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Traditional grammar

From Teflpedia

Traditional grammar (/trədɪʃənəl græmə/) is grammar derived from grammar analysis that is based on traditional principles and nomenclature.

Contrast modern grammar.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The traditional grammar of English was based on that of Latin since that was what early grammarians were familiar with, and possibly Aristotelian view that Latin was “closer to linguistic perfection” than English. Latin was a scholarly language, understood by sophisticated educated people, whereas English was a common (vulgar) language spoken by peasants and tradespeople.

Unfortunately, the direct application of Latin grammar to English doesn't work particularly well because of significant linguistic differences between Latin and English. Though both are Indo-European languages, English is a Germanic language whereas Latin was a Romance language.

Opposition to traditional grammar started really with the work of Otto Jespersen, who spoke a different Germanic language, Danish, as his native language.

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

Traditional grammar strongly influences pedagogical grammar, to the point where the terms used in pedagogical grammar often reflect those in traditional grammar. The incoherence of some parts of traditional grammar may cause comprehension problems for EFL learners, and difficulties for EFL teachers trying to explain it.

Teflpedia prefers modern scientific grammar, as that is more coherent, but mentions traditional terms where appropriate.