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Recommendations: A Comprehensive Grammar...v. Cambridge Gram

 
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sbbarker11



Joined: 06 Apr 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject: Recommendations: A Comprehensive Grammar...v. Cambridge Gram Reply with quote

Hello everyone,


I am currently searching for a serious and comprehensive grammar book for personal study and reference. The following two books have been recommended by various internet chat rooms and various internet articles.

Does anyone here happen to know the difference between both of these mammoth grammar books?

Has anyone especially taken a look at this newer book, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum (2002)?

If you've seen both, which of the two would you recommend if you could only purchase one? Thanks.


Books:

1) A Comprehensive Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk et al.

2) The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston et al.



Thankyou very much.
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1422

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have and use the Cambridge Grammar. I highly recommend it.

I will be buying the Comprehensive Grammar as well when finances allow it; at present I use the "University Grammar of English" which is a shorter version published in 1975.
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sbbarker11



Joined: 06 Apr 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:56 am    Post subject: Thanks for the reply. Reply with quote

Thankyou for the reply.


If you've perhaps used or previewed the Comprehensive grammar book, do you recommend it as my first choice, the Comprehensive as opposed to the Cambridge?



Both books are quite pricey, so which in your opinion is the better first book?


Thankyou very much.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to have a copy of the Quirk et al in China (a cheap/poor quality licensed reprint there cost well under 100 yuan - less than 10 pounds! - in 1997; if you know somebody in China or are planning to visit e.g. Shanghai yourself, you could then afford to get both books!), but its size and weight meant I had to leave it behind. I have to admit that I didn't really get that far into it or make enough use of it...but obviously, it's a book I wish I still had.

It has been surpassed in some respects however by the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (Biber et al), the latest (and fully corpus-informed) grammar in the long line of grammars influenced by (and pretty much using) Quirk et al's analytical framework; I own a copy of the LGSWE and have found it a very worthwhile investment (though it is not perhaps as comprehensive or detailed as the Quirk). You might like to consider this book rather than the two you've mentioned, because I think it strikes a good balance between the "traditional" approach of Quirk and the "radical", probing nature of the Cambridge (and the wealth of real examples, and statistics across types of speech and writing, often speak for themselves).

Actually, there are now student (abridged/rewritten) editions of both the LGSWE and the Cambridge available (the former with an accompanying workbook), and these would be a cheap way of becoming familar with their respective styles and modes of analysis before forking out a lot on the parent work; then (as SJ has mentioned) there are shorter versions of the Quirk around too in various forms and titles.

Then there is the humble COBUILD Grammar, and the later COBUILD Pattern Guides, and what about the upcoming Cambridge Grammar of English (by Carter and McCarthy)? Maybe bigger is not necessarily always better...

As for the Cambridge (Huddleston and Pullum) grammar, it is overall probably the most detailed and theoretical (i.e. leaning towards linguistics rather than fully descriptive, or pedagogical, grammar) of the three, and will differ in analysis and terminology from the Longman publications. I do have a copy (it's back in the UK), but it is not something that I can carry around the world with me (none of these books are!), and even after teaching for ten years it is not the first book that I would reach for (it is in fact still quite a daunting proposition! Hopefully I will get back to it before I am too old to lift it from the shelf!).

It's hard to make a firm recommendation if your reasons for research and reference are ultimately just "personal, but if you are or will be involved in ESL/EFL to an active extent, then probably the Quirk framework is the one to lean towards on account of it being the more well-known and/or influential (recall again all those offspring hailing from the same stable); then again, there can be little doubt that Huddleston and Pullum have keen minds and that their analyses, for those who have the time, can and do amount to more than just splitting hairs.

Anyway, SJ is quite a grammarian and more familar with both works than me, so in the final analysis I'd go with his recommendations if I were you.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:44 am; edited 2 times in total
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1422

PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The students grammar by Pullum and Huddleston that fluffy refers to is not worth buying in my opinionn. I would stick with Quirsk's university grammar if I wanted a shorter edition.

I haven't had chance to review the comprehensive grammar yet. I use the Cambridge Grammar all the time.

I doubt if you would go significantly wrong with either.

Of course a lot depends on what you want a grammar for. If you want a descriptive grammar book than the CGEL is the best in my opinion.

For teaching purposes possibly the Longman is better. And for vocabulary, I find the COBuild invaluable.
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sbbarker11



Joined: 06 Apr 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 8:34 pm    Post subject: Thankyou everyone. Reply with quote

Thankyou SJ and Hamster for the recommendations.





Thanks and take care.
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