"A QUICK ONLINE GRAMMAR GUIDE TO MODERN AMERICAN USAGE"
By VICTOR MARTINEZ –
-- Last UPdated: Friday, September 4, 2020 --
"A grammar of a
language purports to be a description of the ideal speaker-hearer's
intrinsic competence." -- Dr Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, MIT
= a person who intensely studies and writes
about grammar; a specialist,
linguist or expert in grammar
= a person who is overly concerned about the
proper use of grammar,
style and usage; excessively pedantic behavior about grammatical standards and
= the scientific study of the nature, history,
etc., of writing systems
or scripts and their typology
= is a form of expressive aphasia* that refers
to the INability to speak
in a grammatically correct fashion; the resulting speech is often described as "telegenic"
consisting mainly of single words and fixed expressions; marked by slow and hesitant
= language disorder/impairment due to an
accident to the brain; prior to
the injury, illness or event, the person's language skills were considered normal
= the system of rules implicit in a language;
the conformity of a sentence
-- or part of a sentence -- to the rules defined by a specific grammar of a language; a
body of rules imposed on a given language for speaking and writing it based on the
forms and structure of words [morphology], with their customary arrangement in
phrases, clauses and sentences [syntax], their word meanings [semantics], and now
often with language sounds [phonology]; grammar is a comprehensive description
to this structural pattern and organization which can be studied independently
= the manner in which words, phrases, clauses
and sentences are orderly
arranged and constructed; the study of rules of how words relate to one another
SCIENCE aka GLOSSOLOGY
[rare terms] =
while closely related to PHILOLOGY [see below entry], there are differences; LINGUISTICS
is the scientific study of language comprising ETYMOLOGY, SEMANTICS, PHONETICS,
MORPHOLOGY, GRAMMAR and SYNTAX; while taught since the 1960s, there has been a
recent greatly increased awareness in this field due to popular interest in the study of
language and communication as it relates to human beliefs and behavior, and the realization
of the need to deal adequately with the range and complexity of linguistic phenomena, e.g.,
in philosophy, theology, literary criticism, information theory, etc.; its practitioners --
LINGUISTS -- canNOT claim a monopoly on the whole of their subject matter as a range of
other disciplines -- from the study of literature to computer science -- deal with language in
one way or the other, therefore the boundaries between other specialized fields and
linguistics are NOT fixed
= one who is skilled in the scientific study
and use of languages; pertaining
to the growth and development of language with its principal branches being: etymology,
semantics, phonetics, morphology, grammar and syntax [see prior entry above]
= while closely related to LINGUISTICS, it is
same; PHILOLOGY deals
with 1) literary texts, written records and/or classical scholarship 2) it is a specialized branch
of linguistics that deals with changes in language over time which encompasses the study of
language from written historical sources, and; 3) it is the combination of literary criticism,
history and linguistics
DICTION = the use and choice of words in speech and writing which include one's accent,
voice inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker
usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability
EXPLICATION aka "explication de texte" = derived from a method of teaching literature
in French secondary schools, it is a detailed analysis, painstaking examination or
"close reading" of a paper's structure, style, content + imagery / symbolism if given --
indeed every aspect of the paper's text. In summary, it is a very formal, close analysis
and scrutiny of EDITING of a given paper, e.g., thesis, dissertation, term / research paper(s)
= the study of word derivations, origin and
development in which a
word is traced as far back as possible in its own language, and to its source in
either contemporary or earlier languages. Understanding ETYMOLOGY often leads
to a greater appreciation of linguistic nuances
= Individuals who compile the words we use +
[NEOLOGISMS] into a working LEXICOGRAPHY [the compilation of dictionaries]
which then becomes a DICTIONARY that we all use and refer to from time to time.
LEXICOLOGY is the study of words and their origins, meanings and uses
= The slight difference between PRONUNCIATION
and ENUNCIATION is that pronunciation is the ACT of making sounds or articulating
words while enunciation is the WAY of articulating words clearly and distinctly
according to the rules governing the language. PRONOUNCE defines HOW a word is
spoken; pronunciation is to pronounce the sounds of words correctly. Good
ENUNCIATION is the act of speaking clearly and concisely. The opposite of good
enunciation is mumbling or slurring of one's words
= Correct or accepted pronunciation; the art of
pronouncing words correctly;
the field of grammar concerned with pronunciation, specifically, the study of how a
written or SPELLING SYSTEM relates to the pronunciation of a written language
= a person who studies spelling in accordance
with accepted, standard
usage; the part of language concerned with letters and spelling; the art of writing words
with the proper, correct letters
HOLOALPHABETIC SENTENCE = is a sentence using every letter of a
alphabet at least once. Pangrams have been used to display typefaces, test equipment, and
develop skills in handwriting, calligraphy, and keyboarding.
best-known English pangram is: "The
quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."
been used since at least the late 19th Century, was utilized by Western Union to test
Telex/TWX data communication equipment for accuracy and reliability, and is now used by
a number of computer programs (most notably the font viewer built into Microsoft Windows)
to display computer fonts.
exist in every alphabet-based language; the PANGRAM is the opposite
LIPOGRAM, in which the aim is to omit one or more letters.
The KEYS TO WRITING WELL EMPLOYING CURRENT and CORRECT GRAMMAR, STYLING
and USAGE CONVENTIONS
To educate people about the conventions of writing well is good for them. Why? Because
writing well requires disciplined thinking. Learning to write is a part of anyone's education.
What are the styling conventions that writers need to learn? Among other things, those who
write expository, sophisticated prose must learn cognitive skills – as in how to:
● Summarize complicated matter;
● Maintain a cohesive train of thought
● Support ideas with adequate evidence
To effectively communicate the material, the writer must also use mechanical skills – as in
● Vary sentence length;
● Vary paragraph length;
● Vary sentence structure;
● Connect your ideas from sentence to sentence, and paragraph to paragraph
Finally, to make certain that the communication employed uses clear and precise language
for the reader and free of distractions, the writer must learn stylistic skills – as in how to:
● Omit UNnecessary words;
● Adopt a relaxed, natural tone;
● Observe recognized and accepted grammatical constructs, e.g., subject-verb agreement,
parallel constructions, logically placed modifiers … to avoid dangling/misplaced modifiers,
● Distinguish between similar words that are easily confused or – worse yet – do not even
exist! Some example are:
cede vs accede vs concede / affect vs effect / aggravate vs irritate (annoy) / amount vs number /
adverse vs averse / benefit vs advantage / discrete vs discreet / farther vs further /
hardy vs hearty / imply vs infer / less vs fewer / partly vs partially / prescribe vs proscribe /
principle vs principal / prophecy vs prophesy / recall vs remember / sorry vs apologize /
some time vs sometime vs sometimes / tenant vs tenet / disburse for disperse /
enormity for enormousness / expatriot for expatriate / fruit melody for fruit medley /
hairbrained for harebrained / heart-rendering for heart-rending / presumptious for presumptuous /
reign in for rein in /
The 4 C's of good copyediting for EXPOSITORY WRITING: Clarity + Coherency,
Consistency + Correctness = The "Cardinal C" ... COMMUNICATION = Credibility
Two (2) Common Uses of Language:
1) Social Relations = Casual conversation is
motivated by the need to create social
bonds within a comfortable social matrix as well as to strengthen social relations
2) Self-Expression = Language is commonly
used simply for self-expression or for
clarifying one's thoughts.
NOTE: While animals employ some types of
communication systems, there is nothing
which approximates the distinctive features of human language specifically a language's
The Four (4) Basic GRAMMARS You Should Know!
GRAMMAR = highly formalized
use of the English language
marked by the LACK of contractions ["It is me." vs "It's me."]. It represents a
manual of attitudes to grammatical usage: good English vs bad English. It is
a type of grammar concerned with guiding users to make the most effective
use of language through common rules. Prescriptivists are concerned with
preventing needless departures from Standard English. NOTE: Sometimes
referred to as NORMATIVE GRAMMAR.
2) DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
= describes a very selective number of relaxed,
grammatical constructions that are used in a language and marked by the generous
USE of contractions. This type of grammar is what is generally spoken by the general
public as well as being used in most types of print media today. Therefore, it is the
study of linguistic structures focusing on a language's actual use by speakers. It is
NOT concerned with standardizing rules or applying rules to all speakers -- only with
determining what rules are actually used by native speakers.
This is in contrast to PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR. In
the broadest terms, the
battle is between the DESCRIPTIVISTS, who seek to document how language is
ACTUALLY used vs the PRESCRIPTIVISTS, who champion an edenic vision of how
language SHOULD be used.
"He did not say anything" = formal
Standard Dialect of English
"He didn't say anything." =
INformal or descriptive
Standard Dialect of English [most commonly used today]
"You came home late last night, is
"Isn't it true you came home late last night?!" = descriptive grammar writing / speaking
"He didn't say nothing." = NONstandard Dialect of English
"He no say." = UNgrammatical
3) REFERENTIAL GRAMMAR
= is a description of as many grammatical
aspects of a
language as are thought useful for some particular purpose or specific discipline.
It is meant to be an authoritative compilation of facts. Examples of referential
grammar would be found in reference manuals for biology, geology, law, accounting,
geography, education, cooking, pharmacy/drug textbooks, cosmetology, medicine,
e.g., "The American Medical Association Manual of Style," etc.
This also extends to various style books of
English as further examples of
REFERENTIAL GRAMMAR such as "The Chicago Manual of Style," "Publication
Manual of The American Psychological Association," "The Modern Language
Association Handbook," "The 2015 Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media
Law," "The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style," "Garner's
Modern American Usage: The Authority on Grammar, Usage and Style," "The Gregg
Reference Manual," "The Grammar Book: An ESL / EFL Teacher's Course, 3rd ed.,"
"Modern American Usage: A Guide," "Dictionary of Modern American Usage," "The
Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage," "Webster's New World English
Grammar Handbook, 2nd ed.," "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style,
2nd ed.," "Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary, 4th ed.," "The Facts on File Guide
to Style," "Oxford's English Grammar," "The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate
Sourcebook for Writing, Editing and Creating Content For The Digital World,"
and lastly "The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage," etc.
4) PEDAGOGICAL /
TEACHING GRAMMAR = a book for
teaching and learning either
a foreign language or focusing on and further developing one's awareness of a
person's native language or the "mother tongue." It can also be viewed as a book
that seeks to describe a language comprehensively -- as if taught to an ALIEN BEING
-- without reference to the pedagogical needs of native speakers. In general, it guides
students about grammatical concepts which appear to be insightful for the native
speaker while extremely complicated for a non-native speaker.
= The uniform type of English spoken and
written by educated
people; this includes both PRESCRIPTIVE and DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR. It does NOT
contain any variations that are considered UNgrammatical or NONstandard. It is widely
used in the media and by authority figures, and it is sometimes referred to as "the
The Five (5) Basic Simple Sentence Patterns of The English Language -
Classified by Structure
1) subject + verb = "I go." "He runs." "Mosquitoes bite." "The building collapsed."
2) subject + verb + object = "They bought a new car." "The boys played baseball."
3) subject + verb + subject predicate = "Janet's my friend."
4) subject + verb + object + object predicate = "She makes me happy."
5) subject + verb + indirect object + direct object = "She wrote him a letter."
Simple Sentence: contains only one (1) independent clause =
"The prisoner escaped." "Jane ran." "John fell." "The team jogged."
contains two (2) or more independent clauses
each of which
could be written as a simple sentence and are of equal grammatical importance =
"He went to the party, but I stayed home." "I came; I looked around; I took over."
contains one (1) independent clause + one (1)
dependent [subordinate] clauses =
"Peggy frequently calls because she wants to stay in touch."
"We looked for a different route because the freeway was jammed."
