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By T. Givón

The method of language and grammar that motivates this ebook is unabashedly sensible grammar is not only a process of empty principles, it's a skill to an finish, an software for developing concise coherent conversation.

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Extra resources for English Grammar: A Function-Based Introduction

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25) Multi-propositional discourse: Having been driven insane by constant abuse, the maid killed the butler with the knife that she had hidden in the fridge the night before. Taken by themselves, outside any propositional context, the words in (23a-j) can only have meaning, each one coding some concept. That is, you may only ask about them questions such as: (26) What d o e s - m e a n ? Uttered as part of propositions, as in (24a-d), the very same words now partake in the coding of propositional information.

By and large, political and economic power, status and prestige have always been vested in the more educated — often minority — segment of the population. This was true when writing and education were the jealously guarded preserve of a priestly class that served the hereditary power structure, as in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, early China, old Canaan or pre-Columbian Mayan Mesoamerica. And it remains true today, with some obvious exceptions: The proportion of educated, literate people within the population is perhaps higher.

24 ENGLISH GRAMMAR The questions in (28) may appear deceptively like those in (27). How­ ever, each question in (27) could be answered on the basis of knowing only one proposition in (24). In contrast, none of the questions in (28) could be answered on the basis of such atomic propositional knowledge. Rather, the knowledge of several propositions in the coherent discourse (25), or even of the entire coherent text, is required in order to answer the questions in (28). One may argue that on some occasions single words are used to carry information rather than merely convey conceptual meaning.

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