The Grammatical Tradition Of Punctuation English Language Essay

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Grammarians (Labutis, 2002; Ambrazas, 1997; Abaravičius, 2002; ValeckienÄ-, 1989; etc.) agreed that punctuation played important role in the written language. It might be stated that punctuation was an applied science of syntax; i.e. it was used according to the specific rules that separated or combined the parts or the whole sentences. The use of punctuation was found everywhere: in the dialogs, orally presented information, books, written speeches, and the pages of newspapers or magazines. The grammarians saw punctuation as a system of symbols, which acted according to the provided rules: indicated sentence type, separated the parts within a sentence (such as attributes, parenthesis etc.), or the whole sentences (clauses). Nunberg identified punctuation as a category "defined in partially graphic terms: a set of non-alphanumeric characters that were used to provide information about structural relations among elements of a text, including commas, semicolons, colons, periods, parentheses, quotation marks." (1990 :17) Iyer, in his essay, stated that the marks served as "the road signs placed along the highway of our communication -- to control speeds, provide directions and prevent head-on collisions."(1988:1) The punctuation marks divided a sentence into smaller parts or units, showed the beginning or the end of the thought, and specified a particular part of the speech. It also helped to avoid the use of "run-on" sentences. (It was a sentence that has several idea placed together without use of punctuation; it cares double (misinterpreted) meaning. (Strauss, 2007: 135)). Wilson saw the syntactical punctuation as "the art of dividing a literary composition into sentences and parts of sentences by means of points, for the purpose of exhibiting the various combinations, connections, and dependence of words." (1856:2). It meant that the main purpose of the marks was "to help a writer, and not to disturb, to express the meaning of a sentence as well as its emotional function" (LKRS 1992: 129).

Analysing English and Lithuanian punctuation, it was noticed that punctuation had four functions: "to separate (a period separates sentences); to group or enclose (parentheses enclose extraneous information), to connect (a hyphen connects a unit modifier), and to impart meaning (a question mark may make an otherwise declarative sentence interrogative). (1998:44) It might be stated that the use of punctuation in a sentence was divided into two groups. The function of the first group was used to separate the whole constructions of sentences: independent and dependent clauses, the sentence fragments; to indicate the beginning and the end of the thought.(VLKK, 2006: 2-4) The second group was to separate the parts within a sentence: the homogeneous, explanatory parts of a sentence, attributes, parentheses, and direct addresses, etc. (It was mostly used to mark the parts simple sentence.) English punctuation concentrated on the correct structure of thought following the rules, and less on the stylistic or intonational accent. Lithuanian punctuation, on the contrary, became more liberal; it focused on the writer, but did not forget the main rules. Therefore, in Lithuanian grammar two groups of punctuation were used: the required and optional punctuation. The required punctuation depended on "the clear features of grammar and structure, while the use of optional punctuation was based on the intention of an author, and intonational accents."(PangonytÄ- A. LIETUVIŲ KALBOS SKYRYBOS NAUJOVÄ-S 2008:1) The optional punctuation rules provided the choice of the punctuation mark: the punctuation mark was used, or it was omitted, or chanced to the other - the decision was left to the writer. It might be stated that optional punctuation was the benefit to the pupils and students; i.e. the teachers do not marked the omission of a mark as an error, when optional rules were used. The deeper analysis of punctuation between the clauses, and within a sentence was presented below: starting from a complex sentence and finishing to the simple sentence and punctuation of its fragments.

1.2.1. Complex sentence and the use of comma

Before the deeper analysis of English and Lithuanian punctuation in a complex sentence, a short introduction to its definition, type and structure is needed. A sentence was a grammatical speech unit "consisting of a word, or a syntactically related group of words that expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, or an exclamation, which in writing usually begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark." (Verspoor, Sauter 2000:33) A simple sentence had one grammatical centre (i.e. subject and predicate) and additional parts such as object, apposite, adverbial modifiers, etc. A specific number of grammatical centres provided additional information about a sentence; e.g. when sentence had two grammatical centres, its type (in some grammar books type is called kind) would become compound, complex or mixed. This classification presented a structure of clause and the use of conjunction. English and Lithuanian languages used three main types of sentence: complex, compound and simple. (Lithuanian had one more type of a sentence - asyndetic sentence; i.e. when clauses were linked by intonation, without the use of conjunction). The identification of sentence type provided better understanding of punctuation use; i.e. the clauses (simple sentences) could be linked by using punctuation marks, conjunctions, or punctuation marks and conjunctions together.

Presenting a complex sentence, grammarians of English and Lithuanian defined it as a "simple sentence (or main/independent clause) with at least one dependent/subordinate clause." (Sinclair 2007: 59) The clause usually was understood as "simple sentence"; i.e. the "smallest grammatical unit which can express a complete proposition."(Kroeger 2005:32) That "simple sentence" needed to have both subject and predicate in its structure, otherwise it would become participle construction or just a fragment of a sentence. An independent clause was a part of a sentence that could often stand on its own, if it were removed from the whole sentence. In Longman English Grammar, Alexander provided two ways of complex sentence formation. First way of forming a complex sentence was "by joining subordinate clauses to the main clause with conjunction;" second -- "by using infinitive or participle constructions."(2005:12) In the first way, choice of punctuation mark often was marked by a conjunction; i.e. the dependent clause was started with a subordinator (word) such as because, although, nevertheless, since, though if, who, where, when , that, etc. (2005:37) These subordinators were used as guiding lines to a writer that helped to choose a correct punctuation mark. (E.g. if nevertheless was used in the middle of a sentence, it must follow the required rule: be punctuated this way: semicolon (;) before subordinator and comma (,) at the end of it.) In the second way, punctuation mark depended on the position of a clause; i.e. the beginning or the end of a sentence. In this case, the subordinate clause was expressed either with subordinator, or without it. Analysing complex sentences grammarians of both (English and Lithuanian) languages noticed that the subordinate clauses could be divided into three groups: "noun clauses, relative (or adjectival) clauses, and adverbial clauses." (Ambrazas 1997:719; Alexander 2005: 13) For better understanding, the example of each clause is provided below:

-- noun clause:

--relative(or adjectival) clause:

-- adverbial clause:

The second generation of Forsytes felt indeed that he was not greatly to their credit. (1922:16)

The stream which worked the mill came bubbling down in a dozen rivulets, and pigs were hunting round that estuary. (1922: 18)

Under the influence, however, of a cup of tea, which he seemed to stir indefinitely, he began to speak at last. (1922: 33)

A noun clause was a clause expressed by a subject, object or complement of a verb. (ibid, p.13) Often the noun clauses were derived from statements or questions; i.e. subordinated clause would begin with relative pronoun that, sometimes what, (if it was derived from statement) or if, when, where, whether, and how (if it was derived from questions. These question words could function as noun clauses.) The that-clause, according to the English grammar rules, was not punctuated. (Lithuanian grammar did not divide relative clause into the kinds.) In some cases, when that-clause was separated from verb sentences, (or after the verbs believe, think, know) that could be omitted. (ibid, p. 14) However, if relative pronoun that was used after the reporting verbs (i.e. imply, assure, inform), the usage of that was obliged. There are some examples provided.

1) People had grown tired of saying that the 'Disunion' was on its last legs. (1922:24)

2) He naturally despised the Club that did take him. (1922:25)

Analysing the 1) sentence, it was divided into (a)) independent and (b)) dependent (subordinate) clauses. Independent clause was: people had grown tired of saying. The subordinate clause: that the 'Disunion' was on its last legs. Both clauses had their own grammatical centre. In this sentence that is expressed as a subordinate conjunction. As it was noticed, comma is not used in that-clauses.

In the sentence 2) that was expressed by a relative pronoun. The independent clause was (a)): he naturally despised the Club. The subordinated clause: (b)) that did take him. The comma was not used because the clear distinction was presented; i.e. the character despised Club (some kind of organisation) that allowed him join in. In this case that was used as relative pronoun for a Club.

The eased way to identify a relative (or adjectival) clause was to search a clause that would be expressed by the relative pronoun which. Often relative pronoun could be changed into that, who or whom, whose. (It deepened on the functions of pronoun; i.e. was it expressed as a subject or object.) Relative pronoun was used as a substitute for a noun in the clause, and its purpose was to describe "persons, things and events." (ibid, p. 16) Personal pronouns (I, you, he, etc.) could be placed by the relative pronouns that and who (whom). The things were indicated by relative pronouns which or that. The events (or "possession;" i.e. the ownership of something) were expressed by relative pronoun whose or a construction (preposition + relative pronoun); e.g. of which. Because of this feature (to act in a sentence as adjective), relative clause in many English and Lithuanian grammar books also was called adjectival clause.

The punctuation of relative clause, however, clearly differed in both (English and Lithuanian) languages. In English, relative clause could be either separated by punctuation, or marking could be omitted. It depended on the kind of relative clause. Lithuanian language, on the contrary, had not the kinds of relative clauses; therefore, it required the separation of relative clause in a sentence. These differences of punctuation often provided the difficulty in marking a sentence or text for the people that learned English as second language because misplaced punctuation mark could change not only the structure of a sentence, but its meaning as well. Analysing English punctuation, the two kinds of relative clause were presented: defining and non-defining. Defining relative clause was a clause that "provided essential information about subject or object." (ibid, p. 16) The punctuation in this type of relative clause was omitted. Non-defining relative clause, on the contrary, provided additional information of a sentence, which often could be omitted. This additional information was usually separated by commas, but the use of dashes was also available. In that case, the dashes "would further emphasize the introduction of additional information."(ibid, p. 17) In order to understand the differences between these two kinds of English relative clause, two sentences were analyzed.

3) The Club which old Jolyon entered on the stroke of seven was one of those political institutions of the upper middle class which have seen better days. (1922:24)

4) While he elbowed his way on, his eyes, which he usually kept fixed on the ground before his feet, were attracted upwards by the dome of St. Paul's. (1922:51)

Analysing the 3) sentence, it might be stated that it had two defining clauses, which were not separated by the punctuation. For easier analysis 3) sentence was divided into three parts: a) independent (main) clause; b) first relative clause; c) second relative clause.

The main or independent clause (a)) in this sentence was: The Club was one of those political institutions of the upper middle class. The first relative clause (b)) was: which old Jolyon entered on the stroke of seven. The second relative clause (c)) which have seen better days. The first relative clause (b)) provided essential information about subject Club; i.e. the club was political institution, and that club was visited by the character old Jolyon on exact time (i.e. on the stroke of seven). The second relative clause (c)) gave information about the political institutions of the upper middle class, not the club. It was the institutions which seen better days. It could be explained in this way: there was a time (in the past) when some political institutions flourished and were successful.

The 4) example represented a complex sentence. The independent clause (a)) in this sentence was: his eyes were attracted upwards by the dome of St. Paul's. The subordinated clause (b)) was presented by the linking word while: while he elbowed his way on. The non-defining clause (c)) began with relative pronoun: which he usually kept fixed on the ground before his feet.

As it was noticed, both relative clauses (b)) and (c)) was separated by commas. The first (b)) clause while he elbowed his way on was separated by comma, because of its position in the sentence. In both languages (English and Lithuanian) the same rule of punctuation was used; when subordinate clause was placed in the beginning of a sentence, it needed to be separated by the comma. The position of non-defining clause (c)) was in the middle of a sentence; according to the punctuation rule (when relative clause presented additional information, which could be omitted), it needed to be separated by punctuation mark.