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.

Tense

“Tense: The time of a verb’s action or state of being, such as past, present, or future. Saw, see, will see.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

2 Hands—10 Fingers

“The prime motivation behind the power of 10 is that you can with some authority recite your list of laws, prophets or gods as you tick off each of your ten fingers from a pair of hands, So the decision to decimate a rebel legion, to take tithe of a tenth of the harvest as tax or to rule for a decade seems logical, absolute, and ordained. The decimal system which now rules our numerical world, our wealth, our conception of time and distance derives from dekm—the Indo-Aryan word for ‘two hands,’ the power of ten.”

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.

Write It Right: Balance for Remainder

“Balance for Remainder. ‘The balance of my time is given to recreation.’ In this sense, balance is a commercial word, and relates to accounting.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Term of Art: Boycott

boycott: Refusal by a body of people to have any dealings with a person or persons. The term is derived from Capt. C.C. Boycott (1832-97) who, having incurred hostility for a series of evictions, was made the victim of a conspiracy by the Irish Land League, preventing him from making any purchases or holding any social intercourse in his district.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Syntax

“Syntax: The order or arrangement of words in a sentence. Syntax may exhibit parallelism (I came, I saw, I conquered), inversion (Whose woods these are I think I know), or other formal characteristics.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Synthetism

“Synthetism: A Post-Impressionist direction associated with Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, and Maurice Denis, which reduced forms to essentials and applied colors as flat, nonshaded fields bounded by strong contour lines.”

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

Term of Art: Indirect Speech

indirect speech: The reporting of something said, thought, etc. with deictic and other units adapted to the viewpoint of the reporter. E.g. He said he would bring them might report a promise, originally expressed by the utterance ‘I will bring them in.’ But the person who made the promise is someone other than the reporter; hence, in the reporting, original I is changed to he. Also the promise was earlier than the report; hence, in addition, will is changed to would. With these adaptations, he would bring them is an example of, and is said to be ‘in,’ indirect speech.”

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

Rotten Reviews: Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth

“…a pervasive silliness that turns finally—if one must bring up the university image—into college humor, a kind of MAD magazine joke.”

Christian Science Monitor 

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

Write It Right: Back of for Behind, At the Back of

“Back of for Behind, At the Back of. ‘Back of law is force.’”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Subordinate Clause

“Subordinate Clause: A clause dependent on the main clause in a sentence. After we finish our work, we will go out to dinner.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.