Sentence: contains two (2) or
more independent clauses
and one (1) or more dependent [subordinate] clauses =
"By the time we arrived, they had eaten
all of the food on the table, and they left
us to search for scraps and leftovers in the fridge!"
The Five (5) Basic Sentence Moods of The English Language - Classified by Function
Sentence mood conveys the speaker's attitude
toward the factual content of the
1) Declarative: make statements = "Today is Tuesday." "Life is good."
ask questions = "What are you going
to wear to the party?"
"Haven't you finished cleaning up yet?!" [using the interrobang = "?!"] *
* NOTE: It is a question
the "?" is placed first and the "!" second.
3) Imperative: give commands or request action = "Open the door and go inside."
4) Exclamatory: express strong feelings or emotions = "I feel horrible today!"
uncertainty or hypotheticality of the content =
"I wish I were going with
DENOTATION vs CONNOTATION: What You Need To and Should Know!
difference between the right word and the almost right word is the
difference between lightning and a lightning bug." — Mark Twain
"The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations." 
One of the best parts about writing is the
fact that you get to pick out your own words of
which we have so many to choose from! Literally, tens of thousands of wonderful words
floating through space just waiting for you to pinpoint exactly which one(s) you want to
use to convey/describe your message/sales setting.
However, despite the fact that you have
seemingly UNlimited options when it comes to
word choice, the specific meaning that you're trying to convey may narrow your selection
significantly for words can have several meanings, some literal, others implied/suggested.
= This is the literal meaning of an ENTRY WORD
right out of the dictionary;
it's direct, realistic and describes explicitly the meaning of the word.
= This is the suggested or implied meaning
which is often symbolic,
culturally constructed and often influences the interpretation of how one views what is
being described. There are words that have a harmless denotation, but once placed in
a different context, a new connotation is clearly evident.
For example, the denotations of the word
"snake" might be "reptile," "slimy,"
"slithery." However, when used for a person, the connotations of the word might include
"treachery," "evil," and "betrayal" from the idiom "snake in the grass." The word "slimy"
can be used to describe a slug or algae, but when used for a person, one recognizes that
this is someone whom you would not want to be associated with.
The traditional meaning of the word "molest"
was "to interfere maliciously," but the
connotations are almost always negative as this word did not denote sexual assault
until recently; it has become a fairly harsh word, and most readers/listeners would be
confused if this word was used in its original sense with no sexual aggression implied.
1) CHEAP vs INEXPENSIVE ... which one to use and is there a difference? ... YES!
cheap + INexpensive = both are denotations
for a low price, but the connotations
word are far different and there is a HUGE difference ...
RETAIL SALES SETTING SET-UP
CUSTOMER: "Can you suggest a good
universal remote for my TV?; my original remote
broke and the manufacturer no longer offers a replacement for the model/make I have."
SALES ASSOCIATE: "Well, all of our
universal remotes are from China and are really cheap!"
SALES ASSOCIATE: "Well, all of our
universal remotes are located here [walking customer
to exact location thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale] and are relatively INexpensive."
CONNOTATION ANALYSIS: The sales associate
stating that their universal remotes are
"cheap" suggests that they're ALL of low quality from inferior processes born of poorly
manufactured parts; stating that they're from China only reinforces a negative perception
and that of an INadequate product.
In the remade sales pitch, China is never
mentioned nor the word "cheap," and ONLY the
price being "relatively INexpensive" is mentioned by the sales associate; a quality product
being offered is thereby directly suggested to the customer for purchase.
= suggests the product is INeffective,
disposable, will quickly degrade and become
useless in short order; cheap things are usually INexpensive, but they're also generally
INadequate and of poor quality.
= simply says that the cost is low, but does
that the product is of
low quality; as a retail sales associate/employee, one should strive to provide quality
products and services at INexpensive prices; one should never suggest that the products /
services one sells are "cheap" and therefore of low quality/INadequate. "INexpensive" is a
comparative description; a retailer can be INexpensive without being cheap, you can provide
good quality without breaking the consumer's piggy bank.
are made with quality
materials using quality
to produce quality products that are offered at low prices. INexpensive products may not be
as low priced as cheap products, but here's where the math comes in. When one talks cheap
vs INexpensive, the word VALUE is the deciding factor. One can determine the value of
something by comparing the cost times the quality.
Merchandise + cheap price = a poor value for one's money
Good / High Quality Products + INexpensive price = a good value for one's money
"Cheap" prices are IMpossible to find; cheap describes a
product, NOT a
price. "Goods may be cheap, but prices are low." -- "American Usage and Style" 
of an article is what the seller
asks. The cost
is actually what the buyer
THRIFTY = What money can't buy. Apply
THRIFTY to people, not
EXAMPLE: "Thrifty people shop for low-priced products."
MARKETING STRATEGY EXAMPLE FROM The WORLD's LARGEST RETAILER: WALMART
Most of us have shopped at a Walmart at one
time or another and many are "regulars" at the
nation's largest retailer which outpaced No. #2 Exxon-Mobil by $103 BILLION in 2014.
Throughout any Walmart, customers will see
signage of "Everyday
Low Price" and "Rollback
Price."NOTE: It does NOT say, "Everyday Cheap Price," nor "[Rollback] Cheap Price."
Walmart's customers would see that as a suggestion that Walmart sells low quality, inferior
products; instead their current signage implies a quality product at a low price = VALUE.
about what you're
the customer about
a product, service
or the company itself. Do NOT DEvalue your business nor services by referring to them as
"cheap" nor by saying that you've got "rock-bottom pricing," because it makes your
services / products look like poor, low quality being manufactured from inferior materials.
Smart consumers do their research and really know the difference
in quality; they know cheap does NOT last. Selling "cheap" also doesn't engender healthy
business partnerships. Clients getting poor services often end up calling on another
provider having learned a valuable lesson about cheap providers; those customers will
seek out effective solutions at competitive, fine quality prices.
When you're marketing a retail business, it is absolutely essential
about what you're saying and how that messaging/word phraseology will be perceived
by your consumer-buying public.
BE SAFE, NOT SORRY:
Whenever you choose words, make sure that the connotation(s)
of your word choice(s) matches what your word association intent was ... a poor word
choice can make or break your workplace relationships, your familial relationships and
inner circle social networks in an instant.
... Is There a Subtle Difference in The
of These Words? ... YES!
The determiners SOME and ANY are loaded
terms. ANY is used in open-ended questions
with negation; the weekly stressed SOME suggests a positive quantity/outcome. The
same applies to CARE and WANT. Therefore, SOME and CARE are often used in questions
where a positive answer is expected.
A waitress/waiter in a restaurant to a patron:
"Would you like some
dessert?" = the server wants to encourage
the answer "yes"
"Would you care for some dessert?" = the server wants to encourage the answer "yes"
"Do you want any dessert?" = the server doesn't care if the answer is "no" or "yes"
These are conducive questions, and the
questions and selection of words that go with
them often convey a questioner's expectation or a preference for a given answer.
"Is there some
news?" = expecting the answer "yes"
"Is there any news?" = open or neutral question; not surprised with a "no" answer
"Isn't there some news?" = surely there is, so an expectation of "yes"
"Isn't there any news?" = hoping there would be, but not surprised with a "no"
NOTE: When dealing with conducive questions,
one is dealing with a context-based
rather than an absolute notion, i.e., the totality of the circumstances under which the
question(s) were asked/posed has to be considered for a yes/no response sometimes
referred to as a "polar question."
-- COMMON USAGE ERRORS RED ALERT! --
1) THEIR = "belonging to them" / "That is their home."
THEIRS = plural possessive pronoun / "The Toyota is theirs."
THERE = "in that place" / "Their home is over there."
THEY'RE = "they are" / "They're over here."
THERE'S = "there is" /
enough room for everyone."
2) THAN = comparative inflection (conjunction in clauses of comparison)
THEN = is a conjunctive adverbial of time and is used in conditional sentences ...
causal conditional = then, otherwise,in that case
general causal = thus, therefore, consequently, for that reason
"Jane performed better than Paul."
"Shortly after lunch, they then
3) THIS + THESE + THAT + THOSE = Demonstrative Determiners
this + these = spatial: sense of nearness
that + those = spatial: sense of distance
this = temporal: now
that = temporal: then
this = psychological: more preferred
that = psychological: less preferred
this = sequential: first mention of someone / something
that = sequential: second mention of someone / something
SPATIAL: "I like this car better than that one over there."
SEQUENTIAL: "This dress is more attractive than that one."
TEMPORAL: "I like this movie better than that concert last night."
PSYCHOLOGICAL: "I like this candidate, which is why I didn't vote for that one."
SPECIAL USAGE ALERT!
Many people utter the following INcorrect statements:
INCORRECT: "I like these ones over here." [redundant]
INCORRECT: "I like those ones over there." [redundant]
CORRECT: "I like these over here."
CORRECT: "I like those over there."
CORRECT: "I like these red ones over here." or "I like the red ones over here."
CORRECT: "I like those orange ones over there." or "I like the orange ones over there."
Problem:"These / those"
is already standing in for the noun,
therefore using "ones" after "these" / "those" is grammatically INcorrect and
is redundant. "I like these." or "I like those." is simple, direct and to the point.
NOTE #1: The phrases "this one" and "that one" are correct.
NOTE #2: When one has an obvious redundancy
as in the above cited examples, it
becomes a ... PLEONASM = The use of more words than necessary to express an
idea. Pleonasms may be used for effect, but are more often than not produced out
of usage ignorance.
INCORRECT: "Would you repeat that again, please?"
CORRECT: "Would you repeat that, please?" ["again" is UNnecessary]
"Your ears pierced while you wait!"
= Since one's ears are permanently attached,
the ad states the obvious!
"This is a terrible
the entire family!" = A tragedy is terrible, so it is
UNnecessary to state that it is "terrible." When was the last time you heard of
a "wonderful tragedy?!"
"I can hardly wait for the true
come out!" = facts by their very definition are
true, so why repeat it?! Have you ever heard of "false facts?!"
NOTE #3: The phrase "SAFE
HAVEN" while technically
a pleonasm has come into
widespread use as a COLLOQUIAL expression. After all, a "haven" is a place of
safety, refuge, protection, sanctuary, security, shelter, retreat or a hiding place.
-- EVEN MORE COMMON USAGE ERRORS … RED ALERTS! --
1) "I" or "me" = first person pronouns: Which one to use and when?!
"I" = first person subjective [ you, he, she, it ]
"me" = first person objective [ you, him, her, it ]
Which first person pronoun to use "I" or "me" depends on HOW the pronoun
is being used and which one is taking the action, i.e., does the first person
pronoun come BEFORE or AFTER the verb? The personal pronoun "I" comes
before a verb vs the personal pronoun "me" which comes after a verb. "I" is the
subject of a sentence while "me" is the object of a sentence.
"I like ice cream!" = "I" comes before the verb "like"
"She kicked the ball towards me." = "me" comes after the verb “kicked"
"Give the radio to me." = "me" comes after the verb "give"
"Vanessa and I aren't coming to the awards dinner."
"Evelyn sent Carmen and me a beautiful card last Christmas."
TIP: To help you determine whether to use "I" or "me," REMOVE all the people,
so you have:
"I am not coming to the awards dinner."
"Evelyn sent me a beautiful card last Christmas."
NOTE: The general rule is that YOU should come LAST in the list, e.g., it's
"Shirley and me," NOT "me and Shirley."
2) "Who" vs "Whom" = relative pronouns: Which one to use and when?!
"Who" = nominative pronoun / "Whom" = objective pronoun
NOTE: When deciding whether to use "who" or "whom," determine if you're
referring to the subject of a verb in a clause -- use "Who" -- or the object of a
verb in a clause -- use "Whom."
