The Grammar of Spoken English

David Lee

Language Room

Course Outline

Classes 1 and 2


  • priority of spoken language
  • grammar as a psychological construct
  • the concept ‘rule of grammar’ (tacit knowledge)

Phonemes of English: consonants and vowels 

  • phonemic transcription practice
  • phonemes and allophones
  • phonological processes
  • illustrative material from adult English, child language development, other languages
  • foreign accents

Classes 3 and 4

Grammar of spoken English 

  • differences from the grammar of the written language
  • illustrative material from plurality, possessives, pronoun reference, intonation …
  • principles of word classification (differences from traditional approaches)
  • distributional properties
  • inflectional properties
  • practice exercises
  • clause structure and phrase structure
  • principles of phrase structure analysis (substitution, clefting, movement)
  • practice exercises
  • classes and functions



Classes 5 and 6

  • Variation theory and methodology
  • phonological, grammatical, lexical variation
  • illustrative material from Australian English, American English, British English …
  • historical and recent studies of Australian English
  • diglossic situations, e.g Singapore English


About the tutor:

Bio David Lee

Born – Manchester, UK.

1951 – 1958 Manchester Grammar School, progressively specialized in French, German, English.

1958 – 1961 Christ’s College, Cambridge (Scholar) reading Modern and Mediaeval languages (French, German).

1961 – 1963 Assistant Principal, Administrative Civil Service (War Office).

1963 – 1965 French Teacher, King’s School, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

1965 – 1974 Lecturer in French, Language Centre, University of Kent at Canterbury.

1970 – 1971 Leave of absence from UKC to take a Coursework Masters in Linguistics, University of Essex.

1972 Completed PhD in Linguistics, University of Kent.

1974 – 1976 Lecturer in Linguistics, University College of North Wales, Bangor.

1976 – 2005 Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer/ Associate Professor in Linguistics, University of Queensland (Department of English).


Degrees: M.A.(Cantab), M.A. (Essex), PhD (Kent).


Have given courses in linguistics at the University of Bern (Switzerland), Seikei University (Tokyo), James Cook University (2005-6).

Visiting Fellow UCSD (San Diego), 1996.


Author of three books: Language,  Children and Society (Harvester, 1986), Competing Discourses (Longman, 1992), Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction (Oxford Univ Press, 2001) plus forty-odd research papers.