Category Archives: Reference Materials

This category includes materials excerpted from a variety of reference books, as well as other material used as reference sources such as learning supports and style sheets.

Grapheme (n)

A minimal unit of grammar into which a sentence or a word within a sentence can be divided. E.g. Come inside can be divided into the minimal units come, in, and side; distasteful into dis, taste, and ful.”

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

The Septuagint

“The Septuagint is the name for the Greek translation of the Hebrew Testament made in Alexandria in Egypt in the fourth century BC. Believed to be either a miraculous harmony of scholars working separately to produce an identical textual translation, or a body of seventy scholars working together to produce a single agreed text—which is arguably an even more miraculous occurrence.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Egyptian Revival Style

“In American architecture, this style occurred twice: ca. 1830-1850 and 1920-1930. Used mostly for public monuments and commercial buildings, the forms are heavy, often pylon-like. Reeded columns, palm capitals, and other ornaments are distinctively Egyptian.”

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

Anachronism (n)

“A term used to distinguish anything out of its proper time. Shakespeare’s references to cannons in King John, a play which takes place before cannons came into use, to clocks in Julius Caesar, and to billiards in Antony and Cleopatra, are examples of anachronisms. In literature, anachronisms are sometimes used deliberately as comic devices to emphasized universal timelessness.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

A Confederacy of Dunces

“A satirical novel (1980) by the US novelist John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969). Thanks to the efforts of his mother it was published more than ten years after he committed suicide, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is set in New Orleans, and the central character, Ignatius Reilly, is an overweight, argumentative layabout who interrelates with a cast of equally eccentric and accident-prone characters. The title comes from Jonathan Swift:

‘When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him.

Swift: Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting (1711)'”

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

Grammar (n)

Any systematic account of the structure of the language; the patterns that it describes; the branch of linguistics concerned with such patterns.

Often restricted to the study of units that can be assigned a meaning. Distinguished in that light from phonology, e.g. singing is a grammatical unit as are sing and –ing, while s or the syllable si are phonological. Also opposed, thought not always, to a dictionary or the lexicon. E.g. the meanings of sing belong to its entry in the lexicon; the functions of -ing to grammar, where they are described for verbs in general. When limited in both of those ways, the study of grammar reduces to that of morphology and syntax.

Chomsky’s term in the 1960s for the knowledge of a language developed by a child who learns to speak it. A grammar in the widest sense was thus at once a set of rules (32) said to be internalized by members of a speech community, and account, by a linguist, of such a grammar. This internalized grammar is effectively what was later called I-language.”

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

Hispano-Mooresque (adj)

“General term encompassing all artwork, architecture, and decorative art produced in Spain under Muslim and Christian reigns and the resulting hybrid styles. Dates from the 8th to the 16th centuries.”

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