Please try a simple exercise. Fix your gaze on anything – your morning cup of tea or coffee, your bookcase trinket, or whatnot. The thing you’d be looking at would not matter much. The stunt would be to look at something and think absolutely nothing.
Thinking literally nothing is more difficult than you think. Keep a wristwatch to see how long you last. Sooner than later, something will ‘pop up’. The ‘sooner than later’ will be seconds.
What is thinking? ‘Using one’s mind to produce thoughts; intellect, cogitation, cerebration’, dictionaries can tell. Greek philosophers sculpted in pensive body positions may be the picture. All live human brains continually produce processes. These processes remain ‘in the background’.
As with learning to walk, most humans have egocentric speech, when children. We speak to ourselves, not caring to have anyone listening, and we learn to talk. Older, we are able to think as if we were saying, we can “say” in our thoughts only. This is the very thing we can use to learn language. Page 21 in the Open Scroll has an exercise.
Noam Chomsky proposed his Language Acquisition Device to explain human language learning. It is true that people acquire languages most flexibly till 14 years old. It is true that people could not merely memorize language: there has to be a logical capacity. It is true that the brainwork necessary for language involves more than one brain area.
I do comprehend that a device may be something devised, as well as a faculty that devises. However, a device is often a thing that could be operated externally, from the outside. Association with such governance could not be mine or the human ideal.
Worse still, devices can be programmed. ‘Programming brains’ could be only a travesty of a good grammar course. My grammar approach emphasizes the inner feedback in learning; the feedback may go even for the opposite of a program, in the field. I am preparing my defended thesis for publication, The Role of Feedback in Language Processing.
I have always preferred the human language faculty to mean the brain areas that work for language regardless of age. I do realize it might be improbable ever to discern the actual tissue. The ‘hidden’ layers in human neural networks, for example, are visible. The connections yet are continually active and it is impossible to tell which neurons work for what task.
The impossibility does not worry me at all. My language interest never has been curiosity about sectioning brains. Maybe a little romantically, I think everyone deserves to remain a bit of a mystery.
I would answer frequently asked questions, however. :)
Feel welcome to the Open Scroll and the samples.
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The book and the grammar method have not been sponsored or corroborated by an American or other authority, organization, as well as any individual. The content as well as choice on appended material are the responsibility of the author, Teresa Pelka.
The book and the grammar method have not solicited and will not ever require any experimentation. The method reflects on the author’s own language acquisition and learning, along with known and legal studies. The bibliography comes with Part Four of the series.
Books by Teresa Pelka may be viewed at
Copyright notice © Teresa Pelka, 2010
All rights reserved. The author reserves the right of translation.
Library of Congress registration TX 7-648-439
The claim excludes public domain material, photographs.
Appendix 3 contains typescripts of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights: Dunlap, Carter and Wheeler prints, respectively. The book has voluntary extra practice.
Regarding the feminist controversy over Aristotle’s works, the author ― a woman herself ― does not endorse all translations, renditions, as well as misconceptions about the philosopher. Aristotle lived circa 384 BC – 322 BC. There are no autographs, that is, original manuscripts of his work preserved. The existent versions are used in this book series selectively and for thought exercise strictly.
The author may not provide for sustained validity of the website or email addresses enclosed with the work.
Open scroll has book samples.
The world has challenged even the good sense. Part the contemporary ways for grammar may be challenging, too.
How do we justify telling people there is an Unreal Past? Can we have unreal futures? How do we explain a copula irrealis, do we divide words into real and unreal? How do we rationalize the ‘Future in the Past’:
He thought he would buy a TV — this is no future and no television. ;)
I do not question traditional grammars in extenso. Many people feel comfortable with them and produce quality language: the purpose to provide grammar guidance at all.
Grammar guidance should not suppress the natural human language instinct. I do not purport to have the only true method. I have learned much enough to know there may be no way to know: if a grammar book tells the truth depends on who there is to answer the question.
Try something. :)
Consensus on what inner processes exactly are correct for grammar looks redundant. Common sense, we can try natural guidance. Children have excellent language intuitions, and there are so many materials about language acquisition available.
