Tag Archives: English Grammar

9th Class English, The Snake and the Mirror

The Snake and the Mirror

The Snake and the Mirror

“HAS a snake ever coiled itself round any part of your body? A full-blooded cobra?” All of us fell silent. The question came from the homeopath. The topic came up when we were discussing snakes. We listened attentively as the doctor continued with his tale. It was a hot summer night; about ten o’clock. I had my meal at the restaurant and returned to my room. I heard a noise from above as I opened the door. The sound was a familiar one. One could say that the rats and I shared the room. I took out my box of matches and lighted the kerosene lamp on the table.

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Generative Grammar

Generative Grammar in English

Generative Grammar – It is the theory of language proposed by Chomsky in his Syntactic Structures 1957. It provides a set of finite rules that defines the unlimited number of sentences of the language and associates each with an appropriate grammatical description. Generative Grammar in English is the Theory of language.

Generative Grammar

Principal goals

There are two principal goals which underline this theory. These are:

The universal features i.e. features which are intrinsic to language as a whole, which constitute grammars of individual language should be characterised in formal terms.

Formal statements should be provided for characterising the grammars of individual languages. This goal is equated with characterising the tacit knowledge or competence which native speakers have about syntactic, phonological, morphological and semantic patterning in their language. Generative grammar sees the theory of competence as forming a central component of language which interacts with principles from cognition. neurology, physiology and other domains to give language its overall character.


The Concept of Linguistic Sign

The Concept of Linguistic Sign

The concept of linguistic sign was given by the famous linguistic Ferdinand DE Saussure (1857-1923). According to him, the pairing of word-labels and meaning concepts produce a system of signs. Each sign consists of two parts: a signifies i.e. a label and a signified i.e. the concept. It is important to note that the actual sign is not one or the other or both; the sign is the association the blinds the label and the concept together. In the pictures below , we give visual illustrations of the signs for “tree” and “book”.saussure-sign

Notice that the sounds or letters involved in speaking or writing the words tree and book have nothing to do with the objects “tree” and “book”; any other set of sounds would do just as well. Hindi speakers, for example, use the sequence p-e-R for the object ‘tree’ and the sequence k-i-aa-b for the object ‘book’. However , once these correspondence are established, they acquire a fairly permanent place in out minds.

We often wonder how we would function if we did not develop this important mechanism. Imagine how you would feel if you were to coin a new word every time you see a new chair. And then different people in the same community may coin very different words for the same object and it may  become impossible to talk to each other. If i want to talk to you, then we must share not only the same words but also the concepts these these words denote. According to Saussure,

The concept of the linguistic sign of the linguistic sign is often used to suggest that our thoughts are entirely formed by our language. Hindi speakers have only one word barf for the object for which English speakers have at least two i.e. ice and snow; and Eskimos have more than twenty. So speakers of Hindi, English and Eskimo languages perhaps see the world very differently and their perception are conditioned by their languages.

Does everyone see the same number and kinds of colors?  Do two different communities living in the same environment classify and categorize the flora and fauna around them in the same way? Is there only one ‘Reality’ there? Or is it the case, that different languages produce different versions of external reality? What happens to people who know and use many languages at the same time?

What is Language

What is language – MEG

What is language

The term language has been defined differently by different people. Let us look at some of these definition to understand what language is :

Language is that system by which sounds and meaning are related – Fromkin and Rodman, 1974 has defined language in their term.

Language is the most advanced and flexible means that is available to human beings for the communication of meaning – This Definition has been defined by Brown 1984

One of the best ways to understand human language is to

What is language

compare it with animal communication. and to see where the similarities and differences lie.

How and Why Did Language Originate?

No one knows exactly how language originated. and because of this, there is no dearth of opinion about the origins of human speech. Let us briefly understand some of these.

