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HUBER GRAY BUEHLER
ENGLISH MASTER IN THE HOTCHKISS SCHOOL ; AUTHOR OF
EXERCISES IN ENGLISH"
NEWSON & COMPANY
This book is an attempt to present the grammar of modern English in the manner prescribed by modern methods of instruction.
The general treatment of the subject has been determined by two considerations. The first is that when pupils begin the study of grammar, they not only are able to understand the language of standard English literature, but they are continually using sentences of their own with considerable fluency and accuracy. The second is that, though pupils have considerable skill in the use of language, they have little knowledge of the nature of sentences and little insight into the fundamental relations of subject, predicate, complement, and modifier
The second consideration makes unsuitable for classinstruction those formal treatises that take for granted a knowledge of the elements of sentence structure, and begin with the discussion of single words. The first consideration discredits the method of those text-books which, following the line of progress of a child's first efforts at language, begin with single words, and require pupils to build up the mother tongue bit by bit, as if it were something new and strange. The pupils whom we set to study grammar learn to use the parts of speech and the various types of the English sentence when they are very young; and they naturally find dry and unprofitable a study which ignores the power and knowledge already acquired. When a new language is to be learned, a synthetic treatment is
natural and interesting. But when the mother tongue is the subject of critical study, the aim is, not to learn new forms of speech, but to investigate the nature of forms that are already familiar; therefore the treatment should be analytic.
With regard to arrangement, the starting point is the sentence; for surely the first months given to the formal study of the mother tongue should be spent, not in examining the properties of nouns and the other parts of speech, but in learning to separate sentences into subject, predicate, complements, and modifiers, whether these be single words or groups of words, and whether the sentences be long or short. These larger elements of sentence structure are the foundations of grammar, and they must be familiar before the pupil is ready for the study of separate words. They influence both the classification and the inflection of the parts of speech; therefore neither the classification nor the inflection of the parts of speech can be effectively studied until these are mastered.
With regard to method, the presentation is as far as possible inductive, taking familiarity with English for granted, and leading the pupil to observe, compare, and classify grammatical facts for himself. But while the author has avoided dogmatic instruction, he has, on the other hand, shunned with equal care that vagueness which results from merely asking the pupil questions and leaving him to answer them for himself. The pupil is not only led to observe for himself; he is also guided to the right inferences. Whenever, as in discussing some points of usage, it has been necessary to employ dogmatic teaching, care has been taken to speak no more strongly than the facts of usage warrant. The forms employed to exhibit graphically the logical structure of sentences—in many books a hindrance to the pupil rather than a help—have received the united attention of the printer and the author in an attempt to make them appeal through the eye directly to the understanding
The fund of knowledge that pupils bring into the class-room has also determined the limits which the author has set to his work. Many things often elaborately set forth in text-books may be safely taken for granted as already known. To explain them is a violation of the pedagogic maxim, “Teach the pupil what he does not know.” Even the analysis of sentences, important as it is, has its limits as a means of instruction and training. In going beyond the general analysis which brings into relief the logical structure of a complex sentence we do not help the pupil, but present him with linguistic riddles that make his native tongue offensive to him.'
As to inflections and the uses of the various parts of speech, these are already known empirically, and the business of the grammarian is simply to help the pupil to systematize his knowledge and to avoid common
Distinctions and classifications, if they are too minute or numerous, confuse the mind and loosen its grasp of important things. The author has tried to make a book that will help teachers to awaken in boys and girls what is sometimes called the language sense, and strengthen their grasp of their mother tongue.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty that confronts the author of a school grammar is the diversity of opinion among grammarians as to the proper classification and nomenclature for certain locutions. Anyone, for example, who undertakes to present the English verb
1 $. Ș. Laurie: “Lectures on Language and Linguistic Method in the School,”