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Really, modal verbs are tenseless

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 12:30 am
@George,
49 66 20 79 6f 75 20 61 6e 64 20 64 65 61 64 20 70 65 6f 70 6c 65 20 63 61 6e 20 72 65 61 64 20 68 65 78 2c 20 68 6f 77 20 6d 61 6e 79 20 70 65 6f 70 6c 65 20 63 61 6e 20 72 65 61 64 20 68 65 78 3f 20
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 12:38 am
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
I have not opened any thread ever to criticize anyone's grammar.


JTT, I don't agree with your take. I know it's part of your position on descriptive linguistics and you've created a new thread for it, but I'll answer you here.

Quote:
It isn't within the realm of Descriptivism to criticise other people's grammar. There is a group dedicated to that and they are called Prescriptivists.

Descriptivists do, of course, criticize other people's takes on grammar when they feel that the language is being misrepresented.


You don't get to have your cake an eat it, either it's criticism or it isn't. Just saying that you don't criticize their grammar but you criticize their take on grammar misses the point. It's quibbling over the nature of the criticism and one of my big qualms with the high horse that some descriptivists get on is that their very criticism of prescriptivists is prescriptive in nature.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 01:18 am
@Robert Gentel,
73 68 65 65 73 73 21 0d 0a 0d 0a 57 68 79 20 61 72 65 20 79 6f 75 20 67 75 79 73 20 74 61 6c 6b 69 6e 67 20 61 62 6f 75 74 20 79 6f 75 72 20 65 78 27 73 3f 0d 0a 0d 0a 28 53 6f 72 72 79 2c 20 49 27 76 65 20 74 72 6f 75 62 6c 65 20 70 72 6f 6e 6f 75 6e 63 69 6e 67 20 74 68 65 20 61 73 70 69 72 61 74 65 20 68 29
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:00 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
You don't get to have your cake an eat it, either it's criticism or it isn't. Just saying that you don't criticize their grammar but you criticize their take on grammar misses the point. It's quibbling over the nature of the criticism and one of my big qualms with the high horse that some descriptivists get on is that their very criticism of prescriptivists is prescriptive in nature.


Robert, you've confused two things here. First, I have never created a thread to criticise anyone's grammar. That much is clear. I have posted examples from real life English speakers to illustrate some points, but in neither, that's two, did I criticise the collocation.

You're going to have to do more thinking on this. You don't understand the nature of descriptivism or it seems, prescriptivism. Being prescriptive consists of telling someone to follow grammar rules that aren't rules. Being descriptive involves describing the language as it actually works.

So, I don't criticise individual's use of grammar. You've never heard me say that one must do this or you should do that to speak properly.

I do criticise when I believe that a person is not representing the rules of language accurately. Is it possible that I can be wrong, most assuredly it is but it's not possible to be prescriptive when one is trying to describe something accurately.

JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:20 am
@Francis,
I see that you agree that English modal verbs are tenseless, Francis. But I partially disagree with you on your last point.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 12:20 pm
@JTT,
Yes, it's not an aspirate H...
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 01:27 pm
@Francis,
I thought not.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 01:27 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
You're going to have to do more thinking on this. You don't understand the nature of descriptivism or it seems, prescriptivism.


I understand it, this is disagreement about the validity of the pretext that as a self-proclaimed descriptivist you don't criticize the grammar of others, not failure to understand the nature of descriptivism.

Quote:
So, I don't criticise individual's use of grammar. You've never heard me say that one must do this or you should do that to speak properly.

I do criticise when I believe that a person is not representing the rules of language accurately.


And what I'm saying is that there's no material difference outside of a theoretical argument about linguistics. In either case it's criticism, and you are disputing what the correct description is. That you aren't also specifically saying that others should use the language a particular way doesn't make a significant difference except in that you get to proclaim your adherence to the descriptivism camp, which is a meaningless distinction to your interlocutors.

In either case you are criticizing their grammar, one way is to criticize how they use the language and the other is to criticize how they describe how they use the language. In effect it's not materially different except in that you get to label yourself this way.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 01:47 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
And what I'm saying is that there's no material difference outside of a theoretical argument about linguistics. In either case it's criticism, and you are disputing what the correct description is.


But linguistics is all about language. The exception here is that it's not a criticism of anyone's personal use of language.


Quote:
That you aren't also specifically saying that others should use the language a particular way doesn't make a significant difference except in that you get to proclaim your adherence to the descriptivism camp, which is a meaningless distinction to your interlocutors.


It's only a meaningless distinction to those who don't grasp the differences between P & D. For someone who holds onto a rule that was never a rule, say the proscription against using 'can' for permission, when the facts so clearly tell us this is not so, telling them they're wrong is not a prescription.

Quote:
In either case you are criticizing their grammar, one way is to criticize how they use the language and the other is to criticize how they describe how they use the language. In effect it's not materially different except in that you get to label yourself this way.


I'm afraid that you don't understand, Robert. When I criticise a prescription, it isn't their grammar. It's simply a memorized rule, one that even the most avid prescriptivists don't follow.

But I'm still at a loss to understand your position when you've sat back for all these years while various people have taken completely unwarranted pot shots at other people's grammar. Where were you when the New Jersey gentleman was knocking a poster's language use? Where were you when Set did it, numerous times? [He not the only one but he's right up there]

Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 02:48 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
But linguistics is all about language. The exception here is that it's not a criticism of anyone's personal use of language.


