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Grammar matters and should be taught – differently

We need to bring back teaching grammar, but not how it used to be Shutterstock

I’m going to put it out there - most teachers don’t know enough about how the English language works [aka grammar], and this inevitably impacts upon student literacy outcomes.

There are grammar pundits who love their knowledge about the language for the haughty power it affords them: the ability to write corrective letters to the editor and the certain belief there is one right way to write and speak - their way.

This group gives grammar a bad name.

Grammar isn’t about linguistic straight jackets and rules; it is how creativity manifests itself in language. Grammar is how we organise our words and sentences to communicate with others and to express ourselves.

With grammar knowledge you know what is possible in English; you know how you need to speak and write to get the job done in different situations. You know when you can push the envelope with language, and how to do that.

Speaking and writing are not the same

What we can do with written language is very different from what we can do with spoken language. When we write, we have time to hone and craft our language, and so the grammar of our writing is very different from the grammar of our speaking.

When we don’t teach grammar we stifle creativity and limit possibilities for many children. We leave them to fall back on what they intuitively know about language, and as a consequence they simply write like they speak.

Subsequent teacher comments on their writing are vague and unhelpful - ‘too informal, too colloquial, too chatty, rambling, repetitive’. Kids need more direction than this; they need someone who can show them what is possible in written language and how to achieve it.

All children deserve to be able to use language with intention and effect, for any purpose and in all circumstances. Indeed their capacity to do so is what they are assessed on everyday at school, so if teachers don’t teach what school is assessing we are being negligent.

If the only language resource kids have is what they hear in their everyday lives, then we leave behind the children who need us most.

So - why don’t teachers teach grammar?

If you went to school any time from the 70s onwards, you probably didn’t get much grammar instruction at school. Some large scale research studies in the 60s, replicated over the decades, concluded that grammar instruction didn’t have much impact upon reading and writing, so why bother with it.

But the problem wasn’t grammar, it was the way it was being taught. Grammar was a standalone subject where random sentences were divided into their constituent parts (parsing or diagramming) - grammar teaching was not a means to an end (improved literacy), it was just the end.

The disappearance of grammar from schools - and most teacher education faculties - for decades means many of today’s teachers have no subject knowledge of grammar, nor any idea of how to teach it effectively. And publishers have stepped in to fill the gap.

Teaching grammar

Publishers also have no idea how to teach grammar, but are happy to sell hundreds of thousands grammar workbooks to insecure teachers and parents - tedious, out-of-context grammar exercises that urge children to underline the adjective and circle the noun on page after page of pointless, time-wasting work.

This work doesn’t uncover the beauty of the English language, nor does it it unleash creativity in our children. It does the opposite. These workbooks are the epitome of bad writing; writing that serves no expressive or communicative purpose.

The best way to teach grammar is through exemplary literature. This is where grammar is real. This is where we understand the ways in which we can play with language to achieve our intentions.

In great writing we can notice how the author uses their language knowledge and how they organise their words and sentences to make us notice, feel, see or imagine something.

But for that kind of teaching to happen, teachers need grammar knowledge.

Building teachers’ knowledge about language

Many great writers probably have little explicit knowledge of how the language works, but intuitively they play with grammar all the time. They can dip into a broad repertoire of implicit language knowledge, and make deliberate choices in their writing.

For example, they know when they start their sentence with words about where (adverbial phrases) rather than who, that their reader will be pulled into the setting rather than focused immediately on the character. They know that describing a character through their actions (adverbials) can sometimes be more evocative than describing their appearance (adjectivals).

Most of our kids neither know these things, nor how to organise their writing to achieve them.

So whilst great writers can get by with an intuitive understanding of English grammar, teachers need an explicit knowledge. They need to able to understand how effective writing works, so they can notice language and teach it to their students.

Testing teachers won’t build this language knowledge. What is required is carefully considered pre-service and in-service professional learning for teachers where language knowledge is built inside great teaching - rather than some disconnected sideshow.

Reading is a good way for kids to learn grammar Shutterstock

Time for a grammar revolution

If we are happy with the status quo - where the power of writing is enjoyed by the intuitive few, or those from very specific home backgrounds, then we could do what we’ve been doing since the 70s.

If we want to return to the ‘good old days’ of the 50s and 60s where grammar instruction thrilled a few, bored most and made no difference to reading and writing outcomes then we could continue down the current track of meaningless grammar teaching from workbooks.

Or if we’d like to do something powerful for our children - and close the achievement gap whilst we’re at it - we’ll ensure all teachers have grammar knowledge and fill our classrooms with great literature where the power of sophisticated language knowledge is both evident and inspiring.

Join the conversation

124 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    I agree with the articles sentiments.

    However it seems to me not only have the basics of grammar been sidelined, but reading has been hijacked by the likes of twitter, facebook etc.

    The truncated language that prevails in these formats has created a new language of reading and expression.

    Not a bad thing in one sense, and ultimately the idea of a language is to be understood by others.

    As with many issues in the public arena, it's hard to know what is the status quo.

    What % of students cannot read by year 7 and later, what students have difficulty in basic comprehension.

    If nothing else an education should give a student the ability to read and write.
    Nothing is more important in life. (relatively speaking)

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  2. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Thanks Misty. Confession: I am an English language linguist. However, I can also recall my schooldays in the mid 60s and early 70s in Tasmania. I remember parsing sentences and I enjoyed it (I also enjoyed maths). However, many didn't enjoy parsing sentences and didn't learn any grammar from soing so - and even those like me who did both enjoy and learn, forgot most of the grammatical terminology by the end of high school (year 10). I think you're right about great writing as the necessary context for learning grammar in any real sense and I also think there is a lot of work to be done with teachers on how to teach grammar this way - not the least of which involves knowing when a writer appears to break a rule for effect but that rule is a faux rule.

