MET workshop: two grammar pathway minisessions

Parsing the parts of our speech: filling the gaps in our understanding of syntax

Facilitator: John Bates

This minisession assumes that many language support professionals – unlike other professionals such as doctors and surgeons – have received little formal training in their subject matter and that their knowledge of the rudiments of language is fragmentary. It also assumes that the more aware we are of the component parts of language, the better equipped we will be to ply our trade. The aim of this session is to briefly lay out the basic parts of speech (nouns, verbs, prepositions, determiners, adverbs, etc.), show how these parts tend to cluster into phrases and clauses, and discuss how groupings can function as modifiers or heads. With the new awareness gained, participants will be able to communicate more readily with colleagues and clients (should they need to do so), have a greater understanding of the raw material with which they work (text), and discover the usefulness of style manuals, grammar books and usage guides.

About the facilitator: John Bates is Head of the Language Service of the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona.

Tagging along: dangling participles, adverbial disjuncts and other hangers-on

Facilitator: Irwin Temkin

For some authors, adverbial disjuncts, such as interestingly or personally, are shortcuts that may be acceptable in colloquial language but not in academic or formal writing. Other writers are less categorical but will still avoid disjuncts like hopefully or importantly. Another category of disjuncts, the reduced adverbial clause, can also cause problems, giving rise to the dreaded dangling participle. Based on an examination of the use of adverbial disjuncts in various genres (Oops! there’s another disjunct!), we will attempt in this session to explore this area of grammar and style so that we can use such disjuncts appropriately when we wish to or can recognize them easily if we wish to edit them out.

About the facilitator: Irwin Temkin has been an EFL/ESL teacher and teacher trainer for over 40 years and branched out into translating and author editing later in life. His interest in grammar came initially through his study of other languages; this, perhaps, has been responsible for his somewhat “relativist” attitude at odds with the “absolutist” dictates of some prescriptive grammarians, professional or otherwise.

Participant profile: Both minisessions will be useful to all language professionals who want to polish their grammar and writing skills.