TIP: The SUBJECT of a sentence is doing something [ Who ]; the OBJECT of
a sentence is having something done to it [ Whom ].
"WHO" is also used as the complement of a linking verb or a predicate nominative:
"They know who you are!"
"WHOM" is also used as the object of a preposition:
"To whom it may concern." = used in certain formal correspondence
"This is the person whom you are indebted to for life!"
"Who is at the door?"
"Whom did you tell?"
"The neighbor whom we invited for dinner is at the door."
TIP: A quick, dirty and NON-grammatical way of determining whether your choice
of "who" or "whom," is correct is by replacing the relative pronoun "who" with the
personal pronoun(s) "he, she or they" and "whom" is correct if you can substitute
"him, her or them."
"Who is at the door?" = "He/she/they is/are at the door."
"The neighbor whom we invited is at the door." = "We invited him/her/them."
3) "That" vs "Which" = pronouns: Which one to use and how?!
"That" = a defining, restrictive pronoun used in a restrictive clause
"That" = introduces essential information because it tells what you're referring to
"Which" = a NON-defining, NON-restrictive pronoun used in a NON-restrictive clause
"Which" = introduces NON-essential information regardless of how interesting
that information might be
"The red lawn mower that is in the garage is broken." = There are several lawn
mowers (more than one) in the garage, but it tells you which one: the one that
is red in color and that is broken
"The red lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage" = adds a (NON-essential
fact) about the ONLY lawn mower in question
"My dog Rex that I raised as a pup is in the American Kennel Show." = There are
several dogs, but only REX is being referred to + he competed in a dog show
"My dog Rex, which I raised as a pup, is in the American Kennel Show." = There
is only one dog -- Rex -- being referenced + he competed in a dog show
"Our office, which has two lunchrooms, is located in Los Angeles." = There is only
one office and it's located in Los Angeles; the fact that it has two lunchrooms is
added, but NON-essential information
NOTE: NON-restrictive clause "which has two lunchrooms" could be removed
without altering the meaning of the sentence
"Our office that has two lunchrooms is located in Los Angeles." = There are several
offices, but it's the office with two lunchrooms that is located in Los Angeles (the
others offices either have one lunchroom or three or more)
NOTE: Restrictive clause "that has two lunchrooms" cannot be removed without
changing the meaning of the sentence as "Our office" depends on it
QUICK USAGE TIP:
"That" = defines (references one out of a group)
"Which" = informs (discusses only one subject)
4) "fewer" vs "less": Which one to use and when?!
NOTE: use "fewer" with count nouns when referring to people or things in the plural
that can be counted
NOTE: use "less" with mass or collective nouns when referring to something that
canNOT be counted OR that doesn't have a plural, e.g., money, air, time, music, rain, etc.
INcorrect: "They had less workers in the warehouse than last year."
CORRECT: "They had fewer workers in the warehouse than last year." = "workers" is
a count noun.
"Eating fewer calories results in less fat."
"Having fewer employed people obviously results in less employment."
"We've had less rainfall this year therefore there are fewer raindrops on the hood of
NOTE: INcorrectly using "fewer" vs "less" can often times take on a new meaning:
"Nicole's troubles are less than mine." = Nicole's total amount of stress, grief, and
the scope and magnitude of her problems are not as great as mine.
"Nicole's troubles are fewer than mine." = Nicole's problems are not as numerous
GENERAL USAGE TIP: use "fewer" for things that can be counted
use "less" for things that are bulk or quantity that canNOT be counted
Use "less" to describe time, money and distance
"Their marriage lasted less than two years!" [time]
"I hope they paid the band less than $400!" [money]
"The wedding reception is less than 10 miles from the church." [distance]
5) Should you use GONE or WENT?
GONE is the past participle of to go. Used us a verb of a sentence, it must always be
preceded by an auxiliary verb such as: has, have, had, is, am, are, was, were, be OR
by one of their contractions.
WENT is the past tense of to go. It never takes an auxiliary verb.
"They gone to the movies." =
INcorrect [gone needs an auxiliary verb]
"They have gone to the movies." = CORRECT [auxiliary verb "have" is used]
"They are gone to the movies." = CORRECT [auxiliary verb "are" is used]
"They went to the movies." = CORRECT [NO auxiliary verb is needed]
"You could have went with them." = INcorrect [went takes NO auxiliary verb]
"You could have gone with them." = CORRECT [auxiliary verb "have" is used]
6) Should you say, "Like I said," OR "As I said"?!
Do NOT use the word "LIKE"
in place of "AS"
to introduce a phrase or clause
containing a subject with a verb.
"Like I said ..." = INcorrect
"As I said ..." = CORRECT
"Like he thought ..." = INcorrect
"As he thought ..." = CORRECT
"Like they all admitted later on ..." = INcorrect
"As they all admitted later on ..." = CORRECT
ANALYSIS: a) "Like" is INcorrectly
used as a conjunction when it is a preposition;
b) as a preposition, "like" is followed by a noun NOT a verb; "as" should be used
because it is a conjunction and is followed by the verb "said"
So if you don't want to sound like a semi-literate fool, do as I say.
EXCEPTION: Use "like" as in "tell
it like it is," because that expression is an established
idiom which have their own usage and rules.
7) What's wrong with "This is more better than any other!"?!
"This is more
that one." = INcorrect
"This is much better than that one." = CORRECT
good + better + best = an example of a comparative degree or form
"better" is an adjective,
a descriptive word
"much" is an adverb and modifies an adjective
more + better = are both adjectives so you
canNOT use two (2) words of the same
kind together; one can use one or the other, but NOT both
as an adverb, "much
better" is a meaningful
expression because "better" can be
discussed in comparisons of degree for: somewhat better, a little better and
"more better" is redundant because
the meaning of "more" is already in the word
"better." "Better" really means "more good"
8) Should one say "Try and ... " or "Try to ... "?
"Try and" = actually means "try to" which is an informal idiom
"I'm going to try
New York City this year." = INcorrect
"I'm going to try to visit New York City this year." = CORRECT
ANALYSIS: When one writes/says "try
and," one is separating "try" and "visit"
describing two (2) separate events; when one uses "try to," one is using the
preposition to link "try" to the visit thereby describing one continuous, UNinterrupted
action; always use "try to" in formal writing, never "try and"
9) Do you feel "GOOD" or do you feel "WELL"?
QUESTION: "How do you feel today?" "How are you today?"
"I'm doing good
today." = means you are in a good
emotional / mental health
"I'm doing well
today." = means you are in good
recovered from a previous illness
"I'm feeling better today." = means you are in recovery from a previous illness
"Marissa who does well in her English studies is also considered to be a good student."
A person can only do WELL in English because
an adverb and
only it can
modify the verb "do." A student who does well can be described as a good student
because the adjective good must be used to describe the noun, student.
10) Usage Confusion: CONTINUOUS,
which is the correct word to use and what exactly does each word mean?
CONTINUOUS = means UNinterrupted; without
CONTINUAL = happening again and again at short intervals; frequently repeated;
start and stop
CONSTANTLY = regularly, steadily at UNeven, UNexpected intervals AND has a
negative connotation in its use
CONSISTENTLY = in harmony with; marked by harmony; something you can depend
on; free from variation or contradiction
"There was a continuous
flow of water from the open faucet."
"Noah experienced continuous rain for forty days and forty nights."
"Once the dam broke, there was a continuous flow of water downstream."
"The rooster continually crows all morning long!"
"There were continual drops of water coming from the leaking faucet."
"There were continual 'Amber' alerts issued every 30 minutes on the missing children.
"I'm in pain constantly despite all of the painkiller drugs I'm taking."
"The teacher was constantly disciplining the class for their behavior."
"Doctors constantly warn against overexertion during hot weather spells."
"If you choose to give advice, act consistently with that advice."
"I consistently get hungry right before the lunch hour at school."
"My dog consistently shows up by my side whenever I'm feeling down."
11) MAYBE vs PERHAPS ... Do They Mean The Same Thing? ... NO!
On the surface, MAYBE and PERHAPS seem to be
very similar sentence-initial adverbs.
However, perhaps is the more formal of the two, and maybe is the weaker in terms of
probability vs perhaps; maybe co-occurred with overt negatives more frequently than
perhaps. Conversely, perhaps tended to cluster and collocate with more positive
there is no divine force that will interfere
despite all of our hopes and prayers;
maybe there is no divinity in this whole ugly war that will manifest itself; maybe there is
nothing except us and our change of attitude to create a new reality for tomorrow."
"Seven out of 10 families eat dinner
together twice or more times a week. Perhaps
the most hopeful sign for the future of America's dinnertime and maintaining the traditional
QUESTION: "Hey, do you think you and your girlfriend could join us for Sunday brunch?!"
... I don't know ... we'll see ... I have to
ask my girlfriend what her plans are...." =
NO, this person does NOT want to have Sunday brunch, and the use of MAYBE suggests
less probability of a get-together.
"Wow ... OK! Perhaps
all of us can see an afternoon matinee after
Sunday brunch if my
girlfriend has no plans!" = YES, this person DOES want to have Sunday brunch + engage in
an additional activity after Sunday brunch, and the use of PERHAPS suggests increased
probability of a get-together.
12) MAY vs MIGHT ... Does One Word Imply a Real Possibility? ... YES!
MIGHT = is iffy, stronger sense of doubt; is a stretch and may be contrary to fact
MAY = if something is likely to happen; introduces a real possibility; strong likelihood
come over later." = real possibility;
likely to happen
"We may go to the party if our invite arrives on time." = a real possibility
win the lottery." = this a real stretch
and NOT a likely possibility
"We might be able to go if our appointment is canceled." = sense of doubt
"My boss told me I 'may' get a raise at
the end of this fiscal quarter." = if your boss
uses his/her words with precision, then a raise in salary is a real possibility than not
"My boss boss said that I 'might' get a
raise based on our fiscal performance." = a raise
in one's salary is NOT likely because of the negative association "might" carries
NOTE on USAGE CONFUSION: MAYBE or MAY BE?
an adverb as
in, "Maybe Maritza will apply for the job." May
be is a 2-word
verb form requiring a subject as in, "Maritza may be ready to apply for the job."
13) How do I decide whether to use "ANXIOUS" or "EAGER" in a sentence?
While these two (2) words are frequently
used interchangeably -- and are actually
listed as SYNONYMS in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary -- they really should NOT be
as they suggest different feelings from the speaker/writer/user.
If you use the word "ANXIOUS,"
remember to associate it with a feeling of anxiety,
UNease, worry, being nervous, possible failure and disappointment.
Conversely, the word "EAGER"
can be associated with a "keen or impatient desire,"
excitement, enthusiasm or great interest in the outcome of something.
"We were anxious
[worried] about our first plane flight." =
"After our first plane flight, we were eager [excited] to fly again." = CORRECT
"He was anxious
from his ex-wife." = a feeling of anxiety, worry
"The sailor was eager to see his fiancee again." = a feeling of enthusiasm
"Our children are anxious
to go to Disney World, but my husband and I are
about the total cost of our family trip." = INcorrect
"Our children are eager
to go to Disney World, but my husband and I are
anxious [nervous, worried] about the cost of our family trip." = CORRECT
QUICK USAGE TIP:
One way to distinguish between these confusing, often MISused words
is to remember that EAGER is followed by to of an infinitive whereas ANXIOUS is followed
by the preposition about. One is eager to do or to be something; one is anxious about
something. If you say, "We were anxious to go on vacation," most likely you should be
using eager as in: "We were eager to go on vacation."
If one were awaiting
word on the stock market at the closing bell -- and depending on
whether one had heard that it had been recently "sluggish" or "bullish" -- one would
"The stock market
had been recently bullish, so we were all EAGER
market price at the closing bell."
