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LinguaPhile, September 2004

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


Top 10 Tips for Back-to-School by John Bishop

 1. No Vision = No Direction. Write down what you want to accomplish in the first 30, 60, 90 days of the school year.

 2. Don't Find Fault -- Find A Solution

 3. Minimize "Bummer Words" that can hold you back from being successful: no, can't, won't, never, maybe, and if.

 4. To earn more -- learn more, think more, do more

 5. Stress the "I'll Make It Happen" words: yes, I can, and I will.

 6. Eliminate excuses.

 7. Learn how to set and achieve goals and how to use these principles in the classroom.

 8. Ask "Did I give my best effort to today's activities?"

 9. Help others.

10. FOCUS = Vision + Goals + Attitude + Action

John Bishop is the Executive Director of Accent on Success®, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students succeed in the classroom and in life. He is the author of Goal Setting for Students®.

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Start Your School Year with Hands-On English

For home or school: A user-friendly reference book that makes grammar visual with symbols to represent parts of speech:

For educators: Clear explanations and examples, practice pages, and activities (you might decide that you'd like each of your students to have the handbook):

To make grammar kinesthetic as well as visual (suggested group activities are now included in the set of visual aids):

To upgrade your original edition of Hands-On English and the Activity Book:

If you already own the Activity Book and would like a copy of the new Sequence based on difficulty level and integrated concepts, please request it in an e-mail message (with "Sequence" in the subject line) to Be sure to include your snail mail address and to indicate whether you have the first or second edition of the Activity Book. (If your book does not indicate an edition -- or if you purchased it prior to May 17, 2004, it is the first edition.)

You can order by phone, fax, snail mail, or on the Internet. MasterCard and Visa are accepted, and purchase orders are accepted from institutions. Discounts are available on quantity purchases.

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

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Fall Conferences: Suburban Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia

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.

Oct. 14-15:
IBIDA, Drury Lane Conference Center, Oak Brook Terrace, IL
Oct. 25-26:

INPEC (Indiana Non-Public Education Conference), Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis
Nov. 3-6:

IDA (International Conference) Philadelphia Convention Center, Booth #614.

Becoming familiar with Hands-On English products on the website can give you a good background for seeing the products in person:

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Kids' Writing and Coloring Contests Part of St. Louis Book Festival

One of the many activities to celebrate the centennial of the 1904 World's Fair will be the Meet Me in St. Louis Book Festival October 29-31. Jointly presented by the St. Louis Publishers Association and the St. Louis Parks Department, the festival will be held in and around the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

Plan now to attend the festival, which will feature books, authors, crafts, food, and a variety of fun.

Kids can begin work right away on their entries in the coloring and writing contests.

The writing contest has two age categories: 4th to 5th grade and 6th to 8th grade. Each entry must begin with "I opened the book and . . . " What follows may be either a story or an essay. Length must be between 250 and 500 words. Judging will be based on creativity, originality, cohesive story line, correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Each entry must be accompanied by an Official Entry Form, available at any branch of the St. Louis Public Library or St. Louis County Library. Entries must be postmarked by October 9 or dropped off at a library branch by October 16. If you have questions, contact Bianca Roberts, St. Louis County Library, 314-994-3300, ext. 326 or .

The coloring contest has three age groups: 1-5 years, 6-7 years, and 8-10 years. Each age group has a different picture to color. Pictures -- along with Official Entry Forms -- can be obtained at area schools or at participating Wal-Mart stores.

Prepare now to be part of this debut festival that may well become an annual event.

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Radio Live Interview

Fran was the guest on Phyllis Schlafly's Radio Live program on August 21. If you would like to hear the interview, visit

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Quote of the Month: Our English Language

There is no such thing as "the Queen's English." The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares.

--Mark Twain in Following the Equator, 1897

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Sharpen Your Vocabulary:  The E- Prefix

New phenomena spawn new words. The proliferation of activities in cyberspace -- communicating, researching, shopping, etc. -- has led to the use of the e- prefix to denote "electronic."

As with many things that are new and evolving, the question arises as to which form this prefix should take: Should the e be uppercase or lowercase? Should it be followed by a hyphen or not? To look at a specific word, should we write Email, email, E-mail, e-mail, or even e-Mail?

A check of several online dictionaries, including American Heritage and Merriam-Webster, shows e-mail as the preferred form with email as an alternate. As words gain familiarity, however, hyphens often disappear.

Personally, I hope this one stays. Email looks as if it should be pronounced with a schwa or a "short e" rather than a "long e." Retaining the hyphen also makes this useful prefix much more versatile for attaching to other words. Would you rather see ecommerce or e-commerce?

Experimentation with this new prefix might result in its being placed where it doesn't quite fit: e-tail (for retail), for example, or e-conomy. The prefix is not appropriately attaching to tail or conomy as base words. And these words might not even be needed when we have e-commerce.

We know that language is ever changing. We must be good stewards of our language, though, so that change does not mean deterioration.
Hands-On English includes more than 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:  Plural of conch

Question: I recently came across the plural of conch as conchs. Shouldn't it be conches, adding -es after ch?

