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LinguaPhile, November 2003

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

We welcome new subscribers from the IBIDA conference!


New Contact Information for Portico Books

Portico Books has moved! Our new address is
P.O. Box 6094
Chesterfield, MO 63006

Our new phone/fax number is 636-527-2822. Our toll-free number (1-888-641-5353) and e-mail address ( remain the same.

We appreciate your patience during this transition time.

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November Conference Schedule

If you will be attending any of these conferences, please stop by the Portico Books booth to say hello. If you know others who will be attending, invite them to do the same. If you want an introduction to Hands-On English products before you see them in person, visit

November 7-8: Learning Disabilities Association of Oklahoma. Holiday Inn Select, Tulsa. Fran will present "Making Grammar Visual" Friday at 10:15 a.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

November 12-15: Annual Conference of the International Dyslexia Association. Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, CA. Booth #437. Fran will present "Making Grammar Visual" Friday at 4:30 p.m.

November 24-25: Southern California Regional Conference of the Association of Christian Schools International. Anaheim Convention Center. Booth #433.

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No December LinguaPhile

Due to the heavy November conference schedule -- and the move of both Fran Hamilton and Portico Books -- there will be no December LinguaPhile. Best wishes for happy holidays and a wonderful 2004! 

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I Love to Write Day November 15

Remember that the second annual I Love To Write Day is November 15. For more details see last month's LinguaPhile and the I Love to Write website:

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Writing Family Stories

For information on writing family stories -- and expressing your thoughts about family members in writing -- see the November 2001 LinguaPhile:

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Quote of the Month: Choosing a Topic for Writing

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
--Kurt Vonnegut, U.S. novelist and satirist (b. 1922)

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Expand Your Vocabulary: #

Have you ever wondered what to call this symbol (variously known as a "pound sign," a "number sign," and -- musically -- a "sharp")? When it entered the telecommunications world in the early 1960s, it became known as an "octothorpe" -- "octo" because of the eight points created by the lines and "thorpe" because the Bell Labs supervisor who created the term was also active in a group trying to get Jim Thorpe's Olympic medals returned from Sweden. For the full story, see

Of course, the symbol was around long before it had this particular application. Does anyone know another name for it?

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: "Absolute Phrase"

Question: What is an "absolute phrase"? How is it different from a "participial phrase"?

Answer: An absolute phrase is a participial phrase (sometimes with a subject) that is grammatically unconnected to the rest of the sentence. The phrase does not modify a specific word in the sentence (as a participial phrase does); sometimes it modifies the sentence as a whole rather than a specific word in the sentence. Here are some sentences with absolute constructions:
The bell having rung, the teacher began class. [opening absolute phrase; includes a subject]
Speaking of the election, which candidate do you prefer? [opening absolute phrase; no subject]
The Cardinal fans hoped for a victory, a miracle being needed for their team to make the playoffs. [absolute phrase; includes a subject]
The Cardinals, generally speaking, are a strong defensive team. [absolute phrase in the middle of the sentence; no subject]

Notice these examples that include participial phrases. Not only do the phrases modify specific words, an opening participial phrase must modify the subject of the sentence. If it does not, we have a "dangling modifier."
Blaring loudly, the bell summoned the students to class. [Opening participial phrase modifies the subject "bell."]
Blaring loudly, the students were summoned to class. [Unless the students (subject of the sentence) are blaring, this sentence has a dangling modifier and needs correction.]
Regularly exposed to harsh weather, my bike soon lost its new shine. [opening participial phrase (past participle) describing the subject "bike"]

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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What a Find!

While cleaning out my family home in Iowa last month, I found a book more than 100 years old titled Our Hero General U.S. Grant: Where, When, and How He Fought. Near the bottom of the cover was added "In Words of One Syllable"! Words of more than one syllable were used (with hyphens between syllables) only when necessary -- for proper nouns and for words without synonyms (railroad, for example).

After I mentioned this in a recent issue of Acu-Write, Char Tierney, a subscriber from New Mexico, wrote that the book was one of several such books made for first readers. Char has a similar book about George Washington in words of one syllable.

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Puzzler: Cryptoquote

Each letter in the following quotation stands for some other letter. Each A represents the same letter, each B represents the same letter, etc. However, there is no relationship between the letter represented by one letter and the letter represented by another letter. (For example, if A represents S, there is no reason to think that B will represent T.) To solve this type of puzzle, look for patterns -- within words and within sentences. Warning: Cryptograms can be addictive! If you want more cryptograms, check the LinguaPhile index:



Answer in January's LinguaPhile

Answer to October Puzzler: widow (a word that derives its masculine form from the feminine)

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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. Those receiving this forwarded message can subscribe at . People who have e-mail but do not have Internet access can subscribe by clicking on this link and requesting to subscribe: .

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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