive analysis of a language, but to be valid, any such technique must start from the language in question and not try to force it into a framework originally devised for another language: for example, the grammar of English must not (as has so often been the case in the past) be analyzed on lines more appropriate to Latin, nor must various non-Indo-European languages be expected necessarily to have the same 'parts of speech' as the Indo-European languages.

Structural grammar, a system of grammatical analysis describing defined, natural language; another term for descriptive grammar. Structural linguistics also refers to the method developed by the so-called Prague Circle of linguists.

Transformational grammar, system of language analysis involved with the relationship between the elements of a sentence and the sentences possible in a language, using a system of rules or 'transformations' to express the relationships. Transformational analysis recognizes a surface structure, and a deep structure, and asserts that in deep structures, all languages are basically similar. Because of this, it attempts to discover ways in which sentences of all languages are alike. The system was proposed by Noam Chomsky.

Transformational grammar can also be generative grammar, in that it can use transformational analysis to predict all the grammatical possibilities of a language.

Stratificational grammar, the system of grammatical analysis which views language as a series of interlocked relationships involving several layers of linguistic structure which can be divided into phonology (sound), grammar (forms of words and sentence structure), and semiotics (semantics). Components of one layer combine into larger units to form units on the next layer; for example, a unit of grammar, such as a word, is made up of units from phonology, and so on. Stratificational grammar developed from the work of Sydney LAMB, and was itself a development from glossematics.

Generative grammar, system of linguistic analysis which sees language as a defined set of rules by which every possible kind of sentence in any natural language can be produce*!. Its main objective is to generate, or predict, all the grammatical constructions which may occur in a language; it also aims to predict formations which are ungrammatical, or which fail to make sense, and to provide a structured description for every possible grammatical construction.

Normative or prescriptive grammar, a type of descriptive grammar that expresses value judgments on linguistic data, seeking to classify observed grammatical usages as 'correct' or 'incorrect' according to certain standards that are often based on the usage of those who are considered to be the best writers. Such standards are in certain circumstances considered to be right and necessary in an advanced society; the danger is that the standards adopted are sometimes quite arbitrary or over-conservative, seeking to conform to usages that were once current but have largely ceased to be so in the ordinary, familiar speech of even the most cultivated sections of the community.

Historical grammar traces the development of a language over a period of time.

Comparative grammar seeks to form some idea of early, unattested stages of language by comparing various languages that have a common origin. In this way, it is possible to theorize, for example, about Indo-European grammar on the basis of a comparative study of the historically attested Indo-European tongues. However, it must be emphasized that the most that can be achieved is an hypothesis, the probable validity of which must be assessed according to the amount of evidence available and the reliability of the method adopted; there can never, contrary to the views of some 19th-century comparatists, be any question of 'reconstructing' Indo-European or any other unrecorded state of language.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Parks McCants profile image

      Parks McCants 

      6 years ago from Eugene Oregon U.S.A.

      Well Mr Know-it-all... My head is spinning; as to the acceptable ins and outs of english based gramatic delivery.

      I especially appreciate your slant as to regionalism.

      Would you be kind enough to share this view with my editors@ Examiner.Com? L.O.L.

      Perhaps a follow up piece written on the art of punctuation would be welcomed here...

      Well done!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)