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  • Books on English/Grammar

    I thought you all might like to know i've been reading 'the philosophy of grammar' by Jespersen.

    first published in 1924 it was reissued in 98 by uni of chicago press.

    i'm enjoying it.

    has anyone come accross his 7 volume work on english or his elements of grammar?

  • #2
    10 hours and not a single comment, and this is a forum of english teachers? shame on you people.

    so i'm gonna continue this with myself!

    kintarou, have you seen the new abridged version of the Johnson dictionary?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by kintarou
      10 hours and not a single comment, and this is a forum of english teachers? shame on you people.

      so i'm gonna continue this with myself!

      kintarou, have you seen the new abridged version of the Johnson dictionary?

      hi kintarou, nice choice, you're a man after my own heart.
      i was looking into the full facsimile edition - $755, a bit pricey, so i'm gonna stick with my second edition COD. but a close second is my third edition (1941) Little Oxford - a triumph of conciseness:

      the indefinate article
      a/an: one, but no matter which.

      see what i mean?

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      • #4
        sorry, I missed this post - can you tell me more ?

        I finally bought a copy of Jan Tchsichold's The New Typography which I had been lusting after, so I understand your joy... but I do need guidance in English, I know more about French, Dutch and Japanese grammar than I do English...

        I read a lot of books on language history/theory/development/ without going into pure linguistics... can you tell me more

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        • #5
          i can't believe someone replied to my post. waaaaaaaai.

          well this book (philosophy of grammar - jespersen) was written in 1923. at that time most grammarians were still trying to compare english grammar to that of latin. they also tried to organise words according to the rules of latin grammar.

          but jespersen was fond of looking through actual literature and seeing how these words were used and then classifying them according to the functions they serve.

          this might seem obvious, especially to us now, but that is really a result of his work. he was really the first (as far as i know) to acknowledge - language is as language does rather than english will do what latin does.

          so the book is really just about going through the index of lexical terms and pointing out that a word can only be classified depending on what it is doing in a particular sentence; copius examples therewith.

          on a scale of things i want to do before i die, learning these things is not that high up, but i do enjoy his style of writing. he always displays genuine scholarship and a true enthusiasm for understanding.


          as video ezy would say, 'read it if you enjoy Fowler, Trebble, and Vallins'.

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          • #6
            hmmm - sounds interesting, there are used copies on amazon from about 9/10 dollars, I think I might order one...

            you lost me with Fowler, Treble and Vallins I'm afraid

            but the reviews of the book have piqued my interest -

            have you read Jay Rubin's book on making Sense Of Japanese ? - a small book but really helpful on the whole wa/ga issue and other gems, some later chapters still a little advanced for me at my level, but interesting all the same, I shall no doubt read it a third time once I have ramped up a bit

            any other books you would recommend on English Grammar?

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            • #7
              scotty, you and me gots to have a beer and chat!

              ok, Fowler (H.W.) and his brother F.G. were schoolteachers at the turn of the 1900's. very well educated - erudite men. they left their jobs, locked themselves up in an english cottage and then wrote a book together called 'the king's english'. this went on tho become the standard in grammar. following they prepared 'modern english usage' together but F.G. died so H.W. had to go on and finish it himself.
              this book went on to become probably the most popular book of usage ever written. oxford still print it almost one hundred years later, (king's english is over 100 and still published in soft and hardcover by oxford).
              (incase someone doesn't know - most reference books don't get published much after 5 years. 10 years and you've got yourself some serious ____, 100 years...)

              what i like about these books is his style of writing (cross between dickens and wilde) and the thought of him sitting around, almost having an epileptic episode at the way some people have used words and then going on to single-handedly rectify the whole language.

              but our man jespersen, sitting on the other side of the world (positions in Denmark and USA) would launch scathing attacks via the media that Fowler was just pontificating from his ass, and that although certain words were being mis-used, if that was the way they were going then surely that would be justified.

              Fowler went on to become one of the principle lexicographers at oxford - compiling Concise Ox. Dic. and Pocket Ox. Dic.(which became the two most popular dictionaries ever made) while jespersen wrote his own seven volume dictionary of historical principles - which has disappeared into obscurity.

              As for English grammar - it depends what you like. do you want authoritive 'this is how it is' or concise, main points of grammar, or a discussion of how it all works?