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Dennis Alexander

      This article provides a breath of fresh air which has been waiting for forty years to be emboldened enough to escape from someone's lips.

      Well done Misty.

      I too was a product of the forties and fifties and enjoyed my grammar, as I believe most students actually did in those heady days when teachers were enthusiastic about literature and good writings.

      However, the problem referred to in this article was NOT that the students became bored with grammar, when it was clearly…

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    2. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to John Nicol

      A few teachers had the personality, imagination and skills to break out of the straitjacket of the authoritarian training for compliance - disciplinarian routine and rote learning and drilling - of those times, which I also experienced. That was what often passed for education in those days. The students of those better teachers had better luck than most. Also, rules are what work best for some people. Later on they might go in for bondage, for all I know! What kids can gain from teaching oral English well is quite another matter, such as the various forms and registers that work best for gaining and using power, or contesting it. And by the way, it's 'compliments' in this context. But it was the sneers and rousing, or just exclusion, for what were counted as errors- quite often erroneously - that did the serious lifelong damage to so many.

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  3. John Zigar

    Engineer, researcher

    I absolutely agree.

    Teachers nowadays can't even speak proper English themselves and lack knowledge of grammar. I keep on correcting my children who have learnt wrong English at school. They keep on telling me that the teacher says it like this so that I was wrong. I didn't believe them until I read their homework instructions. I was appalled by the poorly constructed grammar and at times confusing instructions.

    For example, getting singular and plural mixed up: "There's five men on the boat" instead of "There are five men..." is one such mistake.

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    1. Sheri Mills

      Secondary School Home Economics Coordinator

      In reply to John Zigar

      John, I agree that some, and perhaps too many teachers lack knowledge of grammar (and spelling). This does not apply to all teachers, thank goodness. (I attribute my own skills to a large amount of time spent reading novels during a long school bus run.)

      I also note that you mix present and past tenses in your third sentence above...

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    2. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to John Zigar

      Sounds like a mathematics teacher setting a problem…Though it could be an English teacher providing the setting for a writing exercise - or it could be a Dad gleeful at feeling superior to teachers. Hard to say. I have written things myself which once printed out revealed the need for closer editing scrutiny…Perhaps schools might employ someone to do just that - though according to my friends in industry the need for such checking/re-writing is enormous in their fields. Misty is on the right track…

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    3. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Sheri Mills

      "I also note that you mix present and past tenses in your third sentence above…" You are cool, Sheri. Judge Judy will love you!!

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    4. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Back in England, it was generally felt (at Uni) that students from Singapore, Malaya (not Malaysia), Burma and India spoke and wrote far better English than some of our local English students. This was primarily because English grammar was taught diligently and with reverence to its rules in those colonies. However, these days these former colonies have abandoned English grammar for local languages. To-day it is pidgin English and life goes on.

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    5. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Well; they would have spoken a kind of English that was privileged by their imperial masters and aped by diverse colonial subalterns. In fact there are several different kinds of English, both of the formerly suppressed and regional kind within England, as well as in the relatively newly-enfranchised and delightfully unfussed outposts of former empire.

      The test of 'far better' English, whatever that means, begs the question of how such a thing is defined. In my view the Queen speaks an awful…

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    6. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to John Zigar

      'There's five men in a boat' is probably correct oral English for many contexts. It might even mean something different from ,'There are five men in a boat', as said in others. For precision and understanding, one might have to make a choice.

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    7. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Some of the most beautiful English is used in these countries- both spoken and written- clarity, vowel differentiation, precision, balance. Luckily we can now often hear it here too. There have been other special motivators at work there to create and drive these forms of English, and to teach and learn them. Some of those factors are less desirable than others! As elsewhere, a variety of forms of English has developed- not many of them 'pidgin' in my experience.

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    8. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      "..the Queen speaks an awful, pedantic, whiny, high-pitched and 'elocuted' form of English, with a focus on pronunciation.."

      Give her credit, Michael; she is trying hard to suppress her German/Dutch accent. Her diction thrills me to bits but, on a personal level, she isn't my Aussie Queen and as such I am not too perturbed by her whiny high-pitched English. Julia Gillard’s on the other hand drove me nuts every time she opened her mouth. Having said that … I am conscious that none of us is perfect…. and no language reigns supreme (pidgin or otherwise). I did enjoy having a dig at JG, though. Wicked, shallow and evil me!!!

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    9. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Thanks for the fun response, Raine. The Dutch-German remark triggered a spasm of pity for her in me on an otherwise bleak and uncharitable afternoon.

      I love Julia's broad vowels as much as I do Maxine McKew's, Bob Carr's, Kevin Rudd's, Malcolm Turnbull's, Paul Keating's, Robert Menzies' and Gough Whitlam's smart-speak.

      Its their values, of course, including Julia's, that concern me more. My highly articulate children speak just like Julia. (Yes, I know; I have your sympathies, but they pick it up from the water).

      It reflects everything that is beautiful, straightforward, sunny, clear, authentic and unfussed about this, our land of adoption! And I'd rather her diction than, say, Christopher Pyne's, which sadly approximates my own.

      Its how we're brung up, I s'pose.

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    10. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      J Gillard's … couldn't be just from our water … naaah!! C Pyne's … delightful … music to my ears.
      As for values … really? … never knew they had any tangible & sustainable values, except perhaps for Turnbull… the man!! It's how he was brung up, I s'pose. It's in the air … this lingo.

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    11. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Evidently you subscribe to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic determinism: that language molds thought. If so, I suggest you reflect upon your own use of language.