"The stock market
had been recently sluggish, so we were all ANXIOUS
the stock market price at the closing bell."
14) Should I say, "It's been nice talking TO you." OR "It's been nice talking WITH you."?
BOTH are correct, but they mean different
things. To you and
with you are
prepositional phrases. TO is a 1-directional preposition and implies that YOU did
most of the talking. WITH implies a mutual and about equal participation of give and
take. TO acts more like a SOLILOQUY (where the speaker talks aloud to himself, but
with an audience listening) while WITH is more like a COLLOQUY (a conversational
exchange, a dialogue, conference).
Either is correct, but the meanings are
different. If you feel that you've done 70%+ of
the talking, use the prepositional phrase "to you," with the minimum percentage of
65% vs 35% weighted to the monopoly of the conversation by one speaker over the
other. Anything less than a 65% (2/3) distribution should employ the prepositional
phrase "with you."
15) Should I say, "The
game will start IN
hour." OR "The game will start WITHIN
an hour."? Is there a difference between "IN" and "WITHIN"? ... YES!
An event that will take place IN
AN HOUR will occur at the END
of 60 minutes. An
event that will take place WITHIN AN HOUR may occur any time between the present
and 60 minutes from now/the present. Both "IN AN HOUR" and "WITHIN AN HOUR"
are prepositional phrases.
The difference could be crucial in the use of "clear and precise
language" especially if you planned to meet someone at a specific time and place
in the sports venue during the game ... "IN" and "WITHIN" become very important.
16) SPEED vs VELOCITY ... Are They Even Similar? ... NO!
is a measure of how quickly an object is
moving; it is the distance
the object per unit of time. This is the time that it takes to travel from one point to another
divided by the distance traveled regardless of the direction of motion. This is known as a
scalar quantity which means it is a number indicating magnitude, e.g., meters per second
(m/s) , miles per hour (mph), etc.
of an object is a vector
means that it includes not only
magnitude [speed], but the direction of movement as well.
FAST FACT: The VELOCITY
of a flying bird can change even if its SPEED
because it can change DIRECTION.
SPATIAL PREPOSITIONS: Example = to [NOTE: There are also NON-spatial prepositions]
Space: "Go to the movies" [direction]
Time: "Work from 9 to 5 p.m. today." [until]
"It's a quarter to 11." [before]
Degree: "He is wise to that extent." "He is wise to such an extent that ..."
Idiomatic Usage: "Dance to
the music!" [accompany]
NOTE: Two (2) of the most common prepositions -- OF and FOR -- do NOT have an
obvious prototypical spatial sense as do the other commonly used prepositions.
POSSESSIVE PRONOMINAL ADJECTIVES =
its + yours
YOUR = "belonging to you"
YOU'RE = "you are"
my your yours our their mine ours theirs / her / his / its [one's]
AFFIRMATIVE EXPRESSIONS = "I do too" = "so do I"
NOTE #1: The word "too" provides
new information in affirmative statements while
cueing the listener / reader that identical components of the first clause may need
to be inferred to fill in syntactic gaps to flesh out the full meaning. The phrase "I do
too" can also be seen as a device to short cut the repetition of sentence elements
primarily in the expression of agreement between interlocutors.
NOTE #2: An INTERLOCUTOR
is a person
involved in a conversation or dialogue.
Two or more people speaking to one another are each other's interlocutors.
WERE = Was becomes were not only to express a plural
"She was, they were."
but also to express speculation, doubt or a condition contrary to fact.
"I wish I were able to help you." [doubt]
"I could help you if I were rich." [speculation]
"If I were you, I'd borrow the money." [condition contrary to fact]
WERE used in counterfactual conditional and imaginative conditional sentences
"If my grandfather were alive today, he would experience a very different world."
NOTE #1: Counterfactual
to impossibilities with reference to the present
or the past, but NOT the future as we don't know what [im]possibilities the future holds.
Example of an imaginative conditional sentence referring to the future:
"If I were the President, I would make some changes."
"If my grandfather were here now, he would be angry."
Example of a hypothetical
is UNrealized or even UNlikely, yet is
"If Dan had the time, he would go to
Mexico." = present time hypothetical
"If Dan had the time now, he would/could/might go to Mexico." = present time hypothetical
"If Dan were to have the time next year, he would/could/might go to Mexico." = future time
NOTE #2: Hypothetical conditionals can refer to the future as well as the present day
NOTE #3: The problem with imaginative
conditionals arises in the tense used. The past
tense refers to the present time, and the past perfect tense refers to the past time!
Its use rests with the speaker's confidence in the fulfillment of the future conditional.
The related verbs of "HOPE"
-- sometimes used with were
-- and the ensuing
confusion of which verb to use! The verb HOPE is very similar to a future (predictive)
conditional or things that might happen:
"I hope that John finishes his work."
= future conditional
"I hope that John will come home." = future conditional
"If John finishes his work, he will come home." = future conditional
ANALYSIS: Both of these sentences imply that
it is possible
that John will finish his
work and will come home. = future conditional
On the other hand, the verb WISH is similar
to a counterfactual conditional or things
that did NOT occur:
"I wish John had finished his work."
= counterfactual conditional
"I wish that John could have come home." = counterfactual conditional
"If John had finished his work, he could have come home." = counterfactual conditional
ANALYSIS: In these sentences, we know John
did NOT finish
his work and didn't come
home. = counterfactual conditional
NOTE: The subjunctive forms that occur in
imaginative conditionals when "if" clauses
are used with wish and were:
a millionaire." = counterfactual
"If I were a millionaire ..." = counterfactual conditional
Other Related Verbs: IMAGINE,
Besides hope and wish,
English uses several verbs of imagination such as imagine, pretend and suppose,
all of which should be included in a comprehensive description of imaginative clauses
that have tense shifts like conditionals.
that you could fly like a bird." = present
"Let's imagine that we had a new president." = present time counterfactual
"Suppose we went to Europe next summer." = future tense hypothetical
"If Joe had the time, he would go to Mexico." = present time hypothetical
"Let's suppose Joe had the time; he would go to Mexico." = future tense hypothetical
The REAL MEANING of COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS and CONJUNCTIVE
ADVERBIALS or WHAT YOU NEVER LEARNED IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH
"AP" CLASS ... USAGE SECRETS FINALLY REVEALED!
COORDINATING CONJUNCTION: really means ...
and = plus
but = in contrast
yet = but at the same time
so = therefore
for = because
or = one or the other of 2 alternatives is true
"The Jacobs brothers are determined to make it or go bankrupt in the process."
nor = conjoins 2 negative sentences, both of which are true
"Victor doesn't give up easily nor does Jake."
often confused in usage, they do NOT mean the
same thing. "BUT"
signals two (2) types of contrast, while the conjunction "YET" is generally limited
to a single type of contrast and occurring at the same time.
BUT and YET in "Denial-of-Expectation"
which violates reasonable
after reading the first conjunct turns out NOT to be true after reading the second conjunct.
"She told us that Athens was in this
direction, but [yet] she's mistaken."
"They tried for three hours to steer the boat from the storm, but [yet] the boat sank."
"She expects me to pick up the kids, yet meet her for lunch!" [at the same time]
BUT as a Marker
of Semantic Contrast where
two (2) qualities are set against each other to
focus on semantic differences between them though it may NOT involve polar opposition.
"Winter is warm in Miami, but cold in
Moscow." [2 qualities NOT occurring at the same time]
"Beth likes skiing, but her sister Merry prefers tennis." [ " " " " " " " " ]
CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBIAL(s) = they fall under
"logical connectors" and means "in spite
of that" in a general sense, but a more refined meaning is ...
= used as a discourse marker to show, signal,
indicate lexical variation or
opposition; note: always used in the initial phase-clause position, i.e., used at the
beginning of a sentence or immediately following a semicolon " ; "
However = "Notice this also"
"I hate the smog and heat in Pasadena;
I'm moving there for the job
However = certainty vs UNcertainty
"We may go to Hawaii, or we may go to
we must find a way
to escape the snow this winter!"
However = semantic opposition
"Rachel doesn't do well in school. However, her sister Rebeca is a straight 'A' student."
However = topic change marker
"I lost $10,000 is Las Vegas last week. However, let's talk about something else."
Nonetheless = "Do not forget that ..."
"I've decided not to sue the Martins; nonetheless, I cannot forgive what they did."
= requires a situation is which one is led to
expect one thing, but
finds something quite different to be true.
"Christen has always been a top math
he failed calculus
Still = "In spite of what happened, be assured that ..."
"I know that both presidential
candidates have broken their promises; still,
to do my civic duty and vote."
In any case
= allows a sentence frame to be mentally
constructed without the need to
verbalize it in a wordy way.
any case, we have to take
something soon." = "If we take this apartment, it is true
that we must take something soon." [too wordy]
In contrast = two different topics/subjects are different in at least one (1) respect
"Northern California is cold in the winter. In contrast, Southern California is mild."
On the other hand =
it is only necessary to have a single topic/subject which is then
contrasted to two (2) contrasting qualities.
"Southern California is brutally hot in
the summer." On the other
hand, it is one of the
more scenic states with many amusement parks and coastal sports to engage in."
= interchangeable with "and" with a
preference for identical
"He threshed the wheat. He also hoed the corn."
= interchangeable with "and" with a
"He threshed the wheat. In addition, his children hoed the corn."
"He washed the car. Additionally, his children mowed the lawn and raked leaves."
= used primarily in arguments where several
premises are used to support
a conclusion of some sort."
"Jacobs probably committed the crime.
He had a guilty look on his face when police
arrived. Moreover, the police found a gun under his pillow."
= Used much like moreover, except that it tends
to preface third or
fourth premises where more than two (2) premises exist.
"The working classes, for example, had
multiple grievances. [several grievances
given/listed] Furthermore, the struggle to reverse those conditions was roundly
defeated in the 1848 elections."
Similarly / Likewise
= used when there is some semantic similarity
across two (2)
predicates and when the two (2) clauses in some way support a conclusion.
"John Nordstrom wears only Ralph Lauren
his brother Frank
buys only designer pants."
"Christal's eating habits are
extravagant. She drinks expensive French wines.
Likewise, she has caviar at least once a week."
= used to signal a real causal relationship
between (2) events or
"Rebeca won the lottery; consequently, she bought a Ferrari."
NOTE: Although most do not know Rebeca nor
could they predict what she will
do with the money, they can understand the causal connection between the
lottery win and the car purchase.
= tends to be used when readers/listeners are
in a much better
position to come to a conclusion on their own. Also used to construct an
inference of a non-causal type, which is likely to be easy to construct based
on the facts given.
"Rebeca won the lottery; therefore she was happy."
"The gun was under the bed; Jacobs had
a guilty look on his face; therefore,
likely that Jacobs committed the crime."
is used much like therefore, but therefore tends to be used where
there is a
chain of premises in an explicit argument. Thus may be used for parenthetical
"asides" where NO explicit argument is intended. It's often times used in the same way
as "so" except this is more formal and is found mostly in sophisticated written prose.
-- The BIZARRE WORLD of WORD COMBINATIONS! --
= is roundabout, indirect speech or language;
a very lengthy way of expressing something by the use of many words where one (1)
or two (2) words would suffice; a very INdirect way of writing or speaking.
