Monday, June 30, 2008

S.O.S. Some Key "A" Words

Many, if not most of these have gone the way of the wind. Did you know the proper way to use these words? They did in 1922.

, not ad' dress.

ad-ver'tise-ment, not ad-ver-tise'ment.

ag'ile is pronounced aj'il, not aj'ail.

among, amongst. The first signifies, primarily surrounded by or associated with; the second conveys the idea of mingling with or of dispersion.

answer, reply. The distinction made between the meanings of these words is that an answer is given to a question and a reply is made to an assertion. A reply aims to explain or refute; an answer to inform, affirm, or contradict.

Friday, June 27, 2008

S.O.S. -- Abrasion vs. Cut vs. Scratch

I am fascinated by language, especially how it is ever-changing.
Regretfully, I see changes that I don't like -- the loss of formality, loss of finesse with the use of our language that people used to take pride in developing.

I came across a nice old book called S.O.S. -- Slips of Speech and How to Avoid Them

Here is an example of the detail with which our grandparents and great-grandparents learned the English language:

abrasion, cut, gash, graze, incision, scrape, scratch ,wound,should be carefully distinguished for they do not mean the same thing. Abrasion denotes a place where the surface is rubbed off or or worn off by friction; as, an abrasion of the skin. A cut is an opening, cleft, gash, or wound made by an edged instrument; a gash; slit; a gash is a long deep incision made by a sharp instrument; a flesh wound; a graze is a slight scratch, scrape or abrasion; an incision is an opening made with a cutting-instrument as by a surgeon; it is a cut.
Scrape designates an abrasion where, through roughness or carelessness, the skin has been grazed or scratched. a scratch is a mark or incision made on a surface by scratching, a linear abrasion made by drawing something pointed or rough across the skin; hence producing a slight flesh wound or cut.

A slit is a cut that is relatively long; a slash or gash; cleft; also, it is a narrow opening. A wound is a hurt or injury caused by violence; especially a breach of the skin and flesh of an animal; a cut, a stab, or bruise; as in the wounds of battle. In surgery, the word signifies always the solution of continuity, or disruption of the soft parts of the body.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Instructions For Reading Verse

No wonder children who used to leave school after an 8th grade education used to do so well in life. To get to the eighth grade, you needed to read at a very high level and mastered a great deal of material, arguably more than many high school graduates of today!

This is an excerpt from the McGuffey 6th reader:



In reading verse, the inflections should be nearly the same as in reading prose; the chief difference is, that in poetry, the monotone and rising inflection are more frequently used than in prose. The greatest difficulty in reading this species of composition, consists in giving it that measured flow which distinguishes itfrom prose, without falling into a chanting pronunciation.

If, at any time, the reader is in doubt as to the proper inflection, let him reduce the passage to earnest conversation, and pronounce it in the most familiar and prosaic manner, and thus he will generally use the proper inflection.


1. Meanwhile the south wind rose, and with black wings
 Wide hovering', all the clouds together drove
 From under heaven': the hills to their supply',
 Vapor and exhalation dusk and moist
 Sent up amain': and now, the thickened sky
 Like a dark ceiling stood': down rushed the rain
 Impetuous', and continued till the earth
 No more was seen': the floating vessel swam
 Uplifted', and, secure with beake'd prow',
 Rode tilting o'er the waves'.

2. My friend', adown life's valley', hand in hand',
   With grateful change of grave and merry speech
   Or song', our hearts unlocking each to each',
 We'll journey onward to the silent land';
 And when stern death shall loose that loving band,
   Taking in his cold hand, a hand of ours',
   The one shall strew the other's grave with flowers',
 Nor shall his heart a moment be unmanned'.
 My friend and brother'! if thou goest first',
   Wilt thou no more revisit me below'?
 Yea, when my heart seems happy causelessly',
   And swells', not dreaming why', my soul shall know
 That thou', unseen', art bending over me'.

3. Here rests his head upon the lap of earth',
   A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown';
 Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth',
   And Melancholy marked him for her own'.

4. Large was his bounty', and his soul sincere',
   Heaven did a recompense as largely send';
 He gave to misery (all he had) a tear',
   He gained from heaven' ('t was all he wished') a friend'.

5. No further seek his merits to disclose',
   Or draw his frailties from their dread abode';
 (There they alike' in trembling hope repose',)
   The bosom of his Father, and his God'.