This book presents a course of lectures in the theory of English grammar which is taught at the foreign languages departments of pedagogical universities. This course" usually occupies a very modest place in the curriculum. Because of the limited amount of time and the complexity of the theoretical issues addressed, this course traditionally has the reputation of being extremely difficult and even scary for some students. Yet the importance of theoretical knowledge for a foreign language teacher about how the language works can hardly be overestimated. A really good teacher should be able to answer the numerous 'hows' and 'whats' and 'whys' of the students. The mission of practical grammar is to say whatgrammatical form must be used, how the sentence is built whereas the theoretical grammar is entitled to explain whythe language system works this or that way. This book does not cover all the problems of grammatical theory and can therefore be considered as an additional material to the fundamental book by M.Y.Blokh "A Course in Theoretical English Grammar". I concentrated my attention on the most complicated and controversial issues of English grammar trying to discuss them in a simple language thus hoping to make the subject less scary and more digestive.
As we know, the previous century has seen the rise and flourish of different types of grammars: descriptive, generative, functional, communicative, and cognitive. The main approach pursued in this book may be defined as functional-systemic though I have tried to take into consideration the constructive ideas of other linguistic trends, especially cognitive and communicative, the more so because these trends reveal a marked tendency for integration.
The underlying concepts upon which the interpretation of grammatical issues in this book is based can be summarized in the following way:
- language is an integral system in which all elements and all levels are so closely interrelated that nothing can happen on one level without affecting the other levels;
- language is a dynamic and to a large extent asymmetrical rather than a symmetrical system. Its various subsystems are constantly interacting with one another. As a result of this interaction there are no rigid boundaries between them, there exist transitional, or peripheral zones inhabited by units that share the features of the interacting classes or categories;
- of all the levels of the language grammar is closest to mentality and it reflects in its categories a particular way of a nation's looking at the world;
- being a part of culture language is culture- sensitive and grammatical categories may also be culture-sensitive to a certain extent;
- as language is used for speech production, meaning is always the beginning and the end point of it;
- the meaning of a grammatical form is best manifested in a context larger than a sentence;
- in teaching the grammar of a foreign language, especially to prospective teachers, it is worthwhile to constantly compare the grammatical systems of a foreign and a native language. By comparing the language we study with other languages and especially with our mother tongue we can see its specificity much better. This consistent comparison helps us to predict and prevent grammatical mistakes caused by the interference of the mother tongue.
Many of the ideas expressed in this book were shaped during my postgraduate course at the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute and during my work at the candidate and doctoral dissertations. I would particularly like to acknowledge my teachers A.P. Shapkin, N.F. Irtenyeva and M.Y. Blokh whose voices can't be heard throughout the pages of this book. I am also indebted to E.S. Kubryakova who did a lot to spread the ideas of cognitive linguistics in this country and whose own works in cognitive linguistics and especially in the parts-of-speech theory played an important role in shaping my views. I am grateful to my colleagues of the English Philology Department of the Barnaul State Pedagogical University for their encouragement and collaboration and to my students for their interest in my subject and their thought-provoking questions. My special words of gratitude are to Professor E.Y. Kurlyand, Director of the Linguistic Institute, Barnaul State Pedagogical University and the Department of English Grammar, Moscow Pedagogical State University for their review and critical remarks, which were very helpful in finalizing the manuscript for publication. My deepest thanks are to my family for their support and patience.
Research for this publication was supported in part by a Fulbright grant (#68425801).