      Your penultimate paragraph, one enormous sentence, is impenetrable. You seem to be saying that people who can distinguish style from substance are also capable of distinguishing style from substance.

      Where, I ask, is your substance? Sure, you have the use of a impressive vocabulary, but you seem to use it in order to disguise the fact that you have nothing to say. Or rather, I suspect, you have something to say but are so hung up on doing so as eloquently and eruditely as you can, that you simply lose the point.

      Politics and the English Language by George Orwell should set you straight.

      Pip pip

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    12. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      Well....I bow to your superior knowledge of the Sapir-Whorf thesis. And would recommend your elevation to the ranks of Executive Dung Wrangler, given your evident expertise in the treatment of the septic tanks and other putrefying purgative detritus.

      In truth, I was so overcome by the stench of the attack in these columns on the beauty, simplicity and authenticity of the Australian language and accent and its typical everyday use that I must confess I could not contain myself and left a mess behind for you to clear up. It was, I'm sorry to say, the most eloquent expression of my disgust.

      I am grateful to you for your provision of a clean-up service.

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    13. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Ah, Michael. Excretory in word and deed. I would have expected nothing less from someone in your particular field.

      I realize now, the origin of the graffito just above the loo paper roll in one of the lavatories in my old alma mater - "Sociology degrees - please take one."

      But, I must protest one thing. An attack "on the beauty, simplicity and authenticity of the Australian language and its typical everyday use" was not my point and certainly not my intent. Some of my best friends are…

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    14. Adam Byatt

      Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      I couldn't agree more - although I would caution you against using the term "pompous arse" which may constitute abuse under this site's terms and conditions. However, you may get away with it on a technicality in that the term, whilst abusive, is factually correct.

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    15. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      Ah, back for more, I see; and thanks heaps for those eloquent words.

      I think for the benefit of those who read that you should forsake your characteristic modesty and good taste and attach your academic credentials to your symptoms, such as you have alluded to them here.

      Perchance they are of dissimilar scatological provenance to my own (which are in honest and uncomplicated Australian response to what I read) but are obviously indicative of a deeper verbal diarrhea-ridden or constipated (whose…

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    16. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      Gavin,
      Tat...tat..tat. No need for outright vulgarity. Shame if this is what 'learned men' indulge in. Rudeness is simply that no matter how eloquently worded. Just haven't evolved from your school boy days, eh? Yaks!!

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    17. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Adam Byatt

      Mr Byatt, the curious way in which you have inveigled your way into this harsh exchange will not disguise the fact that you have nothing to offer except insult.

      Perhaps a history of why I see it as such may assist in lifting your standard from the cheap thrill you get in egging Mr Machell on, without disclosing a possible reason (or conspicuous lack of one) for your obtuse interjection.

      The Conversation has recently outdone itself in publishing a series of articles urging a return to a more…

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    18. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Oh Raine! I quite agree and apologize for allowing myself to stoop to the depths which Mike chose to take our little spat.

      He took umbrage at my initial post which pointed out a particularly florid and tautological statement that he made in a post which supposedly espoused the importance of substance over style.

      As I thought this a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I called him out on it. Unfortunately, he chose to reply in a scatological fashion and there the interchange remained, en-mired in matters mephitic.

      I will haul myself out of Mike's cess pit and try to give him a leg up in the process. The poor chap is now harping on about typos and when the argument resorts to that, you know someone is deep in it!

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    19. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      er - that would be "an typo". If that's the best you've got Mike, then I humbly withdraw. Arguments based on typos are already won. So, mortally wounded by your devastating riposte I subdue myself before your towering linguistic prowess and crawl on my belly toward the door leaving behind nothing but a curious smear of blood which, upon close inspection, appears thus: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/Politics_and_the_English_Language-1.pdf

      Please give it at least a glance if you haven't already done so, it can only "gentle" your condition.

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    20. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      No amount of your bumph can erase the stupidity of your two posts.

      The substance of my argument, apart from that engendered by your idiotic and irresistible description of yourself in scatological terms, and for which I duly apologise, was your attack on my writing style. However florid or wasteful or impressive or whatever my style might be - which really goes to a matter of taste - your post constituted a personal attack.

      Moreover, not only does your own approach to writing lack the absurd particularities supported by the grammar-nazis in this correspondence (in respect of which I would ordinarily be the first to overlook an errant 'typo') but you have failed to engage with the main point of the blog, which concerns the politics of education, as well as carefully concealed your own credentials, as has your cowardly comrade in arms, for participating in it.

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    21. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Hi Mike, thanks for the response, although frankly, I wasn’t expecting one as I always think it best to let sleeping dogs lie. However, since we’ve both crawled out of the cess pit that my “irresistible description” of myself got us into then some progress may be forthcoming.

      N.B. The site asked for employment details rather than a description of myself and being of a somewhat anarchic disposition I offered something that best fitted the task in hand rather than what I am paid to do. As to my…

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    22. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      Thank you, Gavin, for gallantly helping me dismount from my high horse rather than just pushing. The background to this is complex so I may as well fill in some gaps.

      While Misty was strutting her stuff, Baden Eunson was also serving us with a double-whammy elsewhere in The Conversation. Both are meticulous grammarians, though Misty as a highly esteemed educator, and Baden as more of an equally highly esteemed scholar of 'pukka' speech and language expression.

      At some stage in the mystery…

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    23. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      As a spectator ... permit me to congratulate you on your gallantry; you are an educated gentleman and bravo. My salutations.

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    24. Gavin Machell

      Assistant Dung Wrangler

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Ah Mike, you reveal yourself to be a gentleman of the first order. Thank you for the background to the conversations, which I neglected to investigate myself and which, as backdrop to your post, explain what it was you were trying to get across.

