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LinguaPhile, November 2002

A monthly e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.


With several articles about family communication and family
stories, the November 2001 LinguaPhile is especially
appropriate for the upcoming holiday season. If you are a new
subscriber -- or simply want to refresh your memory -- visit

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Quote of the Month: Language

If . . . you are willing to think about how we communicate, and consider the words and the forms of grammar, then you are automatically a member of the Authority, entitled to a ring and a secret handshake and the thrill of membership. A word of warning: If you get hooked on the study of the language, you are in that sorority, or fraternity, for life.
--William Safire, U.S. writer (b. 1929)

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Expand Your Vocabulary: abibliophobia

Can you apply your knowledge of morphology to decipher the meaning of this word? It has three morphemes (units of meaning): a meaning "not," biblio meaning "book," and phobia meaning "fear." When you put them together, you get "fear of running out of reading material."

Pronounced /uh bib lee uh FO bee yuh/, the word apparently originated on the Internet, where abibliophobes' fears are put to rest.

Hands-On English includes nearly 200 morphemes, along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at

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Q and A: toward / towards

Question: I'm wondering about the use of toward vs. towards. Is one correct and the other incorrect? Are the two words used in different situations? Towards always seems wrong to me, but I see it so often.

Answer: The things that seem wrong to us always seem to abound. Actually, towards is just a variation of toward. Either is considered acceptable. Like you, however, I prefer toward. According to Theodore M. Bernstein, toward is preferred in the United States, and towards in Britain. Other words with the -ward/-wards suffix have similar variations.

Hands-On English will put a wealth of information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your order -- at

We invite your questions for this feature:

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More Words Commonly Mispronounced

First, a correction: In the October issue the wrong syllable was stressed in pronunciation. It should have been /pruh nun see A shun/. Words ending in ation always have their stress on that long a. Knowing where to put the stress in a multisyllable word can be very helpful in decoding it.

Here are some additional words that are often mispronounced:

applicable: /AP lik uh bul/ preferred to /uh PLIK uh bul/

athlete: /ATH leet/, not /ATH uh leet/

barbiturate: /bar BIT yer ut/, not /bar BIT yoo ut/

candidate: /KAN dih dayt/, not /KAN ih dayt/

controversial: /kon truh VER shul/, not /kon truh VER see ul/

miniature: /MIN ee uh cher/ preferred to /MIN ih cher/

mischievous: /MIS chuh vus/, not /mis CHEE vee us/

nuptial: /NUP shul/, not /NUP choo ul/

poinsettia: /poin SET ee uh/ preferred to /poin SET uh/. Also note that the first syllable is "poin" not "point."

quantity: /KWAHN tih tee/, not /KWAHN uh tee/

salmonella: /sal muh NEL uh/. Note that the first l is pronounced even though it is silent in the word salmon.

succint: /suk SINGKT/, not /suh SINGKT/

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Upcoming Conference: IDA in Atlanta, November 13-16

Conferences are a great place to
 • get a firsthand look at Hands-On English products
 • introduce your colleagues to Hands-On English products
 • give feedback on products you're using (including suggestions!)
 • get your questions answered
 • avoid shipping costs on Hands-On English purchases

If you will be attending the International Dyslexia Association in Atlanta November 13 to 16, please stop by the Portico Books booth (520). Encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Second Edition, by David Crystal

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Second Edition, by David Crystal is a linguaphile's delight. It provides a wealth of information to engage the mind indefinitely.

Instead of being organized alphabetically, as most encyclopedias are, The Encyclopedia of Language is divided into eleven parts that comprise sixty-five thematic sections. Each section includes a comprehensive discussion of the theme, enhanced by sidebars and colorful visuals. Sections range in length from two to twenty pages, making the chunks of information small enough to be palatable yet large enough to be satisfying.

Topics addressed include language and thought, the structure of language, the anatomy and physiology of speech, written language, language acquisition, languages of the world, language disabilities, and language change. Obviously, this is only a sample. In addition, the book has eight appendices, including an extensive glossary and a table giving information about nearly 1,000 of the world's languages.

While many of Crystal's topics have their technical aspects, the author keeps his tone conversational and his information accessible to the lay reader. In this way he celebrates the existence of human language and deepens our appreciation of it.

Published by Cambridge University Press, 1997, 480 pages.

Available from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language

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Puzzler: Alphabetic Shuffle

What is the guiding principle behind this sequence of letters?


Answer next month.

Answers to October Puzzler

The common misquotation or erroneous attribution appears in parentheses below the correct information. Explanations are from Ralph Keyes' fascinating reference book Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations. Although the book is out of print, it is available at many libraries.

1. The love of money is the root of all evil. -- The Bible
(Money is the root of all evil. -- The Bible)

2. "Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness." -- John Wesley.
Note the quotation marks, however. People may assume Wesley is quoting the Bible; however, he is taking this idea from the Talmud: "The doctrines of religion are resolved into carefulness; carefulness into vigorousness; vigorousness into guiltlessness; guiltlessness into abstemiousness; abstemiousness into cleanliness; cleanliness into godliness." [Note the position of the two pertinent characteristics.]
(Cleanliness is next to godliness. -- The Bible)

3. Go West, young man. -- John Babson Lane Soule, editor of the Terre Haute Daily. When westward migration was being encouraged, Indiana Congressman Richard Thompson bet Soule that Soule could "write an article that would be attributed to Horace Greeley." (The payoff was a barrel of flour to be given to a needy person.) In his editorial Soule said that Horace Greeley himself could not give a young man better advice than to "Go West, young man."
(Go West, young man, go West. -- Horace Greeley)

4. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Elbert Hubbard, credited with many maxims (however, some might not be original)
(Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Edison)

5. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. -- Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
(We're not in Kansas anymore. -- Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz)

6. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. -- Winston Churchill. [Notice how the original was adapted to make a triad.]
(I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, and tears. -- Winston Churchill)

7. With the Dodgers leading the National League and the Giants in seventh place (next to last), Durocher's conversation with a group of sportswriters, including Dodger announcer Red Barber, got around to "nice guys." Durocher ended the conversation by gesturing toward the Giants' dugout and saying, "The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place."
(Nice guys finish last. -- Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher) This is the misquotation that provided the inspiration for the title of Ralph Keyes' book Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations.

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Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated monthly, is now available in either a text or .doc format on the GrammarAndMore Web site:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL of the text version?
It's a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

© 2002 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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