♦ new Grammar Glossary entry: “open- and closed-class words” + revision of “flesl.net list of function words” and “about the list of function words”

• I felt it was important to write this entry because I've recently noticed quite a lot of traffic to the “flesl.net list of function words” and to the accompanying page, “about the list of function words.” I knew both these pages needed revision and I felt that the revision should be based on a clear and theoretically solid glossary entry.

• The list of function words had to be revised because closed-class adverbs had been omitted from the latest version. When I posted that version, I was under the misleading influence of the somewhat confusing treatment of closed-class adverbs in A Comprehensive Grammar of Contemporary English (and of course, also under the misleading influence of my own lack of a complete grasp of the material in that book.) Because of the authors’ (apparent) failure to provide a systematic discussion of closed-class adverbs (i.e. “function-word adverbs”) and also because a prominent list of closed- and open-class categories in §2.34 (p 67) makes no mention of adverbs under the closed-class heading but does mention them under the open-class heading, I had too hastily decided that, according to the book I use as the basic reference for the Grammar Glossary, closed-class adverbs did not exist. I still felt that from a pedagogical point of view there were adverbs — in particular the most common frequency adverbs — which ought to be classified as closed-class, but for the sake of clarity and consistency I removed the adverbs I had put in the original version of the function word list. The list has now been revised to include a selection of closed-class adverbs and the “about page” has been revised to reflect the changes made to the list.

• There was a second reason for wanting to revise the two pages in the “Vocabulary area” — in light of the now well-established policy of using A Comprehensive Grammar of Contemporary English as a reference for the Grammar Glossary, it was necessary to use the “closed- open-class” terminology for the glossary entry. At the same time, it seemed wise to keep the “function word” terminology for the list and the accompanying “about page” — as a way of maintaining continuity and also in recognition of the fact that in ESL pedagogy the “function word” terminology is standard. That is what I have done, but I have made it clear on both pages that “function word” and “closed-class word” are synonymous.