[I’ll be exploring the concept of language in this five-part series as I am preparing to tutor an Essentials class (English grammar and writing) with our Classical Conversations community this coming year (year six!).]
We use language to think about and communicate ideas.
We use grammar to think about and communicate ideas about language.
Grammar is a form or cosmos.
Let’s start our exploration of language with the word cosmos.
A cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. The word derives from the Greek term κόσμος (kosmos), meaning literally "order" or "ornament" and metaphorically "world,” and is diametrically opposed to the concept of chaos.
[Explore cosmos in depth here.]
While we’re at it, let’s look up the definition of ornament: (Merriam-Webster)
2a. something that lends grace or beauty
3: one whose virtues or graces add luster to a place or society
Order. (Form. Structure. Truth.) Ornament. (Beauty. Harmony. Grace. Virtue.)
Order + Beauty (literally) = World (metaphorically)
Let’s go to the very beginning.
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Formless. And what did God do? Created form: separated light and darkness, waters and sky, land and seas.
Empty. Once the form was established, God filled the place with beauty: plants, stars, birds, sea creatures, animals, man.
Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
Array: verb (used with object):
1. to place in proper or desired order
2. to clothe with garments, especially of an ornamental kind; dress up; deck out.
And, as Leigh Bortins says, that’s how you teach everything to everybody. Figure out what the form is, and then you have all the content in the world to make it creative, beautiful!
Latin ending forms
The structure of a story
You can put in whatever content you wish once you know the form. The content is what makes it unique and interesting.
When we learn the grammar of language, we are learning form so that we have the tools to communicate truth, goodness, and beauty.