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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

34                  The Loom of Language
by committing to memory the essential particles, and a very small class
of exceedingly common words, such as /, hims who, called pronouns
(pages 96-102) At the same time we should familiarize ourselves
with the less essential paiucles so that we recognize them when we
meet them That is to say, we should begin by learning the FORLIGN
EQUIVALENTS for the eighty or so most ESSBNIIAL ones, and, since it is
always easier to recognise a foreign word we have previously met than
to recall it, the ENGLISH EQUIVALLNI for about a hundred and fifty other
most COMMON foreign synonyms of this clat,s. How we should choose
our basic particles and pronouns, how it is best to set about memorising
them, and what we should then do, will turn up later
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR
First we have to decide what to do about grammar, and this means
that we must be clear about what is meant by the grammar of a language
Having a list of words of which we know the usual meaning does not
get us very far unless we have knowledge of another kind We cannot
rely on the best dictionary to help us out of all our difficulties
To begin with, most dictionaries leave out many words which we can
construct according to more or less geneial rules from those included
in them. A Spaniard who wants to learn English will not find the
words father's, fathers, or father^. In their place, the dictionary would
give the single word father. An ordinaiy dictionary does not tell you
another thing which you need to know It does not tell you how lo
arrange words, or the circumstances in which you choose between
certain words which are closely related, If a German tried to learn
English with a dictionary, he might compose the following sentence.
probably will the girl to the shop come if it knows that its sweetheart there
be will. A German does not arrange words in a sentence as we do, and
his choice of words equivalent to he, she> and it does not depend upon
anatomy, as in our own language. So we should have some difficulty
in recognizing this assertion as his own way of stating: the girl will
probably come to the shop if she knows that her sweetheart will be there
There are three kinds of rules which we need to guide us when
learning a language, whether to read, to write, to speak, or to listen
intelligently We need rules for forming word derivatives,* rules for the
* Here and elsewhere derivative means any word denved from some dic-
tionary item according to lulcs given in grammar books So defined, its use xn
this book is the editor's suggestion, to which the author assents with some
misgiving, because philologists employ it m a more restricted sense The
justification for the meaning it has in The Loom is the absence of any other
explicit word for all it signifies*