Grammar Evolution and Simple Sentences @ Link Wanderlust


Grammar Nazis might have to lower their guns. Even if you don’t like the way the English language is evolving, ‘resistance is futile’. I remember how Wren and Martin was such an integral part of English education but even if we think the rules of language have been set in place, chance plays a key role in how language changes over a period of centuries.

“The grammar of negating a sentence has changed from “Ic ne secge” (Beowulf, c. 900) to “Ic ne sege noht” (the Ormulum, c. 1100) to “I seye not” (Chaucer, c. 1400) to “I doe not say” (Shakespeare, c. 1600) before returning to the familiar “I don’t say” (Virginia Woolf, c. 1900).”

For more read Resistance to changes in grammar is futile, say researchers by Nicola Davis.


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Speaking of grammar, Jeff Dolven’s eight-part series called Life Sentence deconstructs a sentence in each part. The sentence I read about was ‘The trees wave, the clouds pass’, a sentence from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.

The author breaks down the sentence grammatically. He explains which is the subject and which the predicate. He explains the syntax or word order: Subject Verb Object. There are two simple sentences separated by a comma.

He mentions the context in which the sentence is placed. He then focuses on the semantic aspect. What does this sentence mean? There is so much going in a six-word sentence. This is why a writer pays so much heed to the constructing of sentences; so much rides on the choices of syntax, vocabulary and semantics.

Read The Laws of Simple Sentences by Jason Dolven.

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