This is a general discussion on the linguistic principles and related considerations underlying the teaching procedure proposed in a series of articles which have appeared in this publication since 1971 under the title of Analytical Syntax for Teaching English (1)-(12) and their summaries in Japanese (13)-(15).
We understand language as one of the human conventions, whose ultimate nature is, unlike that of natural phenomena, unattainable. Expression in language depends on circumstances, and no particular expression is complete or perfect in itself. Hence one cannot expect anything final from the analysis of the surface structure of language, nor can one assert any particular prescription to be definite, our included.
In spite of the relativity and uncertanity of linguistic affairs, we take it for granted that a foreign language is not only a concept but also a fact; and for some reason or other one has to learn it and the other teach it. The term "foreign language" nevertheless demands to be definited before teaching any language in addition to the native language of the learners. The definition given here is designed to support our assertions.
We must consider foreign language aquisition not as a mere addition to the native language but rather as a phase of linguistic interference. The educational implications of the linguistic duality so acquired lie, therefore, more in the process than in the result. The teaching should be conceived as a devergence from the supposedly universal linguistic competence, towards an alternative surface structure, not as a totally new mental sub-routine. The system of parsing offered is a way to make the mid-structure sufficiently explicit for practical reference.
Since the native language is a closed system to its owner and assertions about it expressed in it end up in a tautology, it is only by reference to a foreign language or languages that one becomes linguistically objective and aware. For a Japanese learner of English, English represents such a reference and it requires to be taught as such.
The fact that the learners as well as the teachers are Japanese-speaking is another particular we have to take into account.