The Divine Source Theory – According to one view, God created Adam and Whatsoever Adam called every living creature that was the name thereof. According to Hindu tradition, Language came from goddess Saraswati. In most religions, there appears to be a divine source that provided humans with language. Generally, every society has a divine story to tell about the origins of its language. We also notice that alphabetical symbols or ideographs used in writing are often associated with divine images.

The Natural Sound Source Theory – Another view of the origin of human speech is based on the concept of natural sounds. The theory suggests that first words were imitations of the natural sounds which early men and women heard around them. The fact that all languages have some words which seem to echo naturally occurring sounds could have led to this theory. cuckoo, bang, buzz, hiss, bow-bow, etc. are some examples from English. In fact, this type of view has been called the bow-bow theory of language origin.

The Pooh-Pooh Theory – In 1871, in his Descent of Man, Darwin proposed that like man himself, his language also developed from a more primitive form. probably from expressions of emotions. for example, a feeling of contempt is accompanied by the action of puffing of air out through the nostrils or the mouth and this action makes sounds like Pooh or Pish. The critics of Darwin’s theory scornfully named it the Pooh – Pooh theory.

The Ding-Dong Theory – Muller, a contemporary of Darwin, proposed the ding-dong theory of the origin of language. According to this theory, there was a mystic relationship between sound and meaning. There was an instinct in the primitive human being, by which every impression from without received a vocal expression from within. Just as a particular sound is produced when any object is struck by a solid body, similarly human being’s mind gave a particular response to every impact the world made upon it. For example, the sight of a snake rang a bell and the primitive human instinctively said “snake”.

As is clear from the above discussion, it is a big puzzle as to how language began but, why language began seems to be rather clear. Language must have evolved because humans needed it for the following purposes –

To give factual information and to convey commands. This is also called information talking.

To convey emotions and feelings.

To maintain social contact on a friendly level. This is also called phatic communication or language of social chitchat or small talk.

For aesthetic reasons like poetry.

To relieve nervous tension.

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How to Learn English Using Practical English Usage by Michel Swan

Practical English Usage

I am grateful to all the people who have helped me with the preparation of this third edition. A large number of teachers in different countries were kind enough to respond to an inquiry asking how they felt Practical English Usage could be improved:


I am grateful to all the people who have helped me with the preparation of this third edition. A large number of teachers in different countries were kind enough to respond to an inquiry asking how they felt Practical English Usage could be improved: their feedback was extremely helpful, and I am very much in their debt. I am also greatly indebted to David Baker, whose comments and suggestions have added very significantly to the accuracy and clarity of the book, and to Hideo Hibino and Kenji Kashino, who have contributed valuable advice on specific problems. Many other teachers and students – too many to name – have taken the trouble to suggest ways in which particular entries could be improved; their input has benefited the book considerably. My use of the internet as a source of instances of authentic usage has been greatly facilitated by the kind assistance of Hiroaki Sato, of senshu University, Japan, who made available his excellent software tool KwiconGugle. I must also reacknowledge my debt to Jonathan Blundell, Norman Coe, Michio Kawakami, Michael Macfarlane, Nigel Middlemiss, Keith Mitchell, Catherine Waler, Gareth Walter, Gareth Watkins, and the many other consultants and correspondents whose help and advice with the preparation of the first and second editions continue as an important contribution to the third.

Any pedagogic grammarian owes and an enormous debt to the academic linguists on whose research he or she is parasitic. There is not enough space to mention all the scholars of the last hundred years or so on whose work I have drawn directly or indirectly, even if I had a complete record of my borrowings. But I must at least pay homage to two monumental reference works of the present generation: the Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik (Longman 1985), and the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, by Huddleston, Pullum and others (Cambridge University Press 2002). Their authoritative accounts of the facts of English structure and usage constitute an essential source of information for anyone writing pedagogic grammar materials today.

Finally, iktis with particular pleasure that I express my gratitude, once again, to the editorials, design and production team at Oxford University Press, Whose professional expertise is matched only by their concern to make an author’s task as trouble –free as possible.