Advertisements

Intuitive Analysis of Grammar

Very funny. Image Source

When intuition judges something not by its 'meaning', it does so by the 'form' and 'position' of it. This not to say that it does so with any subject under its consideration. But, this is very much the case with grammatical analysis of language. However, as they say that an argument triggers off another, so is what happens when we talk about analyzing language in terms of grammar: Which comes first - language or grammar? This can be a moot debatable point. Yet, it may have been already resolved in the already present ocean of knowledge. In fact, it owes to the ignorance of the writer and his plight that he has read so much so less that he is unable to commit: I don't know sir.

But. A definition of grammar: 'Grammar can be briefly described as a set of rules for constructing and for analysing sentences.' [G. Leech et al, 1982]

Then as per this definition of grammar, grammar is primarily a tool for constructing and analysing the language or sentences. It sees sentences as independent units which are made of up of different constituents or parts. We have the definitions of those constituents on which a sentence is constructed, and when analysed into its parts. And, when the analysis is done, it is usually done in a formal way by correlating the parts of the sentence with their actual 'meaning' already defined. For instance, in the sentence [(Mark) (is) (on) (a) (mission)] The square brackets show that it is a complete sentence (or an independent clause), whereas the round brackets contain the CONSTITUENTS. (Mark) is noun, (on) a preposition and so on. The question was how to parse or analyze the sentence. We did it on with help of definitions and their meaning that (Mark) is a noun because it satisfies the definition of a 'noun' and because knew the meaning of the noun. (I must caution you here that even having developed sets of constituents, yet the boundries of the grammatical terms are very much in fusion.)

This method is carried out at the basic and formal level in grammar studies in schools and colleges. But, there is another subtle and advance way of parsing or analysing sentences which goes beyond the meaning of words. For instance, when we do not know the meaning of the words, what do we do? How do we parse or analyse the sentence and find its grammatical components?

Take this silly poem Jabberwock by Lewis Carrol and one will come to fully appreciate the use of intuitive analysis, i.e, analysing the sentences with identifying the form and position of the'constituents', instead of analyzing the grammar in terms of meaning of the grammatical terms.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Toves and borogoves = nouns
Gyre, gimble, and outgrabe = verbs
Slithy and mimsy = adjectives

How did we know that? Obviously not on the basis of meaning! Instead, it was through identifying their 'position' and 'form', we reckoned it so. For instance, G. Leech and et al explain:
Borogoves is a noun because it ends in -s and because it follows the. (All mimsy were the borogoves,)
Slithy is an adjective because it comes between the and the plural noun toves. (...the slithy toves)
And, the rest you can at your own decode very easily, but by taking in view the form and position of the respective constituents. What it proves and shows is our intuitive skill in the analysis of grammar. And, also that intuition does not concern itself with rigorous findings of meaning. That is why it is more subtle and advanced. And, partially, it may also explain why we do not understand intuition fully, because of its independence from meaning.

* Quotes taken from the book by G. Leech et al, English Grammar for today.

0 did criticisms:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Advertisement

MuddleHead Signs Off!!

MuddleHead Signs Off!!