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  1. #51
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    5jj,

    There is so much to respond to. I am sure that I will miss some of it.

    My use of "morphology" comes from Harmon and House. I will be showing the table of contents of the book in a video which I am going to make and post today. In that video I will also show some little books that very concisely lay out what Americans think of as grammar (morphology) and syntax. I recommend that you check it out. It will be on the Youtube Channel mrbisse1 and will be video 94.1.

    My principal reason for teaching English grammar is to use what English speakers already know about a language as a matrix for the learning of a foreign language. The declension of the English pronouns, for example, gives a way to show person, number, case, and gender -- all four of which are very important in German, for example.

    Regarding the complexity of German compared to English, consider that the most common word in English, "the", has at least 6 variants in German (der, die, das, des, dem, den) and probably twice that many "slots" for their use -- which must be gotten right or the German sounds illiterate. Add to that that these same words function as relative pronouns. Our word "a, an" which changes only because of elision (like the pronunciation of "the") offers in German a similar challenge.

    I once asked a very good German friend of mine what English speakers do with the problem of "the" if their German is not very good. She said that she thought that they just generically used "der" or something like it.

    In many ways English is beautiful in its simplicity -- except for spelling.

    I'll post this and then look back at your other comments.

    Frank

  2. #52
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    My use of "morphology" comes from Harmon and House. I will be showing the table of contents of the book in a video which I am going to make and post today. In that video I will also show some little books that very concisely lay out what Americans think of as grammar (morphology) and syntax. I recommend that you check it out. It will be on the Youtube Channel mrbisse1 and will be video 94.1.
    I will try to find time to watch the video. In the meantime, I will just say that I have met quite a few Americans who use 'morphology' in the same way as I - as defined in Webster's 3.
    Regarding the complexity of German compared to English, consider that the most common word in English, "the", has at least 6 variants in German (der, die, das, des, dem, den) and probably twice that many "slots" for their use -- which must be gotten right or the German sounds illiterate. Add to that that these same words function as relative pronouns. Our word "a, an" which changes only because of elision (like the pronunciation of "the") offers in German a similar challenge.
    You have taken one aspect of German grammar out of context. The many forms (morphological? ) of German are part and parcel of the case system, which is an integral part of German - as it is of Latin, and many other languages. For learners whose native language has no case system, or (like English) only the vestigial remains of one, a case system is difficult to comprehend initially. The lack of one in a language is difficult for people who have grown up with one. Cicero, were to to be suddenly transported to modern England, would be dumbfounded by the importance of word order in modern English. . The fact that an amorous situation can be formulated in English only as 'the boy loves the girl', in German as 'der Junge liebt das Mädchen' or 'Das Mädchen liebt der Junge'; or in Latin as any of six orderings of 'puer/puellam/amat' does not make any one of these 'easier' or 'more difficult' than the others.

    (Incidentally, many speakers of German dialects do nor 'sound' illiterate if their versions of the various forms of the definite article appear indistinguishable. They might appear to be not very well educated if they used an incorrect form in writing. There are, however, books on German usage, just as there re on English usage. Native speakers don't get it right all the time.)
    In many ways English is beautiful in its simplicity -- except for spelling.
    As far as I know, there is no evidence that English is any 'easier' or 'more difficult' than any other natural language.

  3. #53
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    5jj,

    Yes, I know what you mean about English word order. And, actually, I am normally very reluctant to describe one language as harder or easier than another. Students used to ask me that all the time. Basically I told them that there is no such thing as an easy foreign language. They are all hard.

    However, sometimes I would add that it depends a lot on what the native language is that you are starting with.

    For a Portuguese-speaker, for instance, Spanish is not hard. German would be much harder. For a Swedish-speaker, or a Dutch-speaker, I think that English is not so hard.
    I once heard English described, tongue in cheek, as a dialect of French.

    I am not sure if there is any "scientific" way to measure it -- probably there could be.

    At a later point, I want to look more widely at the forums on this website. I intend to teach, online, beginning German to English speakers -- free, as I am doing my "Frank's Hum Hundred" course. I am in no way trained to do this, so it will be fun for me to see what happens.

    I DO hope that you look at the video. Just a minute...I guess I can now offer you the link because it is available.
    mrbisse1's Channel - YouTube

    There. That should do it. You should there be able to see where we Americans are coming from.

    Frank

  4. #54
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    Thank you for the link. Unfortunately, I could not read the print in the books, but I gathered enough to make a few points.

    1. You did, in previous posts seem to suggest that your view of morphology was the American view, and that your view came from Harman and House. From what little I could read, your House & Harman did not appear to confirm this, and you said on your video that you did not fully agree with how they dealt with morphology. Unfortunately, you skipped over the morphology secction of the book.

    2. The Fundamentals of Grammar was published over thirty years ago, and the House and Harman sixty years ago. Quite frankly I think we need something a little more modern than this:

    House, Homer C., and Susan Emolyn Harman. Descriptive English Grammar. 2d ed. Revised by Susan Emolyn Harman. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1950.

    1. Prescriptive.
    2. Remarks in the introductory matter indicate that the philosophy of the work is prescriptive. The preface reads, “By studying and comparing the two levels of English [standard and substandard], the average student will be able to discover for himself that the best English is grammatical English.” Insists on correct pronoun case. Chapter three on pronouns says, “In standard literary speech who is restricted to nominative uses, and whom to the objective constructions; but in informal speech, who is often used where the rule calls for whom. But careful speakers do not, as a rule, use who to introduce an interrogative sentence unless it has a nominative function. Whom is the form approved by our cultivated writers.” Encourages the use of common gender. Chapter three on pronouns says, “It is well to remember that he, his, him may be used to indicate masculine or common gender. She and her must be used only when the antecedent is known to be feminine.” Insists on correctness in grammar. The book freely insists that some grammatical forms are correct. Chapter five on verbs says, “Failure to recognize the correct antecedent of a relative pronoun may result in error . . . In this sentence the verb must be plural.” Includes traditional diagramming. Part two says, “The system of diagramming employed and described in this text is one of the simplest and one of the most widely used of all the systems of diagramming now taught in the public and private schools of America. The lines used in the diagrams are few, and their significance can be mastered in a very short time.”

