Saturday, 16 April 2016

Noun phrases are getting bigger and bigger and harder and harder to understand...

Just been trying to help my 11 year old with the latest SPaG paper. I came to 'noun phrases' with this question:
'Underline the longest possible noun phrase in the sentence blow.
That book about the Romans was interesting.'
I thought I knew what a 'noun phrase' is. (Ignore that for the moment.) 
But I thought I would look up the SPaG bible to check.
This is what I found (see below).
According to this, a noun phrase could include another noun phrase. It could also include a relative clause. People with Ph.D's and a long publication history in linguistics produce things like this. 
Now, this is a form of structural grammar so, in theory should be able to describe how language is put together in much the same way as architects describe buildings. So, bearing that in mind, how is any of us, let alone 10 and 11 year olds, supposed to understand and learn a classification system which involves understanding a term that can include elements that are the same as itself?! That would be like saying that there is a thing called a gutter and inside the gutter is another thing which is called a gutter. At the very least, this wouldn't be useful. 
Noun phrases - English Grammar Today - a reference to written and spoken English grammar and usage -…