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  1. #11
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    Default Re: E. grammar rules, worldwide?

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    Casiopea, I'd like to comment on your previous statement: "History tells us that without a Standard, variants eventually become new languages."
    In other words, when variants of the same language deviate from the Standard they no longer share commonalities. Which is when they become new languages.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    Variants become languages when having a culture of their own.
    Yes, but culture isn't the catalyst. In grad school, I documented an aboriginal language called Southern Tutchone, which has low tone where its Northern cousin, Norther Tutchone, had high tone. There's no cultural difference between the two groups, although they do live in different areas. As for the dialect variants, the elders of the communities believe the change came about because of a heated dispute that couldn't be resolved among the Tutchone people. Some elders believe that the group who moved on up to the North purposely switched the tone, which, if true, nicely supports this statement, The need for individuality of expression makes models and rules [malleable]. If Tutchone weren't moribund, its dialects would eventually become new languages because they are no longer tied to the same Standard. But culture wasn't the catalysts, human emotion was. Specifically, The need for individuality of expression.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    But it is up to the governments themselves to give free reigns to various dialects to exist untarnished by the mainstream demands and rules.
    That sounds all too familair to me. I'm a French-Canadian.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    So, the standard is not always omnipotent.
    I agree with you. Which is why we are having this discussion, and, moreover, the reason grammar rules based on Latin aren't adhered to as much these days. You're right, the times they are a-changing.

  2. #12
    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: E. grammar rules, worldwide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Grammar is language. It doesn't come before or after language. Unless, that is, you're referring to prescribed grammar, then yes, certain rules, especially the ones based on Latin grammar, came before--were planted in the past--and so don't reflect modern usage.
    There is indeed a universal grammar, (Chomsky), but this is about our intrinsic grasp of language - i.e. we are capable of producing language due to this universal grammar or linguistic system, or system of signs, as semiologists refer to. Chomsky also claimed that: "when we learn to speak we don't deduce grammar. Instead we discover it by matching up what we hear against the pre-existing structures in our brain." This is what I mean when saying that grammar comes after language; language grows and becomes more complex through a set of grammatical codes, just like the brain develops through thinking.
    Deconstruction and Chomsky

    So, I refer to grammar in the concrete traditional sense of syntax and morphology, not to an abstract concept which is language itself. Human beings are indeed capable of producing language (speech), but language as an expressive means of communication develops to maturity through usage and experience, from an inarticulate level where words are sporadically blurted out (one word, two words, then maybe three or more tied in a commonly agreed-upon string with a meaning), to becoming more and more articulate and expressive. Grammar is the ability of language to express ideas, to joggle with words and create meaning. The human brain is too underdeveloped at its earliest stages to express thought through articulate speech, and grammar.


    You also mentioned that language is born independently of culture. Some linguists claim that language reflects our reality which is grasped through culture (poststructuralists). This is why it is difficult to translate from one language into another - they are culture-based. Other linguists mean that language precedes reality, it comes before culture. The precedence of language over reality was clearly formulated by American linguists in the early 20th century by what is known as the Sapir-Whorf theory.
    REALITY, LANGUAGE, TRANSLATION:
    Last edited by bianca; 31-Jul-2007 at 09:08.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: E. grammar rules, worldwide?

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    There is indeed a universal grammar, (Chomsky), but this is about our intrinsic grasp of language - i.e. we are capable of producing language due to this universal grammar or linguistic system, or system of signs, as semiologists refer to.
    Not to my understanding. Universal grammar and a language's grammar are two separate things. Universal meaning, all human languages share certain characteristics, and those similarities are certainly not intrinsic. Intrinsic knowledge refers to native speakers, not to second language learners. Unless, that is, you're talking about interference errors, in which case intrinsic knowledge of an L1 system comes into play. Maybe you mean innate knowledge?

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    Chomsky also claimed that: "when we learn to speak we don't deduce grammar. Instead we discover it by matching up what we hear against the pre-existing structures in our brain." This is what I mean when saying that grammar comes after language; language grows and becomes more complex through a set of grammatical codes, just like the brain develops through thinking.
    Isn't it more plausible though to say that grammar gets easier since learners discover that language is constrainted by a finite system of rules? The rules are constant, the input variable.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    Grammar is the ability of language to express ideas, to joggle with words and create meaning. The human brain is too underdeveloped at its earliest stages to express thought through articulate speech, and grammar.
    True, but keep in mind that language is a system and that system is constrained by rules and those rules are called its grammar. English grammar, like any other language's grammar, is rule based; change the rules, and you change the system, the language.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    You also mentioned that language is born independently of culture.
    I said that?

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    The precedence of language over reality was clearly formulated by American linguists in the early 20th century by what is known as the Sapir-Whorf theory.
    Clearly formulated, but widely rejected. Do you agree with that theory, and, moreover, do you think it applies here? English grammar rules, worldwide?

  4. #14
    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: E. grammar rules, worldwide?

    I will only answer to the last question. I am pressed for time right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Clearly formulated, but widely rejected. Do you agree with that theory, and, moreover, do you think it applies here? English grammar rules, worldwide?
    With this I replied to your statement somewhere (I have to search for it in your posts) that language is independent of culture (or smth like this). And yes, it applies here because speaking about E grammar we inadvertently discuss grammar too, which is a complex topic. It is very hard to avoid digressing somewhat from the topic of English grammar only. But I will stop this thread here, and start another one on the more abstract definition of grammar versus language.

    And, as to "widely rejected", widely according to whom? Do you have any statistics about how wide? It is a linguistic theory, and being rejected doesn't make it any worse (or better) than any other linguistic theories. All linguistic theories contribute in one way or other to our understanding of language. There isn't one which provides the truth about langauge. This is why I referrred to two contrasting theories (structuralist versus Whorf) when talking about language.

    And yes, I believe both of them have smth interesting to say.
    Last edited by bianca; 31-Jul-2007 at 10:43.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: E. grammar rules, worldwide?

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    ... I will stop this thread here, and start another one on the more abstract definition of grammar versus language.
    Sounds like a good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca
    And, as to "widely rejected", widely according to whom? Do you have any statistics about how wide? It is a linguistic theory, ...
    Well, it's not ... a theory. Sapir–Whorf hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Today researchers disagree — often intensely — about how strongly language influences thought.

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