Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Macro-English (4)

 English is a highly ambiguous language.
      Give me your photograph.
There are more than 3 interpretations of the sentence.
      1. "Your" may mean "you own the photograph".
      2. Or, the photograph was taken by you.
      3. Or, the photograph was taken of you. (= your portrait)
The other interpretations can be "1" + "2", or "1" + "3" and so forth.
Again, the following can inspire us to the need of some guidelines (grammar) for the language.
      A passerby wandered through a graveyard and saw a tombstone with the words: "Here lies Tome Jones, a politician and honest man."
      "Hey!" he cried out. "They got three people buried in one grave."
Here, grammar tells us that there is only one person buried in the grave. So, it is grammar that defines what is what and guides us to understanding a sentence according to the function of each word, phrase, and clause. And it helps us to write a clear and unambiguous statement with ease. That is why English is called a language of definition. It is totally unlike other languages such as the Chinese language, which is a language at a guess without a formal grammar.

Today the English language changes much faster than it did in any past period. And its grammar naturally follows suit. A dictionary was formerly a lifelong companion, but now its service lasts only a few years and a new edition is waiting to take its place.
Modern grammar is simple, easy to pick up without difficult technical terms.

No comments:

Post a Comment