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DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS
“Limitations of Traditional Grammar”
Presented to: Muhammad Irfan Lodhi
Submitted by: Muhammad Asif Saleem.
Class: M. Phil. (Linguistics)
Roll No. 20
Department of Linguistics
The Islamia University of Bahawalpur
Limitations of Traditional Grammar
What is traditional Grammar?
Traditional Grammar is the speculative work of the medieval and the
prescriptive approach of the 18th Century grammarians basically it refer back to the
Aristotelian orientations towards the nature of language as it is shown in the work of the
ancient Greeks and Romans. There are ideas about sentence structure deriving form
Aristotle and Plato ideas about the parts of speech deriving from the socio-grammarians.
Limitations of traditional Grammar.
1. In one respect traditional grammar is a set of rules on which the English
language is based on the other hand it is a pile of an inappropriate rules and
short coming because if this type of grammar was perfect and appropriate then
there would be no need for so many models of modern grammar.
2. Traditional Grammar is basically structured on indo-European classical
languages. So, it is a poor model for the grammars of languages that differ from
Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.
3. It does not discern between all linguistic level such as phonetic, morphology,
syntactic and semantic.
4. In its essence it is normative and prescriptive rather than explicit and
descriptive. As Frank Palmer says “most of the rules of grammar have no real
justification and there is no serious reason condemning the errors they
prescribe. What is correct and what is not correct is ultimately only a matter of
what is accepted by society, for language is a matter of conventions with in
society. If every one says, “It is me” then surely “it is me” is correct English its
rules are not rational, it is inconsistent and in adequate as description of actual
language in use.
5. It rejects not only the contemporary usage but also the functional and social
varieties of Language.
6. In its approach it is diachronic (Historical) rather than synchronic. It tries to
incorporate a living language like a dead one. Fries in his book, “the structure
of English” challenges traditional grammar by the calling them not insightful,
pre-scientific, prescriptive and having a literary bias.
7. There may be about two hundred definitions of the sentence, yet they are not
able to differentiate between.
The girl is weeping.
The weeping girl.
According to rules of the traditional grammar “noun” is the name of a person,
place or thing yet it can not include pink, blue and purple in the list of nouns
although there are the names of color.
8. It is also noticed that traditional grammar gives importance to the written form
of language and it rejects the facts that spoken form is prior to the written form.
On the other hand it does not cover even the whole range of the written
language but it is bound to specific kinds of writing, the more formal styles, in
particular it gives a general conception of the nature of language in essentially
9. Traditional Grammar uses meaning as the primary tool of linguistic analysis.
Total meaning of a language utterance can not be analyzed in the present stage
of our knowledge. Meaning is a complex entity to understand of which a forma
description of language should form the base. Similarly it is going to treat
because there is a various categories of meaning there are two major types of
meaning (1) Social Meaning (2) Linguistic Meaning and Linguistic meaning is
divided into tow sub-categories (1) Lexical meaning (2) Structural meaning
similarly lexical meaning is divided into three sub-divisions(1) notional
meaning (2) referent ional meaning (3) contextual meaning.
How did language arise in the first place?
There are many questions such like but TG has not an adequate notion
of a linguistic rule. It appeals only to intuition. The rules are not adequate and whole
some the learner has to use his own common sense or judgment in matters of unstated
rules. This grammar concentrates on giving rules and defining terms but its rules and
definitions are even not satisfactory and they are not scientifically sound. John Lyons
says, “The Traditional Grammarian tended to assume, not only that the written
language was more fundamental that the spoken, but also that a particular form of the
written language, namely the literary language was inherently purer and more correct
that all other forms of the language written and spoken, and that it was his task, as a
grammarian, to preserve this form of the language from corruption”. ( An introduction
to theoretical linguistics).
In its approach traditional grammar shows itself as God given, neat,
Holy and does not allow the consideration for language change and ignores the fact that
grammar of language show also change as the language changes.
Despite the fact that traditional grammar is informal, unscientific full of
contradictions and inconsistencies, inexplicit, inadequate, and prescriptive
uneconomical and unwholesome and it ignores spoken language, language change,
contemporary usage and all the varieties of language. T is still crucial unit of English
language. It is not in so much what traditional grammar actually tells us about language
that is the real worrying factor as what it does not tell us. Thus there is no need for
whole scale change, it surely needs to be mended rather than ended. This is what
palmer has to say in his book “Grammar”. “Provided we are aware of the problem, we
can use the traditional parts of speech and their terminology as the basis for word
1. Frank Palmer (Grammar)
2. John Lyons (introduction to the theoretical linguistics).
3. Fries ( the Structure of English)
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