I am struck by the number of children who do not like or even detest grammar. And I admit very humbly that I was in this case when I was a schoolboy, and then a college student.
I even remember a very specific day when our German teacher, full of good intentions, made us copy the table of declensions. And there, dative, genitive and other “tives” made me crumble. Suddenly, I stopped making the slightest effort in this language, though somehow I almost always managed to choose the right declination. Pity.
My reaction strongly resembled the “attributive adjective syndrome” experienced by a young student of mine, Sylvie. During the course of a dyslexia program, she was cheerful and willing, until I mentioned the idea of an “attributive adjective” (In French, l’adjectif épithète). Her reaction was immediate — she became angry, refusing to listen or to remain at the work table.
The Reasons for the Wrath
The main cause that made my student erupt with the idea of an attributive adjective, or my teenage self with declensions, is very simple. The words used to explain grammar have no meaning, no image, no significance. Add to that the great pressure from parents, teachers, and friends to succeed, because “the others get it right,” “go, make an effort” or other similar well-intended exhortations, and it’s very easy to create the explosive mix.
So that is how dyslexia settles in, at least in this context.
The Origin of Grammar
We might ask whether grammar or language came first. But unlike the chicken and the egg, the answer here is obvious.
First was the language. Then came the desire to create a structure, an explanation of the art of speaking well. Thus, grammar had already developed among ancient Greeks and Indians thousands of years ago to understand and analyze texts.
But let’s be clear, it’s not grammar that decides our way of speaking, it’s our way of expressing ourselves that dictates grammar. Otherwise, why complicate life by saying “a horse – some horses”, “a newspaper – some newspapers”, “a jackal – some …”?
Grammar is Natural and Instinctive
Analyzing the use of the language and creating grammar rules may seem artificial. Yet the heart of grammar, the rules it describes, is quite natural.
For example, any French-speaking person, including very young children, would know very well to say “a big cat gray” (un gros chat gris). It would not occur to anyone to say “a gray cat big” (un gris chat gros) or “a big gray cat” (un gros gris chat). Just as an English-speaker will spontaneously say “a big gray cat” and not “a big cat gray”.
And no one needed grammar rules for that. The “good form” is instinctive, acquired with many repetitions when learning speech.
So, what to do?
You might think, reading everything I wrote above, that I am completely resistant to grammar. This is not the case.
I discovered through my training in the Davis® method that it can be relatively simple to understand and master grammar. I was able to help Sylvie understand that an “attributive adjective” was something added, that could be removed and still leave the meaning of the sentence almost the same. She then exclaimed, “But that’s all? So why do we not call it an optional adjective, it would be so much simpler!”
With another of my students, we modeled the rule of agreement of adjectives with nouns. It took us a good three hours, but this student can now explain how it works in all its details.
Grammar is indispensable for the structure of the language. But its study should be done only by ensuring that the student understands the objectives and masters each element.
There is no point in provoking the anger or attributive adjective syndrome. A little bit of Davis® Symbol Mastery mastery is much more effective.
This article has been translated from French and slightly modified by Abigail Marshall, with the help of Google translate. For the original French version of the main article, see https://www.infodyslexie.org/lettre-information/42. Some additional parts of this article were incorporated from “Le syndrome de l’adjectif épithète“, which can be found at https://www.infodyslexie.org/articles-dyslexie/syndrome-adjectif-epithete
Some additional parts of this article were incorporated from “Le syndrome de l’adjectif épithète“, which can be found at https://www.infodyslexie.org/articles-dyslexie/syndrome-adjectif-epithete
The drawings on this page are original artwork from the website www.infodyslexie.org — they are used with permission from the site owner.