Monthly Archives: December 2019

Golden Section

Golden Section: (golden mean) A geometrical proportion known at least since Euclid and regarded as a universal law of the harmony of proportions in both art and nature. The common formula is: to divide a finite line so that the shorter part is to the longer part as the longer part is to the whole.”

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

ARPAnet

This reading on ARPAnet, which it will tell you, was the precursor to the Internet, has invariably been a high interest item for the students with whom I’ve worked over the years. Here is its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

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.

Devil’s Dictionary: Commerce

“Commerce, n. A mind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.” 

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Way (n) and Weigh (vt/vi)

Snow falls heavily as I sit down to write this, so I’ll soon wrap up my day and leave to take advantage of this half day. Before I go, however, here are five homophone worksheets on the noun way and the verb weigh. Weigh, for the record, is used both transitively and intransitively.

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.

Rotten Reviews: A Long and Happy Life

“Very nearly a parody of the Southern Gothic novel…written in imitation Faulkner–a wearisome and hopeless style.”

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

The Weekly Text, December 6, 2019

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on the Latin word root bene. It means good and well, and as you have probably already figured out, it turns up as the root of such common words in English as benefit and benevolent. This context clues worksheet on the noun welfare with which I intended deploy a hint to point students in the right direction (and also to hint at the idea that government welfare benefits, which so many families in our nation now receive, are meant to keep us, as individuals and as a society, good and well). Finally, here is the word root worksheet that is the mainstay of this lesson.

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.

Finnegan’s Wake

Finnegan’s WakeA radically experimental modernist novel (1939) by James Joyce (1882-1941). He began work on it in 1922, but was too superstitious to reveal the title; sections were published (1927-1930) in New York as ‘Work in Progress.’ Finnegan’s Wake is a record of a night, in which the mind of the sleeping H.C. Earwicker is interpreted with great virtuosity and invention of language, with meaning piled upon meaning. Joyce illustrated his literary method by saying that he was tunneling through a mountain from two sides. The structure largely follows the Italian philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico (1668-1744), who divided human history into three ages, divine, heroic, and human, to which Joyce added a fourth, return, emphasizing Vico’s theory of evolutionary cycles in civilizations. The circularity of Joyce’s work is emphasized by the fact that the last sentence merges into the first:

‘riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve to shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.’

The punning title derives from and Irish-American ballad about Tim Finnegan, a drunken hod-carrier who falls from his ladder and is killed. A splash of whiskey at his wake awakes him and he exclaims ‘Do ye think I’m dead then?’ The title also suggests the return (awakening) of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, mythical hero of the Ossianic cycle of stories.

Among the many coinages in Finnegan’s Wake, one in particular has come into wider usage. It was from Joyce’s phrase ‘Three quarks for Muster Mark” that the US physicist Murray Gell-man (1929-2019) took the word ‘quark,’ which he applied to what were then hypothetical elementary particles making up the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. Intriguingly, quarks have such properties as charm colour, and strangeness.”

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