Why are there growing divisions between traditional grammars and theoretical and experimental linguistic works (and how can they be overcome)?
The present article discusses a worrying development, whereby some traditional grammars become less aligned with the findings of linguistics research. The article gives examples of such discrepancies, illustrated here on the basis of the description of German. It also aims to describe a possible cause for this development. On the one hand, it seems that the grammatical descriptions found in school grammars have in some cases ceased to reflect discussions in (and formats of) current theories of grammar. They have also chosen, to a degree, to ignore empirical findings made by linguistic research. However, the article seeks to demonstrate that this may in large part be caused by the nature of the linguistic theories and experimental research approaches themselves, as well as the presentation of these projects in the literature: The granularity of the descriptions (and the objects described) that theoretical and experimental research assess simply does not match the kinds of generalisations that traditional grammars (school grammars, especially) aim for. To illustrate this point, specific issues with linguistic theories, methods and conventions are presented, which may make it difficult for school grammars to react to the results in a principled way.
Keywords: word class, noun, subject, traditional grammar, school grammar, German, linguistic theory
Published online: 16 October 2020
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