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C. ALPHONSO SMITH, PH.D., LL.D., L.H.D.,
LIDA B. MCMURRY
JOHNSON PUBLISHING COMPANY
In preparing this book, we have kept in mind the two major advances made in the teaching of English. These are, first, the preëminence of the paragraph as the unit of composition; and, second, the conviction that ordered speaking should precede studied writing. If the paragraph may be considered the discovery of the last quarter of the nineteenth century the primacy of spoken English is the corresponding discovery of the first quarter of the twentieth century. It is not merely that we talk habitually and write occasionally. A further reason is that the best possible preparation for writing on any subject is to talk freely on the subject before the pen is taken in hand. It is not so much a question of primacy, after all; it is rather a question of priority. Speaking should come first.
But the essentials of analysis cannot be neglected. James A. Garfield, a master of both spoken and written English, once remarked: "I have taught, more or less, almost every subject embraced in the ordinary school or college course, and the most fruitful discipline of all for young minds I consider to be grammatical analysis.” Grammatical analysis is not neglected in this book but it serves as a guide to practical everyday speech rather than as an introduction to the philosophy of language.
Literature, composition, and grammar should go together. To separate them is to deprive literature of its support, composition of its inspiration, and grammar of its goal. In cases of disputed usage, like the subjunctive and the "had rather” idiom, the practice of the masters has been substituted for the dogmas of the grammarians. If the pupil learns at the outset that the grammarian's duty is to codify, not to legislate, he will be saved much idle discussion and wasted effort in the years to come.
It hardly needs to be said that the chapters in this book are not meant as assigned lessons, but they are so arranged as to be easily divisible into lessons by the teacher. Each chapter develops a complete topic or a clearly unified phase of a topic.
C. ALPHONSO SMITH. UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY,