Governed By Rules.

Foreign language learners may reach a point when they are ready to scream “One more rule and we are done! Is there no end to foreign language rules and exceptions?” It may be hard to believe that foreign languages operate with a certain number of rules. It takes time to learn them, but once learned, they are stored in the foreign language learners’ brains and allow speakers of a foreign language generate infinite sets of massages. Every person who knows a foreign language possesses a set of rules that allow him or her to understand and produce sentences, and to recognize whether or not a sentence is grammatically correct. However, not all rules are learned consciously. Very often we deduce a rule from the context, so we know that something sounds right but we cannot explain why. This is the knowledge that native speakers possess about their own language. It is also the type of knowledge that foreign language learners can acquire in real life informa settings. Since language is governed by rules, foreign language learners must come to grips with a foreign language as a system. There are rules at all levels. At the level of sounds the rules allow for certain combinations of sounds but exclude others. This may differ from one language to another language. For example, in English the letter m cannot be followed by the letter l at the beginning of words, so one knows right away that mlad is not an English word. At the same time, the letter b can be followed by the letter l. So, the word blad has the potential to be an actual English word. At the word level, rules govern combinations of parts. For example, in English the elements -er or -ian must follow the main part of the word as in the word reader or the word librarian. When we place them at the beginning of the word the results in nonsense. At the level of sentences, rules tell us how words can be combined in any of the languages. For example, in English the word order is usually direct that is subject-verb-object. In a group of other languages, the word order can be indirect because they have different from English lexical-grammatical structures such as cases and endings and produce the same meaning. By limiting the number of possibilities in which words can be arranged in English, grammar helps us predict what will follow when something has been missed. For example, when we hear a sentence Jack wore a black… we can predict that the missing word is a noun. When we hear the sentence The car mechanic… the engine, we can guess that the missing word is a verb.

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