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  1. #11
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by MrP
    (In passing, I would say that the CGEL's assertions about contraction in 4b are untrue: a speaker of Standard English would also say I don't know if she and you'r' eligible, where 'r' is a schwa.)
    Mmm. Mr P., don't go there. The CGEL's argument is beyond repair. It leaves us championing prescriptivists and questioning which new camp CGEL belongs to.

    Agreed. Their argument is circular; it lacks insight, and serves only to perpetuate the long standing rivalry between the P's and the D's. In short, it fails foremost to take into consideration that language is tied to culture (Descriptivism), not to tradition (Prescriptivism); that, for example, English is an SVO language; that subjects (i.e., speakers) are important (there's no pro-drop here), and that the way in which speakers choose to order and clothe (coordinated) subjects evidences a pragmatic process (e.g., After you, please. No. You first; [/i]Me and Sam want pizza[/i]; Cf. French tu, vous). In my opinion, CGEL should have chosen the higher road, one far removed from and more evolved than an argument stemming from the dungeons of case assignment.

  2. #12
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    In my opinion, CGEL should have chosen the higher road, one far removed from and more evolved than an argument stemming from the dungeons of case assignment.
    Your comment about how speakers choose to order and clothe coordinated subjects makes sense. But the CGEL and Chomksy are not talking about pragmatics, they're talking about syntax. They're saying that the syntax must allow for whatever schemes we use for ordering and clothing coordinated subjects, and case is part of that. The cases we choose to use for our coordinated pronouns are not always the same cases we use for our single pronouns. There are many pragmatic reasons why we do this. But why does the syntax allow it? What is it about coordinated pronouns that is different?

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by alienvoord View Post
    This timeline only makes sense if poor teaching dates from the 1600s, when "between you and I" is first attested. And the teaching of English grammar started in the 1700s.

    Anyway, the fact is that it's part of the language. Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage has many examples of this structure by English writers in English writing.
    As I've mentioned before, merely because something is attested doesn't mean it was ever considered correct, or even natural. Jabberwocky is also attested, and is to be found in the writings of one of the best-known writers in the English language, but that doesn't make it anything more than a nonsense poem.

    Also, just because something was so in the past, does not make it so in the present. You would probably object if I insisted that "prestigious" always meant "devious", yet not too long ago that's exactly what it meant. Here you are asking me to accept a rule on the basis that is was used in 17th century. (Which it was. Sometimes. But not usually.)

    Co-ordinated pronouns behave differently than single pronouns. This sentence sounds completely wrong to me:

    She gave the books to I.

    But this sentence does not sound completely wrong to me:

    She gave the books to you and I.
    The question, though, is why? Is it because co-ordinated pronouns really do behave differently, or is it because your parents were taught in a way that made them think they behaved differently when in fact they didn't?

    In any case, this is anecdotal evidence. Your second sentence sounds wrong to me. What does that prove? Nothing at all -- except that I have been brought up slightly differently. But the "prescriptive" rule in this case is perfectly natural to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by alienvoord View Post
    Your comment about how speakers choose to order and clothe coordinated subjects makes sense. But the CGEL and Chomksy are not talking about pragmatics, they're talking about syntax. They're saying that the syntax must allow for whatever schemes we use for ordering and clothing coordinated subjects, and case is part of that. The cases we choose to use for our coordinated pronouns are not always the same cases we use for our single pronouns. There are many pragmatic reasons why we do this. But why does the syntax allow it? What is it about coordinated pronouns that is different?
    Chomsky for one completely dodges the issue by simply stating that in coordinated pronouns, one can choose to use subjective or objective pronouns at will. But that's not the case at all; statistics show that certain combinations occur more often than others, and many combinations do not occur at all.

    Syntax allows all sorts of things. Syntax allows us to understand utterances like "Me Tarzan, you Jane" or "Theatre is know you where?" We understand these sentences despite the fact that they do not follow the normal rules we innately follow to construct sentences -- and we do not have to posit rules to accommodate these constructions. Rather, foreign tourists can breathe a sigh of relief that we do not act like computers and refuse to understand anything that deviates from the norm.

  4. #14
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    As I've mentioned before, merely because something is attested doesn't mean it was ever considered correct, or even natural. Jabberwocky is also attested, and is to be found in the writings of one of the best-known writers in the English language, but that doesn't make it anything more than a nonsense poem.
    Why do we find "between you and I" in the 1600s, then? My point is that hypercorrection doesn't explain it. I'm trying to account for the evidence, not ignore it.

    Also, just because something was so in the past, does not make it so in the present. You would probably object if I insisted that "prestigious" always meant "devious", yet not too long ago that's exactly what it meant. Here you are asking me to accept a rule on the basis that is was used in 17th century. (Which it was. Sometimes. But not usually.)
    It was not just used in the 17th century. It's been used by many many speakers since the 17th century to the present. It's normally found in spoken language and letters.

    The question, though, is why? Is it because co-ordinated pronouns really do behave differently, or is it because your parents were taught in a way that made them think they behaved differently when in fact they didn't?
    Why would we use coordinated pronouns differently if they really weren't different? Why would native speakers continually use "between you and I" if such usage violated their syntactic rules?

    And furthermore there are many commentators telling us it's wrong, but we keep using it. Why do we keep using it if 1) it violates our syntactic rules, 2) we are explicitly told it's wrong?

    I asked you this question earlier, but you didn't answer.

    Chomsky for one completely dodges the issue by simply stating that in coordinated pronouns, one can choose to use subjective or objective pronouns at will. But that's not the case at all; statistics show that certain combinations occur more often than others, and many combinations do not occur at all.
    Chomsky isn't saying anything at all about the pragmatics. The statistics are not relevant to his claim. I haven't read Barriers, but I know that he's not interested in pragmatics. I'm pretty sure that he's claiming that the syntax is neutral on the issue, and so other non-syntactic factors (like pragmatics) determine exactly which combinations are used. At least, that explanation makes sense to me.

