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LinguaPhile, May 2003

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


LinguaPhile is Moving!

This is the last issue of LinguaPhile that you will receive through Yahoo! Groups. Beginning with the June issue, LinguaPhile will be sent from the GrammarAndMore website. The address (in case you need to put it into your address book so that the newsletter will not be filtered out) will be Hosting the newsletter on GrammarAndMore will allow closer management of the list and will eliminate the advertising.

GrammarAndMore will not share your e-mail address with anyone.

You needn't worry about moving your subscription. That will be handled for you later this month.

If you know people who would enjoy LinguaPhile but were hesitant to register at Yahoo! Groups, please let them know that they will soon be able to subscribe at

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Upcoming Exhibit: Home School Book Fair, Arlington, Texas

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 Home School Book Fair in Arlington, Texas, May 9 and 10, be sure to stop by the Portico Books booth (#201) to say hello to Fran. Take your friends along! Fran will present a workshop about Hands-On English from 10:45 to 11:45 each day in Room M-9.

Since this will be our first exhibit in Texas, we would especially appreciate your "introducing" us to anyone there. You might send people a copy of this newsletter. In addition, becoming familiar with Hands-On English products on the website can provide a good background for seeing the products in person:

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Quote of the Month: Advice on Communication

"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."
-- Joseph Pulitzer

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Expand Your Vocabulary: metathesis

Although the name may be new to you, the concept is probably familiar. Metathesis [muh TATH uh sus] is the transposition of sounds within a word. Common examples of metathesis are /NOO kyuh ler/ for nuclear, /REE luh ter/ for realtor, and /LAIR niks/ for larynx. Such transpositions usually occur because the erroneous pronunciation is easier or follows a familiar pattern. With /NOO kyuh ler/, for example, many common English words end in /ler/: particular, circular, muscular, etc. The ending /lee er/ is much rarer, occurring in such words as likelier and cochlear. The plural of metathesis is metatheses [muh TATH uh seez].

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: Capitalizing Names with Mac or Mc

Question: In a situation where names appear in all caps, such as on an athlete's uniform, what is the proper way to handle names that begin with Mac or Mc -- regular caps, small caps, lowercase, separation from the rest of the name by a space, etc.?

Answer: Although I checked several sources, none of them addressed this very good question. We will often encounter that situation -- where none of the "menu options" fit our needs. Before I answer your question, I have two general suggestions for handling such situations: (1) consult an expert and (2) apply the rules you know in order to find a reasonable, practical solution to your dilemma.

I have done both. The expert I consulted was Janet Goldstein, author and editor at Townsend Press. We concurred that the main goal is for the name to be easily readable. A secondary goal is for the name to appear consistent with the style of the other names. Putting the name in all caps is likely to make it difficult to read; the first part of the name will not appear properly subordinated. Adding space after the Mac or Mc is also likely to look unnatural.

Using small caps seems to be the best choice. The letters would have the appropriate subordination, yet their shape would match the other letters (for example, you would have A, not a).

Because many variations occur with these names (such as McMillan, MacMillan, and Macmillan), be sure that you are using the spelling the person uses.

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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Winding Up the School Year

The current school year is rapidly drawing to a close. Do you have funds that will be lost if you don't spend them? This would be a great time to order some Hands-On English materials -- perhaps a "Package" as a resource for yourself, or a classroom set of Hands-On English as a resource for your students.

The ideal way to use Hands-On English is for each student to have a personal copy that can be used at school and at home, this year and next. When students have this information at their fingertips, they develop independence and confidence with English -- and teachers can more easily meet students' diverse needs.

Substantial discounts are available on quantity purchases, and purchase orders are accepted from schools and other institutions. Place your order by phone, fax, or snail mail -- or on line.

If you have questions, e-mail Fran at or call (toll free) 1-888-641-5353. This number will also accept fax orders.

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Review: Guiding Readers and Writers: Grades 3-6 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

If you have been wanting to convert your classroom into a reading/writing workshop but haven't known how to start, Guiding Readers and Writers: Grades 3-6 is the book for you! Authors Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell have created a comprehensive manual for establishing a reading/writing community -- a place where students can spend two and a half to three hours a day engaged in authentic reading and writing.

Teachers who are already using a workshop approach are likely to find much in Guiding Readers and Writers that will make their job easier. Even teachers of younger and older students will find many practical suggestions to implement.

Fountas and Pinnell see the goal of language arts instruction in the intermediate grades to be the creation of lifelong readers and writers. They structure the language arts class in a three-block framework: a sixty-minute reading workshop, a sixty-minute writing workshop, and a thirty- to sixty-minute language/word study segment (including spelling, vocabulary, decoding, and more).

In addition to providing a treasure trove of information, Fountas and Pinnell have produced a book that is remarkably readable and user-friendly. The two-column format is extremely helpful. In addition, frequent headings, bullet points, and graphics help you to efficiently get the information you need.

With photos and other graphics, Fountas and Pinnell show you how to organize your classroom, your materials, and your time for a reading/writing workshop. The authors provide step-by-step instructions for getting started (in a few instances even offering a sample script). They provide scores of suggestions for minilessons, and they recommend more than 1,000 books for classroom use. In addition, each section includes techniques to use with struggling readers and writers. The book even devotes a section to the "testing genre," helping students develop strategies to maximize their performance on standardized reading tests.

Furthermore, Guiding Readers and Writers includes sixty-five appendices (nearly 150 pages)! Fifty-three of the appendices are reproducible pages that the teacher or the student can use for planning, record-keeping, assessment, analysis, etc. Most of the remaining appendices comprise lists of recommended books. A list of 1,000 books is repeated -- organized once by title and again by level.

I know that May is a hectic month for teachers. The last thing you want to think about right now is revamping your program. What you can do now though is to get the book. Then, after you're rejuvenated in a few weeks, you can open it and begin planning for next year. Guiding Readers and Writers will help you rekindle the passions that originally prompted you to become an English teacher -- and it will show you how to share those passions with your students. Focusing on the vital elements of communication is likely to produce the best year ever -- for you and your students.

Published by Heinemann, 2001, 648 pages
Available from Guiding Readers and Writers: Grades 3-6

Hands-On English is an excellent complement to the workshop approach to reading and writing. Because concepts are clearly and concisely explained, most students can understand them independently.

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Mother's Day Writing Ideas

For a number of writing suggestions for Mother's Day, see the May 2002 LinguaPhile: Father's Day ideas can also be adapted:

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Puzzler: Before and After

Find the word that completes the compound begun by the first word in each item and begins the compound completed by the last word of the item. (Take a moment to absorb those directions.) Some of the compounds are two words rather than one.

Example: gentle _____ hole [man; (gentleman, manhole)]

 1. cook _____ case
 2. space _____ mate
 3. cow _____ scout
 4. foot _____ point
 5. front _____ backer
 6. sweet _____ brush
 7. skeleton _____ note
 8. tooth _____ ax
 9. open _____ tight
10. red _____ dog

These items were taken from The Play of Words: Fun & Games for Language Lovers by Richard Lederer.

Answers next month.

Answers to April Puzzler

1. obese piece of headgear (1) (fat hat)
2. devoted, enthusiastic domestic (2) (fervent servant)
3. Trojan horse (2) (phony pony)
4. flea with bad manners (3) (impolite parasite)
5. rural areas adorned with flowers (3) (beautified countryside)
6. belligerent cactus (3) (truculent succulent)
7. unimaginative glass collage (3) (prosaic mosaic)
8. one who is both artistic and austere (3) (ascetic aesthetic)
9. law governing air travel (4) (aviation legislation)

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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!

© 2003 Fran Santoro Hamilton

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