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Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar

Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar

by David Crystal


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In Making Sense, David Crystal confronts the foe of many: grammar. Once taught relentlessly to all students in the English-speaking world, grammar disappeared from most school curricula, so that terms such as "preposition" and "conjunction" now often confound children and adults alike.

Explaining the nuts and bolts of grammar presents a special challenge, because - far more than is the case with spelling and punctuation - the subject is burdened with a centuries-old history of educational practice that many will recall as anything but glamorous. One of the world's foremost authorities on the English language, Crystal sets out to rid grammar of its undeserved reputation as a dry and intimidating subject, pointing out how essential grammar is to clear and effective speech and writing. He moves briskly through the stages by which children acquire grammar, along the way demystifying grammar's rules and irregularities and showing us how to navigate its snares and pitfalls. He offers the fascinating history of grammar, explaining how it has evolved from the first grammarians in ancient Greece to our 21st century digital environment of blogging, emailing, and texting.

Many find grammar to be a daunting subject, but in this breezy, entertaining book, Crystal proves that grammar doesn't need to make us uneasy-we can all make sense of how we make sense.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780197521823
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/01/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 943,992
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He is the author of dozens of books on language, including The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, The Story of English in 100 Words, Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling, and Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation.

Table of Contents

Not knowing grammar: a student's tale
Not knowing grammar: a child's tale

Chapter 1 First steps in grammar
Interlude: The first grammarians
Chapter 2 Second steps: the big picture
Chapter 3 Second steps: the small picture
Chapter 4 Third steps: combining big and small
Interlude: The first English grammarian
Chapter 5 Inside the words
Chapter 6 Talking about mouses
Interlude: Learn by heart
Chapter 7 What sentences do
Interlude The first modern English grammarian
Chapter 8 Sentence building
Interlude: Grammatically precocious
Chapter 9 Story time
Chapter 10 Connecting
Interlude: Did the teddy bear chase the panda?
Chapter 11 Talking about grammar...
Interlude: Victorian playfulness
Chapter 12 Up with which we will not put
Interlude: A shocking faux pas
Chapter 13 Clarity and weight
Interlude: Redistributing weight
Chapter 14 Clarity and order
Chapter 15 Grammar and meaning
Interlude: Real and unreal ambiguity
Chapter 16 Grammar and effect
Chapter 17 Structure and use together
Interlude: Define dog
Chapter 18 A sense of style
Chapter 19 Grammar on the job
Chapter 20 Explanations
Chapter 21 Grammatical change - now
Interlude: pluralsy
Chapter 22 Grammatical change - then
Interlude: Thou vs you
Chapter 23 Into living memory (almost)
Chapter 24 Going transtlantic
Interlude: Another pretty little Americanism
Chapter 25 Going global
Interlude: A good good example
Chapter 26 Grammar online
Chapter 27 Back from the grave
Chapter 28 Why the delay?
Interlude: Do as I say - government level
Chapter 29 A top ten for the future

An appendix on teaching and testing
References and further reading

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