Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Review of Analyzing Grammar: an Introduction

Information about the book

  • AUTHOR:  Paul R. Kroeger
  • TITLE: Analyzing Grammar
  • Subtitle:  An Introduction 
  • PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press
  • YEAR: 2005
  • Pages: 364
  • REVIEWER: Mehdi ZOUAOUI, English Instructor


The book “Analyzing Grammar: an Introduction” is one of the valuable resources written by Paul R. Kroeger where he delved into dynamics of Grammar. It’s a must-have reference for linguistics majors, young researchers and even fans of the world causality in grammar and why things are the way they are in languages. 

Grammatical Form

In the first chapter, the author begins by talking about grammatical forms and their underlying implications on grammar and how this changes from one language to another. For instance, in one of the chinese dialects there is no explicit word that carries the meaning of “hello” but this meaning is rather conveyed in a different way.The author proposes, per se, that describing the grammar of a given language designates the ability of the speaker to tell apart correct forms from incorrect ones. Having said that, we can see that there are some rules that are consciously learned at schools. These rules tell us how the language should be used and are often called “prescriptive rules”.

Analyzing Word Structure

In the second chapter, the author voices that the method of recurring partials with constant meaning is fulfilled when:
  • They can occur in the same environment(s).
  • They replace one with the other which leads to a difference in meaning. 

This method is used to recognize contrasting linguistic elements and includes three types:minimal contrast, recurring partials, and pattern-matching.
In the world of words, morphemes, which are according to Hockett (Hockett,1958) the smallest individually meaningful elements in the utterances of a language, stand out into different forms. Morphemes that are usually added to the root morphemes are called “affixes” which affect this root; however, it is not always easy to predict their meanings or functions. Thus, the author suggests some rules for that purpose: 
  • An affix is always bound, but a root is often free.
  • A root normally carries lexical meaning,and an affix frequently carries only grammatical meaning.
  • An affix is always part of a closed class, unlike roots that usually belong to an open class.

After that the author focuses on the topic of representing word structure that can be fulfilled by means of position class chart. This tool demonstrates a position in which a certain class of morphemes can occur and it is important to bear in mind that position class charts are a best fit for language where:
  1. Each morpheme has a simple linear ordering relationship with all other morphemes in the same word.
  2. Each affix expresses only one grammatical feature or category.
  3. All affixes which express the same grammatical category have the same ordering relationships with all other classes of morphemes.
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