Letter: Standard English versus the fad of linguists

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tony Fairman is mistaken when he says that linguists 'still write about grammar as if it were monolithic'. He only need glance at the opening chapter of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik, 1985), the major source of grammatical reference for linguists, to see that this is not the case. A similarly catholic and humane viewpoint about the nature of language is taken by Professor David Crystal in his excellent Rediscover Grammar.

Professor Crystal was consulted by the 'experts' of the national curriculum council working on the review of the English curriculum; it is a pity that they did not take more notice of what he said. If they had done, they would not have come out with the nonsense about grammar that they did.

The linguistic knowledge is available; what teachers require is suitable teaching materials and training in their use.

Yours faithfully,


Hereford, Hereford and Worcester