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ON THE PRINCIPLES OF
THE REV. E. THRING, M. A.
HEAD MASTER OF UPPINGHAM SCHOOL
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
WHAT is Grammar?
Probably no familiar word is so diverse in its meanings to different speakers.
Grammar, to some, seems to mean a history of a language, its origin, and changes.
A set of rules for speaking and reading a language.
A reservoir of all the words, idioms, usages, deviations from usage, possible or impossible, to be found in it.
A mixture of all these. In fact, Grammar is taken to mean anything that can be said about a language. And Grammars generally mix up, according to the taste or knowledge of the writer, everything pertaining to the language treated of-Letters, spelling, punctuation, &c. &c.
But, first of all, there is the broad distinction between Grammar in the sense of the common thought-laws by which every language in the world is controlled, and Grammar in the sense of the special laws of any one language.
And again, there is a vital difference in dealing with any one language as to what part of it is to be taught, and to whom.
A Grammar written for a foreigner ought to contain very much that is useless, or worse, for the natives of the country. A foreigner wants to learn to speak and read, the others speak and read with ease already.
A Grammar written for the natives of a country ought, in like manner, clearly to follow out a definite line.
The writer is dealing with persons who already speak and read the language; his business is to sort, arrange, light up, and put in an intelligent conscious shape materials which exist; a very different thing from supplying materials which do not exist as yet.
In like manner a Grammar for the unlearned should be different in kind from a Grammar for the learned.
Common Grammar is nothing more than seizing the speech in ordinary use, bringing the common sense of the user to bear on what he uses, making him wield it intelligently, and frame his own rules as he goes on. In this way Grammar may be made a