John Corbett & Christian Kay: Understanding Grammar in Scotland Today

I have learned about the publication of this book from an SLC article. This, together with the title, seemed to me to imply a book dealing with the grammatical differences between English as spoken in Scotland and in England – which expectation wasn’t fulfilled. (There are a few such differences mentioned, but only in passing.) Nevertheless, after the initial disappoinment I found it interesting enough, because it was dealing with English grammar “from the inside”, not from a different language’s point of view, as was the case when I was learning it at the secondary grammar school. For example, I found out that my, your, his &c are regarded as determiners/possessive adjectives – while we saw them as possessive pronouns.

It’s written using the descriptive, rather than prescriptive, viewpoint, and it leads the reader from the very basic things like classifying words by particular parts of speech to describing how phrases, clauses, and finally complex sentences work. If you’re not afraid of technical terms like constituent, predicator, adverbial, active voice or passive transformation (some of which I’ve encountered for the first time), it gives you a good insight into the ways the language is structured, and I’ve no doubt I’ll find it useful as a reference book in future.

When all is said and done I’m sure I’m glad I’ve bought it. (Incidentally, I posted an identical “reader’s review” of it at LibraryThing and



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