The Roberts English Series : an analysis

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Helen Hayward Jones (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
James Wimsatt

Abstract: The general acceptance of Noam Chomsky's theory of transformational grammar has polarized opinion among educators, some viewing it as no more fruitful than the school grammar it replaces, others ascribing to it vital powers for laying open language structure and improving writing skills. To this latter group belongs Paul Roberts, whose popular textbook course, The Roberts English Series, assumes both goals. Whether or not Roberts' presentation of a transformational system does successfully represent Chomsky theory, and, by rules acceptable to that theory, advance the child's facility in composition, becomes the purpose of this study. Following the introduction, the second section of the analysis examines Books 6 and 9 (of the seven-volume course) for content value, e.g., reading selections, writing assignments, spelling, vocabulary enrichment, and language study, using as a standard the requirements of college boards examinations. Finding the content acceptable from this standpoint, the analysis takes up in its important third section the system of grammar presented by Roberts, focusing particularly on earlier criticisms leveled against him as a popularizer. In the light of authoritative opinion his system, while sufficiently complete to cover general usage, contains a number of explanations and rules unjustified by current theory. Moreover, it lacks selectional restraints necessary to prevent the generation of ungrammatical sentences.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1969
Roberts, Paul. $t Roberts English series
English language $x Grammar

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