We can talk grammar the everyday, casual manner. Life cannot be a lecture. :)
As for Mr. Clemens, I gotta tell you, there ain’t much fairness in this world. Mr. Clemens had a nick — Mark Twain — he could write his yarn a human way, and came out real neat in the end. Me, I may just forget any other names about me when Ms. Smith asks grammar, and well, I gotta do the schoolspeak when my written work gets back in — let us say — more than one color, which ain’t so neat.
Meet Bob, Jemma, and other characters with the grammar grapevine.
The point is in selecting agreeable guidance
and visualizing it.
See also Form can’t be empty.
Feel welcome to the integrative visualization and relax.
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There is something you do not really have in natural languages: stative verbs. You do not get enumerations or listings of words to memorize, as from the British Council, for example.
What you have in natural languages, is the stative (verb) use, as part shows in Wikipedia. It might come as actually strange to people, if you tried to tell them to parrot the words for love, hate, or thought. It could feel … a kind of a lie, and good liars do not publicize their lying rules. ;)
Think you are talking with a young person, 10 years old, let us say. The person says he or she is hating you: you do not let them see your book, for example. Would you correct the person and say, No, you are not hating me. You hate me; it is a stative verb, here, in the list … ;)
A native speaker, you learn the stative verb use naturally. Schools may give lists, yet the use stays as learned, that is, more or less unrelated to any listing. A foreigner, you may get most awkward impressions, presented with sheets of words to use with the Simple only.
Would there be any point making a banner, writing L-O-V-E on it, and trying to get money? There might be no such appeal in the word alone. How could it, then, make human brains produce strictly Simple structures?
Let us see real American English at work.
[IN] This is a dream come true. And I’m loving every minute of it. (NBC_Today
Sun as in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, COCA).
[AT] I’ve been loving it, she says. But [ON] I want to keep doing different things.
(People magazine as in COCA.)
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There has been much talk about American English in ancestral terms: researchers have analyzed speech sounds and ‘derived’ them with particularity suggestive of the Pygmalion:
… I’ll take it down first in Bell’s visible Speech; then in broad Romic; and then we’ll get … the phonograph. ;)
I have never pondered over any possibility to become my grandfather.
Aynway, my grandfather did not speak American, or actually any English, as far as I remember.
Researchers happen to ‘derive’ American from dialectal British:
The main idea of the approach is that the origins of American English are somehow contained in the various regional dialects of British English…
American English, an Introduction, by Zoltan Kovecses.
Ben Trawick-Smith includes American with ‘a larger continuum of Southern England-derived dialects’; he admits the idea is debatable: When Did Americans Stop ‘Talking British’?
He yet makes an interesting point: we might think about the British as ‘talking American’, as well.
What American English would we be talking about? If we do not say, the American English of the 1900s, or 1800s, we say contemporary American English.
The shape of American English as it is today comes … from the USA.
American English does not consist of British dialects. Isolated speech sounds may be similar: it is inevitable, if we speak English at all; we could not want a language without speech sounds, to have a language of its own.
American English evolved naturally, along the existence of the USA. Students happen to have questions about the country. This is why I think some basic civics are simply indispensable, in an honest grammar course.
Plus … You never have to tap desperately on your pockets in search for a copy of the Declaration. The book has typescripts of the founding texts.
It is up to us what business we have with grammar. We would be unable to think or speak without grammar; it is reasonable to think about a good business with it.
Let us consider the student–teacher roles. I am a university master of arts, yet I am forever a learner: all language could never be learned. This is fortunate to me. I love language and I know there are always going to be so many interesting things for me to think about. :)
I am able to explain my matter. Then, I can be a teacher, do the job and get paid for it. The student may choose on the teaching model. Consultation rather than a strict curriculum has been the idea always to prevail.
Consultation means I do not tell the student what is what. I say what can be what. Importantly, I learn, as a teacher, from student error. A mistake is a mistake, right. The mistake yet can help think how to learn better.
For example, at some stage of language learning, if you ask a child to think about saying ‘Jill promised Jim to smile’ and drawing a smile on either Jill’s picture or Jim’s picture, the child may draw the smile on Jim’s picture.
At the very same stage of language progression, the very same children may have no problems with the Passive. Then, it could not be just a ‘peeve’. Let us think about the Infinitive and hypothetical time — Jill only promised.
We can think the Infinitive uses an auxiliary time plane.
