Types of Grammar
David Crystal lists six types of
An approach that describes the grammatical constructions that are used in a
language, without making any evaluative judgements about tyheir standing in society. These
grammars are commonplace in linguistics, where it is standard practice to investigate a
'corpus' of spoken or written material, and to describe in detail the patterns it
A book specifically designed for teaching a foreign language, or for developing an
awareness of the mother tongue. Such 'tecjing grammars' are widely used in schools, so
much so that many people have only one meaning for the term 'grammar': a grammar book.
A manual that focuses on constructions where usage is deivided, and lays down rules
governing the socially correct use of language. These grammars were a formative influence
on language ttitudes in Europe and America during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their
influence lives on in handbooks of usage widely found today, such as the Dictionary of
Modern English Usage (1926) by Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933).
A grammatical description that tries to be as comprehensive as possible, so that it can
act as a reference book for those interested in establishing grammatical facts (in much
the same way as a dictionary is used as a 'reference lexicon'). Several North European
grammarians compiled handbooks of this type in the early 19th century, the best known
being the seven-volume Modern English Grammar m(1909-49) by the Danish grammarian Otto
Jespersen (1860-1943), and A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985) by
Randolph Quirk (1920-) et al.
An approach that goes beyond the study of individual languages, to determine what
constructs are needed in order to do any kind of grammatical analysis, and how these can
be applied consistently in the investigation of linguistic universals.
A term often used to summarize the range of attitudes and methods found in the period of
grammatical study before the advent of lingustic science. The 'tradition' in question os
over 2,000 years old, and includes the owrk of classical Greek and Roman grammarians,
Renaissance writers, and 18th-century prescriptive grammarians. It is difficult to
genrealize about such a wide variety of approaches, but linguist generally use the term
pejoratively, identifying an unscientific approach to grammatical study, in which
languages were analyzed in terms of Latin, with scant regard for empirical facts. However,
many basic notions used by modern approaches can be found in these early writings,
and there is now fresh interest in the study of traditional grammar, as part of the
history of linguistic ideas.
Source: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. 2nd
Edition. Cambridge University Press. 1997. (p. 88).
Dr. Carol Jamison
Gamble Hall 202B
Armstrong Atlantic State University
11935 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419