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  1. #1
    M56 Guest

    Default Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Summarising: Three ways of looking at it. Extracts from the Geoffrey Leech article, English Grammar in Conversation.

    View 1: Spoken English has no grammar at all: it is grammatically inchoate.


    (That view) ...does not need to be taken seriously, although it is surprisingly persistent in the mind of the folk grammarian. It is inherited from the age-old tradition associating grammar with the written language, and it is bolstered by examples such as the following, which, like others which follow, is from the Longman spoken corpus:


    No. Do you know erm you know where the erm go over to er go over erm where the fire station is not the one that white white



    View 2: Spoken English does not have a special grammar: its grammar is just the same as the grammar of written English

    Conversation makes use of entities such as prepositions, modals, noun phrases and relative clauses, just as written language does. So - assuming, as many would, that differences of frequency belong to the use of the grammar, rather than to the grammatical system itself - it is quite natural to think in terms of one English grammar, whose use in conversational performance can be contrasted with its use in various kinds of writing. In other words, conversational grammar is seen to be just a rather special implementation of the common grammar of English: a discovery which does not necessarily in any way diminish the interest of studying the grammar (i.e. the grammatical use) of spoken language.

    View 3: Spoken English does have a special grammar - it has its own principles, rules and categories, which are different from those of the written language.

    In handling spoken language, (David) Brazil argues for a totally different approach to grammar from the approach which has become familiar through conventional focus on the written language. He argues for a linear model moving dynamically through time, and puts aside the more traditional architectural model in terms of hierarchies of units. Although Carter and McCarthy do not take this thorough-going approach, they do throw the spotlight on grammatical features of spoken language which they feel have been largely neglected by standard grammars entrenched in the 'written tradition'. They argue that structures which are inherent to speech have not been properly studied until the advent of the spoken computer corpus, and are consequently absent from canonised written grammar familiar to learners of English throughout the world: structures such as the 'dislocated topic' of This little shop ... it's lovely or the 'wagging tail' of Oh I reckon they're lovely. I really do whippets. These tend to find their raison d'Ítre in the fact that conversation constructs itself in a dynamic fashion, giving the speaker only a small look-ahead window for planning what to say, and often inducing retrospective add-ons. Carter and McCarthy (1995) put forward a structural model for the clause in conversation, containing in addition to the core clause itself a pre-clause topic and a post-clause tail. With their refreshing emphasis on the dynamic modelling of grammar in action, Carter and McCarthy seem to be taking a line similar to Brazil's advocacy of a new grammar of speech.

    Read more at: http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/phil/engli...eech/Leech.htm

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Most assuredly there is.

  3. #3
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Quote Originally Posted by DBP
    Most assuredly there is.
    What gives you the feeling that there is?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Wherever words combine, there is grammar. While it may not have been codified to anything like the extent of written language, that doesn't not nullify its existence- a place doesn't only exist once it has been mapped.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    tdol has nailed it except for the part about the grammar of written English. There was and still is a great deal of English grammar that has been badly codified and continues to be poorly described by a lot of people.

  6. #6
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Wherever words combine, there is grammar. While it may not have been codified to anything like the extent of written language, that doesn't not nullify its existence- a place doesn't only exist once it has been mapped.
    Hoorah! Tdol.

  7. #7
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Quote Originally Posted by DBP
    tdol has nailed it except for the part about the grammar of written English. There was and still is a great deal of English grammar that has been badly codified and continues to be poorly described by a lot of people.
    Not many are willing to admit to that regarding written grammar. Well done!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Quote Originally Posted by M56
    Not many are willing to admit to that regarding written grammar. Well done!
    There are delusionists in every sphere of life, M56.

  9. #9
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    Sadly, we all fall prey to the teeth of delusion at sometime in our lives.

    Example: I'm 49 years old and think that I look fantastic in tight Levis. LOL! A bit like Umberto Eco and Iggy Pop - both heroes of mine.
    Last edited by M56; 17-Sep-2005 at 09:16.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is there a grammar of spoken English?

    True to the first part, M56. Regarding the second, I don't have the slightest idea.

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