Importantly, we only use concepts and ideas. Common sense, if a human can build a house, this does not mean he or she has a house in the head. We do not need to ponder if our brains actually produce intellectual or cognitive planes, and language has such phrases. Similarly, we can use logical planes as concepts.
The problem is that Modals cannot always give the target time reference,
standalone, or with auxiliary logic.
Feel welcome to Dynamic mapping and guidance on the visual.
I do not profess language as a system. I think language has resisted attempts of systematics many times enough. I believe we can use logical sets to manage our language scopes. There are about 26 letters of the alphabet. With this finite set, we can produce innumerable words and phrases.
Though some grammars keep the Conditional and Modal in separate chapters or even books, I take on my logical set approach and look to the structure named the Conditional, to gather observations about Modal verbs.
We can view the Modal verb will
as a PRESENT form we may use for the FUTURE.
We do not need ambiguity, when we want to communicate. We can think about a target logical time. When we speak, we make articulatory targets: we think what speech sounds we want to make. Similarly, we can think about a target time.
I do not support the idea of the Conditional. I think there can be Form Relativity in language. I only use the Conditional to show my thought. Let us focus on the Modal will and target time.
Images will show full-size, if we click on them. :)
A present form takes us to a FUTURE target. A past form can tell a PRESENT target. An antecedent PAST form can refer to a PAST.
Travelers Part Two have it all step-by-step. The long and the short, our Form Relativity can help us tell language structures.
Feelings (!) We cannot really speak a language, if we are unable to speak about our feelings in it. We can consider, if words for affection come with lists.
Back to our smiles, already kids can learn to make the logic. Then, it becomes clear that both Jim and Jill can smile, and Jill could have smiled. :)
I would not expect a professional grammarian to shout out, unless for reasons linguistic. :)
Naturally, I do not mean shouting at people. My point is that we humans work minds and hearts. There is an emotional component to jobs in which we invest our thought. Therefore, I would like to assure everyone concerned that my work is not to offend or disparage. It did not have origin in rejection of established grammar guidance. It was simply a spontaneous invention by a learner very young, indeed: I was about 5 years old, when I had my first thoughts about grammar and language mapping.
The idea became the Travelers in Grammar, a generative grammar course. A generative grammar shows how to build own language skill and produce written or spoken language independently. Obviously, having gone my way, I cannot agree with traditional grammars completely. See Common Sense.
Language mapping seeks logical regularities in language. It does not produce rules. The tenses are parameters to combine. We ‘think where we get’; we do not ‘tell where to go’.
The Present, Future, or Past combine with the Simple, Progressive, or Perfect. We merge the Perfect and the Progressive to get four spatial markers, ON, IN, TO, and AT we use with reference to the Future, Present, or Past.
The parameter ON is our primary, earthling variable. :)
We do not follow the Language Acquisition Device. We think about the Human Language Faculty. The Faculty is the brain areas that work for language regardless of age. The areas are likely to remain unspecified: the neural networks that make them and connect them are very dense and active.
Our purpose is not to specify on neurology. Our purpose is to get an effective way to learn or teach grammar.
For this, we practice flexible habits, not reflexes. We keep a mild sense of humor: people happen to get so grim about grammar that their learning and language styles suffer.
There is never going to be a stevedore or half-hitch tense. We yet can flexibly think we make nodi of time, and avoid carrying tons of books round, as we previously did. ;)
Importantly, our prepositions are function word parameters to operate integrated patterns of language. We do not hide the idea from school professors (!) :)
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What is grammar? Wiktor Jassem quotes Paul Postal:
“…a language is an infinite set of sentences which are triplets of phonetic, syntactic, and semantic properties generated by a finite abstract project, or grammar, which consists of sets of partially independent elements called rules and a lexicon or dictionary. Such grammars are represented in human neural systems and provide implicit knowledge of the language they define. A grammar is thus in certain ways analogous to a computer program in that it is a formal system partially determining the behaviour of a physical system (…)”
We cannot deny that our slips of tongue are segmental. Human brains make speech in chunks, and that can compare with programs, also in our not having to focus to each and every speech sound we produce.
In the feedback framework, individual human grammar is a project by the individual mind, not a program. This formal set is not purely “mathematical” or “logical”. It is operational to the tissue of the brain, which may be a most obvious reservation to the quote above. A program is an open-loop sequence. Feedback is a closed-loop process. Both have been evidenced in human functioning.