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How long did The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language take to write?
Rodney Huddleston conceived the idea shortly after writing his review of Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik for Language (the review was published in 1988). By 1990-91 he was actively engaged in planning the book. He obtained a number of substantial grants from the Australian Research Council and began assembling a team of advisors. By 1995, by which time Huddleston had drafted several chapters, Geoff Pullum joined the project. Most of the book's twenty chapters were completed in their present form between 1996 and the end of 2000. The manuscript was delivered to the press in January 2001. Copy editing, proofreading, indexing, and the production of the first printing took about 15 months after that.
Is the description restricted to certain varieties of English?
No. The Cambridge Grammar is a synchronic description of the syntax and morphology of present-day international Standard English as used in English-speaking countries around the world. Regional variations in the standard are noted where they become relevant, but most syntactic and morphological variation in English turns out to separate clearly nonstandard varieties from standard ones; sentence structure and word structure in Standard English differs relatively little between Britain, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, etc. `Standard' here is not a value judgment or an implied condemnation of other varieties of the language. It is simply a fact that the kind of English that should be used for international news broadcasts, magazine articles, newspaper editorials, and so on does not differ very much in syntax or morphology. (Phonology is a different matter, of course: English is spoken with many different accents.)
Where do the authors come from?
Rodney Huddleston was born and raised in Manchester (northern England) but was educated at Cambridge and has spent most of his working life in Australia. Geoff Pullum was born in Scotland but raised and educated in England; he has spent the last twenty years in California, and is now an American citizen. Of the other collaborating authors, Betty Birner, Geoff Nunberg, and Gregory Ward are Americans; Ted Briscoe, Frank Palmer, and John Payne are British; Anita Mittwoch lives in Israel; Laurie Bauer is in New Zealand; and Peter Collins, David Lee, Peter Peterson, and Lesley Stirling reside in Australia.
How does this grammar relate to modern linguistics?
All the authors have attempted to ensure that all the relevant results that have emerged from research in linguistics over the last forty years are acknowledged and incorporated into the description wherever they are solid and reliable. This does not mean that when a descriptive claim is correct The Cambridge Grammar adopts the theoretical proposals that the observations were originally supposed to support. It is the analytical insights and generalizations about the language that are taken up, not the theoretical hypotheses.
How does this grammar relate to traditional grammar?
While The Cambridge Grammar does not depart from traditional grammar capriciously when it would be confusing, neither does it cling to traditional grammar when it would be incorrect. Much about the older tradition of description in English grammar is misguided or outright false. Where necessary, The Cambridge Grammar breaks with tradition, sometimes marginally and sometimes radically.
I don't see any references to the literature in the grammar's pages. How come?
This is a reference grammar, not a monograph about linguistics. No references to the literature are given in the body of the work. A modest attempt at attribution of key ideas is made in the Further Reading section at the end, together with a list of references, but the idea of including a complete bibliography of the gigantic field of English grammar could not even be considered.