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Gwynne's Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English. Incorporating also Strunk's Guide to Style. [Format Kindle]

N.M. Gwynne

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Chapter 3
Further Encouragement

Against the background of the last chapter, I find myself provoked into raising a question of some moment. Have I your attention, dear reader? Here is the question.

Is this book that you have in your hands, in a way that really does matter, the single most important book in print in the English language today?

At most, I am only partly joking. What I am trying to do is to make a serious point as arrestingly and vividly as I can. I certainly deny that what I have just said is com- pletely absurd. Let us now see if it is at least defensible.

As has just been shown, and as was stressed by Libby Purves in the previous chapter, all thinking and communicating of any kind depend on grammar—grammar being simply the correct use of words, and words being the indispensable tools of thought.
 
Indeed to dismiss the need for the accuracy in grammar that only reasonably diligent study and training can give is almost self-contradictory. You need correct grammar even to be able to argue as convincingly as you can against the need to learn grammar.

To proceed. If every human activity depends ultimately on language, all that is left, in order to assess my claim, is to weigh up whether or not this book does the particular job it sets out to do better than any other book on grammar in print today.

There is one significant difference between this book and any of its predecessors and contemporaries, and indeed between this book and any other book setting out to teach any academic subject. This book does not only teach what must be taught. It also tries to teach how best to teach what must be taught, for the purpose of making sure that the learner will absorb, understand and remember what he or she is trying to learn.

I have listed those aims—absorb, understand and remember—in that order, because it is their order of importance. The order of teaching those three elements should be the opposite. Contrary to education theory most widely propagated today, memorising should come first, prefer- ably starting before understanding is even possible—that is, before what is commonly called the age of reason, about seven. The period before the age of reason happens to be the age when memorising is easiest. It is also the age when the vital task of memory training is most effectively done.

This very much applies to some of the material in this book, which, as stated in Chapter 1, needs to be learnt by heart for it to be most useful, or indeed in some cases for it to be of any use at all. I know this from the many pupils of all ages that I have been teaching in recent years. Merely to understand a rule is almost never sufficient. Unless it is memorised, and in such a way as to keep it in the memory, all too soon, typically, children are as incapable of apply- ing the rule as if they had never come across it.

I can “hear” protests. “It is not treating children with the dignity they deserve to stuff their memories with what they cannot understand.”

Do not believe it.

First, no such objection is made to children’s learning the genuinely incomprehensible “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo.”

Secondly, I repeat that the period before they reach the age of reason, at about seven years old, is when children find learning by heart easiest of all; and we are hardly being cruel by spending part of that time giving them a bank of knowledge which is ready and waiting to be used as soon as they become capable of using it and giving their memories valuable training at the same time.

Thirdly, contrary to what is often supposed, children typically relish doing it. If you doubt me, you might like to visit the Gwynne Teaching Web site. There you will see some of my youngest pupils reciting—sometimes for con- siderable periods of time—things they do not yet understand, such as multiplication tables and Latin nouns and verbs, often beaming enthusiastically as they do so.

If I have made something of a case in answer to the ques- tion at the beginning of this chapter, my main purpose has been less to boast, you my readers may be comforted to learn, than to stress yet further the supreme importance—supreme practical importance—of what you and I are en- gaged in together as you go through this book. My aim in doing so is to persuade you to be prepared to take on the genuinely hard work of tackling the science of your lan- guage, whether you be pupil or teacher. Just reading this book will achieve relatively little, however enlightening and helpful you may find what you read. What is in this book must be mastered. How best to set about doing this will be discussed in Chapter 9.

Revue de presse

“Warm and utterly self-assured . . . Refreshingly opinionated . . . [Gwynne] is an unashamed prescriptivist . . . [and his] judgment is unambiguous . . . It doesn’t matter how many academic linguists tell us that language changes over time . . . Educated people still want to know whether they should write ‘amuck’ or ‘amok,’ ‘between’ or ‘among’.”
—Barton Swaim, The Weekly Standard

“Dynamite to modern, child-centered education: a guide to the forgotten rudiments of the English Language.”
—Elizabeth Grice, Daily Telegraph
 
“Curious and brilliant . . . it is wonderful that his crisp, lucid book has at last been embraced by the many.”
—Charles Moore, The Spectator
 
“Witty, engaging and highly educational stuff.”
Times Educational Supplement
 
“A very useful, pertinent summary and it deserves both to be used and enjoyed.”
—Tony Little, head master, Eton College
 
