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By A K Ramanujan

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Additional resources for A generative grammar of Kannada

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L ike poetry, grammar is about the beauty of expressing exactly what we mean by placing the words just right. Understanding how grammar works puts the writer on the right path. When writers begin a definition by saying “Osmosis is when . ” they are failing to apply the concept that a subject complement, not an adverbial clause, must follow a linking verb. The “is when . ” definition is going to fall on its face because the key term has not been handled properly in the sentence. Definitions call for classification.

Below are two frames that will help students identify words that can serve as main verbs. To avoid the chain of seemingly endless definitions to identify sentences and fragments, teachers can take advantage of their students’ unconscious knowledge of what constitutes a complete sentence. Teachers can, for example, use the following frame to help students tap what they already know. Sentence Frame: They liked the idea that ___________________. Many word groups will fit in the frame, but whatever they are, they will all be genuine declarative sentences.

Is when” structure. This example demonstrates the relation- ship between grammar and the logical progression of ideas. Knowing grammar is useful, but even if it weren’t, learning it would still be worthwhile because it is interesting. Like chess, grammar is about how power and proximity govern relationships and possibilities. Like engineering, grammar is about structure, balance, efficiency and strength. Like mathematics, grammar is about patterns and forms. Like geology, grammar is at once eternal and dynamic.

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