"a large proportion of" = many
/ "are in possession of" = have
"in the not too distant future" = soon / "in the vicinity of" = near
"in this day and age" = today / "in spite of the fact that" = although
"at this point in time" = now / "was of the opinion that" = believed, thought or said
Circumlocution with "B-Verbs"
"be abusive of" = abuse /
"if applicable to" = apply to
"be desirous of" = desire or want / "be in violation of" = violate
"be benefited by" = benefit from / "be derived from" = derive from
"be in possession of" = possess / "be in receipt of" = have received
NOTE #1: PERIPHRASIS:
is the umbrella term for other verbose terms which suggest
excess wordiness, e.g., DOUBLESPEAK, JARGON, REDUNDANCY, EUPHEMISM
NOTE #2: DYPHEMISM
is the opposite of EUPHEMISM,
which is the substitution
of a DISagreeable term or phrase for a neutral or even positive one
fatcat = executive
[dumb] jock = athlete
bean-counter = accountant
grease monkey = mechanic
paper pusher = civil servant
nerd / egghead / bookworm = intellectual
Bible-thumper / Bible-beater / Jesus freak = Christian fundamentalist
= using more words than are necessary, wordy,
that add nothing to the meaning of a passage because its sense has already
adequate enough / serious
crisis/ bisect in two / close proximity /
follow after /
paramount importance / major breakthrough / warn in advance / unfilled vacancy /
free gift / future plans / future forecast / new recruit / new innovation / big in size /
plan in advance / past history / serious danger / sufficient enough / descend down
= the use of an ACRONYM followed by a word that
is actually part of the
INCORRECT: "Have you taken the
GRE exam yet?"
CORRECT: "Have you taken the GRE yet?"
GRE = Graduate Record Examination
INCORRECT: "Pull over so we can
visit the ATM machine."
CORRECT: "Pull over so we can visit the ATM."
ATM = automated teller machine
INCORRECT: "I need your PIN
number to access your account."
CORRECT: "I need your PIN to access your account."
PIN = personal identification number
INCORRECT: "All blood donations
are screened for the HIV virus."
CORRECT: "All blood donations are screened for HIV."
HIV = human immunodeficiency virus
INCORRECT: "Do you have the UPC code
for that product I need to scan?"
CORRECT: "Do you have the UPC for that product I need to scan?"
UPC = universal product code
is the reverse of an ACRONYM where
the existing word
been formed first then the initial letters are made to fit the word sometimes invented
with a humorous intent. The word BACKRONYM is a "blend" aka "telescoping"or
portmanteau word [French for "suitcase"] of backward + acronym = BACK RONYM
These terms came first then the BACKRONYM followed:
Zone Improvement Program = ZIP Code
Mothers Against Drunk Driving = MADD
Ford Automobile = FORD [Found on Road Dead]
Ford Automobile = FORD [Fixed or Repaired Daily]
News = North East West and South (The news covers events from ALL directions)
Never A Straight Answer = NASA
CAPTCHA: Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and
USA PATRIOT ACT = United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate
Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
TWITTER = Typing What I'm Thinking That Everyone's Reading [Acronym]
BACKRONYM: This Whole Internet Tweeting Thing Emerges Reality
MOAB = Massive Ordinance Air Burst
BACKRONYM: Mother of All Bombs
ACRONYM = is a word derived secondly from the initial letters of a word or a phrase:
AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency
CLUB = Chicken and Lettuce Under Bacon
LASER = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
OPEC = Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
PIN = Personal Identification Number
RADAR = Radio Detection and Ranging
COP = Constable on Patrol
RAP Sheet = Report of Arrest(s) and Prosecution(s)
SCUBA = Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
SONAR = Sound Navigation Ranging
UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Amber Alert = Originally referred to Amber Hagerman, the 9-yr-old TX murder victim
Amber = "America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response"
NSA = National Security Agency
BACKRONYM: No Such Agency = NSA / Never Say Anything = NSA
USC = University of Southern California
BACKRONYM: University of Spoiled Children
FDR: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR: Falling Down Repeatedly
IBM: International Business Machines
IBM: I've Been Moved
If an abbreviation canNOT be sounded out like a word, then an
"ALPHABETISM" is made out of the first letters or parts of a compound term, but it's
sounded out letter by letter, NOT as one word:
r.p.m. (revolutions per minute) mph
(miles per hour) ABC NBC CBS ATM CIA
FAA FBI HIV IRS MGM NSA PMS PTA SOS SUV URL UFO IRA (Individual Retirement
Account) IRA (Irish Republican Army)
= a personal name that is especially suited to
the job/profession of its
owner with these real-life examples:
Sally Ride - astronaut
Jim Kiick - football star
William Wordsworth - poet
Margaret Court - tennis champion
Jack Armstrong - retired MLB pitcher
Larry Speakes - ex-White House Spokesperson
Dr David M Bird - orinthologist, author of "The Bird Almanac: A Guide to ..."
personal names that are more ironic than descriptive of the person
holding the names with these real-life examples:
Don Black - White supremacist
Cardinal James L Sin - former Cardinal of Manila
Edward Cocaine - arrested for drug possession of Xanax
John Balance - musician who fell from his 2-story balcony
Frank Beard - the only member of ZZ Top to NOT have a beard
= a word or phrase invented to denote what was
originally a genus
term, but has now become just one more special species in a larger genus.
BACKGROUND: In the beginning, there was the
simple telephone (later shortened
to phone). Then came the push-button telephone (often referred to by its trademark
name of Touch-Tone telephone which is a GENERONYM). So a NEOLOGISM had to
be created to refer to the original type with a dial: the rotary telephone.
Original New Species RETRONYM
soda diet soda regular soda
milk skim milk whole milk
pen ballpoint pen fountain pen
watch digital watch analog watch
book paperback book hardcover book
telephone touch-tone telephone rotary telephone
typewriter electric typewriter manual typewriter
television color television black-and-white television
business e-business brick-and-mortar business
product names evolve into generic common nouns, they are called
GENERONYMS. The phenomenon itself is called GENERICIDE, i.e., the "death" of the
original description in favor of the brand name.
NOTE: Many GENERONYMS
start out as brand names for everyday household
such as Kleenex (for facial tissue), Xerox (for photocopy), Band-Aid (for bandage) and
Aspirin (for the painkiller acetylsalicylic acid).
are: Aspirin, Band-Aid, Kerosene,
Xerox, Google, Linoleum,
Laundromat, Escalator, Frisbee, Heroin, Kleenex, Nylon, Jello, Granola, Yo-Yo, Zipper, etc.
ABSOLUTE WORDS aka UNCOMPARABLE ADJECTIVE, ABSOLUTE ADJECTIVE,
UNGRADABLE ADJECTIVE are words that refer to ultimate conditions that canNOT be
intensified by more, most, less, least, very, quite, largely or especially.
"This is the most
perfect piece we have to sell." =
INcorrect: if it's perfect -- without flaw,
error or IMperfection -- how can it be "most" or "more" perfect?
"This is the most
unique person we have in class." =
INcorrect; unique means "being
one of a kind," so how can "one of a kind" be further modified / expanded upon?!
Because something is either unique or NOT
unique, there can be NO degrees of
"more unique" = INcorrect / "very unique" = INcorrect
"almost unique" = CORRECT / "not quite unique" = CORRECT
Partial List of ABSOLUTE WORDS:
entire equal essential excellent eternal false
fatal favorite final full ideal impossible
inevitable infinite integral irrevocable main manifest
necessary only parallel paramount perfect perpetual
possible preferable principal round singular stationary
sufficient supreme total unanimous unavoidable unbroken
uniform unique universal void whole state-of-the-art
NOTE #1: However, you can qualify absolute
words with nearly,
such words show that the ultimate condition does not yet exist.
"This certain task is most
impossible to complete." = INcorrect
"This certain task is nearly impossible to complete." = CORRECT
"This statue is hardly perfect in its present form compared to the original." = CORRECT
NOTE #2: One can also use qualifiers to dismiss doubts about an absolute condition.
"This job is really
"I am definitely full after today's Sunday brunch." = CORRECT
"This exercise regimen is absolutely impossible to maintain." = CORRECT
PORTMANTEAU WORDS aka "SUITCASE WORDS" aka "BLENDS" aka "TELESCOPING"
PORTMANTEAU is French for "suitcase"
where two (2) words are folded into one (1) just
as the two (2) parts of a suitcase fold into one piece of luggage; two meanings are "packed up"
into one word from elements which do not normally co-occur that come together as a
BLEND. BLENDING is a common source of new words through ABBREVIATION though not
all become standard in regular use.
alpha + beta =
aviation + electronics = avionics
biology + electronic = bionic binary + digit = bit
blankout + beep = bleep B category + limp = blimp
Web + log = blog blow + spurt = blurt
boom + hoist = boost bold + rash = brash
breath + analyser = breathalyser flame + glare = flare
flap + drop = flop bungle + stumble = bumble
camera + recorder = camcorder flinch + funk = flunk
free + software = freeware chocolate + alcoholic = chocaholic
cellulose + diaphane = cellophane cinema + complex = cineplex
clap + crash = clash confidence + man = con man
condensation + trail = contrail flap + aghast = flabbergast
glamour + ritz = glitz globe + blob = glob
God + be (with) + ye = goodbye gorilla + baboon = goon
guess + estimate = guesstimate haggle + tussle = hassle
hazardous + materials = hazmat wireless + fidelity = Wi-Fi
huge + monstrous = humongous internal + communication = intercom
information + commercial = infomercial international + network = Internet
Internet + etiquette = netiquette jam + soiree = jamboree
medicine + care = Medicare melt + weld = meld
motor + pedal = moped modulator + DEmodulator = modem
motor + cross country = motocross motor + cavalcade = motorcade
multiple + complex = multiplex marionette + puppet = Muppet
naphthene + palmitate = napalm outside + patient = outpatient
parachute + troops = paratroops petroleum + chemical = petrochemical
picture [pix] + element = pixel iPod + broadcasting = podcasting [podcast]
precede + sequel = prequel prim + sissy = prissy
poke + rod = prod professional + amateur = pro-am
pulsating + star = pulsar rubbish + garbage = rubbage
scribble + sprawl = scrawl squeeze + crunch = scrunch
sea + landscape = seascape simultaneous + broadcast = simulcast
situation + comedy = sitcom sky + hijack = skyjack
sky + laboratory = skylab slovenly + language = slang
slap + lather = slather slop + slush = slosh
smack + mash = smash smoke + fog = smog
snappy + jazzy = snazzy some + more = s'more(s)
sound + landscape = soundscape splash + spatter = splatter
splash + surge = splurge sports + broadcast = sportscast
squeeze + crash = squash squall + squeak = squawk
squirm + wiggle = squiggle tangerine + pomelo = tangelo
taximeter + cabriolet = taxicab telecommunication + commuter = telecommuter
television + photogenic = telegenic telephone + marathon = telethon
television + evangelist = televangelist teleprinter [teletype] + exchange = telex
transmitter + receiver = transceiver transfer + resistor = transistor
travel + monologue = travelogue teen + between = tween
twist + fiddle = twiddle twilight + light = twinight
twist + whirl = twirl wade + toddle = waddle
video + blog = vlogger web + seminar = webinar
web + tabloid = webloid wipe + sweep = swipe
work + alcoholic = workaholic beat + beetles = Beatles
cable + telegram = cablegram car + armageddon = carmageddon
chill + relax = chill-lax Corvette + Bel Air = Corvair
cyber + librarian = cybrarian day + vacation = daycation
ebony + phonics = Ebonics electronic + mail = e-mail
emotion + icon = emoticon free + kiosk = freeosk
gigantic + enormous = ginormous glamour + camping = glamping
holiday + stay [at home] = holistay Internet + citizen = netizen
Labrador + Poodle = Labradoodle malicious + software = malware
mobile + weblog = moblog motor + hotel = motel
nighttime + tranquility = NyQuil phone + tablet = phablet
prom + proposal = promposal quantum + bit = qubit
quasistellar + radio = quasar rolling + index = Rolodex
stay [at home} + vacation staycation Twitter + universe = Twitterverse
vegetarian = educated = veducated dog + goggle = doggle
mock + cocktail = mocktail
SPECIAL NOTATION on "GOODBYE" = God + be (with) + ye
The suitcase word "GOODBYE"
went through various versions beginning in the
Century before settling on the final version in the 19th Century buttressed by good night
and good day. When this type of phonetic attrition occurs, the semantic connection with
the source phrase is generally lost with differing employments in their meaning even
though they originally existed side by side, e.g., God be with ye = goodbye, housewife =
In time, good-bye / goodbye was further
shortened to simply bye.
