Voltaire on Stupidity and Etiquette

“To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.”

Voltaire

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Common English Verbs Followed by an Infinitive: Ask

OK, last but not least on this gloomy Sunday morning, here is a worksheet on the verb ask used with an infinitive. I ask you to evaluate these dubious worksheets.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Maquette

“Maquette: A small model for an architectural project. See Bozzetto.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Cultural Literacy: Realism

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on realism in literature and art. This is a half-page document with a reading of two sentences, the second of which is longish compound, and two comprehension questions. Once again, just the basics.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Doubter’s Companion: Abasement

“Abasement: In a society of courtiers or corporatists, the question is not whether to abase or to be abased, but whether a favorable balance can be struck between the two.

Simple folk may have some difficulty mastering the skills involved, but the sophisticated innately understand how the pleasure of abasing others can be heightened by being abased themselves.

The illusion among the most skilled is that they can achieve ultimate pleasure through a type of ambition or drive, which they call competence. This causes them to rise higher, and so to win ever-greater power. But what is the value of this status in a highly structured society devoid of any particular purpose except the right, for a limited time, to give more orders than are received? Courtiers used to scurry around palace corridors with much the same illusion of importance.

When the time comes to retire from the functions of power, many collapse into a psychic crisis. They feel as if they have been ejected into a void. This is because society has not been rewarding them for their competence or their knowledge, but for their occupation of positions of power. Their very success has required a disembodied abasement of the individual. And when they leave power, the agreeable sense of purpose which it conveyed simply withers away.

Of course, power must be wielded or there is no civilization. But in a society so devoted to power and run by hierarchies of expertise, the elites are unconsciously addicted to an abstract form of sadomasochism. This may explain why success so often translates into triumphalism and constant complaints about the incompetence of others. The underlying assumption of most civilizations, including our own, is the exact opposite. Success is supposed to produce a flowering of modesty and concern for others.”

Excerpted from: Saul, John Ralston. The Doubter’s Companion. New York: The Free Press, 1994.

Cohesion (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun cohesion. It means “the act or state of sticking together tightly, especially unity <the lack of unity in the Party —Times Lit. Supp.>,” “union between similar plant parts or organs,” and “molecular attraction by which the particles of a body are united throughout the mass.” This word tends to show up more commonly in its adjectival form, cohesive (“exhibiting or producing cohesion or coherence”). As this document is formatted in Microsoft Word, you can easily convert it to cohesive if that better suits your needs.

Otherwise, stay tuned, as I will eventually get around to writing a worksheet for cohesive. I suspect this one, on cohesion, was a word of the day at Merriam-Webster at some point, which is how it ends up in my warehouse.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Write It Right: Decidedly for Very, or Certainly

Decidedly for Very, or Certainly. “It is decidedly cold.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Common Errors in English Usage: Irregardless, Regardless (adj/adv/prep)

From Paul Brians’ book Common Errors in English Usage (to which he allows access at no cost at the Washington State University Website), here is a worksheet on the use of the adjective, adverb, and preposition regardless. The gist of this work involves understanding that irregardless is a redundancy–and therefore a solecism in prose. In any case, this is a full-page worksheet with a three-sentence reading and ten sentences to rewrite.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Soft Neurological Signs

“soft neurological signs: Any of a number of minor abnormalities that emerge in childhood and are used as diagnostic indicators of minimal brain damage.

Soft signs are subtle and difficult to detect reliably; they tend to run their developmental course with no clear cause and are not regarded as indicators of any specific neurological disease. The soft in the term comes from the difficulties of interpretation and the uncertain association with structural brain damage.

Certain soft signs, like those related to fine and gross motor sills, may be used to help diagnose learning disabilities. Neuropsychological evaluations and psychological evaluations for learning disabilities typically include soft signs assessments such as the ability to walk a straight line, the ability to tell left from right, and the ability to track objects horizontally and vertically.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Do you remember the Cabbage Patch Kids? If not, and you feel compelled to recall them, here is a reading on the Cabbage Patch Kids along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. They came and went pretty quickly in the 1980s, so you won’t be surprised to hear that this reading tells a story about the ebb and flow of popular trends and the business successes and failures–both in evidence here–they cause.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.