      As to your coming to the language as a non-native speaker then I tip my hat to you. I had the advantage of never having to consciously struggle with English and I always count this as a blessing, if a somewhat mixed one. As far as grammar is concerned…

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    25. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Gavin Machell

      Thanks heaps, Gavin.

      I endorse Raine Ferdinand's remarks about you and acknowledge his efforts at peacemaking. This reminds me of a story, apposite to the overall theme in this blog, about a Burgher family called Ferdinand (whom I have asked Raine about) who owned a tea garden in Kandy (then in Ceylon), which my family visited from India sometime in the Fifties.

      While there, my mother remarked on a spectacularly scented garden we were shown, to which the host responded with "That's nothing…

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  4. Regan

    logged in via Twitter

    I maintain the best way to get a handle on English grammar is to learn another language. Studying languages at school has benefits even if you never end up achieving fluency or using the language in everyday situations.

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    1. Stuart Medley

      Senior Lecturer, Communication and Arts at Edith Cowan University

      In reply to Regan

      Yes! I couldn't agree more. I learned more about how English works in two years of night-school Spanish than I did in 12 years of schooling and a literature degree.

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    2. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Regan

      "I maintain the best way to get a handle on English grammar is to learn another language."
      While my school experience agrees with yours, probably the only people on earth to say something like this would be Australians. No other country fell for the 'no-grammar' ideology as much as Australia, except, ironically, possibly the English. Could you imagine a French person saying the same about learning ESL? The only reason people our age say these things is because we were taught no grammar in English…

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    3. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Stuart Medley

      Stuart, one aspect of post-1970s English teaching in Australian high schools that helped a lot was if your school still taught classical English literature. If your school was silent on grammar, but still making you read Dickens, Shakespeare, Joyce, Austen, Eliot, Chaucer, James, Bronte, Fitzgerald, Donne, Blake, Thomas, etc. you would have picked up a lot grammar by osmosis.

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    4. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to alan w. shorter

      Interesting comments re studying other languages. By comparing and contrasting situations/contexts - time, mood, gender, number, etc it really is possible to see one's own language much more clearly. I agree. All students should have the right (mandated) to learn at least one other language - or more - at school. I don't mean corralled with exams and university matriculation requirements. I mean to enjoyably learn another tongue - another way of seeing the world - and of knowing the richness of their own first language - its origins - its limitations - and to use the other language and their own - communicatively - or to whatever extent their interest in it may take them.

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    5. Rebecca Graves

      Teacher

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      I'm not sure what happens in other states but in SA students do learn a second language.

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    6. Geoff Taylor

      Consultant

      In reply to Stuart Medley

      Well, put another way, our German teachers had to put in the work on understanding grammar that we needed which we had only partly got from English teachers.

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    7. Regan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Rebecca Graves

      Yes I was educated in SA and was fortunate to have the opportunity to study Italian from the age of 7 until Year 12. It's that experience that has made me such an advocate for language study from a young age.

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  5. ricphillips

    logged in via Twitter

    "and this inevitably impacts upon student literacy outcomes."

    Strictly speaking it should be "and this inevitably impacts student literacy outcomes". However, I would have hoped for, "and this inevitably affects student literacy outcomes" from someone attuned to good syntax.

    Perhaps if we took and taught pleasure in well-formed sentences it would engage the attention of students. Do we live in such violent times that we must imagine every effect as the crashing of one thing into another?

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    1. Rachel Davies

      logged in via email @goulburn.net.au

      In reply to ricphillips

      Affects is certainly better, but it seems to have been lost to the American overwhelming use of 'impact' as a verb. I would regard 'impacts upon' as preferable to 'impacts' which is not by any means what it 'should be', speaking strictly or any other way.

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    2. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Rachel Davies

      I had never heard of a "gerund", such as "impact", until I was in my twenties. I really wish my teachers had been taught English properly, let alone grammar!

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    3. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Gary Luke

      I've heard, "the troubling epistemological violence impacting the 'Othering' and barbarising of oral traditions". Improvise that!

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    4. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to ricphillips

      I'm not sure wherre you get your strictness from Ric, but my analysis has "impact (up)on" as a phrasal verb. Otherwise the semantics get a bit strange and one has the synonym of the simple verb form 'impacts' as 'hits' whereas the phrasal verb 'impact (up)on' is more synonymous with 'significantly affects'. I think if we did a serious corpus study we would find 'impact' as a bare verb form (zero derived from the noun 'impact') growing in use in US English (where 'example' is also growing as a bare verb form zero derived from the noun) and the phrasal verb "impact (up)on" more used in UK and Australian English. Syntax is not quite as simple as most people seem to think, probably because: one rule rarely covers everything; all grammars leak; and language inevitably and implacably changes.

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    5. John Bond

      Dsability worker

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Hi Gary, see your response alluded to Strine! Spoke to a French chap recently who said his first year in Brisbane was a nightmare as his employer's 'English' was impenetrable. When I spoke of the Oz habit of gluing words or entire phrases together, he gave a yelp of recognition. In fact, here's an example just hours old, uttered by someone who mistook me for the tradesman she was evidently expecting;
      "Sorry, thaw jir hiffmee!" (Sorry, thought you were here for me).
      I'm all for economy of speech, but golly! Doesn't communication go down the gurgler so often when Strine is employed?
      Anyway, din bat noylid. But then, neely yitta barked gar. Cheers, JB

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    6. Brian Jenkins

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ricphillips

      My favourite part of any article on language is the nit-picking in the comments section. Yes, these comments are constructive and add to the debate, but that's not why I love them. What I really love about these comments is that they help me figure out who is smarter than the rest of us!

