Category Archives: Quotes

Quotes, from a variety of sources, related to teaching and learning–somewhat more loosely defined than in other categories on Mark’s Text Terminal.

Term of Art: Indo-Aryan

Indo-Aryan: Branch, within Indo-European, of Indo-Iranian: first attested by texts in Vedic (Sanskrit) dating from the 2nd millenium BC, and by transcriptions from the first. Also called ‘Indic.’

The modern Indo-Aryan languages are indigenous to most of the north and centre of the Indian subcontinent, with outliers in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the Maldives. Hindi-Urdu and Bengali are by far the largest; of the remainder, Marathi, in the south of the main area, Gujarati in the south-west, Sindhi to the west, Punjabi in the north-west, Assamese in the east, Oriya in the south-east, and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka all have a current literary standard and are linked to major political units. Others, such as Bhojpuri or Maithili, also have speakers in the tens of millions.

Across the main area, separate languages have arisen largely by divisions within a geographical continuum. Hence internal branches are not definitively established.”

Excerpted from: Marshall, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Term of Art: Indo-European

Indo-European: Family of languages including, at historically its major limit, most of those spoken in Europe and, at its eastern limit, the major languages of all but the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. Usually divided into eleven main branches: in the order in which they are first attested, Anatolian (now extinct), Greek, Indo-Iranian, Italic (represented by the modern Romance languages), Celtic, Germanic (which includes English), Armenian, Tocharian (extinct), Slavic (Slavonic), Baltic (represented by Latvian and Lithuanian), and Albanian. Groupings larger than these are problematic to varying degrees: the safest hypothesis is that of a common Balt-Slavonic.

The comparative method has its origin in the intensive study of Indo-European, especially in the German-speaking universities, from the early 19th century. The size and complexity of the family, in comparison with many others that can be established with the same certainty, reflects in part the early date at which the forms in several branches can be compared.”

Excerpted from: Marshall, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

E.H. Gombrich on the Ice Age

“The Ice Age lasted for an unimaginably long time. Many tens of thousands of years, which was just as well, for otherwise these people would not have had time to invent all these things. But gradually the earth grew warmer and the ice retreated to the high mountains and people—who by now were much like us—learned, with the warmth, to plant grasses and then grind the seeds to make a paste they could bake in the fire, and this was bread. In the course of time, they learned to build tents and tame animals which until then had roamed freely around. And they followed these herds, as people in Lapland still do. Because forests were dangerous places in those days, home to large numbers of animals such as wolves and bears, people in several places (and this is often the case with inventors) had the same excellent idea: they built “pile dwellings” in the middle of lakes, huts on stilts rammed deep in the mud. By this time they were masters at shaping and polishing their tools and used a different, harder stone to bore holes in their axe-heads for handles. That must have been hard work! Work which could take the whole of the winter. Imagine how often the axe-head must have broken at the last minute, so they had to start all over again.”

Excerpted from: Gombrich, E.H. Trans. Caroline Mustill. A Little History of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Fine Art

Fine Art: Describes solely those categories of artworks traditionally judged to be the most prominent in forms of aesthetic significance. They include architecture, painting, sculpture, and many of the graphic arts, and are contrasted with decorative and applied art, in which function is as important as aesthetic considerations. Within painting, history painting was considered most important, followed by portraiture and landscape.

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

Archaic Period

Archaic Period: A term used to describe an early stage in the development of civilization. Specifically, in Egypt it covers the first two dynasties, c 3200-2800 BC, in which the country was unified and came to its first flowering of culture. In Greece it describes the rise of civilization from c 750 BC to the Persian invasion in 480 BC. As used by Americanists, the term refers to a stage of development rather than a chronologicaql period. It is characterized by a hunting and gathering way of life in a post-Pleistocene environment similar to that of the present. Under special circumstances there may be settled life, pottery, and even agriculture as long as this is subsidiary to the collection of wild foods. The term was coined for certain cultures of the woodlands of eastern North America dating from c 8000-1000 BC, but usage has been extended (sometimes uncritically) to all sorts of unrelated cultures which show a similar level of development but may be of widely varying dates.

Excerpted from: Bray, Warwick, and David Trump. The Penguin Dictionary of Archaeology. New York: Penguin, 1984.


“Muckraking (noun): The searching out or exposure, as by a writer or newspaper, or wrongdoing committed by prominent individuals or institutions, especially of political corruption or scandal; sensational revelatory journalism. Adjective: muckraking; noun: muckrake, muckraker; verb: muckrake.

‘Having failed in her basement, I thought to have her here, in the loft of the parish hall, where a leaky old skylight made vivid the woody forms of miniature creches and lifesize mangers, wise kings’ crowns and shepherd’s crooks, Victorian alter furniture and great padded Bibles no longer thumped by the virile muckraking parsons of the first Roosevelt’s reign, plywood palm trees, and temples of gilded cardboard.’

John Updike, A Month of Sundays”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.


“Hubris: (Greek “wanton insolence”) This shortcoming or defect in the Greek tragic hero leads him to ignore the warnings of the gods and to transgress their laws and commands. Eventually hubris brings about downfall and nemesis (q.v.), as in the case of Creon in Sophocles’s Antigone and Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy. See HAMARTIA; TRAGEDY.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.