From this, some speakers
thought it needed some fattening, so the REDUPLICATION of bye-bye was produced. But
some thought it needed to shed some poundage, so it was again reduced to the almost
breezy "b-bye!"... and all from the original GOD BE WITH YE!
is the process by which a word is shortened or
to produce a new word with the same meaning. CLIPPED WORDS are abundant in English,
and this shortening is called Zipf's Principle which is well known in the study of languages.
are reductions of longer forms usually by
removing the end
of the word,
e.g. ad from advertisement, but sometimes the beginning of a word, e.g., plane from
airplane, or both the beginning and ending together, e.g. flu from influenza.
ad = advertisement
plane = airplane
auto = automobile
bike = bicycle burger = hamburger bus = omnibus
cent = centum chemist = alchemist curio = curiosity
fan = fanatic fax = facsimile coed = coeducational student
iron = flatiron mart = market memo = memorandum
perk = perquisite scram = scramble margarine = oleomargarine
pants = pantaloons pike = turnpike movie = moving picture
prom = promenade specs = spectacles spit = spittle
sport = disport stereo = stereophonic still = distill
sub = submarine tails = coattails tie = necktie
trump = triumph tux = tuxedo typo = typographical error
van = caravan varsity = university vet = veteran
vet = veterinarian wig = periwig zoo = zoological garden
PAIRS" are pairs of
words that always appear in
the same order, i.e., customary phrasing based on their habitual co-occurrence. This is
closely related to SEMANTIC PROSODY that describes the way in which seemingly neutral
words can be perceived with either positive or negative associations through frequent
occurrences, i.e., COLLOCATIONS.
NOTE: COLLOCATIONS should not
be confused with the notion of WORD ASSOCIATION
in psychology, which refers to any kind of mental relationship between words.
Adam and Eve / back and forth /
the beans and the bacon / bed and breakfast /
birds and bees / boys and girls / bread and water / cause and effect / coat and tie /
coffee and doughnuts / cream and sugar / cream and sugar / cup and saucer / dead or alive /
fish and chips / front and center / fun and games / ham and eggs / husband and wife /
knife and fork / ladies and gentlemen / man and wife / crime and punishment / Jack and Jill /
law and order / life or (and) death / my/our thoughts and prayers / nice and easy /
pen and pencil / pen and paper / pomp and circumstance / pots and pans / prim and proper /
profit and loss / rain or shine / right and proper / salt and pepper / shoes and socks /
soap and water / song and dance / sooner or later / suit and tie / sweet and sour /
tall and thin / rank and file / sugar and spice / sweet and innocent / up and down /
whether by hook or crook / wine and cheese /
COLLOCATIONS Using "MAKE"
make a decision
make a phone call
make a promise make a complaint make an effort
make a list make a comment make a suggestion
make a discovery make a noise make progress
do justice do harm
catch a cold
catch a movie
catch a train catch a crook catch a wave
have an operation
have a party have fun have breakfast
have a baby have a break
take a test
take a look take a picture take a break
is the formation of new words via the process
of combining or
compounding several words using their affixes / suffixes or word elements into a single
word with minor or no changes to the forms or meanings of the constituent/root words.
The etymology of the word AGGLUTINATION is Latin for "glue together"; therefore it is
the "welding together" of two (2) or more terms into a single unit for a single, new word.
Examples of word affixes + suffixes = new words
"demon-ology" "disfigure-ment" "dis-information" "extra-terrestrial" "para-normal"
"para- psychology" "pre-cognition" "pseudo-science" "satan-ism" "shaman-ism"
"spell-bind" "super-natural" "war-lock" "witch-craft" "xeno-glossia"
-- NEW WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
THE PROCESS + Special Phrasal Constructs for Emphasized Literary Effect! --
When you tell someone, "Let's look it
up in the dictionary and see what it says!"
to settle a disagreement, you are referring to an ENTRY WORD, sometimes referred
to as a LEXEME or a LEXICAL UNIT, LEXICAL ITEM (rare). ENTRY WORDS in dictionaries
might also include former PROTOLOGISMS, which are even newer than NEOLOGISMS,
but have yet to find their way into online form and general usage; when they do, they will
then become NEOLOGISMS.
is the basic
all inflected forms originate from,
e.g., walk = lexeme; walks, walking, walked = inflected forms from the minimal distinctive,
abstract unit known to most dictionary users as an ENTRY WORD.
is the name for the extra letter or letters
added to nouns, verbs and
adjectives in their different grammatical forms. Nouns are inflected in the plural, verbs
are inflected in the various tenses, and adjectives are inflected in the comparative/
is an inflected form which signals the greatest
degree possible of that
particular word, e.g., loud = entry word or lexeme; louder = inflected form; loudest =
superlative form / early ... earlier ... earliest / hot ... hotter ... hottest / cold ... colder ... coldest
NOTE: ALL superlatives
are types of INFLECTED
FORMS, but NOT
all inflected forms are
SPECIAL NOTE: The words FARTHER
are comparative degrees of the word
FAR, but both of these words have undergone DIFFERENTIATION. In the clearest and best
usage, FARTHER = refers to concrete, physical distances; FURTHER = refers to an extension
of time, degree or figurative distance.
far = entry word / farther and further = inflected forms / farthest and furthest = superlatives
follow the same patterns as the aforementioned
FURTHERMOST is a very rare superlative equivalent of FARTHEST, but it is NOT the
superlative equivalent of FURTHER!
"Joshua Tree National Monument is
located in the furthermost
part of south central
San Bernardino County straddling the San Bernardino and Riverside counties borders."
"Anything exceeding the speed of light
was the furthermost
thing from Albert
"Anything exceeding the speed of light
was the furthest
thing from Albert Einstein's mind."
or invented words are to be used carefully and
they demand an explanation or justification since the English language is already well
stocked. New words must fill demonstrable voids to survive, and each year some good
ones get added to the English language. With the explosion of electronic media in the
second half of the 20th Century, it has compressed the time and standards for a new
word's "maturity" which have quickly dropped, so its acceptance into mainstream use
has been greatly sped up.
("new word") is the act of creating a
new word and is a synonym. A
NEOLOGISM can not only be a new word, but it can also give a new meaning to an
existing word, a new sense to an existing word or can even be a new phrase, e.g.,
workaholic, talk radio, couch potato, lounge lizard, sound bite, middle management,
meritocracy, glitch, mall rat, nitty-gritty, do-it-yourself, and prime time, etc.
is the word formation process in which a new
word is created either
deliberately or accidentally without using the regular, standard word formation
processes and often from seemingly out of nothing! A new word called a NEOLOGISM
goes through a word formation process called NEOLOGY.
is somewhat rare and uses an UNcommon method to
create new words by
companies getting their trademark names to be used as "everyday words of language."
However, in today's society, media people try to outdo one another with more and more
better-sounding words to name their products hence some of those "coined" words are
quickly adopted by the masses and become GENERONYMS.
NOTE: See above, previous entry for "GENERONYMS"following "RETRONYMS"
TALK" is the language of
DISinformation, and is a subset of a
EUPHEMISM; it is language intentionally meant to be ambiguous, and is used to deceive
especially by concealing or MISreprsenting facts; DOUBLESPEAK is most often used by
government bureaucracies, businesses and the military; some examples of DOUBLESPEAK
are: torture = "physical persuasion" or "enhanced interrogation" / genocide = "ethnic
cleansing" / poor people = "fiscal UNDERachievers" / hobos, "street people," the homeless =
"non-goal-oriented members of society" / prostitutes = "sexual workers" or "sexual service
providers" / grafitti sprayers = "wall artists" / borderline students = "emerging students" /
firing people = "downsizing" / UNprovoked attack = "pre-emptive strike" / died = "passed on"
INfrequently, a NONCE
WORD will eventually find its
way into a mainstream dictionary.
A NONCE WORD is invented for a special occasion or event, e.g., "The entire graduating
class spent their grad night at Disneyland and has a bad case of 'Disneyitis'!" or "The
newly nominated candidate has already shown her 'Borkability' under intense scrutiny
by the judicial panel." ["Borkability" = the potential for a candidate to be damaged by a
relentless negative media campaign.]
Even rarer is for a HAPAX
LEGOMENON to find its way
into mainstream print dictionaries
or online versions of generally accepted dictionaries. A HAPAX LEGOMENON is a word
or phrase that only has one (1) recorded use -- ever -- in the written record of a language.
It can also be a word or phrase found only once in the work of a particular author. The
word "Blimah" is a biblical HAPAX LEGOMENON appearing only once in Job 26:7: "Who
suspended Earth over blimah."
WORDS that have the effect of
rendering UNcertain or
hollow the statements in which they're trying to reinforce by heightening or lowering the
effect of another word or concept are: candidly, clearly, compelling, definitely, duly, frankly,
hardly, if practicable, kind of, rather, manifestly, meaningful, obviously, perfectly, quite,
reasonable, seriously, significantly, somewhat, substantially, terribly, undue, and virtually.
is a term used to describe the specialized
terminology of particular groups
[UFOLOGY / UFO organizations] occupations, social groups or specific professions.
Often times used in a derogatory sense, it carries an implicit criticism that those who
employ jargon do so in order to either exclude OUTsiders, conceal meaning from the
UNinitiated or to create the impression of complexity or profundity [closely related to
has a magnified importance today because we
live in an age of vague rhetoric
and INcomprehensible jargon which predominate. MEDICAL JARGON is often times at
the forefront of cutting-edge jargon, e.g., "heart bypass surgery" = "coronary artery bypass
graft" from which comes the acronym CABG [pronounced "cabbage"], which some heart
surgeons who are offended at such a slang term still prefer the somewhat pompously
arcane term of "myocardial revascularization."
is a word, group of letters or speech sounds
that looks or sounds like a word,
but is not accepted and is DISapproved by native speakers, and does not appear in most
major dictionaries due to its spurious origins making it illegitimate, e.g., "conversate,"
"irregardless"; NONWORDS arise from many sources, e.g., back-formation = "orientate" /
malapropisms = "UNmercilessly" / common misspellings = "forebearance" / neologisms =
"jumblicious" / there is no way to tell whether a NONWORD will fade away or prove to be
useful and therefore enter standard usage, e.g., donate, stick-to-it-iveness, etc.
WORD MIX-UPS: There are four (4) basic word mix-up groups often w/ a humorous effect:
MALAPROPISMS are what you get when someone substitutes a similar-sounding word
for another such as: "He's the pineapple of politeness" instead of: "He's the pinnacle of
politeness." [From playwright Richard Sheridan who named one of his characters Mrs
Malaprop, who had a habit of ridiculously mixing up words in the play called "The
Rivals." Her most memorable word mix-up of Sheridan's 1775 play was when she referred
to someone "as headstrong an an allegory on the banks of the Nile," when she actually
meant, "as headstrong as an alligator on the banks of the Nile."] Former Pres George Bush
infamously used to say: "nucular power pants” instead of “nuclear power plants” in 2003.
MONDEGREENS are what you get when listeners MIShear words especially from song
lyrics and create a new meaning, e.g., "Sweet dreams are made of cheese" instead of:
"Sweet dreams are made of this."
Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of
sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain.
