Please note the first class on September 6, 2021 (Monday) will be conducted online via ZOOM. Please check the course moodle for details.
English is probably the most widely used language in the world and a language so widely distributed naturally has many dialects and varieties. While some of these dialects/varieties may be viewed as more prestigious than others in some societies, when considered objectively in terms of grammar, they tend to be on a par with the others as their grammatical rules are equally precise, pure, or logical. Nonetheless, this course does not try to describe all the different dialects/varieties of English there are. It focusses on the grammar of Standard English because it is most widely known and is relatively stable and uniform.
One goal in this course is to help you to learn about English grammar as it is actually used rather than as it should be used; the latter typically takes the form of usage manuals or school textbooks. Thus, the course is ‘descriptive’ (as opposed to ‘prescriptive’) in its approach, presenting grammar rules that are based on facts about how people speak and write. The rules are supposed to reflect the language the way it is. The course will clarify English sentence structure and provide you with a solid foundation for more advanced study.
Another goal, perhaps more importantly, in this course is to briefly present a cognitive approach to grammar as proposed in the model of Cognitive Grammar developed by Ronald Langacker. Essentially, it seeks to give students a deeper insight into the nature of grammar as a human experience and into the cognitive principles that motivate its structure, as opposed to the traditional approach to grammar that focusses on forms, structures and rules.
- Basic sentence structure
- Word classes
- Phrase types
- Sentences and clauses
- Usage and style
- The basics of Cognitive Grammar
- Demonstrate a clear understanding of the content and complexity of the rules of grammar in Standard English
- Recognise and understand the exceptions to the rules and different writing styles
- Achieve an accurate understanding of grammar that will both enhance students’ language skills and provide a solid grounding for further linguistic study
- Discuss key concepts in the cognitive approach to grammar and evaluate how language can be used as a tool of conceptualisation and how the study of language can be considered as a fascinating and challenging field of human experience
There will be one 2-hour lecture per week and one tutorial on alternate weeks.
- Participation in lectures and tutorials with worked exercises (20%)
- Critical review presentation with peer feedback (40%)
- Take-home quiz (40%)
A list of required and recommended readings will be provided.