Prism of Grammar How Child Language Illuminates Humanism

ISBN-10: 0262512580

ISBN-13: 9780262512589

Edition: 2009

Authors: Tom Roeper

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Every sentence we hear is instantly analyzed by an inner grammar; just as a prism refracts a beam of light, grammar divides a stream of sound, linking diverse strings of information to different domains of mindmemory, vision, emotions, intentions. In The Prism of Grammar, Tom Roeper brings the abstract principles behind modern grammar to life by exploring the astonishing intricacies of child language. Adult expressions provide endless puzzles for the child to solve. The individual child's solutions ("Don't uncomfortable the cat" is one example) may amuse adults but they also reveal the complexity of language and the challenges of mastering it. The tiniest utterances, says Roeper, reflect the whole mind and engage the child's free will and sense of dignity. He offers numerous and novel "explorations"many at the cutting edge of current workthat anyone can try, even in conversation around the dinner table. They elicit how the child confronts "recursion"the heartbeat of grammarthrough endless possessives ("John's mother's friend's car"), mysterious plurals, contradictory adjectives, the marvels of ellipsis, and the deep obscurity of reference ("thereit is, right here"). They are not tests of skill; they are tools for discovery and delight, not diagnosis. Each chapter on acquisition begins with a commonsense look at how structures workmoving from the simple to the complexand then turns to the literary and human dimensions of grammar. One important human dimension is the role of dialect in society and in the lives of children. Roeper devotes three chapters to the structure of African-American English and the challenge of responding to linguistic prejudice. Written in a lively style, accessible and gently provocative, The Prism of Grammaris for parents and teachers as well as studentsfor everyone who wants to understand how children gain and use languageand anyone interested in the social, philosophical, and ethical implications of how we see the growing mind emerge.
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Book details

List price: $23.95
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 2/13/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 376
Size: 7.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.188

Goals and Grand Perspectives
Setting the Stage
Grammar's Gift to Our Image of Human Nature
Why Language Acquisition Is a Challenge to the Child
First Words
Glimpses of the Mind
First Phrases
Glimpses of Grammar
The Absence of Absolute Reference
The Heartbeat of Grammar
The Structure of Silence
The Pantheon of Plurals
From Possible Worlds to the Ethics of Our World
Microdialects and Language Diversity
Language Variation
Emotion Overtakes Structure
Are We All Bilingual?
The Riches of African-American English
Finding Philosophy and Morality in Every Sentence
Philosophical Consequences
The Path from Mathematics to Human Dignity
False False Belief Belief and True False Belief Belief
The Ideas behind the Concept of "Idea"
In Defense of Dignity
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