Language mapping, a walk-through

I began inventing my grammar when I was a kid, which might part show. I think we yet deserve some sunshine when we are grown up, too. The grammar has remained my real thing. It was my secret, also during university studies. It is quite different from classic guidance, but this is the matter that works for me.


Everyone has one PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE really. We can symbolize this reality as three fields. We can say figuratively that our knowledge is our light. Knowledge needs memory. Our PAST field can be as with a setting sun. We may forget the detail in a matter we have not studied in a long time, yet there is shine enough to return to it.

__PAST field

We cannot have memories of the FUTURE, but we are capable of planning our study. Our field for the FUTURE can be as with sunrise.

__FUTURE field

It is our PRESENT we have most cognitive powers to shape. We can symbolize the PRESENT as shiny daylight.

__PRESENT field

All tense patterns have the words BE, HAVE, or DO. We envision the words in the Fields (Chapter 1).


The picture lets us focus on the verb form  WILL. It maps on the FUTURE already in the shape it has for the PRESENT. The observation is going to matter much in our further work

(Chapter 2).


For a start, we compare the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect patterns. We use the word “Character”, for general patterns. Character of activity may come easier to think about than the grammatical term “Aspect”, which we get to know too, however.



We can extract our Character or Aspect patterns, if we look to grammatical tense first elements, along with the words BE, HAVE, and WILL (Chapter 3).


We can symbolize the Simple first element with infinity. It can be any verb, and natural language is not mathematically calculable. Our ideas do not come from the Greek Anaximander, but we can compare thought. Feel welcome to read Grammar is always a project.


Human grammar is not separate from human living and thinking. We can associate our grammar and natural human mapping, as with geography and travel. We people do not have the outer space for our regular living space. We live on Earth. We usually view land or seas as extents. We give at least psychological borders to areas in which we are. We perceive routes and ways to places. We happen to be at landmarks and places.

Such are natural human variables for space, in English. We can use them for grammar (Chapter 4).

__ESSENCE 3 VALUE with patterns


Arrows are very familiar symbols to show or indicate the way. We can combine our mapping and arrow symbols, to exercise target time. The ability will be vital in our language journey, especially if we want to fare with Modal verbs. Modal forms do not tell directly what time we are thinking about, so it is good to have an idea for a target time.



Please mind the arrows are not shooting arrows

We never grow too old or mature, to use colors. They can help also advanced language work. We make a color palette, and combine patterns for Expression: the Affirmative, Negative, or Interrogative (Chapter 5.1).


We use visualization for syntax (Chapter 6). We learn to keep the head time. Our arrows are mauve, the color of head verbs (read: Colors can help read and learn). Head verbs can head phrases, clauses, or sentences. Auxiliaries always require another verb.


We get to use time frames. We keep the frame open for the Perfect, and we close it for the Simple. For real time, our frames are green.

Open time frame__3

All along, we mind we use concepts and inventions. We do not claim there is anything like time frames or logical extents in human heads. Common sense, if someone is an architect, it does not mean he or she was born with an idea for a house, or has a building in the brain.


After a comparison of the Simple and Perfect Aspects (Chapter 6), we compare the Simple and the Progressive (Chapter 7). Many grammar books might tell we need to learn “stative verbs”. They would be the words for thinking and feeling. We can stay with our mapping. It is up to our choosing, if we give our thought an extent or part an extent.


After we have compared our mapping variables ON and TO (Simple and Perfect), as well as ON and IN (Simple and Progressive), we try merging TO and IN.

We get another mapping value, AT, the Perfect Progressive (Chapter 8). This means we learn to manage all Aspects with variables as we want them.



We analyze if variable  ON could be a basic value. We remember about “stative verbs”: we might not fancy memorizing lists of words to use with the Simple only. The analysis is favorable. It is always the first element in the tense pattern to adapt for the Time. First elements in all patterns behave the same in the Simple pattern (Chapter 8.1).


We can merge our symbols and continue faring with an earthling basic variable: ON. We merge the Progressive and Perfect features on our Simple arrow cue.



We can agree with classic grammars we may have stative uses of verbs, but we do not have stative verbs. No such special category works in the live, real language. We take our examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, COCA.


This is a dream come true. And I’m loving every minute of it.

(NBC_Today Sun as in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, COCA).


Modal verbs challenge our darts (Chapter 9).  PAST Modal forms can work for the PRESENT, too. We can expand our logic as well as color palettes. Our gloss or forget-me-not can symbolize auxiliary time. Tea rose can help visualize Modal relativity.


We learn to perceive our grammar and notional time as related (Chapter 9.2).

We can view our grammar as logically connected

We can observe that Modal form is only relative to real time. More, hypothetical time cannot be the same as real time. We can have gloss (forget-me-not) time frames.

Relative time frames

With the frames, we can economize our use of darts to  ON or IN  values only.  Our Modal phrases will become much simpler to make, and remain correct according to classic grammars (!)


(Should we think it is too simple to be true, let us mind there is no natural language to require looking up volumes on philosophy, to make Modal structures. More, all natural languages are spoken and written in real time.)


Further journey can help learn closing the frame or leaving it open, dependent on our focus. There is no universal guidance. Of the President quotes below, neither is grammatically incorrect.


