grammar grades

Discussion in 'English Only' started by carolmoraiss, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. carolmoraiss

    carolmoraiss Senior Member

    Brazil
    Portuguese
    "Very few men cut their ears with razors, but I do, possibly because I was taught the old Spenserian free-wrist movement by my writing teacher in the grammar grades." James Thurber, "Nine Needles".

    Can anybody tell me what grammar grades stand for?
     
  2. dn88 Senior Member

    pl
  3. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    This is unlikely as "grammar schools are chiefly British and Thurber was American. Also, at the time Thurber was writing, the word "grade", to describe a class or year in a school, was not used. I suspect it means "classes for English grammar" but I would await an AE speaker.
     
  4. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    The term grammar schools is not chiefly British - and it definitely wasn't when Thurber was writing. It's still used from time to time in AmE even now, though it sounds a bit old-fashioned. I don't think I've heard the term "grammar grades" (at least not that I remember), but I would assume it means "grades in grammar school." I googled it, and that does seem to be how it's used.
     
  5. dn88 Senior Member

    pl
    The Amercian Heritage Dictionary lists 'grades' under 'grade' (5c) as meaning "elementary school".
     
  6. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    I agree with JustKate. I understand the phrase to mean "the grammar school grades."
     
  7. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grammar+school

    We may be talking about different concepts.
     
  8. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Senior Member

    Indiana
    English - US
    I am certain that we are. The British term refers to secondary school and the American term refers to primary school. There are variations, but usually in the U.S. grammar school children would be in first grade through fifth or sixth grade - so six to ten or eleven years old. Thurber also mentions a movement his writing teacher taught him. This would refer, not to composition, but to the learning of penmanship. Penmanship is taught in the very early grades.
     
  9. Mahantongo

    Mahantongo Senior Member

    English (U.S.)
    In Thurber's day, public schools (and I am using the term in its American sense of "free schools provided for the education of all children by the local government") would have been divided into two levels: grammar school (also called "elementary school"), which was for grades 1 (typically begun in September of the year one was six years of age) through 8 (age 13), and high school, for grades 9 (age 14) through 12 (usually completed in June, when the student was 17 or 18). At the time Thurber was writing (which was 1927 to 1961), it was universally common in the United States to refer to "grades" in school, and I am surprised that PaulQ believes otherwise. It was also very common in Thurber's day for grammar-school students to be taught "penmanship", with Spencerian script being one common style. (For an example of Spencerian script, think of the logo of Coca-Cola...)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  10. carolmoraiss

    carolmoraiss Senior Member

    Brazil
    Portuguese
    but wouldn't it be "Spencerian script", Mahantongo?
     
  11. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    It's named for Edmund Spenser.
     
  12. Mahantongo

    Mahantongo Senior Member

    English (U.S.)
    No, it is instead named for Platt Rogers Spencer (and thank you carolmoraiss for pointing out that the spelling "Spenserian", while pronounced exactly the same way, is an error; this on-line copy of the text has Thurber using the correct spelling "Spencerian.")
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  13. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    From my days in U.S. schools, more recently than Thurber's but still some time ago, the "grammar grades" were the years between elementary school and high school. If I remember correctly, they were grades 6 through 8. The children would be about 11 to 13 years old. At my school, the three levels were all part of the same school but in different buildings.
     
  14. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I went to school in the '60s and early '70s, so I slightly overlapped Thurber. I lived in Michigan until the middle of 7th grade (a few months before my 13th birthday), then moved to Illinois.

    In Michigan the schools were elementary/grade/grammar school (1st-5th grades), junior high school (6th-8th), and high school (9th-12th).
    In Illinois the schools were elementary/grade/grammar school (1st-6th grades), junior high school (7th-8th), and high school (9th-12th).
     

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