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British Academy Lectures 2012-13Published in the online Journal of the British Academy$
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Janet Carsten and Simon Frith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265666

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265666.001.0001

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Parts of Speech: Solid Citizens or Slippery Customers?

Parts of Speech: Solid Citizens or Slippery Customers?

Joint British Academy/Philological Society Lecture read 10 May 2013 by

(p.133) Parts of Speech: Solid Citizens or Slippery Customers?
British Academy Lectures 2012-13

David Denison

British Academy

The ‘parts of speech’ which have played a fundamental role in most descriptions of grammar, from primary school curriculum to advanced linguistic theory, are explored in this article, which considers some intriguing changes in recent everyday English that challenge traditional assumptions about the definition and usefulness of word classes such as ‘pronoun’, ‘adjective’ and ‘noun’. The article raises important questions about what happens at the boundaries between these word classes and looks at how we can answer these questions—potentially changing the direction of both future linguistic research and pedagogical practice.

Keywords:   parts of speech, linguistic theory, grammar in schools, change, word classes, pronoun, adjective, noun

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