If Lincoln were alive today, he’d be (would be) turning over in his grave.

Gerald Rudolph Ford, American President.


More than that, and breaking precedent once more, I do not intend to commence any sentence with these words ― “If George Washington had been alive today”, or “If Thomas Jefferson”, or “If Alexander Hamilton”, or “If Abraham Lincoln had been alive today”…

Theodore Roosevelt, American President


Our basic variable and relativity will work with the Conditional or Unreal Past, too. More, we will be able to keep our real PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE, our head, notional time.


We do not have to keep our visuals and symbolics forever. We try some independence of them already in Chapter 10.4., with exercise 67.


Importantly and very seriously, our work does not belong with computers. First and foremost, no computer could do our human thing: to begin, learn, and think on our infinity. Kids know there are many words and patterns in language, and still manage. Computers do not have cognitive variables, either.


To the Upper Intermediate level, the story consists of four parts.

Feel welcome to the dedicated Travel in Grammar website,

The conscious mind of Emily Dickinson

… Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,

Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence — …

(Emily Dickinson, Safe in their alabaster chambers, Wikipedia)


When we look at poetry by Emily Dickinson today, we get strange big letters and a multitude of dashes which yet cannot give the special Bees, Birds, or Ears any real sense. To blame the reader

— “you know, the author was a mystic, metaphysical, only high minds get it” —

a Mystical Bee remains unappealing on a High Mind as well.


We can read commentary online.


… Dickinson’s idiosyncratic poetic practice—her pervasive use, for example, of dashes, and of unexpectedly capitalized words …


Students may have problems with the appearance of the poems–with the fact that they are without titles; that they are often short and compact, compressed; that the dash is so often used in the place of traditional punctuation.



Emily Dickinson’s poetry was a success with the people of her times. The people did not have problems, and they knew proper spelling. Emily Dickinson also was aware of orthography as in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, and she certainly did not mean her poetry for just a joke, though she had a sense of humor and I hope to prove it.


Let us have a close look at a manuscript for the poem we began with, Safe in their alabaster chambers. The color red is not to correct. I like Emily Dickinson’s poetry really much and I would not alter it. The color is to emphasize dash height relative to letter.

Safe in their alabaster chambers, click to enlarge

I do believe this is an autograph.


The manuscript has “low dashes”. The markings belong well with the habit of the hand. This habit also has an open e that closes for sibilant clusters, for example. We can compare diadems, Doges, and soundless. Spoken language mattered in Emily Dickinson’s notation.


The habit of the hand was strong. We can see the “low dash” around the name of the addressee, Suz.


Why make such marks, when writing a poem? Let us think about language and inspiration. There is an occurrence in Emily Dickinson’s verse to correspond with Latin and Greek. The occurrence is beyond mere coincidence or unaware habit.


(Time and Eternity, XVIII, Playmates) Latin: collusor, companion at play; condiscipulus, school-mate; angelus, a messenger, an angel; lapillus, small stone, pebble (marble?); lusus, a game;  Greek: ὁμηλυσία, omelusia, companionship.


God permits industrious angels

Afternoons to play.

I met one, — forgot my school-mates,

All, for him, straightway.


God calls home the angels promptly

At the setting sun;

I missed mine. How dreary marbles,

After playing Crown!


The inspiration is morpho-phonemic and humorous. Let us try a few more pieces. (Life, XXIII, Unreturning) ἀνάπλυσις, anaplusis, washing or rinsing out; ἀνήλυσις, anelusis, going up, return; ἤλυσις, elusis, step, gait; lenunculus, a small sailing-vessel, bark, skiff (the toddling little boat).


‘T was such a little, little boat

That toddled down the bay!

‘T was such a gallant, gallant sea

That beckoned it away!


‘T was such a greedy, greedy wave

That licked it from the coast;

Nor ever guessed the stately sails

My little craft was lost!


We can compare the Greek -upo/ypo- for I asked no other thing (Life, XII, p. 213): ἰσότυπος, isotypos, shaped alike, συνυπόπτωσις, synypoptosis, simultaneous presentation to the senses; Latin cauponarius, a male shopkeeper, tradesman, ποπτερνίς, upopternis, a knob (a kind of a button that can twirl, in the modern use), and πo, below, looking a picture up and down (as Brazil on a map).


I asked no other thing,

No other was denied.

I offered Being for it;

The mighty merchant smiled.


Brazil? He twirled a button,

Without a glance my way:

“But, madam, is there nothing else

That we can show to-day?”


Emily Dickinson marked her poetry for prosody as well as language morphology. The markings and big letters belong with drafts of her pieces, not the final forms. Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd knew the draft features and ignored them with print. We do not follow Thomas Jefferson’s “rough draught” for the Declaration of Independence, either.


Why I stay by Emily Dickinson’s first print

I like Emily Dickinson’s poetry very much, but this does not extend to many interpretations. I think they exaggerate on the influence by the poet’s recluse lifestyle. To compare comprehension, or just out of curiosity, would you try to find the pieces by Emily Dickinson to tell about book dusting, or the ex libris? You may be interested in the Uncouth love theme (the “suspicious” love of language) in her poetry. You may like the thematic stanza, too.


I had no time to hate




I died for beauty




The wind


In a library


First series afterword