Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Few Words From Me About Grammar

The Extreme Right sent out another of their annoying magazines today.
I find it remarkable that I don't simply dissolve in a puff of green smoke - the colour of my outrage. I have no idea what I'll do when I'm fluent in Nederlands and can read their articles ... I noticed the burning car photograph was in this version as well, smaller, no longer the 'inflammatory' cover page.

I've just spent the last hour studying grammar in Nederlands. It feels like an activity that just might just slip into the UN Convention Against Torture. Article 1 reads like this: 'For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed (not learning grammar as a child) or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions'.

So I worked on infinitives, then practiced using them in singular and plural in first, second and third person. Why is this remarkable? Well I come from a country that saw fit to ban the teaching of grammar in schools for more than 25 years. We were raised in an era when the fashionable view was that a knowledge of how the parts of speech work was unnecessary and the acquisition of language skills happened naturally.

So while I could pick up an A+ for an essay at university, discussing the actualities of grammar isn't a conversation I like to find myself having with anyone. Along came Gert, fluent in 4 languages and having studied Latin ... he'd fallen in love with a theoretical grammar virgin ... sigh, the humiliation.

Never-the-mind, here I am learning a completely new language ... what better way is there to develop a knowledge of grammar.

So now I'm learning the exceptions, adaptions, and listening to explanations that go something like 'mogen' becomes 'mag' because that's how it is, but 'willen' only has exceptions in 2nd and 3rd person.

Running tonight.


Alison said...

I think being subjected to Dutch DIY should also be banned by the UN... by the way... TAG (from CheeseWeb)

woman wandering said...

Tag ...? Hmmm, going to look.