Chapter 4. A Discussion about Grammar Types
4.1 Types of Grammar Books
Reference grammars are commonly written by linguists and often used by linguists. For them, a "grammar" of this kind describes a language and contains elements that make up a language system, as identified by linguists. On the other hand, for people who are not linguists, "grammar" often refers to a general notion of language rules over the standard usages of a language. In addition, for people who speak a language as a second or foreign language, a grammar can be a book containing language rules for purposes of teaching and learning; this is an example of a pedagogical grammar. Unlike reference grammars, pedagogical grammars mainly target second or foreign language learners as the users. Also pedagogical grammars do not intend to simply describe a language; pedagogical grammars have a goal of accelerating language teaching and learning. I discuss below different applications of these two grammar types to minority languages.
4.1.1 Reference Grammar
In the situation of minority languages, the role and utility of reference grammars and pedagogical grammars are fundamentally different. They differ in the goal of compilation, the target users and the function. The goal of a reference grammar of a minority language pertains to language documentation and conservation (Rehg, 2014). Linguists are the target users of a reference grammar. The grammar provides linguists with information about the language and potentially encourages other researchers to explore the language. It also functions as a precursor of a community grammar that contributes to the
language conservation as it provides identified elements of the language system and lanuge rules. The Pohnpeian reference grammar written by Rehg (1981) is an example of this kind of grammar book.
4.1.2 Pedagogical Grammar
There are various definitions of pedagogical grammars which are often inseparable from other notions of grammar such as language prescription, language description and second language acquisition (henceforth, SLA) theories. Odlin (1994) has a definition of pedagogical grammars that presumes second language learners and teachers as the target users and that has a goal of fulfilling the needs of second language learning. A pedagogical grammar of this kind is equipped with types of grammatical analysis and instruction that meet the needs of students. Newby (2000) has a broader definition of pedagogical grammars which he refers to as a grammar designed for learners of a foreign language and involves two areas, grammar description and SLA theories. What both Odlin (1994) and Newby (2000) have in common suggests two basic elements that pedagogical grammars have: metalinguistic knowledge of a language and the purposes of transmitting the metalinguistic knowledge to learners. By contrast, reference grammars have researchers as the readers, and contain purely metalinguistic knowledge of a language. Adopting this general notion, below I discuss three pedagogical grammars of minority languages that all belong to pedagogical grammars but have different emphases.
18.104.22.168 A Practical Grammar of Pitjantjatjara
A handbook for Pitjantjatjara language learner (Eckert & Hudson, 1988) is a typical example of a practical grammar that falls into the category of pedagogical grammars. In addition to the features that are defined as characteristic of pedagogical grammars, Eckert and Hudson’s (1988) work demonstrate integrated features of a practical grammar. Practical grammars are defined by Bartholomew (1976, p. 4) as written for non-specialists, in the national languages and written with the description of foreign languages in contrast to the national languages. The practical grammar of Pitjantjatjara
provides three important elements that a pedagogical grammar of a minority language can have: firstly, it targets learners who are not linguists; secondly, it is written in English which is the national language of Australia and thirdly, it contains descriptions that compare the structure of English and the Indigenous Australian language, Pitjantjatjara.
22.214.171.124 A Learner’s Grammars of Mangarrayi
A learner’s grammar of the Indigenous Australian language, Mangarrayi, (Richards, 1996) is an example of learner’s grammars that are intended as pedagogical grammars. What distinguishes Richards’ (1996) work from others is his attempt to make the information contained in the reference grammars accessible to the community members. In other words, this grammar emphasizes transforming the knowledge of Mangarrayi recoded in the reference grammars into materials that can be understood by the community members who are learning Mangarrayi. Richards’ (1996) way of designing the grammar offers inspiration for sharing the product of language studies with the speakers of the language. He explains technical terms in everyday words and if necessary, he paraphrases the original meaning of a technical term to help the users understand the grammatical concept. He also repeats the salient information and provides reference sources for readers to engage in further study (Richards, 1996, p. 44).
126.96.36.199 A Learner’s Guide to Kaurna
A Kaurna learner’s guide (Amery & Simpson, 2013) demonstrates how a pedagogical grammar supplements and enhances language teaching. In Kaurna’s experience, there are three implications for development of materials for learning a minority language. Firstly, Amery and Simpson’s (2013) work introduces the concept of helping learners learn the language by themselves in the order that makes sense to learners: that is how they define "learning step by step." Secondly, it attempts to complement the existing language resources by providing learners with the information about Kaurna orthography used in different existing materials. Thirdly, it emphasizes the principles of creating
Kaurna neologisms and sentences for use in modern life, instead of only looking to the traditional ways of language uses.
4.1.3 Community Grammars
Although Noonan (2008, cited by Rehg, 2014: p.61) classifies community grammars as pedagogical grammars, their function and application align them more with pedagogical grammars. Thus, it is controversial to discuss community grammars under the label of pedagogical grammars or reference grammars.
Community grammars shares similarities with typical reference grammar described in section 4.1.1. Similar to reference grammars, a community grammar is written by linguists and mostly used by linguists. But in the case of the community grammar of Pohnpeian (Sohl & Andreas, n.d.), it differs in that the grammar is specifically written and used by linguists of the target community or trained community members. Unlike most reference grammars, it is not written in English, but in the local language, Pohnpeian. A community grammar often functions to help the target community establish and sometimes re-establish the standard orthography of their language (Noonan, 2008) and also develop materials that enhance community members’ understanding of the structure of their language. In this sense, a community grammar incorporates properties of both reference and pedagogical grammars. What can be learnt from the experience of the community grammar of Pohnpeian is that it brings up a viewpoint: a grammar for community members, instead of limiting the users to outsiders.