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    7. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Brian Jenkins

      Yes. I also noticed that this article was so well written that not single pedantic comment has, so far, entered the commentary.

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    8. Allan Gardiner

      Dr

      In reply to alan w. shorter

      The use of 'impact' as a verb meaning "to have an effect" often has a big impact on readers, so it strikes me that 'impacts on' really needs be struck off h_alt'ogether fullst_op'eratively.

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    9. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to Rachel Davies

      Agreed and a point well worthy of attention since with grammar the devil (and the angel of delight) is in the detail. As Shakespeare had a character say once, 'But me no buts "

      A fine example of the right words in the right place.

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    10. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Agreed Dennis but implacable also is the finicky grammarian who must allow for change whether it is cost-efficient (I here refer to communicative effectiveness - nothing monetary) or not. Some speech communities within the English-speaking world march to a different drummer. I am nationalistic enough not to want my sub-dialect to be shaped by that of another if I so choose. However other sub-dialect users may (curse them) do so to my annoyance frustration. That I must eventually if reluctantly accept.

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    11. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to John Bond

      Hadn't read this before my most recent contribution but I believe you have belled the cat.

      As I have said, communicative effectiveness is the touchstone. I find Brisbanites generally quite parochial in many aspects of their culture. Perhaps language forms simply mirror this. Brisbanites need to get out more and see the big world and I mean see not just visit!

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    12. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Surely the change is not implacable. Ineluctable, certainly! Much of it is for the better- and a lot is lost along the way too.

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  6. Peter Farrell

    teaching-principal at at a small rural school

    At my school we dabbled briefly with grammar workbooks for about a term before consigning them to history. Having said that, we do use spelling workbooks throughout the school. Each student has a workbook appropriate to their spelling age not their grade.

    I don't teach grammar as a stand-alone subject but I do teach genres of writing and, as was noted in one of the links in the article, this impacts upon the appropriateness of one form of language over another.

    My focus is on the paragraph…

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  7. Riddley Walker

    .

    I'm very confident with grammar but it is intuitive. I "just know" if something is right or wrong. Very often I don't know WHY - I am unable to explain the reason for the particular structure.

    This does bother me a bit, and I do think we need better language instruction in teacher training. Having taught music (for a short while) to primary teachers, I was quite shocked by the low standard of written expression in many of their essays. I had one student come to me wanting help with paragraphing!

    The idea of using quality writing to teach grammar is brilliant and accords with my philosophy of teaching anything - experiential learning is the best.

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  8. Linda Aragoni

    logged in via Twitter

    One of the big stumbling blocks for teaching and learning grammar is its terminology. Many terms hark back centuries to a time when the terms were used with different meanings than those with which they are commonly associated today. The terms state, tense, and run-on throw my mid-career college students for a loop.

    I found Rei Noguchi's 125-page paperback "Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities" very useful. He shows how grammar needed for writing can be taught with just four terms: sentence (which implies its opposite, the nonsentence) subject, verb, modifier.

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    1. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to Linda Aragoni

      Linda, we could probably to-and-fro over the minimum grammatical concepts one can get by on. I find pointing out what is the *subject/object*, to which the noun/s and verb/s are attached, does a hell of a lot of the heavy lifting. One of the biggest flashes I experienced was learning about the *passive voice*. Once again, it came down to being sure of the subject/object.
      Re *modifiers*: having drummed into me [here is one example, which shows that the passive voice is not always confusing ;)] to be suspicious of modifiers - especially adjectives - has served as an efficient rule of thumb.

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  9. David Thurley

    Retired Chemical Engineer

    When I was in grade 6 at primary school in 1958 I was taught grammar by the headmaster of the school and I loved it. I have learnt two foreign languages and I am sure my knowledge of grammar helped me a lot. It has also been fun to look at the way grammar is different in other languages.

    I also know the sort of people who use grammar as a weapon to show their superiority but they are usually unaware of the delicious irony in that while criticising others they aren't talking like Chaucer or Shakespeare. Language and grammar evolve; they are living things.

    I read a wonderful sentence in a book about grammar and it goes "Why did you choose that book to be read to out of for?" That breaks a few "rules" doesn't it?

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    1. alan w. shorter

      research assistant

      In reply to David Thurley

      David, the only time you should pick up some else's grammar is if you can't understand what they are saying.

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  10. John Perry

    Teacher

    I'm another of those who learned about grammar via second-language study (and third- and fourth- ...), I'm sorry to say. I do believe that it should be taught implicitly via quality literature and other instruction, but that we teachers really do need to know grammar explicitly, and inside-out.

    One comment from an aggrieved student responding to an accusation has stuck with me for nearly twenty years: "I never done 'nuffent'!" Much as I have tried, I have not found anything grammatically correct in that sentence ...

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  11. Royce Levi

    Retired Lecturer at Australian Author

    When we talk about writing, I agree with the emphasis on grammar and good style. There is another aspect I have noticed. It may well be more important than everything else. It is intended meaning.

    Yes you do have to convey it in the best possible way, but it needs to be what you really intend to say. This is more important than flaunting precise conformity to grammar.

    Imagine writing this: "Erected in memory of Bill Smith, brutally murdered ten years ago today, as evidence of his family's affection." Now that is a problem needing more than the rules of grammar to fix.

