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Saturday, March 16, 2013

why grammar is important

When I was teaching English, I used to pose this question to my students:

In Dr. Seuss' book Green Eggs And Ham, what color is the ham?  We know that the egg are green, but what about the ham?  Is it also green?

If you understand grammar, or if you look at the pictures on the cover of the book, then you know that the ham is also green.  If it were not, then the phrase would be "ham and green eggs".

You see, grammar is composed of a set of rules that help us to communicate with each other, so when we use poor grammar, we communicate poorly.  Grammar is also the means for thinking clearly.

In the Trivium, the three basic areas of knowledge that Aristotle taught, grammar is the first.  Grammar gives you the building blocks from which you learn logic.  Grammar and logic together form the basis for the third area, rhetoric.

Grammar helps us to communicate clearly, logic helps us to form cogent ideas, and rhetoric presents those ideas to others.

As the first and most basic area of the Trivium, grammar is important.

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2 comments:

Bobby Morris said...

Interestingly (to me at least!) the artificial language Volapük has two words for "and", to distinguish between shared and separate adjectives. The phrase "Green Eggs and Ham" can thus be rendered as Nögs e Ham Grünik, where only the ham is green, or Nögs ä Ham Grünik, where the eggs are green as well.

You can't do this in Esperanto :-)

tuffy777 said...

Very interesting, Bobby Morris. Thank you for commenting.