Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Picture of Language - NYTimes.com

I liked diagramming sentences.  We did it in English, Latin and Greek in high school.  I think it really helped us to understand a sentence.  Key to understanding what the reader will understand.  (Yes, that is an incomplete sentence).  You get the idea. I had no idea that it was such a 19th century invention by a schoolmaster.  - GWC
A Picture of Language - NYTimes.com: by Kitty Burns Florey
"The curious art of diagramming sentences was invented 165 years ago by S.W. Clark, a schoolmaster in Homer, N.Y. [1] His book, published in 1847, was called “A Practical Grammar: In which Words, Phrases, and Sentences Are Classified According to Their Offices and Their Various Relations to One Another.” His goal was to simplify the teaching of English grammar. It was more than 300 pages long, contained information on such things as unipersonal verbs and “rhetorico-grammatical figures,” and provided a long section on Prosody, which he defined as “that part of the Science of Language which treats of utterance.”
It may have been unwieldy, but this formidable tome was also quite revolutionary: out of the general murk of its tiny print, incessant repetitions, maze of definitions and uplifting examples emerged the profoundly innovative, dazzlingly ingenious and rather whimsical idea of analyzing sentences by turning them into pictures. “A Practical Grammar” was a reaction against the way the subject had been taught in America since it began to be taught at all."

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