G RAMMA R FOR EV ERY ONE
Ezra Pound preferred poetry without adjectives. He states: ‘The true poet is easily distinguished from the false when he trusts himself to the simplest expression and writes without adjectives.’ And Mark Twain wrote: ‘As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.’ On the other hand, Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through the Looking Glass, proclaims that: ‘You can do anything with adjec tives.’ But the best advice comes from William Safire: ‘Adjective salad is delicious, with each element contributing its individual and unique flavour; but a puree of adjective soup tastes yecchy.’ Well-chosen adjectives are succinct and titillate the imagination, while a surfeit must inevitably diminish. Words, such as ‘nice’ change in meaning over time and many words such as ‘terrible’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘fabulous’ have lost their preciseness, such that it is difficult to find sufficiently expressive replacements. It behoves all teachers and tutors to encourage students in the rigorous exercise of accuracy and the development of an extensive vocabulary to draw from. Young children need a free hand to practise and experiment with all the words at their disposal. The middle years will be especially important for training them in selectivity and adapting language to the purpose of the writing. Adjectives provide excel lent opportunities for discussion. Crystal, David & Crystal, Hilary 2000, Words on words: Quotations about language and languages, Penguin Books, Middlesex, UK. ibid.
4.1 Activities: adjectives 1. The outdoor activities suggested for nouns can now be done for practising adjectives, with the students adding qualifiers to the nouns they cite, for example: A broken fence A new concrete tank
Grammar for Everyone