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if the expression 'English Grammar' be enlarged so as to connote exercises in the logic, history, formation and relation of words, it will designate one of the most fruitful and interesting of school studies; and (4) That whatever is to be learned of a vernacular language, must be learned by the method of analysis, and not by the synthetic process, which is proper in studying a foreign tongue.
We may now apply these conclusions in succession to several of the most useful forms of English exercise.
One of your earliest lessons consists of a view of the parts of speech. The books would have you begin by saying there are nine of them, and by requiring the pupil to learn by heart the definition and some examples of each. But it is surely a much more rational method to begin with a sentence which the scholar already understands, and so to draw from him the simple facts that in using language there are two essential conditions, viz.
(1) That we should have something to talk about; (2) That we should have something to say. You may illustrate this by taking a little sentence
The child sleeps as a type, and you say that the former word is called the Subject or the thing talked about, and is a Noun, and the latter the Predicate, the thing said, and is a Verb.
Then you point out that each of these words admits of extension, and takes an attribute;
The little child sleeps soundly, and you shew that the one word enlarges the subject and the other the predicate. You then invite the scholars to give you other sentences containing the same elements, and after a few examples you give names to the words which fulfil these two functions and call the one an Adjective and the other an Adverb.
Classification of English words.
Then you seek to attach other notions to the first, and you do this in two ways:
The child sleeps on the bed.
The child sleeps because he is tired. In the former case you have added a word, in the latter a new sentence, the nature of the connexion thus established being shewn by the word in italics. Hence is deduced the necessity for two sorts of connective words, the Preposition which attaches a noun, and the Conjunction which attaches a sentence to what has gone before.
These are the six essential elements of organized speech, and the logical order of their importance is Subject
Sentence · Conjunction. Then you go on to shew that you have not exhausted all the words in the language, but that there remain ;
(1) The Pronoun, whose use you illustrate by examples. It is not a new element in language, but is simply used as a convenient substitute for a noun in certain cases.
(2) The Article, which is seen to be a kind of adjective used in a very special sense.
You shew that these two though useful are not indispensable, and that Latin did without the last altogether.
Lastly you point out that what is often called the ninth part of speech, the Interjection, is in fact not a part of speech at all; but as Horne Tooke called it “the
miserable refuge of the speechless." It is the one form of human utterance which obeys no law, and is closest akin to the screams of a bird, or to the growling of a dog; and we never use it unless for a moment we part with the privilege of humanity, descend to the level of the lower animals, and cease to use organized language altogether.
Now all this could be well taught with varied illustrations in three lessons, and the outcome of it would shew it. self in some such black-board sketch or summary as this:
ESSENTIAL PARTS OF SPEECH.
1.-Notional. 1. Words capable of forming the subject of a sentence. Nouns. 2. Words capable of forming the predicate
Verbs. 3. Words capable of serving as attributes to Nouns Adjectives. 4. Words capable of serving as attributes to Verbs Adverbs.
I1. - Relational or Connective. 5. Words connecting Nouns with sentences. Prepositions. 6. Words connecting sentences with sentences . Conjunctions.
NON-ESSENTIAL BUT SERVICEABLE PARTS OF SPEECH. 7. Words capable of being used as substitutes for Nouns
Pronouns. 8. Adjectives with a special and limited use Articles.
9. EXTRA-GRAMMATICAL UTTERANCES
In further investigation of the use of each class of words you afterwards bring out by examples these facts :
Nouns may serve (a) with the verb “to be," as predicates; (6) with transitive verbs, as objects or completion of predicates ; (c) with prepositions, as adjuncts either adjectival or adverbial.
A Verb of complete predication is Intransitive; one which makes an incomplete assertion is Transitive.
Pronouns which have in them a connective element of meaning are called Relatives.
Definitions of Parts of Speech.
So that instead of beginning with the definitions I should end with them. The process is one of induction and analysis from the first. You begin with the concrete whole—a sentence with which learners are already familiar, you work down to its pa you seek to discriminate them carefully; then, and not till then, you give them names, and finally by way of clinching your lesson you ask for the meanings of those names, and after a few experiments of the Socratic kind, may succeed in evolving a good definition of each. In doing this explain if you like the significance of the name. But this is not always easy, and when easy not always helpful. Our grammatical terminology is so arbitrary, that an etymological enquiry into the meaning of the words Preposition, Infinitive, Adjective, will rather mislead than otherwise.
At this point you will find how useful it is to give examples illustrative of the way in which the same word may be used in very different ways : e.g.
(1) Rest comes to the weary. They rest from their labours.
light the candle.
She has a reading book.
By a few tentative sentences of this kind you will shew that it is impossible to label a word with a name while it stands alone, that in fact it is not a part of speech at all until it is seen in a sentence. Follow this up by asking such a question as this; "take the word Sound and put it into a sentence so that it shall be a nounan adjective—a verb.” Much exercise in the making of sentences to illustrate each new distinction as it is pointed out, is indispensable.
You go back then to the Noun, the Adjective, and
you have wronged me doth appear
Noun sentence. (2) The small house is mine
Simple adjective. The house on the hill is mine
Adjective phrase. The house which you saw is mine Adjective sentence. (3) She sings sweetly .
Simple adverb. She sings in the garden
Adverbial phrase. She sings when she is asked
Adverbial sentence. Logical When such preliminary exercises have been thought Analysis. out the scholar will be ready for the more complete analy
sis of the parts of sentences and their relations to each other. This is an intellectual exercise of considerable value. It is not grammar, it is true; it is rather elementary logic; but it lies at the root of grammar; and when you have first taught your pupils to recognize the elements of a sentence and their mutual correlation, you will be in a position to ask how far each logical distinction has a grammatical or formative distinction to correspond to it.
As to the laying out of the result of such an analysis, there is of course no absolutely right or wrong method. But I would warn you against the common method of making a square diagram and trying to fit every sentence
into it, e.g.
Object, or completion of
of parting day