The Science Of Grammar

He science of grammar, whatever we may suppose to be its just limits, does not appear to have been better

The Science Of Grammar

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Министерство образования Республики Беларусь

Учреждение образования

«Гомельский государственный университет

им. Ф. Скорины»


Филологический факультет







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Студентка группы К-42

Лапицкая Т.Е.








Гомель 2006




1. Grammar bears to language

2. Grammar is the art of writing and speaking correctly

3. The term grammar

4. The composition of language






"Haec de Grammatica quam brevissime potui: non ut omnia dicerem sectatus, (quod infinitum erat,) sed ut maxima necessaria."--QUINTILIAN. _De Inst. Orat._, Lib. i, Cap. x.

Language, in the proper sense of the term, is peculiar to man; so that, without a miraculous assumption of human powers, none but human beings can make words the vehicle of thought. An imitation of some of the articulate sounds employed in speech, may be exhibited by parrots, and sometimes by domesticated ravens, and we know that almost all brute animals have their peculiar natural voices, by which they indicate their feelings, whether pleasing or painful. But language is an attribute of reason, and differs essentially not only from all brute voices, but even from all the chattering, jabbering, and babbling of our own species, in which there is not an intelligible meaning, with division of thought, and distinction of words.

1. Grammar bears to language


Speech results from the joint exercise of the best and noblest faculties of human nature, from our rational understanding and our social affection; and is, in the proper use of it, the peculiar ornament and distinction of man, whether we compare him with other orders in the creation, or view him as an individual preeminent among his fellows. Hence that science which makes known the nature and structure of speech, and immediately concerns the correct and elegant use of language, while it surpasses all the conceptions of the stupid or unlearned, and presents nothing that can seem desirable to the sensual and grovelling, has an intrinsic dignity which highly commends it to all persons of sense and taste, and makes it most a favourite with the most gifted minds. That science is Grammar. And though there be some geniuses who affect to despise the trammels of grammar rules, to whom it must be conceded that many things which have been unskillfully taught as such, deserve to be despised; yet it is true, as Dr. Adam remarks, that, "The study of Grammar has been considered an object of great importance by the wisest men in all ages."--_Preface to Latin and English Gram._, p. iii.

Grammar bears to language several different relations, and acquires from each a nature leading to a different definition. First, It is to language, as knowledge is to the thing known; and as doctrine, to the truths it inculcates. In these relations, grammar is a science. It is the first of what have been called the seven sciences, or liberal branches of knowledge; namely, grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Secondly, It is as skill, to the thing to be done; and as power, to the instruments it employs. In these relations, grammar is an art; and as such, has long been defined, "_ars recte scribendi, recteque loquendi_" the art of writing and speaking correctly. Thirdly, It is as navigation, to the ocean, which nautic skill alone enables men to traverse. In this relation, theory and practice combine, and grammar becomes, like navigation, a practical science. Fourthly, It is as a chart, to a coast which we would visit. In this relation, our grammar is a text-book, which we take as a guide, or use as a help to our own observation. Fifthly, It is as a single voyage, to the open sea, the highway of nations. Such is our meaning, when we speak of the grammar of a particular text or passage.

Again: Grammar is to language a sort of self-examination. It turns the faculty of speech or writing upon itself for its own elucidation; and makes the tongue or the pen explain the uses and abuses to which both are liable, as well as the nature and excellency of that power, of which, these are the two grand instruments. From this account, some may begin to think that in treating of grammar we are dealing with something too various and changeable for the understanding to grasp; a dodging Proteus of the imagination, who is ever ready to assume some new shape, and elude the vigilance of the inquirer. But let the reader or student do his part; and, if he please, follow us with attention. We will endeavour, with welded links, to bind this Proteus, in such a manner that he shall neither escape from our hold, nor fail to give to the consulter an intelligible and satisfactory response. Be not discouraged, generous youth. Hark to that sweet far-reaching note:

"Sed, quanto ille magis formas se vertet in omnes, Tanto, nate, magis contende tenacia vincla." VIRGIL.

Geor. IV, 411.

"But thou, the more he varies forms, beware To strain his fetters with a stricter care." DRYDEN'S VIRGIL.

If for a moment we consider the good and the evil that are done in the world through the medium of speech, we shall with one voice acknowledge, that not only the faculty itself, but also the manner in which it is used, is of incalculable importance to the welfare of man. But this reflection does not directly enhance our respect for grammar, because it is not to language as the vehicle of moral or of immoral sentiment, of good or of evil to mankind, that the attention of the grammarian is particularly directed. A consideration of the subject in these relations, pertains rather to the moral philosopher. Nor are the arts of logic and rhetoric now considered to be properly within the grammarian's province. Modern science assigns to these their separate places, and restricts grammar, which at one period embraced all learning, to the knowledge of language, as respects its fitness to be the vehicle of any particular thought or sentiment which the speaker or writer may wish to convey by it. Accordingly grammar is commonly defined, by writers upon the subject, in the special sense of an art--"the art of speaking or writing a language with propriety or correctness."--_Webster's Dict._


2. Grammar is the art of writing and speaking correctly


Lily says, "Grammatica est recte scribendi atque loquendi ars;" that is, "Grammar is the art of writing and speaking correctly." Despauter, too, in his definition, which is quoted in a preceding paragraph, not improperly placed writing first, as being that with which grammar is primarily concerned. For it ought to be remembered, that over any fugitive colloquial dialect, which has never been fixed by visible signs, grammar has no control; and that the speaking which the art or science of grammar teaches, is exclusively that which has reference to a knowledge of letters. It is the certain tendency of writing, to improve speech. And in proportion as books are multiplied, and the knowledge of written language is diffused, local dialects, which are beneath the dignity of grammar, will always be found to grow fewer, and their differences less. There are, in the various parts of the world, many languages to which the art of grammar has never yet been applied; and to which, therefore, the definition or true idea of grammar, however general, does not properly extend. And even where it has been applied, and is now honoured as a popular branch of study, there is yet great room for improvement: barbarisms and solecisms have not been rebuked away as they deserve to be.

Melancthon says, "Grammatica est certa loquendi ac scribendi ratio, Latinis Latine." Vossius, "Ars bene loquendi eoque et scribendi, atque id Latinis Latine." Dr. Prat, "_Grammatica est recte loquendi atque scribendi ars._" Ruddiman also, in his Institutes of Latin Grammar, reversed the terms writing and speaking, and defined grammar, "_ars rece loquendi scribendique_;" and, either from mere imitation, or from the general observation that speech precedes writing, this arrangement of the words has been followed by most modern grammarians. Dr. Lowth embraces both terms in a more general one, and says, "Grammar is the art of rightly expressing our thoughts by words." It is, however, the province of grammar, to guide us not merely in the expression of our own thoughts, but also in our apprehension of the thoughts, and our interpretation of the words, of others. Hence, Perizonius, in commenting upon Sanctius's imperfect definition, "_Grammatica est ars recte loquendi_," not improperly asks, "_et quidni intelligendi et explicandi_?" "and why not also of understanding and explaining?" Hence, too, the art of reading is virtually a part of grammar; for it is but the art of understanding and speaking correctly that which we have before us on paper. And Nugent has accordingly given us the following definition: "Grammar is the art of reading, speaking, and writing a language by rules."--_Introduction to Dict._, p. xii.[1]

The word _recte_, rightly, truly, correctly, which oc

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