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LinguaPhile, February 2005

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

We welcome new subscribers from the NABE conference!


Upcoming Conferences: CABE in Los Angeles, CATESOL in Long Beach

Hands-On English is currently being piloted with intermediate English learners in the Orange (CA) Unified School District. Teachers' initial response is enthusiastic.

In order to introduce these materials to more educators who work with people learning English as a subsequent language, Fran will be exhibiting at the following conferences:

California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE), Booth #906, Los Angeles, February 23-26

California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL), Booth #109, Long Beach, March 4-5

If you know people who are involved in bilingual education, please suggest that they consider Hands-On English for their students.

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Looking Ahead to the 2005-2006 School Year

Although this school year has just passed the midpoint, educators are already planning for next year. As you select English books for your students, be sure to consider Hands-On English. While this is a valuable resource for teachers, it is even more effective when it is directly in the hands of the students. Having the information at their fingertips helps students develop independence and confidence with English.

A copy of Hands-On English for each student makes the teacher's job easier as well. When students can quickly find and understand the information they need, teachers can more easily meet the diverse needs of students in their classes.

Why not start by ordering a "Package," including Hands-On English, the Activity Book (reproducible practice pages), and Hands-On Sentences (a card game that provides practice with parts of speech and sentence construction)? You could use it as a supplement for the rest of this school year and think about ordering the handbook for your students for next year. Substantial discounts are available on quantity purchases.

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

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

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February Resources

Past issues of LinguaPhile include articles that relate to February topics:
The origin of Valentine's Day
A poem about love and grammar

A book to help you write powerful, personal messages

February literary calendar

Presidents' Day anagrams

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Quote of the Month: Making the Verbal Visual

With the designer word, we can transform traditionally verbal techniques into visual techniques. Rhyme, repetition, metaphor, figures of speech, characterization, tone, simile and symbolism can all be visual. We can foreshadow with shadows and allude and alliterate visually. The possibilities are endless.

--Valerie Kirschenbaum in Goodbye Gutenberg (See review below.)

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Sharpen Your Vocabulary:  pansophist

Pansophist gives you a chance to practice combining word parts, properly known as morphemes, to determine the meaning of a word. You probably first recognize ist as a suffix indicating a person (artist, cellist, etc.). Soph means "wise," as in philosophy, sophisticated, and sophomore. (Lest sophomores become too boastful about this meaning, they should remember that sophomore is an oxymoron, the more part coming from a Greek root that means "foolish or silly.") Finally, the pan in pansophist means "all" (panorama, Pan-American, panacea). A "pansophist," then, is one who knows everything -- in other words, a know-it-all.

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:  Company Names

Question: When referring to a company name in a letter, e.g. "Peterson Publishing Company are offering to buy . . .", how is it referred to in the subsequent sentence? It or they, or is there even an alternative?

I remember from my education as a translator that it depends on how you consider it, i.e. as an entity or as a company with many individuals. Examples for this are police or orchestra, which may be referred to as it or they.

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry! First of all, I would say "Peterson Publishing Company is offering to buy. . . ." (The company is functioning as an entity.) The logical reference in a subsequent sentence would be it.

I know, however, that companies are often referred to informally as they:
They recalled 600,000 cars. [Obviously, this was done by the company itself, not a group of employees functioning as individuals.]

As you point out in your second paragraph, whether the company (or another collective noun) is treated as singular or plural often depends on the context:
The orchestra are putting their instruments away. [Each member is doing the action individually. Note the plural verb and pronoun.]
The orchestra is playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. [I daresay not one of them could play it alone!]

Sometimes the jar of a technically correct plural sentence, such as the first one about the orchestra, can be avoided by making the subject clearly plural:
Members of the orchestra are putting their instruments away.

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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Now that LinguaPhile is published less often, I am acquiring a backlog of products to review. This month I want to introduce you to two very special new books.

Flowers for Grandpa Dan: A gentle story to help children understand Alzheimer’s disease by Connie McIntyre shows three generations -- the three Digging Daniels -- dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Since he was a boy, Grandpa Dan has planted flowers. He has worked the same flower beds with his son Dan for decades. Now Grandson Danny is also a gardener.

Although Grandpa Dan has taught his son that life is full of change, Grandson Danny resists change -- especially the change that leaves his grandpa forgetful, confused, and eventually unable to perform everyday tasks.

Flowers for Grandpa Dan is indeed a "gentle story." Without extraneous elements or didactics, it shows a family coping with Alzheimer’s disease, nurturing the essence of their loved one that enables them to connect with him and preserve his legacy.

Louise McIntyre’s delicate watercolor illustrations and the book’s life-affirming apple green accent color perfectly complement the story. The illustrations depict flowers, not people, retelling the story through metaphor and making it easier for readers to identify with the characters.

Whether children are full of questions or reluctant to acknowledge changes in their loved ones, Flowers for Grandpa Dan invites discussion about Alzheimer’s disease. An informational section provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter, outlines the wide array of emotions that children might experience as they see changes in a loved one. These emotions may manifest themselves in many different ways. The informational section suggests ways to answer children’s questions about the changes and the disease, and ways that children can maintain a meaningful relationship with their loved one.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Flowers for Grandpa Dan will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Published by Thumbprint Press, 2005, 16 pages.