And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and
imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when,
somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear
the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the
same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens.
In the song, "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer," people often hear: "OLIVE, the other
reindeer used to laugh and call him names” instead of “ALL of the other reindeer.”
And lastly, some very popular MONDEGREENS come from children’s misinterpretations
of the Pledge of Allegiance. These are best exampled from a scene in the movie
"Kindergarten Cop" where the kids are saying the Pledge, and there are lines like “I led
the pigeons to the flag” and “One Nation under God, invisible, with liver tea and Justice
EGGCORNS is where people replace the right word with a different word -- an idiosyncratic
substitution -- that sounds the same — a homophone — that makes logical sense in the
phrase. This came about when a woman substituted the phrase egg corn for the word acorn.
A good example is someone who hears "windshield factor" and didn't realize it was "wind
chill factor" or “coming down the pipe” instead of “coming down the pike” and “chomping
at the bit” instead of “champing at the bit."
NOTE: UNlike a mondegreen, the general intended meaning is not changed.
NOTE: Mondegreens can also serve as examples of ORONYMS which are phrases that are
pronounced without pause/quickly and share a similar pronunciation, e.g., "ice cream" for
"I scream," and "fork handles" being misheard for "four candles."
SPOONERISMS is another particular kind of mix-up. It happens when you swap sounds
between two words in a phrase. There are unintentional spoonerisms that don't make
sense, such as “goys and birls” (for “boys and girls”), and then there are spoonerisms
that create new, funny meanings such as “keys and parrots” (for “peas and carrots”)
and “better Nate than lever” (for “better late than never”).
refers to the obscure language of
bureaucrats; it is the inflated, pompous and meaningless gibberish which is the formal
language of U.S. government bureaucrats especially in obfuscation of official documents
and letters with a concentrated effort focused on FOIA replies to the public; with little effort,
OFFICIALESE can usually be translated into plain English, e.g., "retrograde movement" =
"Retreat!" in military lingo / "crowd management team" = riot police/control in USG officialese
is a NONstandard language that has any of two
(2) of these four (4) characteristics:
1) it is INformal and significantly lower in status than Standard English;
2) it first arises in the language of the street, popular culture or hoi polloi;
3) it is more or less UNacceptable in formal or polite settings, and;
4) it displaces a conventional term with one that is vivid, perhaps obscene/vulgar, and may
even be taboo.
NOTE #1: SLANG
changes very quickly in English and is often
used within groups --
particularly small or close-knit ones -- to help keep the group together and strengthen their
inner social circle / network ties.
NOTE #2: the word "SLANG"
is itself a portmanteau word ["suitcase"
word] blended from
the words "slovenly" + "language" = SLANG
is an equivocal or ambiguous word that
diminishes the force or meaning
of a concept being expressed, which -- while intended to strengthen a statement -- actually
has the effect of weakening it by making its content more questionable.
ANAPHORA aka EPANAPHORA aka EPIBOLE: The deliberate and emphatic repetition of a
word, sound or phrase at the BEGINNING of successive clauses, verses or sentences in
order to achieve a specific, intended literary and artistic effect. ANAPHORA has its roots
in the Biblical Psalms which emphasized certain words and phrases.
EXAMPLES of ANAPHORA:
“I have a dream that ...” – Martin Luther King famous speech is an example of a large-scale
“We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight in the hills,
we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, etc.” Sir Winston
ANTITHESIS: is a type of Anaphora which involves the placing of a sentence or one of its
parts against another to which it is opposed to form a balanced contrast of ideas; the direct
opposite of the previous phrase
EXAMPLES of ANTITHESIS:
“It was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age
of foolishness, etc. – Charles Dickens, “A Tales of Two Cities”
“To err is human, to forgive, divine …:”
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong, Moon Landing 1969
“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can
do for your country!” – President John F Kennedy
EPISTROPHE aka EPIPHORA: The deliberate and emphatic repetition of a word, sound or
phrase at the END of successive clauses, verses or sentences that are close together in text
in order to achieve a specific, intended literary and artistic effect.
EXAMPLES of EPISTROPHE:
“And that government is of the people, by the people, for the people, for the people shall not
perish from the earth.” -- this is perhaps the best known example of an epistrophe that being
the concluding sentence in Lincoln's famous November 1863 Gettysburg Address
“I want pizza, he wants pizza, we all want pizza!”
“The sky was bright. Her smile was bright. My heart was bright.”
“Many people spend their lives pursuing power, consolidating power and enjoying power.”
is the study of how languages adopt foreign
their language system(s) or dialect; there are four (4) basic types of loan processes which
have been recognized by LINGUISTS:
1) LOAN WORD(S) = where both the form and meaning are borrowed, assimilated or imported
with some adoption -- whole or partly -- to the new language, and where there are sometimes
NO changes made to the borrowed word, e.g., "sputnik" [from the old Soviet Union]; "karma"
[from 19th Century Sanskrit]; "blitz" [from 1940s Germany]; "hotel" [from France];
"kindergarten" [from Germany]; "extrovert" [from the German word "extravertiert"]
2) LOAN BLENDS = is a word which is also borrowed, but where only one (1) element is
partly foreign, e.g., "restaurant" with a simulated French ending;
3) LOAN SHIFTS aka SEMANTIC EXTENSION = where the meaning is borrowed, but the form
is native; a change of meaning under the influence from another language, e.g., restaurant;
4) LOAN TRANSLATION aka CALQUE = where the borrowed word is literally translated item
by item, e.g., "superman" from the German word "ubermensch"; "blue blood" from the
Spanish phrase "sangre azul"; "merciless" from the French word "sans pitie," etc.
Borrowed From Other Languages: Here are a few
words which have been
adopted into the English language, and which have come from more than 120+ languages:
= apartheid / banana / cola / gnu / impala /
marimba / mumbo jumbo /
raffia / safari / samba / yam / zombie
= admiral / alcohol / alfalfa / algebra /
artichoke / assassin / bazaar /
carafe / caravan / coffee / cotton / harem / kebab / magazine / monsoon / sherbet / sofa /
tariff / zero
(ABORIGINAL) WORDS =
boomerang / dingo / kangaroo / koala [bear]
NOTE: Aboriginal referring to the indigenous language(s) of the continent officially
classed as a "Pama-Nyungan" language of which a handful still have 1,000+ speakers
= china (porcelain) / chow / chow mein / gung
ho / kow tow / mahjong /
shantung / soy / tea / tofu / typhoon / yen /
CZECH WORD = robot
= bush / cole slaw / cookie / drill / maelstrom
/ pickle / Santa Claus /
skate / sketch / skipper / sled / sleight / slim / sloop / split / stoop / stove / wagon / yacht
EAST INDIAN (HINDI)
WORDS = bungalow / cashmere /
catamaran / cheetah / curry / dinghy /
juggernaut / jungle / khaki / loot / pajamas / shampoo / shawl / teak / thug / veranda
NOTE: Hindi-Urdu is a Indo-Aryan language spoken widely across the north of the Indian
subcontinent; it is the national language of Pakistan, and one of the national languages of
India since 1000 AD with literature dating from the 12th Century
= ambiance / attorney / authority / bail /
ballet / bizarre / blonde / boulevard /
bouquet / brochure / cadet / caprice / carousel / chagrin / charade / charity / chef / clergy /
clientele / coroner / crime / debris / depot / detour / entourage / essay / expose / fiance /
fiancee / garage / gourmet / government / hotel / impromptu / judge / jury / justice / liberty /
lingerie / malapropos / mayor / migraine / minister / morale / morgue / motif / naive / nee /
noel / nocturne / nuance / pastor / penchant / pension / progress / protege / public /
raconteur / rebel / religion / restaurant / resume / sabotage / suede / suite / ticket / traitor /
treasurer / troop / trophy / vague / verdict / viola / vis-a-vis
= angst / automat / blitz / delicatessen /
diesel / ecology / extrovert /
Fahrenheit / flak / frankfurter / gestalt / gestapo / gesundheit / hamburger / kaput /
kindergarten / liverwurst / loaf / polka / pumpernickel / sauerkraut / schema / spiel / sputnik /
strudel / torte / wanderlust
HUNGARIAN WORD = goulash
IRISH WORDS = blarney / brat / whiskey
= alfresco / attitude / balcony / ballot /
bandit / banister / bologna / brigade /
bronze / cannon / carnival / casino / cavalry / cello / colonel / confetti / duel / fiasco / finale /
ghetto / gondola / incognito / infantry / influenza / jean / macaroni / malaria / mascara / pasta /
pastel / piano / prima donna / relief / sentinel / spaghetti / stiletto / stucco / torso / trio /
virtuoso / vista / volcano / wig
HEBREW WORDS = bar mitzvah / kosher / menorah / shalom / shekel
= banzai / bonsai / hibachi / honcho /
judo / jujitsu / kamikazee / karate /
origami / sayonara / tycoon
= batik / gong
NOTE: is an Austronesian language spoken in central Java and by colonization elsewhere
aka SAMI WORD = tundra
NOTE: Finno-Ugric language spoken in northern Norway and parts of neighboring countries
= chipmunk / pow wow / skunk / totem / wigwam +
26 state names
such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Utah, etc.
NOTE: referring to the languages of North America north of Mexico, which are now almost
extinguished by the use of English under the broad umbrella term of "AMERIND"; primary
languages spoken were/are: Iroquoian, Mukogean, Uto-Aztecan, Salishan, Wakashan, etc.
PHILIPPINE WORD = boondocks
POLYNESIAN WORDS = aloha / hula / taboo
PORTUGUESE WORDS = commando / marmalade / pagoda / peon / samba
= commissar / cosmonaut / czar / dacha /
intelligentsia / Kremlin /
mammoth / parka / politburo / sputnik
= karma / mantra / nirvana / yoga
NOTE: is an Indo-Aryan language of ancient India first called "VEDIC" and dates from the
2nd millennium B.C [2000 B.C.]; Classical Sanskrit became the standard language, evolved
into a vernacular form called "Prakrits"; today it is mainly written in "Devanagari" script
= adios / albino / alfalfa / amigo / avocado /
armada / bronco / burro /
cafeteria / canoe / canyon / chocolate / corral / coyote / fiesta / flotilla / hurricane / junta /
loco / maoana / mesa / Montana / mosquito / palomino / patio / pinto / plaza / poncho /
potato / ranch / rodeo / rumba / sierra / silo / tobacco / tomato / tornado / tortilla / tostada
TURKISH WORDS = kiosk / sherbet / shish kebab / yogurt
= bagel / kibbutz / klutz / nosh / pastrami /
schmaltz / schlep
SENTENCE TUNES aka SUPRASEGMENTAL PHONEMES, PLURISEGMENTAL,
NON-SEGMENTAL and SUPER FIX is a term used in phonetics and phonology to refer to a
vocal effect which extends over more than one (1) sound segment in an "excited utterance,"
such as pitch, stress or juncture pattern. All of this affects the way you say something which
can change the entire meaning of what you're saying, and the below SENTENCE TUNES will
The changes in meaning are due to what are
called SUPRASEGMENTAL PHONEMES. A
suprasegmental phoneme is one that has additional changes to the typical phoneme --
inflection/stress and pitch on certain words that can affect the meaning of what you've
This change in meaning as a result of
inflection/stress is an important characteristic of
English that needs to be explicitly taught and known by ALL native speakers, especially
for ESL students where English is a new or developing language.
Read the sentences below aloud emphasizing
change the entire meaning of the sentence.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = Someone else said it.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = Strong indignant denial of saying it.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = Strong denial of saying it.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = I implied it, but I didn't say it.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = I wasn't talking about YOU.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = You did something else with it.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = You stole someone else's.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = You stole one of another color.
"I did not say you stole my red purse." = You stole something else that was red.
