In a technical mailing list where I participate, someone asked:
A famous linguist once said that "to understand a new language, that you should focus on the verbs first." Who said that?
One participant linked to the linguist David Crystal, who starts a blog post thus:
There are all kinds of bits and pieces in a sentence, but I doubt if there’s anything more important than the verb.
So, is this a popular sentiment among linguists? Is focus on verbs [when studying a new language], or something similar, a well-known aphorism in linguistics?
If so, where did it originate, who popularized it, and what does it mean (in the sense of why should one focus on verbs instead, of, say, nouns)?
Just to clarify: this question is unrelated to learning a new language, or language pedagogy as a discipline. The question is concerned only with linguistics, and the study of languages qua languages.