Advanced Grammar: A Manual for Students

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9780130488206: Advanced Grammar: A Manual for Students

Advanced Grammar introduces basic concepts of English grammar by reinforcing the fact that the infinite variety of sentences produced by every speaker is governed by a small set of rather simple rules. It presents information about history to emphasize that English is a constantly changing language, a subject that readers will find intriguing. The book provides great detail about a broad array of constructions (passive, negative, questions, tag questions, existentials, clefts, fronting, left and right dislocation, emphasis, contrast, subordination, and conjoined sentences) and gives more information about sentence structure (especially the auxiliary system) than any other book on the market. It combines all subfields of linguistics and presents them in an integrated manner so that readers can easily see how all of language is an interconnecting system. Excellent as a reference source for employees in fields where writing effectively for business is necessary.

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From the Back Cover:

This text takes a very basic, transformational-generative approach to grammar theory. Using tree diagrams in keeping with contemporary linguistic theory, Advanced Grammar: A Manual for Students recognizes that the infinite variety of sentences produced by every speaker is governed by a small set of rather simple rules.

The author provides more detail about a broader array of constructions and about the sentence structure (especially the auxiliary system) than any other, textbook. In addition, Advanced Grammar: A Manual for Students emphasizes important ways in which semantics and discourse determine syntactic structure.

Other features include:

  • Two kinds of comments set aside in boxes:
    • HISTORICAL NOTES: facts about the history of certain grammatical and morphological features that add information for understanding peculiarities of contemporary English.
    • NOTES OF CLARIFICATION: emphasize details, already presented, which typically cause problems for some students.
  • Discourse considerations for structure whenever appropriate.
  • All subfields of linguistics are combined and presented in an integrated way so that students easily see how all of language is an interconnecting system.
  • Chapter 11 treats word classes (parts of speech) in detail for students who have little background in grammar.
  • Punctuation is presented in a separate chapter (Chapter 12), although it is also referred to throughout.
  • A Companion Website™ at www.prenhall.com/disterheft that will include more exercises that emphasize grammar theory.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Advanced Grammar has two major aims. The most obvious is to teach the sic facts about English syntax and inflectional morphology. It also seeks to form students about other aspects of grammar which demonstrate that language is a complex set of interwoven rules, changing from one social setting to another and from one generation to the next. No one part of grammar is in0ependent of another: the rules which build phrases and sentences (syntax) also determine which forms of words (morphology) are appropriate to a given structure. The semantics of a word in turn determines what kinds of words appear with it; specifically, the meaning of a verb determines whether or not it requires an object, a predicate noun, or a predicate adjective.

The approach I use here is a basic, transformational-generative one. More up-to-date theories of syntax (government and binding to minimalism) are too abstract to be of use to the beginning student. On the other hand, the traditional approach doesn't make connections between various structures nor does it recognize the fact that the infinite variety of sentences produced by speakers are produced by a relatively small set of rules.

This course book was written and tested on more than twenty years of classes at the University of South Carolina whose members were, for the most part, undergraduate English majors, but also from the other liberal arts, education, journalism, communication disorders, the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

Advanced Grammar consists of four major sections: sentence structure (Chapters 2-4); verb classes (Chapters 6-7); transformations (Chapters 8-10); and reference (Chapters 11 and 12). Instead of presenting separate chapters on morphology, semantics, discourse, writing style, and language history, I have woven information from these areas in with the parts of syntax which they affect. In other words, all relevant information about a given structure is in one place. Another unique feature of my presentation is that I allocate three chapters (one entire section) to predicate structure. In my experience, this is the area in which beginning students have the most trouble because textbooks present this information in such a cursory fashion. Instead I have given a great deal of information about each of the structures so that students understand the structural and semantic differences between intransitive, transitive, and stative verbs. The third section is devoted to transforming the basic structures presented in the first section. Chapter 8 is devoted to basic transformations which produce questions and negated sentences. Chapter 9 handles various kinds of subordination so that, when put together, students can see that they have more in common than they may have previously thought. More complex, discourse-dependent transformations are the subject of Chapter 10.

Since many students who take this course may not have had much grammatical instruction in the past, I have included a reference section (IV). Chapter 11 covers word classes (parts of speech) and presents them in terms of belonging to major lexical classes or minor functional classes. Instructors have two choices of how to handle this material. Those whose students have little awareness of word classes may want to cover this material before beginning Chapter 2. Others might simply refer to different sections in Chapter 11 when first meeting specific classes like adverbs, prepositions, subordinating conjunctions, etc. in the first sections. Chapter 12 reviews punctuation: some years ago students convinced me that it works better to have all the rules of punctuation in one place. However, Chapters 2-11 refer to punctuation rules in Chapter 12 where appropriate.

Advanced Grammar contains more material than is possible to cover in one semester, although it would certainly be possible to do so in two quarters. Chapters 2 through 8 each build upon the information presented in previous chapters; my advice is to cover these first, and then to pick individual topics in Chapters 9 and 10 which the instructor or the students may favor.

Advanced Grammar has some features not found in other textbooks. It employs two kinds of notes set off from the text. The "Note of Clarification" emphasizes important points where students often get confused. Students should pay particular attention to these. The second kind is the "Historical Note". Oftentimes it is helpful for students to know something about the history of structures which are irregular or otherwise opaque. Knowing something about the processes which have produced irregularities makes them more interesting to students and less baffling.

The exercises presented in the text of this book may need reinforcement. Students often want extra exercises they can work on outside of class and for which there are answer keys. The Companion Website™ for Advanced Grammar does exactly that. Students seeking more experience can do this work to reinforce the in-text exercises and to review for quizzes and tests.

Good textbooks are a community effort and this one is no different. This book would have been weaker without the explicit instructions provided by my students about what worked best for them. It is under their direction that I have included diagrams for so many possible structures in each section. They have taught me that one diagram is worth hundreds of words. They have also insisted that they get as much practice as possible analyzing structures. (In fact, some instructors may not want to spend the time diagramming so many sentences in class; these can easily be assigned as extra work.)

Many of my students have performed valiantly in their role as advisors and critics. Some have been so helpful that they should be acknowledged individually: Carolyn Aldrich, Erin Boswell, Lauren Broome, De'Nitra Brown, Kira Caruso, E-manna DeWitt, Sarah Forseth, Aminah Fraser-Rahim, Ben Holmes, Tiffany Hutt, Ana Kellett, Crystal Kinley, Connie LybrandWilliams, Sarah Mathes, Michael Merritt, Keiona Middleton, Jennifer Prince, Wilfia Robinson, Kristi Serrano, Bobby Smith, Dywanna Smith, and Chris Wilson.

I also thank my colleagues Stan Dubinsky (University of South Carolina) and Don Cooper (Bowling Green State University, Ohio) for their moral support and encouragement in bringing this project to completion. The chair of my department, Steve Lynn, also provided advice on the fine points of textbook publishing. Finally, I must thank the folks who took on this publishing task. Craig Campanella, acquisitions editor at Prentice Hall, shepherded me through the submission process. The sharp eye of copyeditor Carolyn Ingalls caught the many small errors and inconsistencies which I could have sworn were not in the text. John Shannon, production editor at Pine Tree Composition, made the grueling task of physically producing the book almost enjoyable with his good-natured professionalism.

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