    English Student Resource Guide: Annotated Bibliography of Various English Resources - Student Pulse

    You and I have fundamentally different ideas about grammar, Frank, so we'll have to agree to differ.

    As for the two words we have been talking about, I'll stick with the definitions of morphology and syntax given in my (British) Oxford English Dictionary, my (American) Webster's Third New International Dictionary and in several dozen dictionaries here: OneLook: General dictionary sites.

  5. #55
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    5jj,

    First, thanks for looking at that video. I am sorry that the print could not be clearer. I assume that you viewed it using the full screen. With that, I found that I could read most of the first two booklets if I tried hard enough and paused at just the right moments.

    Yes, agreeing to disagree sounds like a good idea. There can be no doubt that, even if I don't represent a pure American version of grammar, there is a big difference between it and what I call the British version.

    Please don't lose sight of the fact that I was (and continue online to be) teaching children between the ages of about 12 and 14. At least that is my present target audience. That's the reason that I treated the word "morphology" somewhat gingerly. In the preface to the first of those student booklets you might be able to make out from the print that I tried to explain about it. I was afraid that my students would be put off by the word "morphology". The were used to "grammar", but I wanted to make sure that they could separate parts of speech from parts of sentences. The big offender for me there is the term "verb" as opposed to "simple predicate". I am sure that you recall that it was Barry's search for the "verb" in the sentence that lead me to respond.

    Regarding a lack of modernity with Harman and House, I don't regard it as necessarily bad. It seems to me that the golden age of linguistics, then probably called philology, was sometime between Sir William Jones and the Grimm Brothers, when so many languages were first being described and deciphered -- e.g The Rosetta Stone. By comparison, to me, the modern state of the study of grammar seems muddled. Similarly I prefer Shakespeare and the Dutch Masters to modern literature and art.

    Finally, I guess I want to mention "FUN". Grammar and syntax, as I know them, have been a lot of fun, not only for Gertrude Stein but for so many others as well. On this forum TranceFreak once expressed her amazement that sentence diagramming could be fun. She said that fellow students used to give her part of their lunch if she would do their diagrams for them.

    I hesitate to share the following link with you because it suggests chaos in the classroom, but it might show you what I mean by the fun.

    Competitive Sentence Diagramming-Round 2 - YouTube

    I THINK that will take you there.

    This has all been interesting,

    Frank

  6. #56
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    A very belated foray into this thread, I fear, but....

    I think that Frank's point is valid: the wide application of the term 'verb' creates a problem bewailed by many a professional grammarian, and which some have sought to solve by introducing the term 'verbal' to refer to any finite or nonfinite verb form (thus including both finite 'swung' and participle 'shut' here), reserving 'verb' for the finite component of a verb phrase (thus including 'swung' but excluding 'shut' as used here).

    As for 'shut' itself, although a verb(al) in terms of general classification, I would concur with the analysis already offered that it serves here in the role of predicate adjective, i.e. one describing the final state/condition of the subject after performance of the verb.

    I would, however, take issue with the label 'copular' being applied to 'swung', on the grounds that part of the generally accepted definition of a copular verb is that complementation is obligatory in order for it to make sense.

    The gate swung.

    while perhaps semantically a little "bare", is nevertheless grammatical...

  7. #57
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    I had thought a little more about this sentence and I realized even more how out of practice I am.

    Reed-Kellog would say that in terms of "parts of speech", "morphology" "swung" and "shut" are both forms of verbs. But in terms of "parts of sentences" "swung" is the simple predicate and "shut" is an objective complement. The direct object is the understood reflexive pronoun "itself". A "sort of" test for an objective complement is to see if the infinitive "to be" could be inserted into the sentence. e.g. "The sun made the apples (to be) red" "The gate swung (itself) (to be) shut.

  8. #58
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    Here is the link where I diagram that.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTR-58fSrQ0

  9. #59
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    I had thought a little more about this sentence and I realized even more how out of practice I am.

    Reed-Kellog would say that in terms of "parts of speech", "morphology" "swung" and "shut" are both forms of verbs. But in terms of "parts of sentences" "swung" is the simple predicate and "shut" is an objective complement. The direct object is the understood reflexive pronoun "itself". A "sort of" test for an objective complement is to see if the infinitive "to be" could be inserted into the sentence. e.g. "The sun made the apples (to be) red" "The gate swung (itself) (to be) shut.
    I'm afraid I cannot agree with this assertion. 'Swing' is a simple intransitive verb. I have never heard of a reflexive form 'swing oneself' (except, perhaps, as children's English with reference to swings in the park).

    By the lights of this argument, you might as well claim that

    They returned unharmed.

    is elliptical for

    ?They returned themselves unharmed.

  10. #60
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    Default Re: Identifying the verb

    Not quite.

    "They returned unharmed." is more likely elliptical for "They returned (in an) unharmed (condition)." or "They returned (, and they were) unharmed."

    It's different.

    One could certainly say that since the door was hung out of plumb, it was always closing itself.

    "Returned" in your example would not be transitive.

    Thanks for the comment.

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