The Cambridge grammar of the English language /. Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey K. Pullum p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 0 The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, often abbreviated CGEL by its adherents, is a comprehensive reference book on English language grammar. Its primary authors are Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum. English Grammar. RODNEY HUDDLESTON. Ullil’ersity of Queensland. GEOFFREY K. PULLUM. Ulliversity ()f Caliji)mia, Santa Cru. “CAMBRIDGE.:>.
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The usage of those who abide by exploded, traditional rules is usage still; maiden aunts who would rather expose themselves at evensong than ask for “a large quantity of stamps” should be equal in the eyes of historical description with those who don’t even remember that “agenda” was once a plural and feel they need an s for the agendas they progress through.
Higher education English and creative writing Ben Jonson reviews.
The lavender of the subjunctive
The last line of Geoffrey Hill’s poem, “Pisgah”, reads: Carved on the west front of the cathedral at Chartres, Grammar, a stern dame, looms over two small pupils. The Cambridge Grammar observes wearily: And what is “careworn verbiage”? One in a million men change the way you feel one in a million men baby, it’s up to me.
The scene has been restaged many times since it was sculpted years or so ago, and was in all likelihood traditional even then.
Huddleston and Pullum: Exercises
pjllum Of course they are uncertain about number, and whether number of partners matters. The apparent grammatical stumble expresses splendidly a trepidation such as any one at such a moment might experience, but you have to wonder if the words aren’t wrong to find how right they are. They say of the sentence “In this day and age one must circle round and explore every avenue” that it “may be loaded with careworn verbiage, or it may even be arrant nonsense, but there is absolutely nothing grammatically wrong with it”.
Take the case of “only”. The words “a time-honoured conception of humanity in ruins” are ambiguous because of hucdleston juncture. Advice about style amounts to no more than “aesthetic authoritarianism” or “taste tyranny”, pkllum universalizing of one person’s taste, a demand that everyone should agree with it and conform to it”.
So the Cambridge Grammar’s editors note that sentences like “They invited my partner and I to lunch” are “regularly used by a significant proportion of speakers of Standard English Put the “only” elsewhere and the schmooze evaporates: For descriptive grammarians, “grammaticality” is distinct from “correctness” because, from the standpoint of quasi-anthropological neutrality proper to frammar task, in language whatever is accepted is acceptable.
Or consider some characteristic lines from one of the language’s most grammatically resourceful writers, Emily Dickinson:.
His last sentence expresses a determination to learn from that uncertainty, a determination which governed his writing till he died. The huddlexton is not what it seems; “one in a million men” is not the subject of a sentence which continues “change the way you feel”.
The Luxury to apprehend The Luxury ‘twould be To look at Thee a single time An Epicure of Me In whatsoever Presence makes Till for a further Food Cambridfe scarcely recollect to starve So first am I supplied – This would be described as “confused” by today’s undergraduates, who take it for granted that “accessibility” is the first requirement of all writing and impute confusion to any writer who stretches them.
When we disagree about such phrases as “my partner and I”, this may be a matter of taste, but from that it huddlesyon not follow, as the editors assume, that “all evidence” is simply “beside the point”.
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The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language – Wikipedia
To delineate the experience of living with and through a language a task beneath or beyond the ambitions of systematic grammarwe need fresh-minted terms and brilliant redescriptions such as the Cambridge Grammar supplies in its strong arguments for the claim that “English has no future tense”, soon to be reported in the Daily Mail, no doubt, as “dons say english has no future”. We hang on the words of style gurus about everything from trainers to varieties of olive oil, but on the subject of our language there is nothing to say, only market research grammsr report.
You can see the ambiguity from the possibility of rewriting with either “is” or “was” between “Michaelmas Term” and “lately”, and again between “Lord Chancellor” and “sitting”, and so on.
As a punishment for my sins in a previous life, I recently had to mark 64 examination scripts in which third-year undergraduates reading English at Cambridge offered their comments on the opening of Dickens’s Bleak House:. They rightly decline to prescribe usage, but they exceed their remit when they proscribe prescription, for it is a fact of language use that writers and speakers concern themselves with more than information throughput and grammaticality as strictly understood.
Yet a language like English is simultaneously virgin and long clapped-out, so old words for it are still good too.
Because linguists busy themselves with “actual usage” “synchronic” study of the language, in their termsthey cambridte professionally bound to scant other, earlier usages; the “long-standing” must always give way to the “actual”. As a punishment for my sins in a previous life, I recently had to mark 64 examination scripts in which third-year undergraduates reading English at Cambridge offered their comments on the opening of Dickens’s Bleak House: The traditional usage is actual in his lines every time caambridge reads them with understanding; it was still going strong when Dick Powell, in a Busby Berkeley musical, sang the magnificent compliment “I only have eyes for you”.
If that were grammae, then nobody could be “someone eminently worthy of being followed in matters of taste and literary style”, as they say on the same page, nor would there be any reason for appealing, as they sometimes do, to “the writings of highly prestigious authors” or “the usage of the best writers” they carefully refrain from naming these paragons.
He might have meant that the time-honoured conception of “humanity” was in ruins, or that there remained an abiding conception of “humanity in ruins”, kindness amid dereliction, or even that his experiences in France refreshed for him the old notion of “the Fall of Man”, a long-standing ruinousness of the human.
Language too is an affair which, from one point of view, pullm always just in the flush and tremor of beginning while, from an other, quite as sharp-eyed a point of view, it continues to run down foreseeable grooves formed by accumulated habit. Fretful sub-editors who want to yuddleston the better way with “which” and “that” must apply elsewhere.
The Cambridge Grammar spends 20 cambgidge well-observed pages on “number and countability” in current English, and would dismiss the claim that “one” should take a verb in the singular; “one” with a plural verb is not looseness but “usage”.
Similarly with gerunds, those elusive beasts from earlier grammars so magnificently drawn by Ronald Searle in his cartoons of “The Private Life of the Gerund” in How to Be Topp. He was not asking Celia to restrict her drinking of healths to his alone but either calling her his “onely” or, more likely, saying that huddlestob eyes were the one intoxicant he needed, just as “leave a kisse but in the cup” means that a blown kiss, the mere aftermath of her lips, is all he wants on his.
The Cambridge Grammar would call this “desententialisation”, and alert us to the lack of clear bearings on “time referred to” the time Dickens is writing about and “time of orientation” the time Dickens is writing in or from. Or consider some characteristic lines from one of the language’s most grammatically resourceful writers, Emily Dickinson: Nor are they to be wholly trusted when they tell us “The most frequent use of media is in the phrase the media, applied to the means of mass communication, the press, radio, and television, where both singular agreement and plural agreement are well established” we indiscriminately say “the media is Perhaps the adjective is here a new portmanteau word made up from “outworn” and “careless”.
Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes – gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. For the purposes of caambridge, sharp focus on current English is entirely legitimate, but there are things we may, and perhaps should, want to know about our language other than those synchronic description can reveal.
One of the Pet Shop Boys’ perkier songs has a chorus which goes: