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THE MOTHER TONGUE
ELEMENTS OF ENGLISH
JOHN HAYS GARDINER
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY
GEORGE LYMAN KITTREDGE
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY
SARAH LOUISE ARNOLD
DEAN OF SIMMONS COLLEGE, FORMERLY SUPERVISOR OF
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL
COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY
J. H. GARDINER, G. L. KITTREDGE, AND S. L. ARNOLD
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Athenæum Press
THE present volume, which has been prepared in response to the wish of many teachers, observes throughout the principle followed in Books I and II of the same series: it considers language in its relation to thought and the expression of thought. Like the previous volumes, it is practical rather than theoretical. It connects the subject of composition with the experiences of everyday life, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, with the study and appreciation of literature. The plan of the book, though simple and transparent, is novel in some respects, and may justify a word of explanation.
Part I is in itself an elementary manual of composition. It sets forth, in plain terms, the object and method of the study; it discusses words, sentences, and paragraphs; it explains and illustrates the principles of unity, variety, emphasis, and transition; it treats of the selection and arrangement of material; and it gives abundant practice in writing letters and brief essays. It may be used by younger or older classes, according to the grading of the pupils and the amount and character of their previous training in English; and it is well adapted to the purposes of a review or general survey of the subject in preparation for the systematic study of the Forms of Discourse in Part II.1 Thus Part I affords a means of transition from one stage of progress to another and enables the pupil to begin his more advanced work in composition with a firm grasp on the first principles of the art and considerable facility in applying them.
1 For a further statement of the different ways in which Part I may be utilized, see Suggestions to Teachers, p. xiv.
"The Mother Tongue," Book II, provides a brief course in elementary composition which is, in effect, a condensation of Part I of the present book; it uses some of the same exercises and states the main principles in similar or identical language. Pupils who have worked through pp. 319-82 of Book II may therefore omit Part I of Book III or use it for the purposes of a brief review; or, if time and circumstances allow, Part I of Book III may be substituted for pp. 319-82 of Book II. The relations between those pages and Part I of the present book are carefully adjusted to the requirements of both classes of students.
Part II is devoted to the Forms of Discourse, narration, description, explanation (or exposition), and argument, with a special section on literary criticism. It presents these subjects in their natural order, and indicates their relations to each other, as well as to the experience of the pupil and his study of literature. Explanation (or exposition) is treated with a fulness proportionate to its importance in practical affairs but unusual in an elementary manual. Explanatory (or circumstantial) description is carefully distinguished from pure or "literary" description, that is, from description that aims to give the writer's impressions of the scene before him.1 The different kinds of arguments are classified on a plan which will, it is hoped, make this difficult subject more intelligible than the beginner usually finds it.
Part III takes up once more the paragraph, the sentence, and the choice of words. These subjects have all been considered in an elementary way in Part I, but the pupil is now ready for a more advanced and philosophic study of their bearing on the art of composition. Thus Part III is, in effect, a simple treatise on rhetorical technique. The discussion, however, is not formal, but practical, and the doctrines are set forth in their relation to the everyday experience of the student.
Particular attention is invited to the treatment of improprieties in language. It is a common practice of writers on rhetoric
1 Often called "dynamic" or "impressional" description.
to set forth these faults in a long list, thus introducing the student to a multitude of errors which he might otherwise have been under no temptation to commit. The unwisdom of this plan is clear enough and has been demonstrated over and over again by experience. The authors of the present book have therefore followed a different method. The standard of usage is defined, and the four main principles of choice (correctness, precision, appropriateness, and expressiveness) are fully explained and illustrated; but the correction of specific improprieties is left to the teacher, who will, of course, note these faults when they occur in the pupil's writing or conversation, and thus adapt his instruction to the actual needs of the individual. In the Supplementary Exercises, however, a number of the commonest improprieties are discussed, and to these is added an unusually full list of words that are often loosely or incorrectly employed. This list will help the teacher in his criticism of the students' essays, and will also afford material for a great variety of lessons in verbal discrimination. Its judicious use will accomplish far more than can be effected by a study of the conventional catalogues of improprieties, and will not corrupt the pupil's English in the attempt to purify it.
For convenience, a list of solecisms has been included in the Appendix (pp. 383-90). Here, too, care has been taken to avoid, so far as possible, the actual printing of bad English.
The exercises, both analytic and constructive, are numerous and varied.1 In conformity with the plan of the book, they aim to bring the practice of composition into its proper relation both to the pupil's experience and everyday interests and to his study of good literature.
The authors are indebted to The Macmillan Company for permission to print a chapter from Sir John Lubbock's "Beauties of Nature"; to Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons for allowing the use of several passages from Stevenson and of one from
1 See, besides the exercises in the body of the book, the Supplementary Exercises on pages 357-82.