I don't think that is a distinction that matters as much to anyone else. Whether you are criticizing their use of the language or their understanding of grammar is roughly the same in effect.

Quote:
It's only a meaningless distinction to those who don't grasp the differences between P & D. For someone who holds onto a rule that was never a rule, say the proscription against using 'can' for permission, when the facts so clearly tell us this is not so, telling them they're wrong is not a prescription.


It is a criticism of their grammar. Criticizing someone's stated grammar rules is to criticize their grammar. Grammar doesn't just encompass someone's use of the language but also encompasses the study thereof and the rules that govern it.

Just because you aren't picking out a live example doesn't mean it isn't part of their grammar. A claim about a grammar rule is someone's grammar.

Quote:
I'm afraid that you don't understand, Robert. When I criticise a prescription, it isn't their grammar. It's simply a memorized rule, one that even the most avid prescriptivists don't follow.


Come on now, it's not like there's folk out there with original grammar ideas being criticized to compare to. Of course they are memorized rules, that is the nature of grammar. When a prescriptivist criticizes someone's grammar he too is not criticizing an original invention, but something learned (or not learned) by rote.

Quote:
But I'm still at a loss to understand your position when you've sat back for all these years while various people have taken completely unwarranted pot shots at other people's grammar. Where were you when the New Jersey gentleman was knocking a poster's language use? Where were you when Set did it, numerous times? [He not the only one but he's right up there]


I have no idea who the New Jersey guy you refer to is, but quite frankly these arguments remind me of the children who protest "but she did it tooo!"

Maybe I wasn't around, maybe I didn't find it obnoxious. I can imagine there are plenty of reasons and the notion that someone must uniformly criticize everything similar to have a point doesn't really make sense.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 05:39 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
I don't think that is a distinction that matters as much to anyone else. Whether you are criticizing their use of the language or their understanding of grammar is roughly the same in effect.


No, Robert, they are vastly different. "criticizing their use of the language" is prescriptive and I simply don't do that for at least a couple of reasons; I don't know all uses in all dialects; how someone uses language within their dialect and even within a narrower group is not up to me to decide. If an ESL asks about such, we can let them know that it's nonstandard but opinions do not drive language, they never have. If they did, then these prescriptions would be followed, they're not.

"their understanding of grammar" is a wholly different set of circumstances. And like any other topic here at A2K, there's nothing that should stop me or anyone from discussing someone's take on grammar.

Quote:
It is a criticism of their grammar. Criticizing someone's stated grammar rules is to criticize their grammar. Grammar doesn't just encompass someone's use of the language but also encompasses the study thereof and the rules that govern it.

Just because you aren't picking out a live example doesn't mean it isn't part of their grammar. A claim about a grammar rule is someone's grammar.


No, it clearly is not. I gave one example, 'can vs may'. If and when people state that 'can' can't be used for permission, then those people are wrong; wrong in fact and wrong in grammar.

When people state that modals have tense then it most clearly is NOT part of their grammar because modern English speakers can't use the Historical Past Tense forms as an actual past tense, and they, all the time, use the Historical Present Tense forms to describe past tense situations.

There are many many more examples where those who choose to spout prescriptions are doing so not because they're part of their REAL grammar, it's because they are simply repeating old canards.


JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 09:57 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

I have no idea who the New Jersey guy you refer to is, but quite frankly these arguments remind me of the children who protest "but she did it tooo!"


It was Frank Apisa but there have been others. The fact remains, I do not criticise others language, but you keep intimating I do. You were wrong on this thread and you were wrong on the other.

Quote:
Maybe I wasn't around, maybe I didn't find it obnoxious. I can imagine there are plenty of reasons and the notion that someone must uniformly criticize everything similar to have a point doesn't really make sense.


It certainly brings to mind questions of one's motives.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 10:15 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
No, Robert, they are vastly different.


To you, but that's what we are going in circles about. You think this is a huge distinction just because it lets you say you aren't a prescriptivist, but I've never met anyone cares about that as much as you do.

So we'll have to agree to disagree, I don't want to rinse, wash and repeat.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 11:55 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
To you, but that's what we are going in circles about. You think this is a huge distinction just because it lets you say you aren't a prescriptivist, but I've never met anyone cares about that as much as you do.


Not just me, Robert, to all of language science.

I care because I, like so many others in the field of language have gotten awfully tired of people misrepresenting language rules.

I care because because these prescriptions made my job of teaching ESLs that much more difficult. When they follow the "rules", they produce strange language.

I care because I care for my ESL students and it's a shame that they are denied certain language structures because of the idiocy of prescriptivism.

I care because I have a great interest in language and in how people use it.

I care because, well, just because it's so damn interesting.

Quote:
So we'll have to agree to disagree.


Fair enough. Now, what's your take on the modal verbs?

0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 11:46 am
I asked this,

Quote:
Were you "taught" that 'could' is the past tense of 'can', 'might' the past of 'may', 'should the past of 'shall', 'would' the past of 'will'?


of Panzade in another thread and then thought better of it and moved it here. Any other second language learners who want to, feel free to weigh in.
0 Replies
 
 

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