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LinguaPhile, October 2000

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


Portico Books News . . .

Fran will be presenting a seminar, "Realizing Your Dreams," for alumni and students at her alma mater, Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, on Friday, October 6. Publication of HANDS-ON ENGLISH and its related products fulfilled Fran's lifelong dream of being a published author. To determine whether you can "market your dreams," ask yourself, What are my dreams? and What do other people need? The intersection of those two sets (remember Venn diagrams?) will reveal your marketable product.

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Fran is looking forward to renewing acquaintances and making new ones at the annual conference of the International Dyslexia Association in Washington, DC, November 8-11. If you know people who will be attending, urge them to stop by Booth #417 to see Hands-On English products and to say hello.

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Quote of the Month

If you're going to be a prisoner of your own mind, the least you can do is make sure it's well furnished.
-- Peter Ustinov (actor, director, producer, playwright, author; b. 1921 in London)


Vocabulary Follow-Up: September . . .

A subscriber from Minneapolis pointed out that September was the seventh of twelve months on the Roman calendar instead of the seventh of ten months. Actually both are right. The original Roman calendar, beginning in the eighth century B.C. began with March and continued through December (ten months). January and February were reportedly added by King Numa Pompilius in 713 B.C. Apparently January did not become the first month of the year until 153 B.C., however.

We welcome your comments on any feature in LinguaPhile.


Expand Your Vocabulary: pantophagous . . .

Although my dog eats basically the same food each day, I am definitely a pantophagous creature, needing a variety of foods to keep my body healthy and my palate satisfied.

pantophagous (pan TOF u gus) adj. eating or requiring a variety of foods.

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Q & A: Whoever vs. Whomever . . .

Question: I know that "who" is used as a subject and "whom" as an object, but some sentences confuse me. For example, should I use "whoever" or "whomever" to complete the following sentence?

She told her story to _________ would listen.

Answer: The preposition "to" makes "whomever" seem like the obvious choice. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the word in the blank also serves as the subject of the verb "would listen." The correct choice is "whoever" since the entire clause -- not the individual word -- is functioning as the object of the preposition.

We invite your questions for this feature. Send them to Fran at GrammarAndMore.

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Learning Activities . . .

1. A newspaper scavenger hunt can introduce students to the wealth of information a newspaper contains. Some of the items will also help them develop their scanning skills. Having students work in teams of 3 or 4, with one newspaper per team, works well. Have each team find the items on a list similar to the one below. Team members should record the page where they find each item. You might also want them to use a brightly colored marker to circle the item in the newspaper. (You will induce students to work in a more organized way if you require that they return the newspaper to you with its pages and sections in order.)

a. newspaper's index
b. temperature in Paris
c. movie that is playing at a particular theater
d. news story originating in Washington, DC
e. a letter from a reader
f. classified ad index
g. what is showing on a particular channel at 7:00 p.m.
h. an editorial
i. a crossword puzzle
j. ad from a store that sells clothing
k. a map
l. continuation of a story from the front page
m. an obituary
n. the word "save"
o. a sentence that states a fact (not an opinion)
p. an ad for a used Chevrolet for less than $5,000
q. story or article with a by-line
r. a local news story
s. the name "Clinton"
t. an ad placed by someone who wants to hire a receptionist

2. Cut headlines off their stories. In an envelope put five to ten news stories; list their headlines on a separate sheet (to prevent this from becoming merely a puzzle-fitting activity). Have students match the story with the headline.

3. Cut a short news story into paragraphs. Have students put the paragraphs in order.

Reviews . . .

With much of the nation's attention focused on the upcoming elections, it seems appropriate to look at two stories related to the theme of patriotism. Keep in mind that if you do not share these stories with your students, they might never hear them.

"The Man Without a Country," written by Edward Everett Hale in 1863, tells the story of Philip Nolan, a young lieutenant in the United States Navy, who, at his court martial for treason, damned the United States and cavalierly wished that he might never hear her name again. Nolan's sentence was to have his wish fulfilled. For fifty-five years he was kept at sea, being repeatedly transferred from ships that approached land to those that were headed out to sea. Although Nolan was not treated like a prisoner, a unique protocol was developed that kept him from hearing or seeing any news from home.

Because of obscure references (especially early in the story) and some archaic wording, reading the story aloud is recommended. This provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that much can be gleaned from a story even when references are not completely understood. Pausing periodically to summarize the main points can help to keep students involved until you get to Hale's anecdotes that will truly captivate them.

In addition to delineating the consequences of an impetuous act, "The Man Without a Country" provides a thought-provoking portrait of a patriot. In essays or debates students might consider Was Nolan's sentence fair? Should he have been pardoned?

Recommended for 6th graders through adults.

"The Man Without a Country" was included in many short-story anthologies several decades ago, including Anthology of Famous American Stories edited by J. A. Burrell and B. A. Cerf, and Great American Short Stories edited by S. Graham.

Available from The Man Without A Country

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James Clavell, author of SHOGUN, was inspired to write The Children's Story when his five-year-old daughter expected a dime for reciting the "plege illegience." Inquiries revealed to Clavell that few people are taught the meaning of the Pledge; they just learn to parrot it.

In The Children's Story Clavell dramatizes what can happen when people without true convictions encounter zealots intent on converting them. People whose beliefs are not grounded may be oblivious to almost imperceptible assaults on their value system. The Children's Story reminds us that "the enemy" may not be hideous or foreign but may be attractive, intelligent, reasonable, gentle, and friendly.

The Children's Story is ideal for reading aloud. Not only can the contrasting tones of the story be conveyed vocally, the reading and discussion of this story (with occasional pauses to ask, "Who likes the New Teacher?") can be accomplished in approximately the same time required for the events of the story to take place.

Recommended for 4th graders through adults.

Available from The Children's Story

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Puzzler . . .

September puzzle: Did you find a wedge to help you get into the puzzle? MVXM is most often "that." If X is A, then F (the one-letter word) must be I. If you fill in those four letters throughout the puzzle, you are well on your way. You might have noticed that three words ended in FCT. Since F represents I, ING is a possibility, especially if you notice MVXC.

October puzzle: Do you know the difference between a homonym and a homophone? Both indicate words with identical pronunciations. The first meaning of "homonym," though, indicates words that are not only pronounced the same but spelled the same as well; they just have different meanings. "Run," for example, is a homonym with many meanings. A homophone is a word that is like another in pronunciation but not in spelling or meaning. "Ate" and "eight," for example, are homophones. (It should be noted that a secondary meaning of "homonym" is "homophone.")

Each of the following phrases could be paraphrased as a pair of homophones, the first an adjective and the second a noun. For example, "a grizzly without clothing" could be a "bare bear." An effort has been made to use some of the less common homophones.

a. chicken that has been out of the refrigerator for hours
b. a movie star on his day off
c. one of the most fragrant parts of the garden
d. musical group not allowed to perform
e. story in installments in the morning paper
f. a fashionable chieftain
g. way of promoting tools
h. a bank (yes, I know it has two meanings--all the more fun!)

Answers next month.

Answer to September puzzle: "I learned long ago that being Lewis Carroll was infinitely more exciting than being Alice."
-- Joyce Carol Oates

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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:

© 2000 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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