June 22, 2007

Here it is again without the nouns, verbs, and adjectives

Just as a postscript to Mark's comment in the previous post on the man who claimed modern performers do not use nouns, verbs, or adjectives, let's look again at the quoted passage from William Katz, this time removing the nouns, verbs, and adjectives to get a sense of how he thinks current performers talk. I have very generously kept the pronouns (though The Cambridge Grammar treats them as a special kind of noun) and the auxiliary verbs (though all right-thinking sources treat them as a special case of verbs), and I have classified like as a preposition (an argument could be given that it is really an anomalous adjective) and today as an adverb (it may actually be a noun phrase functioning as a temporal adjunct, like last night). Here is the result. Good luck with understanding it.

My most was with, who'd been, of, to. Was at the, and only was that he not be. I with her by for an. What through was her — she'd as a — and her. During that, she never a, and in — all the today don't. She was a. Like many from, she how to be, and it was of the. I can why her.

And yes, I was about to say something about the modern decline in grammatical literacy and the mendacious pontificating old fools who drone on about people not having proper grammar when in fact they couldn't syntactically analyze their way out of a wet paper grocery sack. But then I realized you would all be yawning and saying "Oh, another rant." So I just decided to leave the above for you to look at the next time someone says something in your presence about nouns or verbs or adjectives or grammar.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at June 22, 2007 08:00 PM