July 11, 2013 | Yiddish
I cannot figure out several paragraphs in my grammar book.
I was just working on Basic Yiddish: A Grammar and Workbook when I came across some utterly mystifying paragraphs under the heading “The predicative.”
This Book Is a Pretty Color
The first two read as follows:
“The predicate in grammar refers to (1) the verb and (2) the subject of the verb and anything modifying (giving more information about) the subject of the verb.
“Examples of predicates:
- 1. The good woman is reading.
- 2. She is a good woman.
- 3. The woman is good.”
Huh? My best guess was that the two references to “subject” in this quotation were supposed to be “object,” and that in each example a piece of the sentence was supposed to be boldfaced or underscored but wasn’t.
However, this seemed like a rather big and unusual set of mistakes for this Routledge series, and grammar terms and concepts are often way messier and more variable than people realize, and I had just woken up from a nap, so I went and did some googling to try to figure out whether there was a mysterious alternative theory of predicatehood I had never heard of.
I mean, the way I learned predicates, everything after “woman” in #1, after “she” in #2, and after “woman” in #3 is the predicate. It is, nonetheless, a wide, wild world out there.
Googling did yield a competing theory, but not one that explained the above. For those interested, here is a brief explanation of two different predicate philosophies, from the Wikipedia entry entitled “Predicate (grammar)”:
There are two competing notions of the predicate in theories of grammar. Traditional grammar tends to view a predicate as one of two main parts of a sentence, the other part being the subject. The purpose of the predicate is to modify the subject. The other understanding of predicates is inspired from work in predicate calculus (predicate logic, first order logic) and is prominent in modern theories of syntax and grammar. On this approach, the predicate of a sentence corresponds mainly to the main verb and any auxiliaries that accompany the main verb, whereby the arguments of that predicate (e.g. the subject and object noun phrases) are outside of the predicate. The competition between these two concepts has generated confusion concerning the use of the term “predicate” in theories of grammar.
Interesting. Not relevant here, though.
One thing that made me think the above excerpt from Basic Yiddish wasn’t just an error was that there was more in the same vein! The next paragraph continued, “A predicative can be a noun or pronoun (“the good woman” in example 1 above, “she” and “a good woman” in example 2) or an adjective (“good” in example 3).”
Can anyone shed any linguistic light on this grammar perspective?