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One Night of Grammar: A Seminar by Gary Montaño, Professor of English Tarrant County College

The Rules of Standard American Grammar in Two Short Hours!!!

Gary Montano

on 19 September 2012

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Transcript of One Night of Grammar: A Seminar by Gary Montaño, Professor of English Tarrant County College

From where did the rules of American grammar originate? Grammar: The way words relate to one another and form sentences. From the Greek "gramma" meaning "writing" or "letter." Blame the Romans!!! Printing Press - 1473 William Caxton
"Recuyell of the Histories of Troye"
by Raoul Lefevre The first text printed in English-1473 It all began with them! "Pamphlet for Grammar" by William Bullokar, 1586. One Night of Grammar: A Seminar

by Professor of English

Dr. Gary S. Montaño TCC South Campus Some of what you need to know about Grammar
in Two Short Hours! There was no
standardization of
English from which
Caxton could draw
when he translated
and printed texts, which allowed those texts to be accessible to all. Blame the Romans! It all began with them! First text printed in English:
"Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye" by Raoul Lefèvre 1473 Latin is an "inflective" language. How words function is shown by their endings, which determines the positions of the words in a sentence. Another definition is: A process of word formation in which items are added to the base form of a word to express grammatical meanings. Here are some examples... nauta ibi stat (Sailor is there standing). Here, nauta, (sailor) is used as the subject of the sentence. The root or base of the word is "naut." The inflective ending is "a" which, combined with the base, creates the nominative case "nauta."

nomen nautae Flavius est (Name sailor's Flavius is). Here, the base, "naut," has been inflected by adding the ending "ae" to create the genitive case, which designates possession. When combined, the result is "nautae" (sailor's, or of the sailor).

nautae donum dedi (Sailor gave I present). In this example, the inflective ending is the same as above, "ae," but the way the word is used demonstrates that "nautae" is not the genitive case, since there is no possession indicated, but instead, the dative case, which is used to designate an indirect object.

nautam vidi (Sailor saw I). Here, the root, "naut," has been inflected with the ending "am," which is used to create the accusative case which makes sailor the direct object in the sentence.

sum altior nautā (I am taller than the sailor). This example demonstrates the ablative case, the use of a word not categorized by the cases above. Here, "sailor" is used as the object of the preposition. The root, "naut," is left uninflected.

gratias tibi ago, nauta (Thanks I give to you, sailor). Here, the vocative case is used because the sailor is being addressed by the speaker. Notice how the root, "naut," is inflected with the ending "a," as is done in the nominative case. Knowing which case is which depends on recognizing how the word functions in the sentence. Early English and its grammar was modeled after the Latin example. The result was a language the didn't sound very much like the English we know and use today. In fact, Old English is inflected like Latin, and sounds more like German than modern English. The spelling of the words are often much different. Here is an example of Old English from the first three lines of Beowulf:

HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum, ( LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings)
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, (of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,)
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon! (we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!) But English is a language that is constantly evolving. Seven centuries after Beowulf, English looked like this passage from the General Prologue of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 1390:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. But if Modern English followed the rules of Old English, our language would sound like these responses by Yoda to Luke: Johannes Gutenberg used moveable type to print the first Bible in the 1450s. 48 copies exist today, though some are incomplete. The copy at U.T. Austin was purchased in 1978 for 2.4 million dollars. Caxton truly desired to provide the most linguistically exact replication of foreign language texts into English. He faced many problems, however. For example: his inadequate skill as a translator often led to wholesale transference of French words into English and numerous misunderstandings; English changed rapidly during his life, and the works he was given to print were in a variety of styles and dialects; Being a technician rather than a writer, he often faced dilemmas concerning language standardization in the books he printed. By this time, English had changed again from the language heard in Chaucer's day, as this passage from Canto I of Book I of Spenser's Faerie Queene demonstrates:

A GENTLE Knight° was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:

His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,

As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt Because the language grew more sophisticated, the need for a standardized grammar became apparent. The result was that English became more "syntactical" rather than "inflective," which means that the function of words depends on their position within sentences. The result is the grammar we use today. Recommended Texts: That's All! Good bye all you happy people! This is why we need the rules of grammar in our writing. Look at what writing has become! When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmm? On many long journeys have I gone. And waited, too, for others to return from journeys of their own. Some return; some are broken; some come back so different only their names remain. To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are. If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are ... a different game you should play.
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