LSA 110: English grammar

Geoffrey K. Pullum | session 1 | MW 1:30 – 3:15, 106 Moffitt Hall

English has by historical accident been used more often than any other language to illustrate claims and theories within modern syntax. But additonally Standard English is the closest approach this planet has to a global language. Accurate description of English is a matter that has real educational consequences for a population of L1 and L2 speakers numbering well over a billion. Yet English has not been well served by its treatment either in recent syntactic theories or in the older traditional grammars. This course takes six representative topics in modern Standard English grammar and attempts to systematize the relevant facts and re-describe them in a convincingly adequate way. The guiding assumption is that no syntactic theory can be worth anything if it is built on false assumptions about how the language works. Attention to the linguistic material will thus be the primary focus, but theoretical positions will also be staked out. Some of these are controversial, yet (it will be argued) very solidly supported when the facts are surveyed with thoroughness. The controversy arises not only from conflict with current theories, but also from radical departures from traditional assumptions about English grammar that have held sway for at least 200 years.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

On reserve at Graduate Services, 208 Doe Library: Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

Areas of linguistics: Syntax, semantics, and morphology; Languages of Eurasia

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