    Syntax allows all sorts of things. Syntax allows us to understand utterances like "Me Tarzan, you Jane" or "Theatre is know you where?" We understand these sentences despite the fact that they do not follow the normal rules we innately follow to construct sentences -- and we do not have to posit rules to accommodate these constructions. Rather, foreign tourists can breathe a sigh of relief that we do not act like computers and refuse to understand anything that deviates from the norm.
    I'm not sure how that's relevant.

    In any case, this is anecdotal evidence. Your second sentence sounds wrong to me. What does that prove? Nothing at all -- except that I have been brought up slightly differently. But the "prescriptive" rule in this case is perfectly natural to me.
    My example doesn't necessarily prove anything about how we have been brought up. It shows that I have a certain intuition about the construction, and you have a different intuition.
    Last edited by alienvoord; 17-Dec-2006 at 19:46.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by alienvoord View Post
    Why would we use coordinated pronouns differently if they really weren't different? Why would native speakers continually use "between you and I" if such usage violated their syntactic rules?

    And furthermore there are many commentators telling us it's wrong, but we keep using it. Why do we keep using it if 1) it violates our syntactic rules, 2) we are explicitly told it's wrong?
    What do you mean by "their syntactic rules"? I know I've used the word "innate", but that's shorthand for something else; these rules are not truly innate, they are learned. The question is, though, who taught them these rules, and were the rules that were taught understood in the way that the teacher intended them to be understood?

    Obviously, when people say "between you and I", they believe that to be the correct form. But very often, if you ask them about it, they will tell you that their teacher taught them that "you and I" is always more formal than "you and me"; but when you ask their teacher, they will most likely be horrified and say, "But that's not what I said!"

    This is the answer to the question, "Why do people insist on doing it?" Because that is how they have been taught. Nobody has grammar already wired into their brains when they are born; if they did, the grammar of every language in the world would be exactly the same. "Their" syntactic rules are those they have been taught (and sometimes misunderstood) and have deduced from hearing other people speak (whose syntactic rules will include misunderstood and misremembered rules explicitly taught).

    My own family provides some anecdotal evidence. My paternal grandmother grew up in the East End of London and would say "It's me". My father, however, says "It is I", despite everyone around him telling him a) he has fallen victim to a grammatical urban myth, and/or b) it makes him sound like a pompous twit. I, however, say "It's me" every time.

    The point is that none of us has naturally in-built syntactic rules. We learned them from our parents, teachers and other people in our environment. The ability to learn language is innate, but nothing else is. Leave out the ability to learn and to misunderstand, and you only have half the story.

  6. #16
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    What do you mean by "their syntactic rules"?
    I mean the unconscious knowledge that we use to construct utterances. Chomsky believes that most of this knowledge is innate, but I don't think you have to believe that in order to subscribe to this idea. Whether the knowledge is innate or acquired really doesn't matter. Either way, it consists of rules that we follow unconsciously. We do not normally violate these rules - we put the verbs and nouns in a certain order, we don't put adverbs between certain words, etc.

    I'm claiming this knowledge includes information about how nouns are assigned case. This is why we don't say "She gives the books to I." The preposition "to" assigns object case to the pronoun, so it has to be "me."

    But with coordinated pronouns, the preposition does not assign case to the individual constituents of the phrase. So each element of the phrase is free to take any form, depending on pragmatics. And yes, people are taught to use a certain construction, and they misunderstand. But they are constrained by syntactic rules when they do all this.

    Here's an argument for the existence of complicated unconscious syntactic rules.

    1a. Who do you want to fight?
    2a. Who do you wanna fight?

    In 1, the subject of "fight" can be either "you" or someone else - it can be construed to mean "which two fighters do you want to see fighting?"

    This is because the underlying structure of 1 can be something like

    1b. you want who to fight

    Where "who" is the subject of "to fight" and intervenes between "want" and "to".

    But in 2, the subject of fight can only be construed as "you". The underlying structure of 2 can only be something like

    2b. you want to fight who

    where "who" is the object of "to fight". "want" and "to" only contract into "wanna" when no element comes between them in the underlying structure.

    Nobody has grammar already wired into their brains when they are born; if they did, the grammar of every language in the world would be exactly the same.
    Not everything has to be innate. AIUI all languages have nouns, verbs, phrases with heads, phonemes, morphemes. There are some elements that are common to all human languages. Perhaps these elements are innate.
    Last edited by alienvoord; 18-Dec-2006 at 00:04.

  7. #17
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    The way I understood the innate grammar idea is that we are supposed to have a grammar that is like a set of options and the brain adjusts these to the language around. The example I remember was the empty pronoun in 'it's raining'- the brain would have a question about whether the language around them used or didn't use the pronoun and would flick the switch accordingly. Of course, this is a pretty speculative view.

  8. #18
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    The way I understood the innate grammar idea is that we are supposed to have a grammar that is like a set of options and the brain adjusts these to the language around. The example I remember was the empty pronoun in 'it's raining'- the brain would have a question about whether the language around them used or didn't use the pronoun and would flick the switch accordingly. Of course, this is a pretty speculative view.
    You're talking about principles and parameters. That dates from 1995. I'm talking more broadly, about transformational grammar, which for the past several decades has been a major school of theoretical linguistics.

  9. #19
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    We're cross-posting a bit- I was respnding to the idea that all grammars would be the same if grammar were hard-wired.

  10. #20
    alienvoord is offline Member
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    We're cross-posting a bit- I was respnding to the idea that all grammars would be the same if grammar were hard-wired.
    So you were. Sorry!

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