              Trebble and Vallins wrote 'ABC of English Usage'. this has to be my favourite grammar reference book. very small, beautifully clear and concise, very comprehensive. 1st published in '36, it got re-printed until the 60's. it covers all the main concepts in trad. grammar, rhetoric and prose. you should be able to get a copy for under 10 bucks.

              do you like any other japanese books?

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              • #8
                apologise for my lack of erudition in this quarter, but I am a record company escapee and cowboy graphist, I haven't actually studied english since my o-levels (at 16) - tho Japanese will be my fourth foreign language... I translate from French to English, but even so, after 20 years abroad I know I make mistakes occasionally in the mother tongue... BF is American, so he picks me up on most of the weirdness once he can stop laughing... if I am to teach I would like to revise the basics, so that i can explain soundly beyond my instinctive comprehension of what de heck is going on in a sentence, if I need to : ) The ABC book sounds like a good start maybe... I have forgotten or never learned much of the terminology... the language books I have read are more in the vein of Stephen's Pinker's Language Instinct and Rod Mengham's On Language... it may not be necessary, but I like to get to the bottom of things - I suppose I really need sth I can use as a reference... thanks

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                • #9
                  Here are a few links for you

                  http://dictionary.reference.com/writing/

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                  • #10
                    wow paul. i've said it before and i'll say it again, you really are a resource!

                    dictionary.com - brilliant.

                    scotty, i was under the impression you were a native speaker who enjoyed reading grammar books. the ones i have listed i don't reccommend for studying grammar. if you want to learn modern grammar then go with links to the dictionary page or buy a modern reference work.
                    my books tend to explore english as a developing language from the modern period (about 1500 onwards) and deal with the kind of use (or abuse) that's common in bureaucratic positions.

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                    • #11
                      If you want a doorstopper of a reference book I recommend the Grammar book by Celce Murcia. Its an ESL reference text and the kind of thing you go to when you get stuck with some examples. Not exactly light reading.

                      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...33436?v=glance

                      For my TOEIC classes I will sometimes do some grammar exercises like conditionals or use of prepositions. Cant remember the name but there is a good teacher-friendly grammar book by Michael Swan on Grammar

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                      • #12
                        do you mean 'learner english' or 'practical english usage'?

                        the later being about usage is quite comprehensive and authorative but not much fun to read. IMHO.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by paulh
                          Here are a few links for you

                          http://dictionary.reference.com/writing/
                          thanks again...

                          if you ever need any French translation, I owe you

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kintarou
                            wow paul. i've said it before and i'll say it again, you really are a resource!

                            dictionary.com - brilliant.

                            scotty, i was under the impression you were a native speaker who enjoyed reading grammar books. the ones i have listed i don't reccommend for studying grammar. if you want to learn modern grammar then go with links to the dictionary page or buy a modern reference work.
                            my books tend to explore english as a developing language from the modern period (about 1500 onwards) and deal with the kind of use (or abuse) that's common in bureaucratic positions.
                            sorry, I wasn't clear... there are two points I suppose

                            (i) I am a native speaker of English and I enjoy learning about languages, collecting words... I find the development/instincts of languages fascinating and I have always enjoyed flipping through dictionaries, or reading about languages I may never speak -I have a navajo dictionary and had a tape of the sounds which I tried, often unsuccessfully to produce, especially the vibrating nasal ns, while travelling in the states... just reading about the way a language is structured is interesting in itself

                            (ii) I am in Japan and am forced, as Paul H, oracle, knows, to question my ability to teach my native language... I have no official teaching experience, and to be honest I'm not sure how much I know or do not know, I would feel more comfortable teaching you how to rewire your apartment than teaching you English because I know how to do that : )

                            I think I would definitely be interested in the books you are talking about - also since I have studied German, I find it interesting to see how the language has changed when I see - so none of this is wasted

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                            • #15
                              i'm off to watch the last episode of 'taken', the made for tv alien abduction series by spielberg. quite boring and unrealistic but still fun, so i'll just make a brief comment:

                              from my experience and as you would know, most japanese have a basic but limited knowledge about grammar. so all you need to do is clarify the main reasons for choosing or using a grammatical element. therefore you'd want one of the swan books because they're to the point and aimed at foreign students' problems/misconceptions.

                              i've forgotten what the point of my post is. yes, buy other books for student's problems, buy my books for enjoyment or learning fine points about grammar that wont help your students.

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