Listening to David Crystal is always a joyful learning experience and we are grateful to IATEFL online for arranging an interview with him during the IATEFL Glasgow conference, 2017. During the interview, David Crystal talked about his latest book on the glamour of grammar and the impact of Brexit on the English language.
‘Making Sense: the glamorous story of grammar’ is a great tribute to grammar by one of the greatest experts of the English language who knows how to demystify grammar dispelling the popular misconceptions about grammar. Grammar is glamorous and both the words ‘grammar’ and ‘glamour’ are related, David points out during the interview.
“Why do you call grammar glamorous? How is English grammar glamorous?” Grammar is glamorous if you look at it from ‘semantic’ and ‘pragmatic’ perspectives, David asserts with examples. Why do we say, “you are prohibited” instead of “We prohibit you”? Words by themselves do not make sense, it is the grammar that expresses the meaning, it is the grammar that makes sense of our oral or written discourses.
Listening to David, I remembered what he had written in his book “Making Sense: the glamoros story of Grammar.” In the said book he had categorically stated, “ Words by themselves do not make sense. They express a meaning, of course, but it’s a vague sort of meaning. Only by putting words into real sentences do we begin to make sense. We begin to understand each other clearly and precisely, thanks to grammar, because grammar is the study of how sentences work.”
David admits that for most people grammar is boring, it’s just analysis. People always feel uneasy about the various points of grammar, they are often worried that what they say may not always be what they mean. During the course of the interview David assures us that grammar need not be daunting. We are afraid of: grammar because we do not know the true nature and function of grammar, the more we understand it, he argues, the more sense we will make.
In order to make his point of view clearer, David says that learning grammar is like learning driving. Learning to drive does not mean learning the functions of the wheel, the brake, or the other parts of the engine, it is learning all about the road and the sensitivity. Similarly, learning grammar does not mean learning the functions of the subject or the predicate, it is about the sensitivity of the language.
During the interview, David expresses his views on children and adults learning grammar and the impact of Brexit on English language. If you are interested to know more, log in to http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/interview/interview-david-crystal . I am interested in the glamour of the English grammar only, stylistically speaking. Grammar and stylistics go hand in hand, if you study grammar, study stylistics.