AcademiaNut wrote:But where is a complete list of Spanish sentence patterns? I couldn't find such a list online.
Also: Why does English seem to be the only language ever listed with a complete list of sentence patterns? And why isn't that list for English better known?
I have a degree in English language, a Cambridge CELTA certificate in English teaching and a Masters degree in teaching, I can say I was never shown any such list.
Now, you've just repeated the description of it as "complete", despite the very long list of caveats that tell us the very many types of sentences that are not included.
Why isn't that list taught in English grammar classes long before students reach college, or before they learn a foreign language?
Because it is practically valueless. Without the claim of completeness, it might be mildly useful, but as it is, it is totally misleading.
Since English speakers learning Spanish will naturally try to translate sentences they already speak into Spanish, why do Spanish teachers not realize this and explicitly explain how each English grammar pattern would be translated?
Let's start with where you're right:
Language learners always fixate on their native language (L1). Many teachers work under the assumption that simply telling them not to and ignoring the L1 will result in them not doing. I personally have always found that understanding what the L1 does helps understand why the new language (L2) does it differently.
In short, teachers should make students aware of what they do, so that they can consciously and deliberately do something different. We agree on this.
But those 10 patterns do not describe why
English does what it does, and therefore are totally insufficient to allow an informed translation. You are again talking about transformational rules, despite telling me explicitly in another thread that you were not.
I've already demonstrated why this type of superficial "pattern" is not enough for translation with the dog food example -- the information required to create a good translation is not encoded in this type of superficial pattern.
If Spanish has so few grammar patterns, then why wouldn't those be even easier to learn, and therefore why wouldn't a list of them appear in every Spanish grammar book, or at least somewhere online?
Let's go back to Computer Science and software dev for a minute.
Those 10 patterns, or "macro
patterns" are combinations of many "micro
patterns" (grammar rules), and these micropatterns are also the foundation of the great many sentence patterns that were hand-waved away from the "complete".
Now, if you're coding these up in a computer, should you be coding this incomplete complete list of macropatterns, or should you be generating these macropatterns procedurally from a set of micropatterns that can generate the genuinely complete list?
In CS terms, the answer is unequivocally procedural generation as it is logically correct and prevents reduplication of data; from a software dev perspectivethe answer is the answer to the question "Which is quicker?"
In English, with it's fixed word order "I shot him" can mean many things, but in Spanish, with its freer word order, it might translate to "le disparó", "le disparó a él", "le disparó yo". The information we need to disambiguate between these isn't encoded in the 10 patterns, but in a variable that has been disregarded: vocal emphasis.
"le disparé" = "I shot him" or "I shot
him" (as in "I didn't kiss him, I shot
"le disparé a él" = "I shot him" or "I shot him
"le disparé yo" = "I shot him" or "I
And note that I've included the neutral, unemphasised form for every alternative in Spanish, because even including the emphasis data you still don't have enough information to know how to translate for absolute certain every time.
So you should hopefully be able to see that if we want to truly expand out the micropatterns into enumerated macropatterns, you're heading towards a combinatorial explosion -- we only expanded out one variable there, and each of our macropatterns is now replaced with two, three or even four. Adding in questions doubles. Adding in negatives doubles again. We're now at about, what, 120ish? Adding in imperatives doesn't double it, but should bring us up to about 180.
It seems to me that would be a much faster way to learn, as well: The student could see at a glance all the grammar patterns they would ever need to learn, in a short list, then master those
Memorising a list isn't mastering it. I agree, awareness of why and how examples take on the form they use, but these patterns simply do not do that.
With knowledge of all the patterns that can exist, language learning then reduces to almost a mechanical process of filling in the slots: 4 slots for the overall topics (script, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary), 10 subslots for the grammar patterns + a few rules for any relative clauses hanging off of them, maybe 5 subslots for phonemes that don't exist in English that need to be mastered, a list of the 3 verb types and how to conjugate them (-ar, -er, -ir), and a few more miscellaneous rules, like for agreement of gender and plural. The student can then see at a glance the entire set of knowledge that needs to be tackled, and how it is organized, and plan accordingly. Sadly, I suspect not even the teachers themselves see the big picture, which is why they do not teach it.
This approach has been tried... it does not work.
The presentation of the patterns encodes the problem.
Someone came up with the principle of patterns and slots to simplify all the individual grammar rules. They convinced themself it was right.
They started expanding out. Soon they got hit by the combinatorial explosion. But rather than accept that the combinatorial explosion proved them wrong, they simply started putting up caveats and saying "complete... except for...", effectively saying "I'm right if you ignore all the evidence I'm wrong."
Why do you only see it in English? Because it's much harder to kid yourself on that it works in any language other than English, and because it is rejected by actual academics on grounds of being naive and insufficient so it's only spread by naive, uninformed English teachers: the English teaching industry is huge and as a result is full of people who are not properly trained and build incomplete frameworks that allow them to function as a teacher, then share them as though they are some kind of amazing truth.
[edited for errors in Spanish.]