Longman Student Grammar Of Spoken And Written E...
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This large-scale grammar owes much of its terminology and grammatical framework to A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, & Svartvik, 1985). Those readers familiar with that grammar will have few problems with the terminology or concepts in this grammatical analysis. However, it is in the exemplification and quantitative analysis of grammar across the varieties of spoken and written English that this grammar is more comprehensive than the earlier one. In spite of this, the authors look at this grammar as a companion to the earlier volume.
This book uses a computer-aided, corpus-based approach to look at the use of grammatical features in four registers (conversation, fiction, news, and academic prose) from American English (AmE) and British English (BrE). Each of the core registers consists of approximately 5 million words. The core conversation corpus is from BrE, fiction from AmE and BrE, news from BrE, and academic prose from BrE and AmE. In addition to the four registers, the full corpus includes AmE texts for conversation and news for dialect comparisons and two supplementary registers: non-conversational speech (BrE) and general prose (AmE and BrE). The two supplementary registers are used for two kinds of analyses: for the overall findings from the complete corpus, and for a few analyses that specifically target one or the other of these registers. The total corpus has over 40 million words. The majority of the texts were spoken or written after 1980. All of the findings are normed to frequency of occurrences per 1 million words.
Section A consists of one chapter and is the introduction to the book and the corpus-based approach to English grammar. In this section, the authors discuss the parameters of the many choices they had to make in completing this project. The introduction discusses structure and use in English, varieties of English, representativeness of varieties in the corpus, grammatical analysis in the corpus, quantitative findings, and functional interpretation of the quantitative findings. It also gives an overview of the grammar and lists potential users and uses of the book. Those benefited include English language teachers, especially ESL/EFL teachers, English language students and language researchers, and also researchers and practitioners in 12 other sub-disciplines.
In each part of this section, and in the whole of the book, the authors are concerned that readers understand the impact of their approach and findings. Concepts such as register, grammatical feature, dialects, varieties, and many others are well explained. Also, a table on page 39 explains occurrences per million (which is what the grammatical features for each register are normed to); that is, how often 10, 20, 40, 100, 200, and 1000 occurrences per million happen in minutes for spoken English or pages for written English. This is done succinctly and clearly, so this conceptually rather difficult idea is easily understood.
The potentially most far-reaching chapter of this book is chapter 14. This chapter offers a new look at the grammar of conversation. It shakes, crumbles, and reconstructs the use of the sentence as the foundation for conversational grammar. The authors say that the sentence is not the basis of spoken grammar because "such a unit does not realistically exist in conversational language" because "conversation has no generally recognizable sentence-delimiting marks such as the initial capital and final period of written language" (p. 1039). What the authors propose for a grammar of conversation is C-units and the principles which govern conversation. C-units consist of clausal and non-clausal units. The clausal unit (corresponding to the t-unit of written language) consists of the independent clause and any dependant clauses attached in it. The non-clausal unit consists of segments that are not clausal units or part of clausal units. From the corpus findings of this section, one dis