Wilson Follett's On The Need Of Some Grammar

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Summary of “On the Need of Some Grammar”

1. In his chapter “On the Need of Some Grammar” found in Modern American Usage, Wilson Follett argues that we need grammar to govern our language. 2. Follett explains that the type of grammar we need is traditional. A traditional approach to grammar involves an emphasis on syntax. Syntax deals with how words relate to each other in a sentence. This knowledge of how words work together provides the type of logical analysis necessary to speak and write correctly. An emphasis on syntax demonstrates the conservative view that language is an art of expressing meaning. 3. Although conservatives advocate syntax, linguists say that we need morphology. Morphology is the most basic grammar which deals with
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Follett continues by explaining that although early descriptive grammarians were helpful, the activity of modern linguists is now harmful. Before linguists’ harmful activity began, early descriptive grammarians included men such as Henry Sweet who inspired the Danish scholar Otto Jespersen to produce A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. These men and their works were helpful by laying the foundation for traditional grammar. However, after these early grammarians, modern linguists introduced speechways, an idea which claims that writing and grammar books are artificial and unnecessary. This denial of the need of our need for grammar has proved harmful to the traditional foundations of…show more content…
Although conservative grammar abides by correctness, linguists say that errors often repeated are no longer errors. According to linguists, common errors are only considered to be incorrect by grammarians. As a results, linguists also claim that however people chose to speak should be considered correct with no regard for set standards. However, rules should not be thrown out just because evidence exists that they are being broken. Commonly broken rules do have the power to change language, especially by changing the meanings of words, but such errors should not make rules of grammar null and void. Without rules, communication would disintegrate, making this argument by linguists harmful to the purpose of
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