Stephen Speicher

Welcome to Grammar School

15 posts in this topic

Some recommended sources for the study of grammar.

Leonard Peikoff's Principles of Grammar course, available through The Ayn Rand Book Store.

Two classic grammar works that were reprinted by Fred Weiss' company, The Paper Tiger, Inc.: Phyllis Davenport's Rex Barks: Diagramming Sentences Made Easy and Foerster and Steadman's Writing and Thinking. Scroll down a little from here.

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Some recommended sources for the study of grammar.

Leonard Peikoff's Principles of Grammar course, available through The Ayn Rand Book Store.

Two classic grammar works that were reprinted by Fred Weiss' company, The Paper Tiger, Inc.: Phyllis Davenport's Rex Barks: Diagramming Sentences Made Easy and Foerster and Steadman's Writing and Thinking. Scroll down a little from here.

Thanks to a wish list--and some wonderful friends who generously responded--I now own each of the recommended items above!

I was a navy brat, and due to health problems, I spent most of my grade school years traveling from Japan to the States at least once a year to see a specialist. Because of this, I went to fourteen--that's 14!--grade schools. Needless to say, my foundation in both English grammar and math are very weak. I've managed to get by all these years because I am an avid reader, but I've always wanted to know the the rules. The need really came home to me when I first tried to learn formal logic.

At one time, I enrolled at a community college to (re)take a first year English course. I made sure I had a PhD. as a teacher (in fact, I got the head of the English Department). The first time I asked a specific question about grammar (punctuation, in this instance) he told me not to worry about it, that I probably instinctually knew where to put the comma! So much for learning precision. I figured if I was already operating on "instinct", I didn't need to pay someone to give me a meaningless grade, so I dropped the class and got my money back.

So, here I am in my fifties and trying to learn what I ought to have learned in grade school. Better late than never. (Isn't there something about using trite phrases in one's writing?) I am very happy to see this new forum.

I hope we can open a similar thread for logic. I mistakenly ordered the more advanced text on logic from Fred. I can't afford to buy a second book, so I'm hoping for some help as I slog my way through Joseph's "Introduction to Logic". "Introduction" indeed!

I'm working on my questions. I plan on picking all the bright young minds on the forum. :D

Whopeeee!

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Janet,

I learned more from "Principles of Grammar" and "Writing and Thinking" than I learned in all of my english or writing courses. They are very good, so any mistakes I make at this point are bad habits that have not been discarded as of yet.

The other book mentioned "Rex Barks, Diagramming sentences made easy", I bought for two reasons, to improve my own understanding of sentences and too help my children get a better foundation, now.

Like you, I am also looking forward to learning new things and improving.

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Janet,

The other book mentioned "Rex Barks, Diagramming sentences made easy", I bought for two reasons, to improve my own understanding of sentences and too help my children get a better foundation, now. 

I bought "Rex Barks" way back in the days when it was only $9.00! Thank goodness. I love to diagram sentences, but I'm looking forward to learning fully the "why" of what I'm doing. As usual, I'm doing things bass-ackwards.

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I bought "Rex Barks" way back in the days when it was only $9.00!  Thank goodness.  I love to diagram sentences, but I'm looking forward to learning fully the "why" of what I'm doing.  As usual, I'm doing things bass-ackwards.

Oh! I thought that was called "Doing things with respect to one's personal context." :D

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Well, I must extend a big Thank You to the Admin.I'm sure you know how badly I need help in this area! :D

However, I'm not sure exactly what this thread's primary purpose is.. can we ask questions concerning grammar, logic, context clarity, and forum etiquette?

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However, I'm not sure exactly what this thread's primary purpose is.. can we ask questions concerning grammar, logic, context clarity, and forum etiquette?

I started this thread simply as an introduction to the Grammar School forum, highlighting some references that may be useful for all. If you have specific questions about grammar then the proper thing to do is to start a separate thread in the Grammar School forum with your question(s).

As to logic, questions about that subject would better be asked in the Metaphysics & Epistemology forum. I do not know what "context clarity" clarity means, but questions about "forum etiquette" would probably be best asked in the HELP forum.

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I myself need to buy the books that have been recommended, but in the meantime, here's a recommendation for another one.

Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner

It was highly recommended in the Second Renaissance catalog, so I bought it some years ago.

