LINGUIST List 7.711

Mon May 20 1996

Sum: English textbooks

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1., Sum: English textbooks

Message 1: Sum: English textbooks

Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 17:58:00 CDT
From: <>
Subject: Sum: English textbooks

Several weeks ago, I posted (LINGUIST 7.624) a note on a
7th. grade English textbook, in which they called PPs that
modify NPs "Adjective Phrases." I guess I wasn't so much
asking a question as I was voicing a complaint, but got some
thoughtful replies anyway. Thanks to
(no name given), Howard Gregory (, Charles
Meyer (, Bill (,
and Suzette Haden Elgin ( There were
also a couple replies posted directly to LINGUIST, which I
won't try to summarize.

All respondents were sympathetic with my complaining, but
didn't offer much help. Suzette Haden Elgin's comments,
excerpted below, were typical:

 I was asked to go into a school and explain to a seventh-grade
 teacher that prepositions are the equivalent, for English, of
 case markers...
 I did my best to comply, and I'm sure the teacher understood.
 When I got to the end of the explanation, she said, "I see what
 you mean, and it's obvious that what you're saying is true. But
 I certainly can't tell the children in my class about it." I
 asked her why not, and she said, "It would only confuse them."
 I know what that meant -- there won't be a multiple choice
 question on the standardized test that has that information as
 one of the answers...

 I've been fighting this garbage for a quarter of a century. If
 you enjoy beating your head against a brick wall, endlessly and
 uselessly, you could try doing the same and I would cheer you

My head isn't sore yet, but I can see what she means...
Thanks to all who responded!

BTW, the apparent reason for teaching the students what
these so-called "adjective phrases" are, was so they could
be told not to used extraposed PPs (they did not use the
term "extraposed", of course).
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