Monthly Archives: October 2019

Joseph Louis Lagrange on Antoine Lavoisier

“[Remark the day after the guillotining of the great chemist Antoine Lavoisier on 8 May 1794]: ‘Il ne leur a fallu qu’un moment pour faire tomber cette tete, et cent annees, peut-etre, ne suffiront pas pour en reproduire une semblable.’

It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but it is unlikely that a hundred years will suffice to reproduce a similar one.”

Joseph Louis Lagrange

Quoted int J.B. Delambre, “Eloge de Lagrange,” Memoires de l’Institut (1812)

 

Excerpted from: Shapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Artificial Sweeteners

OK, to wrap up on this cool, autumnal morning in southwestern Vermont, here is a reading on artificial sweeteners and the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

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.

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“A cult radio serial by Douglas Adams (1952-2001), broadcast in 1978 and 1979. The story begins with the imminent destruction of Earth to make way for a hyperspace express route, and the escape of Earthling Arthur Dent and his exterrestrial friend Ford Prefect by hitching a ride on a Vogon spacecraft. The programme combined the comic with the surreal and introduced a host of eccentric characters. In 1981 the serial was adapted for television. The fictional book mentioned in the title gives handy tips to space travellers, and is frequently quoted; its verdict on the Earth is ‘mostly harmless.’ It transpires that the Earth was originally constructed to solve the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, to which the answer turns out to be 42.

Adams went on to adapt and extend the idea in book form, characteristically producing a “trilogy in five parts’: A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe and Everything (1982), So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984), and Mostly Harmless (1992).”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Outlandish (adjective)

OK, moving right along, here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective outlandish.  This word is in common enough use in the vernacular that students should probably know it.

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.

How Confusing is the Mapping in English?

“The principle may not come naturally, but surely we could make the particulars easier. If you were creating an alphabet for English from scratch, you would probably create 44 letters and match each speech sound with one letter. We’d call that one-to-one matching. Written English, alas, was not created from scratch. Our language is a mongrel: Germanic origins, heavily influenced by the Norman invasion and later by the adoption of Greek and Latinate words. That’s a problem because when we borrowed words, we frequently retained the spelling conventions of the original language. The result is that English uses a many-to-many matching. One letter (or letter combination) can signify many sounds, as the letter ‘e’ does: red, flower, bee.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Word Root Exercise: Gyn/o, Gyne, and Gynec/o

OK, let’s begin the week with this worksheet on the Greek roots gyn/o, gyne, and gynec/o. If you know the words gynecologist (or perhaps an even more timely word, misogynist), then you know that these roots mean “woman” and “female.”

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.

Thomas Kuhn on “Normal Science”

“‘Normal science’ means research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice.”

Thomas Kuhn

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ch.2 (1962)

Excerpted from: Shapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.