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  12. Patrick Maher

    Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

    Yes.
    Got that right. Absolutely right.
    I thought learning Latin was torture, but it is based deeply on grammar. That left me with a mind mapping 'feel' for grammar. I'm sure that reading, reading, and more reading reinforces the 'feel' too.
    I do worry a little about the members of my own family, the 'iPhony' kids who can write entire sentences in one or two letter forms. Their 'feel' for the forms and structures, for the explicit ways the language can serve them is just not there.
    We come across…

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  13. Terry Reynolds

    Financial and political strategist

    I may be getting off the track a little, but having just spent a month with eleven others jurors of varying age on a criminal trial where the guilt of the two mean charged seemed abundantly evident from day one from the account of the victim, it took many of the jurors a whole month to come to a decision and that was largely at the direction of the judge on what was criminal action.

    Poor understanding of the rich English language seems to me a means for guilty persons to get off on the defence…

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  14. Terry Reynolds

    Financial and political strategist

    Yes, I should have checked my spelling before I transmitted the post. Sorry!

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  15. Helen Johnson

    Teacher

    The way you suggest teaching grammar adds purpose to learning about grammar. These days how many teenagers care about whether something is grammatically correct or not? But to use well-written and exciting excerpts of prose as examples and explain the grammar behind it is motivating.
    Have you written a book on this? I'd like to read it.

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  16. Susan Geason

    Writer

    These days I'm thrilled if I pick up a novel that isn't full of howlers. There is a whole generation of editors and writers out there who don't know any grammar. I can remember reviewing a book about two men, in which the author had to refer to them with pronouns - he and I, or him and me, and he got about half of them wrong, which meant he was guessing. The simple rule about prepositions governing the objective case would have saved him, and his editor, from a lot of criticism. While I'm about it, could I speak up for "affects" and "influences", which seem to have been banished in favour of the ghastly "impacts" or "impacts on"? But look on the bright side: I made a lot of money over the years rewriting manglish into English.

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  17. Jena Zelezny

    research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

    I had two very different (and interesting) experiences of teaching grammar, the first of which, in South Korea, taught me that reading and writing the language were just as important as knowing the parts of speech and punctuation. Btw I was chosen by the school to teach grammar because I was the only one on staff who could spell the word grammar!

    The second time I taught grammar as a subject was in the Czech Republic. The class members had a reputation for being grammar buffs and had destroyed…

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    1. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      Meh! Jena, an old sparring partner - well, sparring but hardly old in chronological terms, I imagine - touches eloquently in her closing remark on the pedantry that passes for criticism in effective and authentic English use.

      A study of linguistics shows that language itself is socially and culturally enmeshed and that the so-called immutable rules of grammar customarily exclude participation from not just the poverty-stricken but FOR women, gender minorities and various postcolonial subalterns…

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    2. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I love your grandmother's phrase Michael and Rushdie is one of my favourite authors. I loved 'Shame'.

      Had an argument once with an uppity young lawyer who didn't agree that Morrison deserved the Nobel for literature. He claimed that she couldn't speak English properly!

      After all Picasso did not invent Cubism because he couldn't draw.

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    3. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      "A study of linguistics shows that language itself is socially and culturally enmeshed and that the so-called immutable rules of grammar customarily exclude participation from not just the poverty-stricken but FOR women, gender minorities and various postcolonial subalterns"

      This is a very, very odd thing to say. How do the 'rules of grammar' exclude these groups? In fact, when is anyone excluded from the rues of grammar? Can men write a sentence without a subject and predicate and get away with it, while women, gender minorities and the poverty-stricken are pulled up on it? This is laughable.

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    4. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Ah, Mr Fields; thanks for your question. By way of a curriculum presage, let me point to the overblown case, ostensibly about grammar, but actually about critical literacy and pedagogy now under attack from grammarians universally, and made by Misty Adoniou. Adoniou's is but the latest in a broadside, driven by Pyne, in the particular theatre of the culture wars that has been launched on this site.

      Introductions to diverse literary genre, encouragement to read widely, including in a second language…

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    5. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Amongst the many cultural markers of status which are used by elites to belessen (sic) and exclude others are a narrow set of forms of language which are sanctioned as 'correct' and superior to others. It's not what guided Shakespeare in the language choices he made, nor any other 'literary' writer worth reading, for that matter.

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    6. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      "The ryne in Spyne falls myneley on the plyne."

      George Bernard Shaw was a Fabian Thomas i.e., he believed in education for all, however, his 'Pygmalion' is not about teaching a poor cockney gel to speak proper like. His play is about the class system and how language can be used to create an even greater distance between people i.e., Two condescending males make a wager that they can pass off a street girl as a lady! (and I am referring to the play not the film.)

      Then there's the example of stolen children where it was thought going to PLC would be better than nurturing within a community or a loving family.

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    7. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      You've changed your position. You stated 'rules of grammar'. Now you're talking about critical literacy and pedagogy. My original point stands: the rules of grammar are applied to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, class etc.

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    8. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      This isn't the 'rules of grammar' you're talking about. You're talking about markers of status etc. in the language. You know the difference, don't you?

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    9. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      Again, as I said to Furtado and Lowe, you're talking about how language is used for cultural and/or political purposes. This has nothing to do with the 'rules of grammar'. The rules of grammar are applied evenly, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, sex, gender etc. No one can get away with attempting to pass a sentence off as a sentence that is missing a subject and a predicate, the nouns and verb(s) required, and the correct positioning of adjectives and adverbs etc.

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    10. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      The rules of grammar are applied evenly Thomas? How, when over two thirds of the world's population go not have the opportunities provided by a basic education, and only three or four percent of the world's wealth is owned by females.

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    11. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      This is a different topic altogether. You're talking about poverty and uneven wealth. The rules of grammar stand regardless.

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    12. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Hello Thomas

      Grammar provides the architecture for constructing and expressing what we call 'language'. As such it is regarded as providing a series of rules for doing that in ways that language users are thought to accept and universally employ in order to communicate.

