• David Crystal
Part of the Disorders of Human Communication book series (DISORDERS, volume 3)


An immediate problem with the term “grammar” arises out of the variety of its popular and scholarly interpretations. To carry out a grammatical analysis of a patient, or to talk of a grammatical disability, can mean different things to people of different backgrounds. Most of these variations, however, can be explained with reference to four main themes which characterize the history of ideas in the study of grammar.


Word Order Language Acquisition Phrase Structure Grammatical Structure Grammatical Development 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Nesfield (1898). For a historical review, see Robins (1967).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Examples of the prescriptive approach (i.e. the attempt to establish rules for the socially or stylistically correct use of language) may be found in Palmer (1971: Ch. 2), Crystal (1971: Ch. 2).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There are however signs of progress in the mother-tongue field, reflecting the progress which has for several years characterized work in foreign-language teaching. The emphasis of the Bullock Report (H.M.S.O. 1975) is in this direction, and grammars which pay proper attention to speech have been written (e.g. Mittins 1962 ). But their influence on most pedagogical practice is still marginal.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For example, Quirk et al. (1972), Jespersen (1909–1949).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chomsky (1964). See the discussion on p.17 above. In this approach, the notion is seen as a predictive account of a speaker’s competence.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Chomsky (1957, 1965, 1975). Examples of general notions deriving from this approach include the distinction between deep and surface structure, or the notion of grammatical transformation. For other theoretical models, see Lepschy (1970), Dinneen (1967), and for a general discussion, Matthews (1981).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For stratificational grammar, see Lamb (1966), systemic grammar (Halliday 1967), generative grammar (references above).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For the competence/performance distinction, see above, p. 18. The study of performance grammars, in a psycholinguistic context, goes beyond this, attempting to define the various psychological, neurological and physiological states which enter into the production and perception of speech.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    In English, inflections are limited to word-endings, such as -s, -ing, -er, -ed. Examples of word-formation include compounds (e.g. blackbird) and the use of prefixes and suffixes (e.g. de-valu-ation). For an introduction to morphology, see Matthews (1974).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    There is no simple correspondence between elements of.clause structure and their semantic function, e.g. Subjects usually “do” the action, but not always — they may “experience” or “receive” it, as in John saw a book, The window broke,or John was kicked. See further, p. 161.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See Quirk, et. al. (1972), and Crystal, Fletcher and Garman (1976) for its clinical applications; cf. Roberts (1956), Strang (1968), Halliday, McIntosh and Strevens (1964). For the alternatives referred to below, see Huddleston (1976), Matthews (1981). For clinical applications using other models, see Lee (1974), Morehead and Ingram (1973), Dever (1972).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See the review by McCarthy (1954). For a critique, see Crystal, Fletcher and Garman (1976: 9–11), Minifie, Darley and Sherman (1963), Rees (1971).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See further, Crystal, Fletcher and Garman (1976: 7–9), and the papers in the special volume on word-classes (Lingua, 1967 ).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    One of the earliest was Brown (1973), More recent textbooks include Dale (1976), Cruttenden (1979), de Villiers and de Villiers (1978), Fletcher and Garman (1979: Part I I ).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See further, Slobin (1973), Levelt (1975). We must guard against too ready a correlation between cognitive and linguistic stages, however. See, e.g. Corrigan (1978).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    On imitation, see Bloom, Hood, and Lightbown (1974), R. Clark (1977), Folger and Chapman (1978). On recent studies of the comprehension and production of specific structures, see Slobin and Welsh (1971), Clark, Hutcheson and Van Buren (1974), Shatz (1978), Sachs and Truswell (1978), Emerson (1979, 1980), Benedict ( 1979 ). For an early statement of the problem, see Fraser, Bellugi and Brown (1963).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    For problems in the acquisition of element order, see de Villiers and de Villiers (1973), Kail and Segui (1978), Bridges (1980).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    On individual differences, see Ramer (1976), Furrow, Nelson, and Benedict (1979), Bridges (1980). On specific grammatical structures: verb phrase (Fletcher 1979), passive (Baldie 1976, Horgan 1978 a), conjunctions (Lust 1977, Ardery 1980, Lust and Mervis 1980), adjective order (Richards 1979); on later grammatical development, Karmiloff-Smith (1979).