Tag Archives: professional development

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.

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.

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.

Eric Hoffer on Fanaticism

“No so the fanatic. Chaos is his element. When the old order begins to crack, he wades in with all his might and recklessness to blow the whole hated present to high heaven. He glories in the sight of a world coming to a sudden end. To hell with reforms! All that already exists is rubbish. He justifies his will to anarchy with the plausible assertion that there can be no new beginning so long as the old clutters the landscape. He shoves aside the frightened men of words, if they are still around, though he continues to extol their doctrines and mouth their slogans. He alone knows the innermost craving of the masses in action; the craving for communion, for the mustering of the host, for the dissolution of cursed individuality in the majesty and grandeur of a mighty whole. Posterity is king; and woe to those, inside and outside the movement, who hug and hang on to the present.”

Excerpted from: Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951.

Diction (n)

Choice of words with respect to clarity, variety, taste, etc.; aptness of vocabulary and phrasing; correctness of pronunciation; enunciation. Adjective: dictional; adverb: dictionally.

‘It is destructive enough to the novel’s texture to hear this “historical” Arthur speak in the diction of a mod labor candidate or an American president standing for re-election.'”

Alan Cheuse, The New York Times

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


The Speech Accent Archive at George Mason University

Last spring, George Mason University (GMU) showed up in the current events column for its record of accepting large contributions from Charles and David Koch.  The Kochs’ money bought them, apparently, some latitude in the hiring of faculty, particularly in the economics department, at GMU. Transparent GMU, an activist group dedicated to exposing the relations between donors and GMU and their effect on disinterested inquiry at this institution went to court over the Koch’s relationship with GMU, which literally put the University on the defensive. GMU is not the only post-secondary institution which has accepted money from the Kochs; indeed, another activist organization, Unkoch My Campus, serves as something of a clearinghouse on the Kochs’ largesse and how it is used to influence inquiry and scholarship in colleges and universities.

Charles and David Koch have long sought scholarly support and credibility for their libertarianism which, by some measures, is a fringe ideology. By way of such organizations as the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), they have also sought to shape the political landscape of the United States through “scholarly” writing and political activism–particularly aggressive lobbying. All of this has been extensively documented just about everywhere someone has taken up pen or word processor to report on the David and Charles Koch’s political activities. That said, I particularly recommend Jane Mayer’s thoroughly documented and in every way excellent book Dark Money, which covers the political effects of corporate spending in elections in the United States by the Kochs and other members of their funding network.

Mark’s Text Terminal is not a political blog, but if this blog and its author stand for anything, it is for learning by way of intellectual independence and scholarly disinterest. If wealthy, self-interested Americans seek to create scholarly and/or institutional legitimacy for themselves at the expense of scholarly freedom, then I must speak. This is one of those moments, and one of those situations.

All the news from GMU is not bad, however. The above excursus is simply a long way around to calling teachers’ attention to the interesting and potentially quite useful Speech Accent Archive at George Mason University. This appears to be one of the intellectual bright spots at GMU. For the classroom teacher at the elementary and secondary level, particularly those working with English language learners, I think this is a valuable resource. If nothing else, though, it is a pretty cool piece of scholarship, for which George Mason University, in spite of whatever compromises it made with unscrupulous, self-interested donors, should be commended.


The theory of universals that sees them as shadows of our grasp of concepts. Conceptualism lies midway between out-and-out nominalism, holding that nothing is common to objects except our applying the same words to them, and any realism which sees universals as existing independently of us and our abilities.”

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