It is a short book that isn't any kind of systematic treatment of grammar. Rather, I'd say its emphasis is on selected topics of English grammar and word usage; topics on which people frequently make mistakes. So although it isn't very advanced, the topics are well-chosen, and in reading what the author has to say, most people would learn a few things.

For instance, there are chapters on the use of pronouns, plurals, possessives, words that are frequently misused, and punctuation.

It's well written - the author knows her subject and practices what she preaches. It's also a useful little reference: I'll frequently open it to refer back to something I remember she said.

If you have problems like trying to figure out whether to use "its" or "it's", or can't remember whether it's a "gantlet" or "gauntlet" that you mean, or whether somebody is "ingenious" or "ingenuous", this book will help you.

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I myself need to buy the books that have been recommended, but in the meantime, here's a recommendation for another one.

Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner

It was highly recommended in the Second Renaissance catalog, so I bought it some years ago.

It is a short book that isn't any kind of systematic treatment of grammar.  Rather, I'd say its emphasis is on selected topics of English grammar and word usage; topics on which people frequently make mistakes.  So although it isn't very advanced, the topics are well-chosen, and in reading what the author has to say, most people would learn a few things.

Along the lines of this recommendation, in The Art of Nonfiction course Miss Rand recommends H. W. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modem English Usage, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926. I have the newer second edition and, though I have found it useful, I note that many scholars have frowned on the newer edition as compared to the old.

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Along the lines of this recommendation, in The Art of Nonfiction course Miss Rand recommends H. W. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modem English Usage, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926. I have the newer second edition and, though I have found it useful, I note that many scholars have frowned on the newer edition as compared to the old.

Oh great. I just bought a used Second Edition (edited by Sir Ernest Gowers). Is this the one that scholars "have frowned on?" At least I only paid $6.00 for it (even though it's a very clean copy), but that's six bucks I could have used for a different copy. Just what is it that they are frowning about?

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Oh great.  I just bought a used Second Edition (edited by Sir Ernest Gowers).  Is this the one that scholars "have frowned on?"  At least I only paid $6.00 for it (even though it's a very clean copy), but that's six bucks I could have used for a different copy.  Just what is it that they are frowning about?

This critique of the later editions by several scholars is just something that I have been told, not anything that I know firsthand. A quick computer search of the academic journal literature reveals a number of reviews of the second edition, none of which are accessible to me immediately by computer.

But, as I said, despite this critique by others, I personally have found the book to be useful. I also have the second edition. A third edition is a more recent one.

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Along the lines of this recommendation, in The Art of Nonfiction course Miss Rand recommends H. W. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modem English Usage, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926. I have the newer second edition and, though I have found it useful, I note that many scholars have frowned on the newer edition as compared to the old.

What luck! I believe I have the first edition of this book. :D

I thought the title sounded familiar, and indeed it is a book I bought at a "friends of the library" book sale last year. My copy does not have a copyright or publication date, but has a dedication to the author's brother, who died in 1918. And it looks old enough to have been around since 1926. Truly a little gem that nobody else had wanted.

Browsing throught it, I can see that it will be useful. So thanks, Stephen, for the recommendation: now I have more motivation to spend some time becoming familiar with this book.

(I love library book sales, but one problem with my frequent attendance is that I end up with some books that I half-forget that I own.)

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What luck!  I believe I have the first edition of this book.  :D

... Truly a little gem that nobody else had wanted.

Library sales usually charge relatively trivial amounts for discarded books, so I would imagine you paid a fraction of the cost of a reading copy on the market. A quick check found the least expensive available first edition was around $12, and that was for a later reprint of the book. A very good copy of the 1926 first edition goes for up to $750. So, yes, I think you do show some luck here.

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While searching at Paper Tiger, I came across two intro to logic books. Does anyone have any advice on which is better:

H.W.B. Joseph's An Introduction to Logic

or

Lionel Ruby's Logic: An Introduction

Any info would be great!

Thanks :D

Zak

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While searching at Paper Tiger, I came across two intro to logic books. Does anyone have any advice on which is better:

H.W.B. Joseph's An Introduction to Logic

or

Lionel Ruby's Logic: An Introduction

They are both excellent texts, but I personally prefer Joseph's work. I briefly explained why in two posts starting here . Burgess also comments between my two posts.

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