A Review of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL) is a comprehensive descriptive grammar of English written by Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey K. Pullum and other collaborators. It was published by Cambridge University Press in 2002 and covers both spoken and written varieties of present-day English. It is intended to be accessible to the general reader as well as to linguists and language teachers.
The book consists of 21 chapters divided into two parts: Part I deals with the grammar of words and phrases, while Part II deals with the grammar of clauses and sentences. Each chapter provides a detailed description of a particular grammatical phenomenon, illustrated with numerous examples from various sources, such as newspapers, novels, academic texts and transcripts of spoken language. The book also includes an extensive glossary, a list of references and an index.
One of the main features of CGEL is its use of a functional approach to grammar, which means that it focuses on how language is used for different purposes and in different contexts, rather than on abstract rules or categories. For example, instead of classifying words into traditional parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs and adjectives, CGEL identifies five major word classes based on their syntactic and semantic properties: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. Within each word class, there are further subdivisions based on more specific criteria, such as countability for nouns or transitivity for verbs.
Another feature of CGEL is its recognition of variation and diversity in English grammar, both across different dialects and registers and within individual speakers and writers. The book acknowledges that there are often multiple ways of expressing the same meaning or function in English, and that some forms may be more appropriate or acceptable than others depending on the situation. For example, CGEL discusses the use of different types of pronouns (such as he, they or one) to refer to generic or indefinite human referents, and explains the factors that influence their choice, such as formality, gender and number.
CGEL is widely regarded as one of the most authoritative and comprehensive grammars of English ever written. It has received many positive reviews from scholars and critics, who have praised its clarity, accuracy, depth and breadth of coverage. It has also been cited as a source of reference by other grammars and dictionaries of English, such as the Oxford English Dictionary. However, some reviewers have also pointed out some limitations or drawbacks of CGEL, such as its length (over 1800 pages), its complexity (requiring some familiarity with linguistic terminology) and its occasional lack of consensus or consistency on certain issues (such as the status of modal verbs).
In conclusion, CGEL is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the structure and use of English grammar. It provides a comprehensive and detailed account of how English works in various contexts and for various purposes. It also reflects the diversity and dynamism of English as a global language that is constantly evolving and changing. aa16f39245