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The effort to make use of analysis and the diagrams-Difficulties
have to be encountered-Need of some work as a supplement. ary aid — Reasons for considering the diagrams, chiefly-First, Difficulties in analysis emerge in the diagram-Secondly, The solution of difficulties is more clearly evinced in the diagramThirdly, The construction of diagrams requires a peculiar skill Fourthly, It is important that the successful use of the diagrams should be ensured-Lastly, The diagrams are the most common object of attack.
THERE are many teachers who, with a commendable regard for improvement in science and in methods of instruction, are faithfully endeavoring to redeem the study of English Grammar from its old-time restriction within the narrow bounds of mere verbal etymology and syntax, and its absurd culmination in the pitiful practice of oral “parsing.” They have seized upon the logical analysis of the English Sentence, as the only legitimate means of securing for the subject of grammar a truly scientific development, and are availing themselves of Clark's grammatical diagrams as a philosophical and effective means of rendering the study of the analysis interesting and practical
Experience has, however, shown that, in both direc
tions, peculiar and sometimes serious difficulties have to be encountered,—difficulties not unfrequently resulting in the comparative failure of such teachers to sustain themselves in the work so justly and generously attempted. There are figures employed in the diagrams which are inconsistent; there are many points for which no seeming provision is made in the diagrams; the real philosophy of the whole scheme, from being barely hinted at, fails to suggest those legitimate variations which are often called for in peculiar or advanced cases ; no such systematic directions for the constructive drawing, as will secure the best results, are given ; and no such grounds in reason, for the use of the diagrams, as will enable the teacher to justify himself in departing from the "tradition of the elders,” are adduced.
That it is important that these difficulties should be practically met, can not admit of a doubt. It is quite evident, however, that this can not be consistently done, except through the medium of some work supplementary to the grammar already in use. Were not the grammar beyond reach, the facts that the object sought is altogether specific, and that the matter to be presented is somewhat peculiar, demand the preparation of a distinct treatise adapted solely to the existing want.
It will be observed, that, while both the analysis and the diagrams have been referred to as involved in these difficulties, the chief attention has been given to the diagrams. This has been done for several reasons.
First. There is no difficulty in the analysis, which does not ultimately emerge in the diagrams.
Secondly. The proper solution of the difficulty in the analysis is almost invariably more clearly and more con
clusively evinced in the proper development of the diagram. To those who candidly consider, or who properly understand, its nature and office-work, a correct diagram of any element in analysis, is “an end of strife ;" for, while the analysis may be consistent, without skill to represent it justly in the diagram, the diagram can not be correctly drawn without both involving and evincing the proper analysis.
Thirdly. The diagrams, as a sensible means of illustrating the nature and relations of elements in language as expressive of thought, require often a high degree of inventive capacity or a skillfulness in adaptation, which is quite foreign to many active thinkers. Power to detect and determine distinctions and relations is, by no means, power to present them clearly in some ingenious and effective scheme of graphic illustration.
Fourthly. The importance of the diagrams, as a means of adding demonstrative clearness to the result of the analysis, and of investing the whole study with a new and living interest, renders it a matter of the first moment that the attempt to use them should be put beyond the possibility of question or failure. He, whose use of the diagrams is not skillful and satisfactory, will not long sustain his own interest or that of his pupils.
Lastly. Standing out before the eye of the old-style grammarian, as the peculiar and most salient feature of the new method, the diagrams are usually seized upon as the object of the first and most virulent attack. Indeed, it is generally the case, that those who are conscious of the validity of the logical analysis, but who are unwilling to “cast their idols to the moles and to the bats," en
deavor to conceal their weakness, and justify their prejudices, by a furious onslaught upon the diagrams. While the main position is obviously impregnable to any direct attack, the effort is to practically destroy its strategic value, by a flank movement upon some more vulnernerable outpost. The enemy can not be vanquished, but the aim is to harass his forces by distracting though indecisive assaults.
For these reasons, then, the present effort will be somewhat closely restricted to the two-fold aim; the defence of the diagrams, and their more complete development.
THE DIAGRAMS DEFENDED.
THE GENERAL NATURE AND LAWS OF THE DIAGRAMS.
What is here proposed — General definition of diagrams—General
examples—General Laws—First Law: Simple Principal Elements—Second Law: Principal Elements having a common connection—Third Law: Complex Principal Elements—Fourth Law: Adjunct Elements—Fifth Law: Auxiliary Elements, or Connectives—Sixth Law: Independent Elements. It is not consistent with the ultimate purpose or plan of the present discussion, to enter largely at this point, upon the consideration of the nature and laws of the diagrams. Still, this topic claims such a general attention as will enable the reader to know what they are, and to comprehend more readily the arguments adduced in their favor, and the principles set forth in their ulterior de velopment.
General Definition. Grammatical diagrams,* as here considered, are a systematic and philosophical means of representing to the
* It will, of course, be understood that reference is had here solely to the system of diagrams devised by Prof. Clark.