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See Smith (1933), Ervin-Tripp (1970), Savié (1975), Crosby (1976), Snow (1977), Tyack and Ingram (1977), Horgan (1978 b), Cairns and Hsu (1978).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    In these lists, —Subject and —Object refer to the clause roles of the interrogative item, e.g. who is kicking? (who-Subject), who is he kicking? (who-Object). Intrans=Intransitive verb in the interrogativeGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Savie (1975) reinforces the point, showing the existence of an “incubation period” of 6 months or more between the mother’s use of these forms and the child’s subsequent use of them (cf. also Furrow, Nelson, and Benedict, 1979).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See Fletcher and Garman (1979: 128–129); but cf. Erreich, Valian and Winzemer (1980).Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Examples from Emerson (1979: 299). See also Kuhn and Phelps (1976), Corrigan (1975).Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    See Donaldson (1978), Fletcher and Garman (1979: Part III).Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    See Karmiloff-Smith (1979). On articles, see Maratsos (1976), Warden (1976); on the passive, Baldie (1976), Horgan (1978 a); on connectives Coker (1978), French and Brown (1977).Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    See Dore, Franklin, Miller and Ramer (1976), Bloom (1973).Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    See Quirk, et al ( 1972: Ch. 14). On the relevance of late intonation, see Cruttenden (1974), Chomsky (1970), and p. 73 above.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    Crystal, Fletcher, and Garman (1976), Crystal (1979 a), Crystal and Fletcher (1978).Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    Auxiliary verbs are illustrated in he is/was/has been going, he may/might/cango. The copula is a form of the verb be when it is the only verb in a clause, e.g. he is happy/a boy. See Quirk et at (1972: 820), where the notion is also applied to verbs with a similar linking function.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Cf. the discussion in Dalton and Hardcastle (1977: 69 ff.).Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    For syntactic blends, see Bolinger (1961). For order-of-mention, see Hatch (1971), Clark and Clark (1977: 129, 506 ff.), Coker (1978).Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Cf. the notion of micro-profile, introduced in Crystal (1979 a).Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    See Antinucci and Miller (1976), Macrae (1976), Fletcher (1979), Smith (1980).Google Scholar
  34. 35.
    Quirk et al. (1972:11–12). An alternative way of making the distinction is to refer to grammar as constituting the study of “closed systems” of contrasts in language (i.e. finite sets of mutually defining and mutually exclusive entities, e.g. singular vs. plural, the pronoun system, the tense system), whereas the lexicon deals with “open sets” of items (i.e. sets which are in principle extendable, and which lack the rule-governed interdependence characteristic of the above, e.g. items to do with movement, food, vehicles, etc.).Google Scholar
  35. 36.
    Lyons (1977: 637). See also, Fillmore (1971), Clark and Garnica (1974), Lyons (1975), Webb and Abramson (1976) and Wales (1979).Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    Compare: He’s badly dressed (pointing to a man) and A man came up. He was badly dressed. The first sentence is a deictic use of he,because its interpretation is wholly dependent on the non-linguistic situation. The second sentence is a non-deictic use of he,as it refers back to the phrase a man from the previous sentence. Its function is therefore one of linguistic cross-reference (an anaphoric function, as it is usually called). Because of the very different linguistic functions involved, it would not necessarily follow that a patient’s ability to use pronouns deictically would mean he could use them anaphorically: indeed, the reverse is usually the case.Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    A similar point applies to maternal input language: between 18 months and 21, around 70% of speech has immediate reference (Cross 1977: 169), a considerable proportion of which is deictic (especially using that, there and the),with gestural support (e.g. pointing). But by 2; 6, maternal reliance on gesture and deixis is much decreased, and more explicit language is predominant (see Bridges, 1979). On the general issue in language acquisition, see Macrae (1976), Clark (1978), Clark and Sengul (1978), Charney (1979), and the review in Wales (1979).Google Scholar
  38. 40.
    Cf. Limber (1976), Crystal, Fletcher and Garman (1976: Ch. 6 ).Google Scholar
  39. 41.
    See Twaddell (1960), Palmer (1974).Google Scholar
  40. 42.
    For more on error analysis, in second language learning, see Svartvik (1973).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Crystal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Linguistic ScienceUniversity of ReadingGreat Britain

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