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ERIC Number: EJ901835
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 20
ISSN: ISSN-0155-2147
Grammar and Usage: History and Myth
Watson, Ken
English in Australia, v45 n2 p31-37 2010
The paper first traces the history of thinking about language from the Greek writers of the fifth century BC to the development of the first Greek grammar in about 100 BC. Since the glories of Ancient Greek literature predate the development of grammar, there is every reason to doubt the received wisdom that one must have an explicit knowledge of grammar in order to write well. Moving on to the age of Shakespeare and his Jacobean successors, we find that a textbook on grammar was seen simply as an aid for foreigners wishing to learn English, rather than as a necessity for native speakers. The effects of the prescriptive grammarians of the 18th century on education are explored, and the fact that it is usage, not grammar, that controls the language is emphasised. An alternative rhetorical model is briefly noted, but the main emphasis of the latter part of the paper is on the failure of the National English Curriculum to take heed both of the research into early language development and of the extensive body of research on the folly of demanding of children an explicit knowledge of a grammatical system.
Australian Association for the Teaching of English. English House, 416 Magill Road, Kensington Gardens, SA 5068 Australia. Tel: +61-8-8332-2845; Fax: +61-8-8333-0394; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)