“Invaluable.”
Writing Magazine

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 852 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 210 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0091951453
  • Editeur : Ebury Digital (18 avril 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00C799RX8
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°82.114 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  44 commentaires
15 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Delightfully Conservative 24 juillet 2014
Par Timothy Walker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Let us ignore for the moment that this book is essentially a plagiarized copy of William Strunk's 1918 Elements of Style and strive to look past the author's audacity to his aspirations. If you are inclined to agree with Mr. Gwynne that preservation of the English language is necessary to keep Western Civilization from destroying itself, then you may find (as I did) that his voice lends a passion to the text in the same way that an evangelist can enliven a dry part of the Old Testament. For me, then, a weary soul fearful of a generation raised on acronyms and autocorrect, four stars.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An enjoyable and smart book 4 août 2014
Par Glenn Hopp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I have taught college English for a while now (since 1976), usually having a section of freshman writing mixed in with other classes. Most of the usage/grammar books that have come under my consideration are descriptive in purpose, meaning that they base their rules on how people write rather than on a set of fixed rules passed down from teacher to teacher. Mr. Gwynne's approach is prescriptive, meaning that grammar works better with certain right-and-wrong assumptions in place about usage and style. Know some rules, in other words. I didn't think I would like that approach, since I feel that language is a living thing and flexibility is good and all that--as does Mr. Gwynne, I should think--but I actually found his tack quite refreshing. It's also nice to pick up some terms I didn't know (defining clause, commenting clause, bracketing commas) since people who enjoy grammar often like knowing what other teachers call things in case it works better than what you've been using (or just sounds more technical and thus earns you more front-of-the-room cred).

Mr. Gwynne seems not to object to the abstract possessive (he writes, for example, "the genitive's S"), a position that makes me feel good since one of my seminar papers long ago in grad school had the phrase "the poem's imagery" circled along with a terminal comment about how the professor found such usage "odd and distracting." I immediately thought of "the nation's capital" and other uses of abstract possessives. Anyway, the prepublication copy of Mr. Gwynne's book lacks the forthcoming index, so I do not know for sure if the author addresses this topic directly. My selective reading of his handbook over some weeks now did not turn up such a passage. (He also favors using a possessive before a gerund, as in "his [not him] thinking it over," which is a classy and maybe even sonorous practice.)

Mr. Gwynne includes the first version of the famous ELEMENTS OF STYLE, the Will Strunk portions. These excellent comments have now passed into the public domain. Strunk's paragraph on omitting needless words is about as inspiring as a style book can get. Strunk's examples, coming at the end of the book, include at least one usage conundrum (adding the last S in "Charles's friend") that Mr. Gwynne did not address in his own earlier apostrophe section. Perhaps a little cross-coordination would have been good there (but, as I said, I'm working without an index). All in all, Mr. Gwynne's approach, his writing, and his encouragements to students and teachers are appealing and useful. It is usually a pleasure to read the work of someone who has spent most of his life pondering the subject of his book, whatever it may be. Such depth and authority certainly comes across in this book.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 More guide than reference. 4 août 2014
Par Rawim - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
My job has started to require more narrative style reports from me. Which requires I start using those grammar muscles that have not been exercised since college. I thought the Gwynne’s guide would be very helpful to have on my desk as a reference. Now I was thinking this guide was going to be more of a grammar reference book, but I find it is more of book to read to brush up on all of your grammar at once. It is not really organize din a way that makes it effective for reference but rather for study. The first portion of the book giving a great overview of grammar like parts of speech and syntax, and the second half referring to verse prose and style in general. The writing is very easy to understand and the concepts are well explained. The copy I have is a prerelease copy so I can’t comment on the final books layout, but suffice to say the content is rock solid. After reading through the book I know my writing has improved (For reports at least, maybe not my reviews) and I know many people that could benefit from a look through this book. So if you need an adult reintroduction to grammar this is a great place to start. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer it.
25 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Grammar for us all 10 juillet 2014
Par Mike Byrne - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Have you seen the way school children hold their pens or pencils these days? It is as if they are holding a dagger. Have you read what these children write? It is as if they had just plunged that dagger into your back. (That is… if you love the English language.)

N. M. Gwynne is doing his best to rescue us from this tragedy but I fear he is too late. Teachers today are opposed to teaching grammar, preferring to leave the development of language skills to the innate brilliance of their students, and often pointing out that languages change; and the only languages that don’t change are the dead languages…Latin, Classical Greek etc. The good professor points out to these folks that except for the addition of new words to the English vocabulary, the English language has remained pretty much unchanged for several hundred years. This is quite true and quite extraordinary. It permits the people who are living today to read and understand and appreciate the writing and lives of people who lived in the past. And a language that can achieve that deserves our deep respect.

