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on 24 January 2003
I have just purchased an exemplar of this book, and although some people might find it rather complicated, I feel certain in saying that it is exactly what English grammar was in need of: a thorough coverage of its features in a modern, descriptive, and factual way; and, where people may call it complicated, I’d rather call it complete and thoroughly detailed. In this wonderful work, obsolete concepts such as Latin principles misleadingly applied to English (which is NOT a Romanic language) and traditional spurious justifications are abandoned, and English is faced as the completely unique language it certainly is. Being an inhabitant of a country in which an actually Latin language is spoken as its mother one, I know how much such a group of languages diverge from English in so many ways, and thus think this book an extremely appropriate account on English and its unique properties and traits.
Maybe, the trait of the book which pleased me most was its modern way to reorganize determinate parts of English grammar which should have been reviewed right at the dawn of modern English centuries ago. The main problem with previous grammar books was their habit of analyzing English as though it were a Latin language, attributing to it characteristics it does not intrinsically contain (which this book promptly denies), such as the existence of an inflectional subjunctive mood.
Therefore, one can really say that what the book does is provide a renewed and much sounder description on the modern language we call English, discarding many old concepts; some that do not really surprise us with their being removed, and others which quite much do! However, I am very sure that this rich descriptive work shall not stand on the bookstores' shelves without arousing all kinds of indignant critics from conservative students of the language, specially the older ones, who may have partly helped in the creation of the system disputed by the book.
But I must say that anyone with a reasonable inclination shall understand the authors' propositions and assertions, taking them very seriously, for those are based on extremely well formulated and sensible arguments; actually, I doubt someone open - minded could read the book from beginning to end without at least having a couple of former opinions and beliefs changed by the practically irrefutable evidences displayed by the authors as proofs of the applicability of their propositions.
I hope this book has more purchasers, and, consequently, more reviews so that debates about important grammar issues may start, for I believe that this newer, sounder analysis of English language need be displayed to all advanced English students, in order that important and inevitable reformulations in its unfortunately obsolete grammar concepts happen. Whoever has love for this language, like myself, shall be glad to debate, and this is an appeal I direct even to the highest authorities among teachers and grammarians.
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on 10 July 2011
An uncomfortable and frustrating read: Algebraic symbols abound coupled with baffling new terminology and bizarre analyses ..... this book certainly contains a great wealth of information ( almost 2,000 pages ) yet I can't help but conclude that <more> amounts to <less> on this occasion. Less enjoyment certainly and less understanding on the part of any reader who is trained only in the methods and concepts of Traditional grammar that is.

Modern linguistics demands so much attention and application of the reader .... and at the end of the day seems to be saying very little indeed that is profitable beyond the abstractions of pure theory and innovation for innovation's sake. And because of the neologisms and freshly-minted descriptions it is often virtually impossible to locate in the index the actual problem you want addressing or resolving. A great shame - and I am Not singling this particular volume out for my criticism - not at all - since virtually all contemporary works of this nature are as equally interested in structuralism, psychology, logic and neuroscience as in conventional grammatical arguments. We can blame Saussure and Chomsky for starters for this legacy!

It all seems an arid academic game where the old and established procedures are ruthlessly rejected and alternative new insights and interpretations are forever sought after - whatever may be their pragmatic use to the general reader.

Design-wise, however, a well-made and attractive book that is not cheap. But potential readers beware, if they want to buy a traditional grammar of the English language as they may well be very disappointed in my view with this.
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on 17 June 2008
Before you buy a copy of this book, I urge you to go to other sites and compare online reviews of it with the older Comprehensive Grammar by Quirk and Greenbaum. The latter also costs a great deal. I would suggest that it is still probably the better book for some uses. It is just as comprehensive and non-prescriptive. The terminology used is better in some circumstances. Online reviewers have mentioned problems in the Cambridge regarding their analysis of phrasal verbs.
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