Answer: This should be a good lesson to us never to use always in stating any rule of English! Conch, meaning the spiral seashell or the animal within that shell, has two pronunciations:  /konch/ and /kongk/. If you pronounce conch /konch/, the plural is conches, following the rule you mention -- and making a pronounceable two-syllable word. If, however, you pronounce conch /kongk/ (actually its preferred pronunciation), the plural is conchs (/kongks/, also easily pronounceable).

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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The New SAT

If you are a parent or teacher of a high-school student, you have probably heard that the SAT, the giant of college entrance exams, is changing. Just what are those changes?

The new test will debut in March 2005, so the first graduating class to be affected by it will be the class of 2006.

The changes are significant, going right to the heart of the test's identity. For decades SAT has been an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test. No longer. Authors of the "New SAT" say that the letters now stand for nothing. In fact, the changes make the test more a measure of "achievement" (what a person has learned) than of "aptitude" (what a person is capable of learning). Perhaps the test can best be seen as a measure of "developed abilities." Each Critical Reading passage, for example, includes the information necessary to answer the questions. In the past, care was taken to avoid terminology, such as simile, that might be unfamiliar to a test taker. Such terminology is now fair game, however -- in the math section as well as the verbal section.

For decades, a perfect score on the SAT has been 1600: 800 points in the Verbal section and 800 points in the Mathematics section. No longer. The New SAT has 2400 possible points, the additional 800 coming in the area of "the third R" -- Writing.

The new Writing section will comprise two parts: a 25-minute multiple choice segment plus a 25-minute essay. Multiple-choice questions deal with issues of usage and style, such as agreement, consistency, placement of modifiers, and idiomatic expression. Some questions involve identifying which (if any) underlined part of a sentence contains an error. Other questions involve determining which version of a sentence (sometimes in the context of a paragraph) is best.

The essay will involve creating an expository or a persuasive essay in response to a prompt. The essay will be graded holistically (evaluated on a scale of 1 to 6) by two human graders. If the graders disagree on the score, the essay will be read by a third person -- and by a fourth if necessary to resolve the dispute.

Analogies, a staple of the SAT for decades, have been removed from the test. The new Critical Reading section includes sentence completion items (testing, primarily, vocabulary and logic) and comprehension items based on passages that vary in length and subject matter. At least one reading selection will be an excerpt from a work of fiction.

Those are the major changes. College Board President Gaston Caperton III admits that a primary goal of the New SAT is to influence the curriculum of schools across America -- to make grammar and writing more prominent in schools as they are on the test.

Hands-On English gives students a solid foundation in grammar, usage, and other items likely to be included on the New SAT.

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Review: McGraw Hill's SAT 2400! A Sneak Preview of the New SAT I Verbal Section by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.

This practical volume -- a fraction of the size of most test-preparation tomes -- does an admirable job of preparing students for the verbal portion of the New SAT. After an overview of the test and instructions about how to use the book, Author Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D., offers a diagnostic verbal test so that students can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and determine how their preparation time can most effectively be spent. The diagnostic test includes time limits, an essay prompt, and a cut-out answer sheet for the multiple-choice questions. The answer key includes detailed explanations as to why an answer is right or wrong.

After the diagnostic test, Rozakis provides strategies for approaching each type of test question. Sample questions provide opportunity for practice, and answers are thoroughly explained. Rozakis's strategies for the essay address organization as well as the critical issue of time management.

Ample white space makes the book user-friendly, and typographical devices make the different kinds of information easy to find. 

Rozakis offers about ten pages of content review (sentences, modifiers, pronouns, etc.) for the writing component of the test. While this may be helpful to those basically familiar with the information, many students will require more than this cursory brushup.

Two additional practice tests (complete with cut-out answer sheet and fully explained answers) round out the book. An index enables users to quickly find desired information.

© 2004 McGraw-Hill. 235 pages.

Available from SAT 2400! : A Sneak Preview of the New SAT English Test.

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Puzzler: Common Bonds

Find a word that will combine with each of the given words (either before or after) to make a common expression.

Example: bull  tired  hot  (Answer: dog -- bulldog, dog tired,
         hot dog)

 1. motion  poke  down
 2. made  cuff  left
 3. painting  bowl  nail
 4. house  village  golf
 5. man  wheel  high
 6. blue  cake  cottage
 7. stool  powder  ball
 8. card  knee  rope
 9. snow  hole  police
10. spelling  line  busy

June Puzzler

Since it's been so long since the previous issue (and we have so
many new subscribers) I'll briefly repeat the puzzle here. It
relies on predictive text messaging from a telephone key pad.

The encoded message:

"4 8 0 8 2 5 3 7 0 2 0 4 3 2 7 0 6 3 0 7 3 6 7 3 0 8 6 0
9 7 4 8 3 0 4 6 6 3 0 6 6 6 7 3 6 7 3." --6 2 7 5 0 8 9 2 4 6

Possibilities for each number:

1 (not used)      6 M N O
2 A B C   7 P Q R S
3 D E F  8 T U V
4 G H I  9 W X Y Z
5 J K L 0 word space


It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense. --Mark Twain

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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!

© 2004 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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