I had previously owned a copy of “Gwynne’s Latin.” I fear that copy is lost. But I located a wonderful video of professor Gwynne on Tu Tubus. (“You Tube” for those of you who don’t speak Latin.) It shows the professor teaching Latin to a wonderful group of young people in a school somewhere in the U.K. He is an old fashioned disciplinarian: the “Memorize, memorize, memorize” type. And the students love it. I am convinced, having gone through this kind of formal instruction myself as a child, that this is the best way to teach.

However, there appears to be a new dispensation which is about to change all that. Worse yet, this generation of teachers itself appears to be a product of the new (and much worse) way of teaching the language. These folks do not know what a pronoun is. An adverb? That’s probably something you add to a verb. “But anyway,” they’ll tell you, “it’s not important. That’s all old stuff and all it does is it slows the kids down.”

And it’s not only the teachers that are a problem. These folks get into positions of authority and one has to deal with the fallout. For example: at my last place of employment (a government job,) we received a memo from our Comissioner regarding “gender free language.” We were told not to use the words “he” “her” “him” etc. These were sexist words. We were to use the word “they” or “their.” In fact the memo told us we must not even permit our minds to think the words “he” him” “she” “her”. Egad. The thought police had arrived.

Professor Gwynne does point out that in this context the word “gender” is incorrectly used, since gender is a function of language and many languages would be quite impossible to speak were we to do away with gender. He amusingly notes that in the German language the word for the female-sexed girl, “Das Madchen,” is somehow given the neuter gender. (Perhaps the Germans had a foreboding of what was to come.) But “der tisch” (the table) is in the masculine gender. If you have studied pretty much any foreign language you know that remembering the genders of the various words can drive you nuts.

But let me wind this up by praising Professor Gwynne for his valiant efforts in an important cause. We shall all be tested. And the professor’s book shall help us maintain our sanity as our civilization falls into decline.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Poor grammar and poverty go hand-in-hand 7 novembre 2014
Par Rick Skwiot - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
When an idiosyncratic book on English grammar becomes a bestseller in the United Kingdom, it makes one wonder who is buying it. English-as-a-second language immigrants? Schoolteachers? Students who feel their current instruction deficient? Adults who got short shrift in grammar when back in school? If so, then perhaps "Gwynne’s Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English" will become a bestseller here in the colonies as well. It should. Heaven knows we need it.

Recently released here, the opinionated and delightful dip into the wonderfully complex and logical world of English grammar was an eye-opener for me. Not because I learned much I didn’t already know—I did not. But it alerted me to how good an education in the rules of grammar I got in public school in the 50’s and 60’s. And these were not well-funded schools in toney neighborhoods but, first, a rural southern Illinois grade school where farm kids came to class barefoot in September and, secondly, a working-class suburban St. Louis school district that has now lost accreditation.

My grammar education differed sharply from that received by the 18 African American students in a remedial grammar class I taught in the mid 90’s at St. Louis’ Forest Park Community College. I was stunned when I looked at the results of the first diagnostic writing assignment I had given them. All had gone through 12 years in St. Louis Public Schools, all had graduated from high school, and none—through no fault of their own—could write a grammatically correct sentence except by accident.

On the second day of class I gave them the bad news first: You have been screwed by repeated educational malpractice perpetrated by teachers and administrators who abdicated their main responsibility: to teach you the rudiments of the language you need to succeed in life. Then the good news: You have me as teacher, and I’ll correct that.

That promise was overly optimistic. After some stumbling about I obtained grade school workbooks for everyone and together we all went back to where the problem started—first grade. We worked on the parts of speech (diagramming sentences, helped, something they had never been exposed to), spelling rules and structure, verb-noun agreement, etc. By semester’s end most of them got it, and a few had turned into pretty competent writers. Three or four failed—their poor reading skills, which I couldn’t myself address, held them down. (The experience was the seed that led to my writing my new novel, "Fail", a St. Louis-based mystery that dramatizes the city’s educational ills and its violent results.)

As Gwynne’s Grammar author N.M. Gwynne argues, “[G]rammar is the science of using words rightly, leading to thinking rightly, leading to deciding rightly, without which…happiness is impossible.”

I am unsure if I agree with that syllogism, although there is ample evidence everywhere you look that suggests poor grammar and unhappiness often go hand-in-hand. If you can’t use the language correctly these days, expect some hard times.
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