Monday, June 18, 2012

The Importance of Learning Grammar

Scrivener (2004:54) says that when thinking of ‘grammar’ many people probably imagine a book full of explanations and rules that tell them which verbs have what endings, how to use adverbs, how to make a superlative, etc. The word grammar is very ambiguous since it has several meanings. There is no fixed definition of grammar because many experts often define the term of grammar differently. Grammar may mean an analytical and terminological study of sentences. Thus, when we learn the grammar we will learn the parts of speech, their names and their descriptions, we will learn such term as phrase, clause, interrogative sentence, retained object, etc. We will also learn how to identify those categories in sentences or parse them (Paul Robert, 1958:132). In other words, grammar is the systematized knowledge or the theory of sentence structure. Grammar may also be defined as the basic signals by which a language transmits meaning. It means that grammar is what we learn in our native language, thus, any native speaker of a certain language knows the grammar of his language (Paul Robert, 1958:132). Therefore, if we know how to construct sentence in order to say that grammar consists of the patterns of utterance in using a language. So grammar will usually control the use of language. Related to Robert’s definition, Veit (1986:1) defines grammar as follows: “Your grammar is what enables you to understand the very words you are now reading as well as to speak and write words and sentences on your own. You have had a grammar of English for as long as you have known English.” Gerot and Wignell also define grammar as follows: “Grammar is a theory of language, of how language is put together and how it works. More particularly, it is the study of wordings.” Knowing these definitions of grammar, we can conclude that grammar is very essential and important to every language. Grammar itself is a part of a language since without grammar a language is useless. Without grammar, people will not be able to communicate and understand each other as Raja T. Nasr (1985:52) states: “Grammar is a part of any language. Just as there is no language without sounds (at least no live or oral language), so there is no language without grammar.”
From the statement above we know that grammar and language can not be separated. It means that if someone can speak a language he must know the grammar of the language. On the other hand if someone does not know the grammar he will not be able to speak that language or the listeners will be confused in catching the message, so they will never be able to communicate with each other. In other words, without knowing the grammar of the language, one cannot be said to have learned the language, and without learning grammar it seems impossible to learn a language since the grammar tells about the language usage. Thus, the speakers are supposed to learn the grammar.
Grammar also supports the speakers in communication and avoids misunderstanding. For instance, in English grammar someone wants to say The boy who is wearing a black shirt is my brother. After he chooses the appropriate words (the, boy, who, is, wearing, a, black, shirt, is, my, brother) he has to find the appropriate way to construct the words grammatically. If he does not know grammar, he will be misunderstood. The listeners will be confused in trying to understand what he means. Perhaps, he will say My brother is wearing a black shirt who is the boy or A black shirt my brother is wearing who is the boy. If this happens, the listeners will try very hard to catch his ideas. Like English or other language grammars, Indonesian grammar is also very important. If someone wants to speak Indonesian, at least he should know the Indonesian grammar in order to make his listeners understand. For instance, Dia berbaju biru muda is acceptable. The prefix ber- in the word bertopi means memakai(wearing). But Dia membaju biru muda or Dia terbaju biru muda is not acceptable because the prefix me- and ter- are meaningless in the context. Even though the prefix ber-, me-, and ter- have the same meaning in making a verb, they are not meaningful in every sentence.
From the explanation above; it is clear that grammar is very essential and important, and also it cannot be separated from the language. Without grammar a language is meaningless and useless.

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