      Unfortunately, those rules are not nearly as widely accepted as one might think, simply because the research (primarily of Chomsky, but also of Freire, Hoggart and Hall) and the writing of Byatt (for example) and others shows…

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    13. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      There's a difference between the meanings/definitions imputed onto words and grammar. Grammar deals with clauses, phrases, subjects, and predicates, not with meanings/definitions of words.

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    14. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Thomas, by 'ignorance is bliss' I meant your knowledge of what Misty Adniou gets up to. Look at her profile and you'll begin to understand the reactionary politicism of her educational views. Perchance they are the same as your's, but one should at least acknowledge this in a forum such a this.

      Now to the considerably better known and respected profile of her opponnents, chief among whom is the illustrious Noam Chomsky. What I present before you here is drawn in the main from his Wikipedia entry…

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  18. Kathleen Dullaghan

    Nutritionist

    I can certainly relate to this having been born in the early 80s and being educated throughout the 80s/90s. However it wasn't until I began learning a second language (German) through the final years of primary school, throughout high school and more recently this year when I chose to continue my studies, that I was unaware I was missing a whole skillset!

    Although I consider my English, both written and spoken, quite (intuitively) good, my mind boggles at how I managed to learn so well without understanding all the tools at my disposal. Not surprisingly, the only English grammar I've learned is through my German studies, a fact that bemused our later high school German teacher (and my grandmother) and to be honest, it's slowed down my progress as I first need to understand why we do what we do in English before then being able to apply that to German. It continues to be a work in progress.

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  19. Sue Maynes

    Researcher - Land & Constitution

    My interest is from a legal point of view. So many people do not know what words mean and the intent of a sentence, because of their lack of grammatical understanding. Instead, my observation is that most people simply assume an intent.

    I was taught very early on as a researcher that it is the 'joining words' - adjectives - that hold the intent. With reference to government enactments, "in", 'of", "held to", "under", "shall". "must", "will", etc are vital to clearly understand and use correctly…

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  20. Henry Haszler

    Economist

    I would be much more impressed by this contribution if the author had not sunk to that low American usage, namely "impacts upon". The word "affects" would be much better and in line with good writing would make the text shorter. The last time I looked in a good [not American biased] dictionary, "impact" was a noun.

    And in the phrase " ...they simply write like they speak." I think "as" would have been better than "like".

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    1. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Henry Haszler

      I recommend that you read Michael's comment below Henry.

      And maybe the author meant, repercussions, when she said "impacts upon" or maybe she meant, short and long-term effects. Don't know that the meaning of affects is entirely appropriate here.

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  21. KAREN COOPER GAFFNEY

    LITERACY CO-ORDINATOR, TEACHER

    Hi Misty. Have posted this on my facebook and have had several comments back. You've hit on some pertinent points. I work with a team of action researchers (teachers) who are implementing some Literacy strategies and writing is one of the projects. It was this teacher who first posted your article. As secondary teachers of English we were not taught how to teach grammar - strange isn't it but true and yes, the best place to start is with good literature. Love to read some of your other articles and I will email your article to all on the team.

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    1. Rebecca Graves

      Teacher

      In reply to KAREN COOPER GAFFNEY

      I had to do my Master of Education (TESOL) before I was taught. It was only ever alluded to in the literacy education classes.

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  22. Hinton John Lowe

    educationist

    It all goes wrong when grammar is thought of and taught as prescriptive- rather than heuristic- the principle should be, 'It's tools, not rules!'. You are right, the purpose should be made clear in the teaching- i.e., to increase the choices in writing for the effects one wants on the readers (understanding and other responses), and to gain more from the experiences of reading. I was dismayed watching a TV quiz show for kids and their teachers that one of the latter was unable to identify a noun…

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    1. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      But if you persist in wantonly calling a rose a nasturtium, or a magnolia or a geranium, or just grunt at nice smells, I won't know which flower you mean. And it may turn out that a rose is not a rose after all.

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    2. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      Sounds as if you missed your vocation and ought to have taught 'haughty-culture', dear Hinton John.

      And, incidentally, I'm still suffering from the excesses of 'sins of emission', learned from poring over in exquisite detail every example of Joycean stream of consciousness, including for a while, a Moore Street Dublin accent from the likes of Alan Joyce of Qantas, that I could, so to speak, lay my warty hands on ;)

      Sadly, the latter, lacking the lovely cadences and soft brogue of Mary Robinson, which, incidentally, are atypical within the English-speaking world, appears to miss your irascible mark, simply because I suspect its the values she stood for, just as much as how she expressed them, that drew universal admiration on her behalf.

      No wonder the Jesuits who taught us refused to ban 'Ulysses'! The Confessional would have gone out of favour much much before Vatican II had they done.

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    3. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Seems a pity if we are to forego the pleasures of good literature just because it is now old and has been so haughtily misused by class elitists to mark and promote their claims of superiority and entitlement. And are we who persist in the self-indulgence of such pleasures to be deprecated and excluded from your brave new cultural world? If so, it does seem to be just another equally pernicious inversion of the one you would replace.

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    4. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I can't help myself- hands on or otherwise. A seasonal instance: Easter last year on ABC's The Drum, some effete banging on about the CANON and standards and how far we've fallen, I think it was. Christian Kerr announced that he'd been listening to Bach's St Mathew Passion in the car on the way to the studio. It was not so much haughtily said, as sneerily, I have to say. But we all got the point. I was just imagining him humming along cheerily with that cheerful ditty Erbarme Dich, when Chip Rolley…

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    5. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      Arise, St Christopher (Pearson?) and look me in the eye! Easter's a terrible time for us poofs, especially when it comes to listening to tremulous contraltos or gender-indeterminate falsettos pouring (and I mean pouring) our all into a grim rendition of "He was despized"!

