Monthly Archives: July 2020

Term of Art: Subordinate Clause

“Subordinate Clause, also dependent clause. A clause that cannot function independently as a sentence.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

A Lesson Plan on the Founding Myth of Rome

This post begins, continuing for ten documents posts above (for a total of twenty posts including the interstitial quotes between each lesson), a ten-lesson unit on ancient Rome. Because the history of Rome offers so many opportunities to teach basic concepts in social studies, I dedicated an entire unit to it. I wanted students, when coming away from these ten lessons, to understand that when we talk about “the West” or “Western Civilization,” we are by and large talking about the world the Romans created.

So, this unit kicks off with this lesson plan on the founding myth of Rome, which is to say that this is a lesson about Romulus and Remus. I start this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the idiom “All Roads Lead to Rome.” Here is one more on another idiom based in Roman history, “Rubicon” as in “Crossing the Rubicon.” Finally, here is the reading on Romulus and Remus with a series of comprehension questions.

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.

Term of Art: Subordination

“Subordination: In grammatical theory, a relationship between two units in which one is a constituent of the other or dependent on it. The subordinate unit is commonly a subordinate clause organized ‘under’ a superordinate clause. Such organization can be described in two ways: the subordinate unit as a constituent of the superordinate unit and the subordinate unit as dependent on but distinct from the superordinate unit. In the sentence, They did it when they got home, the subordinate when-clause may be either a constituent of its superordinate main clause, which begins with They and is coextensive with the entire sentence, or dependent on a more limited main clause They did it. There is in principle no limit (apart from comprehensibility and practicality) to the subordination of clauses one under another. In the sentence, They saw that I was wondering who won the competition, the subordinate who-clause is a constituent of or dependent on its superordinate that-clause (which ends with the competition), while the that-clause is also a subordinate clause, in turn a constituent of or dependent on its superordinate clause beginning with They. Subordinate clauses may also be constituents of or dependent on phrases: in What’s the name of the woman who’s winning the competition?, the who-clause modifies the noun woman.

Form. Traditionally, part of a sentence can only be classed as a subordinate clause if it contains either an identifiable or an ‘understood’ finite verb. In contemporary grammatical analysis, however, subordinate clauses may be classed as: finite (‘I think that nobody is in’); nonfinite (‘He used to be shy, staying on the fringes at parties’); verbless (‘She will help you, if at all possible’), Traditionally, the second category would be classed as a participial phrase and the third as a clause with the verb ‘understood’ (it is). Finite subordinate clauses are usually marked as subordinate either by an initial subordinating conjunction (after in He got angry after I started to beat him at table-tennis) or by an initial wh-word that also functions within the clause (who in Most Iranians are Indo-Europeans who speak Persian, where who is the subject of the subordinate clause). These subordination markers sometimes introduce nonfinite clauses (while in I listened to the music while revising my report), and verbless clauses (if in If necessary, I’ll phone you).

Function. Subordinate clauses fall into four functional classes: nominal, relative, adverbial, comparative. Nominal or noun classes function to a large extent like noun phrases: they can be subject of the sentence (‘That he was losing his hearing did not worry him unduly’) or direct object (‘He knew that he was losing his hearing’). Relative or adjective/adjectival clauses modify nouns: the that-clause modifies star in ‘She saw a star that she had not seen before.’ Adverbial of adverb clauses function to a large extent like adverbs: the adverb there could replace the where-clause in ‘You should put it back where you found it.’ Comparative clauses are used in comparison and are commonly introduced by then or as: ‘The weather is better than it was yesterday’; ‘The weather is just as nice as it was yesterday.

All such clauses occur in complex sentences. Subordination contrasts with coordination, in which the units, commonly the clauses of a compound sentence, have equal status: the clauses joined by but in We wanted to see the cathedral first, but the children wanted to see the castle straight away. Sentences in which both subordinate and coordinate clauses occur are compound-complex sentences: with before and but in We wanted to visit the cathedral before we did anything else, but the children wanted to see the castle straight away.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Word Root Exercise: Dic, Dict

Here is a worksheet on the Latin roots dic and dict. They mean speech, to speak, and to proclaim (declare officially). This is a very productive root in English, and if you take this worksheet, you’ll quickly perceive, I submit, that these are mostly words that high school graduates really ought to know.

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.

Rotten Reviews: A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren

“…my, how this boy needs editing!”

San Francisco Chronicle

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

The Weekly Text, July 31, 2020

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the Crime and Puzzlement case “Watch Out!” I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Shakespeare’s famous line, from The Merchant of Venice, that “The quality of mercy is not strain’d.”

To conduct your investigation, you’ll need the PDF of the illustration and questions that constitute the evidence of the crime. Finally, here is the typescript of the answer key so that you can solve the case.

That’s it. Stay cool, stay safe, have a nice weekend!

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.

Term of Art: Orthography

“Orthography: [Through French and Latin from Greek orthographia correct writing]. 1. A term for correct or accepted writing and spelling and for a normative set of conventions for writing and especially spelling. In the 15th and 16th centuries, there was considerable variety and uncertainty in the writing and printing of English. Advocates of standardized spelling emphasized the importance of regularization by referring to it as trewe ortografye, trew orthographie, etc. 2. The study of letters and how they are used to express sounds and form words, especially as a traditional aspect of grammar; the spelling system of a language, whether considered ‘true’ and ‘correct’ or not. In linguistics, however, the name for the study of the writing system of a language and for the system itself is more commonly graphology, a level of language parallel to phonology. The earlier, prescriptive sense of the term continues to be used, but the later, more neutral sense is common among scholars of language. The orthography of English has standardized on two systems, British and American. While far from uniform in either system, it allows for much less variation than is possible, for example, in the orthography of Scots.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Pejorative (adj)

Once again, since its Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective pejorative. It isn’t necessarily a word high school students need to know. But then again, why not?

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.

Hard-Edge Painting

“Hard-Edge Painting: A term used by critic Jules Langsner in 1959 in speaking of paintings executed in broad, flat areas of color delineated by precise, sharp edges. It developed as a reaction to the spontaneous and painterly handling typical of abstract expressionism. Explored by Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt, and Alexander Liberman, among others.”

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

The Order of Things: Highest Mountains

Here’s another lesson from The Order of Things, this one on the highest mountains in the world. You’ll need the reading list with analytical and comprehension questions to complete this short 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.