Tag Archives: glossary

Conceptual Scheme

The general system of concepts which shape or organize our thoughts and perceptions. The outstanding elements of our everyday conceptual scheme include spatial and temporal relations between events and enduring objects, causal relations, other persons, meaning-bearing utterances of others, and so on. To see the world as containing such things is to share this much of our conceptual scheme. A controversial argument of Davidson’s urges that we would be unable to interpret speech from a different conceptual scheme as even meaningful; we can therefore be certain a priori that there is no difference of conceptual scheme between any thinker and ourselves. Davidson daringly goes on to argue that since translation proceeds according to a principle of charity, and since it must be possible for an omniscient translator to make sense of us, we can be assured that most of the beliefs formed with the commonsense conceptual framework are true.”

Excerpted from: Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.


Term for one of the ancient parts of speech originally applied to adjectival forms of verbs in Ancient Greek. Described as a “sharing” element (Greek metokhe) because such forms were inflected systematically both for tense and aspect, seen as a defining property of verbs, and for case, seen as a defining property of nouns. The3nce of forms of verbs in other languages whose syntax is at least basically or in part similar: thus, in Engilsh, of forms such as visited in the cities visited or They were visited, or visiting, in the people visiting us, or they are visiting us.

Participles in –ing are traditionally distinguished in English grammar from gerunds, also in –ing, on the grounds that participles have a basic role like those of adjectives, while gerunds have one like a noun.”

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

Optical Mixing

“The involuntary mixing of juxtaposed colors by the eye and brain. Thus, at a certain distance, juxtaposed dabs of red and yellow pigment produce the sensation of orange. The colors seen by optical mixing appear clearer and more brilliant than those obtained by mixing colors on a palette.”

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


“The rearrangement of the letters in a word or phrase to make another word or phrase. Anagrams are a common feature of crossword puzzles and are sometimes used by authors to conceal proper names. Drab is an anagram of bard; the name of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872) is an anagram of nowhere.”

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


“A traditional term for a VERBAL NOUN, in English a word ending in –ing: visiting in They appreciate my visiting their parents regularly. Like a noun, it can be introduced by the genitive my (compare I visit their parents). Some object to the non-genitive usage and avoid at least for names and pronouns, preferring They appreciate Bill’s visiting their parents to They appreciate Bill visiting their parents and They appreciate my visiting their parents to They appreciate me visiting their parents.”

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


“The intentional or unintentional expression of a word or idea that implies more than one meaning and usually leaves uncertainty in the reader. William Empson, in his Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), outlined and defined seven different kinds of verbal nuance. He maintained that language functioning with artistic complexity connotes as much and often more than it denotes.”

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

Manifesto (n)

A public declaration of advocated opinion, intent, viewpoint, etc., especially a political exhortation or proclamation of aesthetic principles; avowal; credo. Plural: manifestos, manifestoes.

‘How often he had seen her, as they sat together in the evening lamplight, with a pad of it propped on her knee as she drafted a letter to her Congressman, or flaming manifesto for one or another of the ecological causes into which she threw herself, and sometimes him.’” Peter De Vries, Madder Music

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

Concept Formation

Process of developing abstract rules of mental concepts based on sensory experience. Concept formation figures prominently in cognitive development and was a subject of great importance to J. Piaget, who argued that learning entails an understanding of a phenomenon’s characteristics and how they are logically linked. N. Chomsky has argued that certain cognitive structures (such as basic grammatical rules) are innate in human beings. Both men held that, as a concept emerges, it becomes subject to testing: a child’s concept of “bird,” for example, will be tested against specific instances of birds. The human capacity for play contributes importantly to this process by allowing for consideration of a wide range of possibilities.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Nisei (n)

“ni·sei \nē-ˈsā, ˈnē-ˌ\ n, pl nisei often cap [Jp, lit., second generation, fr. ni second + sei generation] (1929)    : a son or daughter of Japanese immigrants who is born and educated in America and esp. in the U.S.”

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 248367-248370). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


Morpheme (n)

Any of the smallest units of meaning or form within a language, or a verbal element that cannot be further reduced and still retain meaning, e.g. the word ‘woman,’ the prefix ‘un-,’ and the inflection ‘-ize.’ Adjective: morphemic; adverb: morphemically.”

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