      And oh! The pain of a mangled vowel....no one quite feels as put upon and persecuted as one of us linguistic purists! Some of us even manage to push the Crucifixion right out of the Lenten picture.

      Back to haughty-culture…

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    6. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      No it could not be 'teaching' Shakespeare plays- unless the teaching was engaging and reinventing with Aboriginal actors in performing them- as indeed is being done, I'm told, Thanks for the Lear remark. I now have a new way of remembering my dear friend, the artist of the great Yumari painting in the NGA. Weeping, he told me his line of Tjukurrpa would end with him, for there was no longer anyone he would entrust his knowledge and places to. Lear is right for him, as are my own tears. Although there was nothing foolish in him, when he wished, he could play his own fool to anyone's delight. And none of this is as far from the topic of grammar as many might think!

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    7. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I should add that Tjangala's despair was at a time of special sorrow. I have no doubt that his line of Tjukurrpa continues through that country still today.

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    8. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      Salutations, O Hinton John!

      I was wondering if you would care to shed light on a phenomenon that I have encountered in these columns. It is that of the conservative gay intellectual who delights in upholding a standard or set of values that might have expired with the Ark, but which a disproportionate percentage of those of our gender seek to restore.

      Is self-hatred to blame, as the link to the article from The Guardian that I sent you in my last post suggests? Or some fond notion of an imagined…

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    9. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      I became aware of my difference from other boys at a very early age. It was not then conceptualised as a difference in sexuality, of course: rather, a more generalised unease which in first days at school included repugnance (terror?) at aggressiveness in the play of other boys. I lacked that inclination, and feared them. The fears were soon confirmed when I became a target of the attentions- no doubt once they perceived the difference, and the fearfulness. Chooks do it too in their pens and cages…

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    10. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa! Mea Maxima Culpa! I'm off to the confessional, yet again and so soon after Holy Week, to exculpate. (Or is it the psychiatrist's chaise longue for the ecclesiastically disenfranchised these days?)

      Thank you for your insightful and honest, if somewhat ormulu answer; though I doubt if 'plain-speak' would have quite the same impact. In fact, Mr Straight-Batting-Average, who is the kind of callow youth that I secretly despise and ostentatiously admire - perversely simultaneously…

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    11. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      No doubt there can be many other factors in play in the formation of the defences of gay men against psychic mutilation- and unfortunately too few at play (sic), as is preferred to say by many nowadays. I rather like the conceit of conditions and considerations, or factors, dancing around a maypole or a mulberry tree. (Could only happen in Northern Australia, I think. They don't grow down here.) It's a happier notion than having them squabbling together in conflict, vorpel swords in hand. Still…

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    12. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      I think that for the most part we would do better to trust professional writers than amateur grammar experts, contrary to suggestions made in some posts here. Professional writers generally have their syntax just about right. Their errors of grammar are vastly exaggerated, and the erudition of the amateur grammarians who serve as their proof-readers has been vastly overestimated.

      One proof-reader of an international refereed journal article I had submitted suggested a change of tense that would…

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    13. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      One of the problems in Misty Adoniou's article is that she doesn't say which 'grammar' should be taught, and how it is to be done 'differently'.

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    14. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      With your permission I might share this (in my view) magnificent piece of contemplative poetry, from the Spanish medieval tradition; that is, assuming that some who read it may not know it already. It is widely regarded as a spiritual classic, particularly within the Roman Catholic mystical tradition:

      On a dark night,
      Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
      I went forth without being observed,
      My house being now at rest.

      In darkness and secure,
      By the secret ladder, disguised--oh…

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  23. Henry Haszler

    Economist

    Really! You guys do go on. Retired, in a boring job or unemployed or just not much else to do? But then someone has to take some care of the language.

    On the question of what is "correct" or "better" English my concern is that the more modern forms -- more likely to be heard in the ghettos -- seem to represent a race to the bottom. The language seems to be being dominated by the ignorance of those who never bothered or had bad teachers or were just too unintelligent to learn good English. And…

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    1. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Henry Haszler

      Ghettos Henry! and "a race to the bottom"?

      Really?

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    2. Susan Geason

      Writer

      In reply to Henry Haszler

      The easiest way to learn grammar is to read lots of books published before 1960, when writers and editors knew grammar. Then learning the rules is a breeze.

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    3. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Henry Haszler

      I see, so you were deliberately provocative Henry?

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  24. Graeme Chandler

    Retired

    I am thankful for this article expressing the author's firmly held opinions. However Misty Adoniou gives not a skerrick of evidence to support her position. Indeed the only hints she gives is to a research literature which shows teaching grammar does nothing to improve students writing, as I would expect. Understanding what a gerund is, is unlikely to lead to clear or elegant prose.

    Her example of "grammar" that a paragraph beginning with a "where" rather than a "who" focuses the reader on place rather than the action or instigator is not really grammar. Both sentences can be perfectly correct English. Rather it depends what you want to say and how to write it to lead the reader as smoothly as possible to the intended meaning.

    Sorry for any deficiencies in my grammar.

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  25. Catherine JK

    Educator

    1. Exemplary literature includes incomplete sentences. So, all the grammar nazis out there proudly telling 'Jane Doe' in their English class that her beautifully written stream of consciousness piece needs correct sentences should read some James Joyce.
    2. If you are going to 'correct' a student's work, please make sure that the person making the mistake is actually the student. When you use 'Mum' as a Proper Name it has a capital. So put your red pen away. Oh, and "it's" is not the correct way…

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