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  1. #1
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Did you learn grammar at school?

    For those of you who find this a strange opening post, this discussion began in a different thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    As far as BrE is concerned, I recall spending a lot of time explaining to incredulous Spaniards that English (as a language) is simply not taught to British children in school. Because of the complexities of the grammar (verb endings etc) in many European languages, for example, children are properly taught to speak their own language. We are not. British children learn to speak their own language through experience, by listening and by repetition.
    I don't necessarily agree with this. It's true that English has relatively "simple" grammar compared to other European languages (German for one), but I will say that I have never studied Russian in school, becuase I have never attended a Russian school in my life. That said, I make very few mistakes. Granted, my vocabulary isn't very large, but I rarely make mistakes when it comes to genders and cases. I was never taught how to speak Russian and yet I manage pretty well.

    People who are learning Russian often say that it's impossible to learn Russian because it's such a complex language. They are perplexed at how I know intuitively which word takes which gender and which case I should use. They always think that I have learnt this "the hard way"! Not true. I always say that's it's pure intuition. I realise, though, that this may sound like anecdotal evidence.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 31-Jul-2012 at 00:54.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    I don't necessarily agree with this. It's true that English has relatively "simple" grammar compared to other European languages (German for one), but I will say that I have never studied Russian in school, becuase I have never attended a Russian school in my life. That said, I make very few mistakes. Granted, my vocabulary isn't very large, but I rarely make mistakes when it comes to genders and cases. I was never taught how to speak Russian and yet I manage pretty well.

    People who are learning Russian often say that it's impossible to learn Russian because it's such a complex language. They are perplexed at how I know intuitively which word takes which gender and which case I should use. They always think that I have learnt this "the hard way"! Not true. I always say that's it's pure intuition. I realise, though, that this may sound like anecdotal evidence.
    I think that simply proves that some people are just more naturally linguistically able than others. I would say that you are one of those people. However, your profile says your native language is Dutch so Russian is a second language for you. Were you taught Dutch language and grammar at school as a child?

    Edit: Sorry for posting this after 5jj's suggestion that we move it to a new thread. He posted that request while I was posting this. In my defence, I was only trying to explain why people who say that omitting "that" is correct are referring to how it sounds, not whether it's grammatically correct.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 30-Jul-2012 at 23:53.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    As far as BrE is concerned, I recall spending a lot of time explaining to incredulous Spaniards that English (as a language) is simply not taught to British children in school. Because of the complexities of the grammar (verb endings etc) in many European languages, for example, children are properly taught to speak their own language. We are not. British children learn to speak their own language through experience, by listening and by repetition.
    Is this a new development? We certainly learn English grammar in American schools.

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Is this a new development? We certainly learn English grammar in American schools.
    Of my peer group/of all my friends, I am the only person who ever studied grammar at school. We range from 48 years old down to 23. I have a vague recollection of a couple of "English Language" lessons when I was about 7 where all we had to do was identify the subject, object, verb, adjective and noun. I'm fairly certain I'm in a minority of one in that.

    (OK, that really is the last post I'm making about this.)
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I think that simply proves that some people are just more naturally linguistically able than others. I would say that you are one of those people. However, your profile says your native language is Dutch so Russian is a second language for you. Were you taught Dutch language and grammar at school as a child

    That’s what my member info says, but technically, it was the other way around. I don’t feel comfortable stating that Russian is my native language, because I’m much more proficient in Dutch, but I’ll change it for the sake of accuracy.

    Yes, I was taught some grammar in school, but not much. It certainly wasn’t something I couldn’t have done without. In fact, I have forgot most of what I learnt when I was 12-14 years of age.
    Most people who learn Dutch at a later age, cannot intuitively tell which definite article goes with which noun. Is it “het huis” or “de huis”? This is obvious to a native speaker, even one who hasn’t studied grammar, but for many learners it’s a real headache. Moreover, the relative pronoun changes depending on which definite article you use. It’s “dit/dat (het) huis”, but it’s “deze/die (de) auto”. This is, however, not something you learn in school. Every native speaker of 5+ years knows this.

    There is some useful grammar you learn in school, but on the whole, even as a native speaker, you don’t have to learn it formally in order to “get it”. My initial premise still stands: speakers of languages other than English are not taught to speak their language. It’s true that speakers of German or French learn “more” grammar than speakers of English, simply because the grammar is more complicated, but most people know the grammar inside out without learning it formally. When I was learning German, I had to memorise which case goes with which preposition, for example "für" takes the accusative case. We had to memorise this stuff and it was tedious. But to be fair, native speakers of German do no do this. They know that für takes the accusative case without having learnt it formally. They may not even know that there is an accusative case, but if they have to use "für" in a sentence, they certainly know how to use it properly.

