Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cosmos and Classical Conversations Essentials (Grammar)

Cosmos and Grammar @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Grammar is where God, man, the soul, thinking, knowledge, and the Cosmos all come together.”

[Andrew Kern]


COSMOS ~ Order and Beauty

Cosmos and Math


We use LANGUAGE to think about and communicate IDEAS.

We use GRAMMAR to think about and communicate IDEAS about LANGUAGE.


** Grammar prepares Challenge students for the study of Latin.


Essentials English Grammar (Essentials of the English Language (EEL))


  • Letters and Sounds [The smallest building blocks of our English language are the 26 letters. Letters and combinations of letters represent sounds called phonograms. The EEL guide includes spelling rules and lists for at-home use, but they are not used in Essentials class.]

  • Words [We use letters to create words. Words are magic! We use vivid and precise words to think about and communicate ideas clearly. Essentials students are introduced to and encouraged to use new vivid and precise vocabulary during the writing (IEW) portion of class.]

We might have a million words in English, but we have only 8 Parts of Speech! (Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Conjunction, Interjection, Preposition, Adjective). Dionysus Thrax, a Greek who lived in 100 BC, was the first to categorize words into parts of speech. This is not a modern idea, and it doesn’t apply only to English! Not only are there only 8 parts of speech, but there are only 2 main parts of speech (noun and verb) and the other parts modify and support them.

  • Phrases and Clauses [We put words together to create phrases and clauses.]

  • Independent and Dependent Clauses [Clauses contain both a subject and verb. We have two types of clauses. An independent clause contains a complete thought, and every sentence contains at least one independent clause.]

  • SENTENCES [Sentences are the FORM of grammar!]

Every sentence has five parts. (Subject, Verb/Predicate, Capital Letter, End Mark, Complete Sense/Thought)

All sentences have structure (4: simple, compound, complex or compound-complex),
purpose (4: declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, or imperative),
and pattern (there are 7 different patterns, but every pattern contains a subject and a verb).

This means that we have 112 different possible combinations!

Grammar Quotes

“Grammar is based on the link between something that exists and something that applies to something that exists. God "exists." He called Himself, "I Am." He made us, putting us in the garden to steward it. As stewards, we need to know what we are stewarding, so he made us able to know the world we live in. The world around us exists as things that act or are acted on and have properties or qualities. In other words, the world is full of subjects with predicates. To know the world around us we must think it. When we think something, we always think something about it. In other words, the mind thinks subjects and predicates. Predicate comes from the Latin and means "to say about." All thought and all existence revolve around the relation between subjects and predicates (substances and properties if you like).” [Andrew Kern]

“Why is grammar fun and valuable? Grammar reveals to us the beauty and power of our own minds. With only eight kinds of words and two sides (subject and predicate) of each idea, we can make the plays of Shakespeare, or the novels of Toni Morrison, or the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. No system, so gorgeously elegant, could be expected to make such a language. Through grammar we see the simple form of our binary minds; in all of our sentences, however elaborate, we are making a predicate about a subject, and this reveals the meaning of clarity. For each sentence or idea, I must know both of these two things: what you are talking about, and what you are saying about it. For each paragraph of sentences, I must know what the paragraph is about, and what you are saying about it. For each essay of paragraphs, I must know what the essay is about, and what you are saying about it. A sentence, with its two sides, is a model of the mind.” [Michael Clay Thompson of MCT Language Arts] [Form! Beauty!]

“We study grammar because a knowledge of sentence-structure is an aid in the interpretation of literature; because continual dealing with sentences influences the student to form better sentences in his own composition; and because grammar is the best subject in our course of study for the development of reasoning power.” [William Frank Webster, The Teaching of English Grammar, Houghton, 1905]

Why do we study English grammar?

1. Interpretation

2. Composition

3. Reasoning

4. God revealed himself in human language.

“….God humbled himself not only in the incarnation of the Son, but also in the inspiration of the Scriptures. He bound his divine Son to human nature, and he bound his divine meaning to human words. The manger and the cross were not sensational. Neither are grammar and syntax. But that is how God chose to reveal himself. A poor Jewish peasant and a prepositional phrase have this in common: they are both human and both ordinary. That the poor peasant was God and prepositional phrase is the Word of God does not change this fact. Therefore, if God humbled himself to take on human flesh and to speak human language, woe to us if we arrogantly presume to ignore the humanity of Christ and the grammar of Scripture.” [John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally]

“Language is the house of being. In its home man dwells.” [Martin Heideggar]

“Where language is weak, theology is weakened.” [Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water]

“We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually.” [L’Engle]

“We cannot Name or be Named without language.” [L’Engle]

“When language is limited, I am thereby diminished.” [L’Engle]

“I now regularly meet students who have never heard the names of most English authors who lived before 1900. That includes Milton, Chaucer, Pope, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, and Yeats. Poetry has been largely abandoned. Their knowledge of English grammar is spotty at best and often nonexistent. That is because grammar, as its own subject worthy of systematic study, has been abandoned. Those of my students who know some grammar took Latin in high school or were taught at home. The writing of most students is irreparable in the way that aphasia is. You cannot point to a sentence and say, simply, “Your verb here does not agree with your subject.” That is not only because they do not understand the terms of the comment. It is also because many of their sentences will have no clear subject or verb to begin with. The students make grammatical errors for which there are no names. Their experience of the written language has been formed by junk fiction in school, text messages, blog posts, blather on the airwaves, and the bureaucratic sludge that they are taught for “formal” writing, and that George Orwell identified and skewered seventy years ago. The best of them are bad writers of English; the others write no language known to man.” [Anthony Esolen (author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child), Exercises in Unreality: The Decline of Teaching Western Civilization]

“[Sentence diagramming] was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language.” [Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences]

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