Available from Flowers for Grandpa Dan: A Gentle Story to Help Children Understand Alzheimer's Disease

* * *

Goodbye Gutenberg: How a Bronx Teacher Defied 500 Years of Tradition and Launched an Astonishing Renaissance, written and designed by Valerie Kirschenbaum, is one of the most beautiful and amazing books you will ever see. It provides a history of writing -- how words and images have been presented around the world for millennia -- and proposes a renaissance for the future.

After savoring hundreds of the color images in Goodbye Gutenberg, you may think, This is gorgeous, but what’s the point? Ms. Kirschenbaum answers that question systematically, articulately, and passionately. Quite frankly, she is intent on revolution. In attempt to stem the decline in reading and literacy (recently documented in Reading at Risk, a National Endowment for the Arts survey), she hopes to eliminate the dichotomy that has developed between literature and art, between word and image.

She makes a strong case, showing how word and image were married in various civilizations dating back to ancient Egypt. The Chinese, for example, had poetry, painting, and calligraphy done by the same person. The Maya had one word, ts’ib, that referred to painting, drawing, and writing; word and image were one. During the Middle Ages manuscripts were painstakingly and elaborately illustrated and colored by hand. Of course, Ms. Kirschenbaum doesn’t simply tell these fascinating tidbits; she shows examples of ancient writing and uses various colors and fonts to illuminate her own commentary.

Gutenberg’s printing press changed everything. While movable type led to increased knowledge because book production became cost-effective, it also led to the decline of beauty in books. Except for children’s books, cookbooks, and coffee table books, most books today consist of rectangles of black type on white pages. That form is so prevalent that it thrives unquestioned. Ms. Kirschenbaum points out, however, that technology has advanced to the point that color is accessible to us -- even for the words in novels, histories, biographies, and other non-fiction books. While this idea may seem alien to us, Ms. Kirschenbaum reports that Faulkner lamented the fact that The Sound and the Fury could not use various colors of type to help readers wend their way through various streams of consciousness.

Another result of Gutenberg’s press was the translation of literature into the vernacular: English, French, Spanish, and other "languages of the people" replaced Latin. Today’s vernacular, Ms. Kirschenbaum contends, is color. Everything around us is color -- the world itself, television, movies, advertising. What besides reading matter tries to capture our attention in black and white? Not only is black ink on a white page monotonous, Ms. Kirschenbaum cites neuroscientists’ findings that color and design activate areas of the brain that are shut down when a person reads in black and white.

Ms. Kirschenbaum has applied her theories with high school students in the Bronx. She found that when she colored and otherwise "designed" their literature assignments, students were more engaged; comprehension improved; discussion increased.

Goodbye Gutenberg is extensively researched. Ms. Kirschenbaum confesses that her fourteen-page bibliography, conveniently divided into twenty-three categories, does not include all of her 1,000 sources. In addition to presenting the history of print from around the world, she garners support for her proposed renaissance from many disciplines, including education, psychology, neuroscience, literature and writing, art history, and graphic design.

Goodbye Gutenberg is the ultimate example of "designer writing," the ultimate marriage of form and content. The medium is the message. The fact that Ms. Kirschenbaum, a high school English and social studies teacher, designed the whole book (requiring 300 gigabytes of storage space) on her home computer (with four gigabytes of RAM) substantiates her claim that such designer writing is both accessible and affordable to the general public.

Ms. Kirschenbaum designed her own font for her writing (Edgar Allan Poe also believed that writers should design their fonts and their layouts). "Booklady" is indeed a very readable font. I am amazed at how effortlessly and enjoyably I assimilated the information Ms. Kirschenbaum presents in Goodbye Gutenberg. Probably that is because the book was designed by the writer. The information, the organization, the illustrations, the voice, the font, the color -- all blend seamlessly to communicate her message. And that message is that all writing should be so accessible.

Published by the Global Renaissance Society, LLC, 2005, 416 pages.

Ms. Kirschenbaum is offering Goodbye Gutenberg to LinguaPhile subscribers at a special price. The first book (regularly $47.50) will be $35.00; subsequent books will be $25.00. To get this special price, call 1-800-266-5564 or go to  Mention that you are "friends of Val."

Available from Goodbye Gutenberg: How a Bronx Teacher Defied 500 Years of Tradition and Launched an Astonishing Renaissance

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Puzzler: Anagrams

Complete this sentence with three words formed from different arrangements of the same seven letters.

The Swiss landlord bought _____ for the shutters of his _____ and carried them home in his _____.

Answer to November Puzzler

Memorable Students

They are the memorable students in any class. They participate fully in any mischief. They see no point in volunteering for extra jobs. They delight in distracting their classmates. They take no pleasure in learning. They are never satisfied.

Memorable Students

They are the memorable students. In any class they participate fully. In any mischief they see no point. In volunteering for extra jobs they delight. In distracting their classmates they take no pleasure. In learning they are never satisfied.

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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

We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated regularly, 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!

© 2005 Fran Santoro Hamilton


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