    That has been my experience as multi-lingual speaker. I’d be interested to hear what other members have to say about this.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 31-Jul-2012 at 00:50. Reason: some mistakes

  6. #6
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    As for Russian, I know no grammar. That, however, doesn't mean that my profciency is low, on the contrary.
    In fact, most people who are taught to speak Russian, even the ones who learn Russian in a university setting, never fully master all the intricacies that are involved. Academics may know a lot of words and expressions, and they may even know the grammar very well, but they will rarely if never reach the proficiency of that of native speaker in terms of putting together a good sounding sentence. They're bound to mix up genders here and there, occasionally use a wrong case, their sentences may sound unnatural, and so on. It's a very difficult language to master for a non-native.

  7. #7
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: Did you learn grammar at school?

    When I went to secondary school I had German lessons with plenty of grammar. My first foreign language was English and we learned not only about the two r's but also plenty of grammar - tenses, irregular verbs, naming of nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. - the whole shebang. The same happened when I started learning French and Russian. I can't really imagine learning any language without touching the subject of grammar at some stage. I compare this with trying to teach somebody how to build a brick wall by telling them, 'Here are the bricks. Put them on top of each other. Don't bother with cement. You don't need to know anything about it.'

    TomUK

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    It's true that English has relatively "simple" grammar compared to other European languages (German for one)
    I have often heard similar thoughts. I think that anybody who has tried to get through any of the massive grammars by, for example, Poutsma, Kruisinga, Jespesen, Quirk et al, Huddleston and Pullum, etc would disagree.

    I am a native speaker of English who has studied the language seriously for over fifty years, and taught it for over forty. Despite this, I find the grammar of, for example, German simpler to understand than that of my own language. In languages with different noun-endings for case and verb-endings for person there is a great deal of initial complexity for those who speak a language without these things. However, if the learner manages to master these, s/he can be reasonably sure that s/he will produce acceptable language. That is not the situation in English.

    I have oversimplified my case to keeep this post short, but I do not feel that the grammar of English is inherently simpler than that of many other languages.

  9. #9
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    I see that I made a general statement. That was not my intent. I was merely expressing my opinion. I studied Dutch, English, French, German, Ancient Greek (for two years only) and Latin in secondary school from ages 12 - 18, and I would say that Latin gave me the most headaches, but that obviously doesn't mean that Latin is objectively harder than the other languages. Latin is a dead language, so the amount of exposure you can get is limited. A personal opinion does in no way reflect reality. I think that it would be fair to say that all languages are equally difficult. It's easier to learn to play the sax than the trumpet (being able to get some notes out of the instrument and have a handle on the embouchure), but it's equally hard to play both well.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 31-Jul-2012 at 22:42. Reason: mistake

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Omitting the word "that".

    In Spain, even though successive educational reforms have, IMO, lowered the general level of teaching, we are taught Spanish grammar. The same goes for Catalan, my other mother tongue (aside to webmasters: it's a pity I cannot state that in my profile).

    Going back to the topic: even if we are taught it, few people really remember anything about it, and many of my fellow countrymen speak with little respect for basic grammar rules (mind you: Spanish possesses a prescriptive grammar. It used to be revised by the RAE-Royal Spanish Academy in English- alone, and now in conjunction with the academies from other Spanish-speaking countries).

    Of course, as far as understanding goes, those people choosing not to speak by the rules are understood, but it bothers me a lot that they should do so.

    And as far as the complexity of other languages is concerned: I have the feeling that, as I believe 5jj said, some languages are harder at earlier stages (German, in my experience is harder in the beginning than English). Other languages are easier for certain speakers due to similarities with their mother tongue/s. I, for instance, have never studied Italian, but are however able to speak it to a certain level, and I actually use it at work.

    charliedeut

    PS: I must say that i studied German at University, and spent a year in Germany (Erasmus scholarship). Therefore, I am somewhat better atspeaking it than I am at the knowledge of its grammar (which I remember surprised me as strikingly similar to that of Latin-based languages- declensions, cases, verb conjugation...)
    Last edited by charliedeut; 02-Aug-2012 at 10:15. Reason: Added PS
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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