language and words in the news

English grammar in the news – 4th March, 2011

4th March celebrates National Grammar Day and to join in on the fun, this regular weekly post this week contains a selection of links related to grammar. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link or links for us to include. We’d love to hear from you.

Global English

Rethinking grammar in English learning
Despite the many advances in English language teaching, spawned primarily by the Chomskyan theory of generative grammar, (prescriptive) grammar rules remain largely unchanged in Taiwanese schools.

Language change and slang

On talking among(st) yourselves
The variation in standard English seems to be primarily stylistically conditioned: some people like the sound of whilst; others hate it. There’s also a chronological factor: the –st forms tend to be found in older texts and among older people. And there’s a great deal of regional dialect variation too.

Improve your English

Five Grammar Myths … And What You Should Do About Them
This article looks at five so-called ‘rules’ that are not actually rules at all. Then it reviews if, and when, you should follow them anyway.

Why we need hyphens
The classic example of this is “small-business owner” vs. “small business owner.” Is the owner of a business diminutive, or is the business itself small? Depends on the hyphen.

To… Er, Maybe It’s Too? Or is it Two?
Forget whether you write fiction or only charming Twitter notes. You need to know the basics. If you’re still getting these three little words confused (and pretending you’re a sloppy speller …

Language teaching and resources

Celebrate National Grammar Day!
Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!

R is for Rules
I’m not, of course, disputing the fact that language consists of certain patterns and regularities. I’m simply sceptical of the value of teaching these regularities in the form of explicit rules. Especially when the rules have so little obvious utility.

This is not new but worth revisiting …
Six despised bits of grammar
Teachers and students just love to hate grammar. Over the years that I’ve taught and observed others teaching I think that there are certain grammar points that are more hated than others. Here are six of the most generally despised and despicable grammar points, in my humble opinion.
(for more on grammar, click here)

Books, words, science and the history of language

Subtle, seductive, subversive and witty language guide
Grammar Matters is clearly written to counter English journalist Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the bestseller that explained the importance of good punctuation.

In Film, Stuttering Symptoms Reflect Current Research
The complexity of grammar … seems to be part of the hang-up. Dr. Smith has monitored the brain waves of children watching cartoons in which sentences with meaning errors (“Daddy puts the horse in his coffee”) and grammatical errors are inserted. Stutterers’ brains respond to meaning errors as normal speakers’ brains do, but have a much lower response to grammatical errors …


Grandpa killed the Internet
Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller
(courtesy of National Grammar Day)

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Kati Sule

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