Knowing this can be a very valuable asset/ability/attribute in
plus meeting the challenges of everyday life, and discerning what people are REALLY
telling you based on HOW they're saying it. Therefore, being a excellent LISTENER is of
utmost importance, so one can understand, appreciate and identify HOW certain key
stressed words are being said.
can effectively use SENTENCE
TUNES on the
of suspects as they pay particularly close attention to HOW a suspect is saying something
which can go a long way in ruling out or including someone as a suspect. It is also a
valuable tool during the course in all aspects of a criminal investigation, e.g., helping to
determine the credibility of witnesses/subjects based on HOW they're communicating
their statements to police.
As a sales
associate in a retail
environment, the employee can discern what a potential
customer really wants in their purchase -- especially on high-dollar items -- by noting the
stress/inflection on certain words and HOW they're said. What the customer says they
want may be at odds to what they really NEED based on specific, key stressed words.
out at a restaurant,
paying particular attention to what words your server
is stressing and HOW they're saying it will help you in deciding what your server thinks
is really good on their menu and/or what they've been told to push/sell for their main
course and dessert to their customers for that day.
For the medical
profession, paying close
attention to not only what the patient is saying,
but HOW they're saying it may help determine what's really bothering them; what they
think is ailing them may in fact be something else which can be suggested to certain
words they've UNconsciously stressed to the doctor.
For simple, everyday life, paying close
attention as a good listener to what immediate
family members, co-workers and people whom you run into during the course of a
normal day while you engage them in casual conversation may help you conclude /
determine what they're really saying by paying close attention to HOW they're saying it.
RELATED WORD: ACCIDENCE
is the field of grammar which deals with how
vary to express and distinguish number, case, person, mood, tense, etc.; basically it deals
with the INFLECTION of words.
ETYMOLOGY: Why it's important to know one's WORD ORIGINS! BORROWED CALENDAR
WORDS aka LOAN PHONOLOGY [see two (2) sections below]
Sunday = The sun's day
Monday = The moon's day
Tuesday = Tiw's day; "Tiw" was the Teutonic god of war
Wednesday = Woden's day; "Woden" was the Norse god of the hunt
Thursday = Thor's day; "Thor" was the Norse god of the sky
Friday = Fria's day; "Fria" -- the wife of Thor -- was the Norse goddess of love and beauty
Saturday = Saturn's day; "Saturn" was the Roman god of agriculture
January = In honor of Janus -- the Roman god
with 2 faces -- one looking forward / backward
February = In honor of "februa," the Roman feast of purification
March = In honor of Mars, the Roman god of war
April = a reference to spring -- "aprilis" -- the Latin word for "opening"
May = In honor of Maia, a Roman goddess and mother of Mercury
June = In honor of Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage
July = In honor of the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar
August = In honor of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar
September = in reference to "septem," the Latin word for seven; September was the
seventh month of the Roman calendar
October = in reference to "octo," the Latin word for eight; October was the eighth
November = in reference to "novem," the Latin word for nine; November was the ninth
December = in reference to "decem," the Latin word for ten; December was the tenth
And finally, a last word about about the three (3) primary styles of what one writes
and places in the "Subject" line of an e-mail.
1) SENTENCE CASE = "The story of my life is one of many ups and downs"
2) TITLE CASE = "The Story of My Life is One of Many Ups and Downs"
3) UPPERCASE aka
= "THE STORY OF MY LIFE IS ONE OF MANY UPS
NOTE #1: If one uses TITLE CASE, do NOT capitalize:
a) articles a, an and the
b) prepositions of three (3) or fewer letters, e.g., of, in and for
c) most conjunctions of three (3) or fewer letters, e.g., as, and, or and but
NOTE #2: This e-mail list moderator --
Victor Martinez -- uses TITLE
CASE in all of his
"Subject" lines for his daily photo stream e-mails.
And now, for those LOVERS of WORDS and BOOKS, here are some words
about words you should have in your vast, voluminous vocabulary!
LOGOLEPSY (rare) = a fascination or
obsession with words
LOGOPHILE = a word lover
LOGOPHILIA = a love of words and word games
BIBLIA ABIBLIA = volumes of worthless books or literature with no humanist interest
BIBLIOBIBULI = people who read too much and have little or no other interests
BIBLIOCLASM = the mutilation, burning or destruction of books for ideological reasons
BIBLIOCLAST = one who burns or destroys books especially the Bible
BIBLIOGONY / BIBLIOPOESY / BIBLIOGENESIS = the making / production of books
BIBLIOGRAPHY = a list of books, essays and monographs on a subject; a list of the
works of a particular author; a list of all sources one has used in writing a research paper
BIBLIOKLEPT = one who steals books; a book thief [suffers from kleptomania]
BIBLIOLATRY = excessive devotion to a book or books, e.g., the Bible, the Koran, etc.
BIBLIOLOGY = the history and science of books as physical objects; study of the Bible
BIBLIOMANIA = a passion for possessing books; a craze for collecting rare books
BIBLIOPHAGE / BIBLIOPHAGIST= a book worm; an ardent, dedicated reader
BIBLIOPHILE = one who collects, cherishes and preserves books for their physical value
BIBLIOPHOBIA = a fear / hatred of books usually with a certain theme, e.g., witchcraft
BIBLIOPOLE / BIBLIOPOLIST = a bookseller who buys and sells books especially rare ones
BILIOTAPH = one who hides or hoards books and keeps them under lock and key
BIBLIOTECA = a library; a collection of books; a bibliographer's catalog
LETHOLOGICA aka TIP-OF-THE-TONGUE PHENOMENON = the temporary INability to recall
a proper noun or a name that is on the tip of one's tongue! / the temporary INability to put
your finger on the right word though access is eventually attained via semantic cues
LETHONOMIA = the INability to recall the right name; tendency to forget names
LEXICOGRAPHY = the art or process of compiling, writing and editing a dictionary or lexicon
LEXICOLOGY = a person who studies the origins, meanings and uses of words
LEXICON = the specialized vocabulary of a particular author OR a field of study
LEXIPHANIC = using many hard-to-understand words interlaced with pretentious words
LEXIS = the total vocabulary of a specific language distinct from its grammar; a complete
inventory of the ENTRY WORDS or LEXEMES which constitute a language's dictionary
LOGOCRACY = governing by the power of words; the ruling power is vested in words
LOGODAEDALUS = a person who uses words with great skill, cunning and manipulation
LOGOGRAM aka LOGOGRAPH = a sign or character representing a whole word or phrase,
as used in shorthand, e.g., c. = century; $ = money; % = percent; @ = at; * = asterisk, etc.
LOGOLOGY = the task of discovering word patterns such as those found in
anagrams, ananyms, acrostics, isograms, palindromes, standalones, tautonyms, etc.
LOGOMACHY = an argument or debate about words and their actual meaning
LOGOMANIA = nonstop talking; abnormal talkativeness; obsession with words
LOGOMISIA aka WORD AVERSION, VERBAL VIRUS = a strong dislike/distaste at the sight
or sound of a particular word; type of word based on how it sounds, its meaning, usage or
word associations, e.g., moist, drool, panties, suck, rectum, smegma, scrotum, vomit, etc.
LOGOPHOBIA = a person who has an aversion, distrust, dislike or fear of words
LOGORRHEA = excessive or irrational talking; vulgarly known as "verbal diarrhea"
AMANUENSIS = a literary or artistic assistant who takes dictation from an author for a
manuscript when that author is unable to do so
ANAGRAMMATICALLY aka ANAGRAM = words formed by rearranging the letters of another
word, e.g., limped = dimple / the earthquakes = that queer shake / restaurant = runs a treat
ARGOT = a secret language, dialect that is unique to a certain group within a society often
with a negative taint since it is often associated with people in a lower social strata such as
the criminal element / the underground; UNlike a standard lexicon, this group's vocabulary
is intended to render outsiders INcapable of understanding of what is being discussed;
used for disguise or concealment as in the language of computer hackers / crackers
AUTODIDACT = a person who is self-taught without a formal education; is a learned person
BAFFLEGAB = incomprehensible or pretentious language, gibberish, double-talk; especially
used in bureaucratic jargon
BARDOLATRY = a humorous term for excessive admiration of the bard William Shakespeare
BATTOLOGY = idle talk, babbling; needless, tiresome repetition of words or ideas
BLESILOQUENT = speaking with a lisp or a stammer in speech
COGNOSCENTI = people who are considered to be especially well informed about a
particular subject, e.g., computer science engineers/IT specialists in "The Silicon Valley"
with the benefit of a formal education [see "AUTODIDACT" above]
COMMORATIO = a rhetorical term for dwelling or the pounding home of a point by repeating
its principles in different words; winning an argument by repeating one's strongest point
COMPROBATIO = flattering a person in order to win them over in an argument; approving a
virtue especially in the listeners
CONNOTATION = to suggest, imply or convey tone, flavor, associations or overtones in
addition to the explicit, direct, denoted or literal meaning of a word
DENOTATION = the direct explicit meaning of a word or a term; means literally
CONVERSATIONAL FILLER(s) / FILLED PAUSE / PAUSE FILLER / HESITATION FORM =
a non-silent pause filled by "ah," "er," "um," "uh," etc., while one gathers their thoughts
to continue speaking
CONVERSATIONAL SPEECH FORMULAS: amusing, non-sensical, short sentences
which add nothing to the conversation and are extended versions of embolalia, e.g.,
"You've got to be kidding?!"; "Excuse me?!"; "Hang on a minute!" "You hear what I'm
saying?!" "Don't know, don't care!"
EMBOLALIA aka AUTOMATIC SPEECH = inserting useless words or utterances to stall for
time while collecting one's thoughts, "like," "OK," "right," "I mean," "you know," etc.
FORMULAIC LANGUAGE aka STEREOTYPED EXPRESSIONS = term for verbal expressions
that are fixed in form, non-literal in meaning, possess attitudinal nuances and have NO
contrast, i.e., they are non-controversial expressions where no opposite expression(s) can
counter it. Some examples are: "God save the Queen!" "The more the merrier!" "How do
you do?" "Many happy returns!" "Have a great day!" do not contrast in the usual way with
other sentences, e.g., "few happy returns," "Have a horrible day!" etc. are not accepted fixed
forms of everyday speech
PLACEHOLDER NAMES = refers to people or objects that are temporarily forgotten, e.g.
"thingamajig," "whatsamacallit," "whosawhatsa," "what'shisface," etc.
CRUCIVERBALIST = a person who loves doing crossword puzzles; enthusiast of word games
DEIPNOSOPHIST = person who is a master of dinner table conversation; skilled in table-talk
DIALECT = a manner of speaking particular to an individual, group, class or a region
signaled by "stylistic markers" in matters of specific words, pronunciation (accent) and
syntax; dialects develop due to geographical barriers separating groups of people and/or
divisions in the social class; the dominant dialect becomes the "official" language (in
written form) while the other dialect becomes a subdivision of the standard language
CRYPTOLECT = a secret language used by a particular group or segment of society, e.g.
organized gangs, Internet hackers, intelligence/spy agencies, etc.
ETHNOLECT = the variety of language associated with a particular ethnic or cultural
subgroup; an ethnolect serves as a social identity both within the group and for outsiders
GENDERLECT = the type, variety or conversational style used by a particular gender
or between a man-woman, husband-wife, life partners, etc.
IDEOLECT = one's personal dialect or linguistic system most noticeable in their writing
style which serve as markers in their authorship; common among "lone nut"-assassins
SOCIOLECT = the linguistic variety spoken by a particular social or occupational class
as opposed to regional grounds as in a DIALECT, e.g., a specific sports' lexicon + the
socialization within the members of that group, e.g., professional football players, coaches,
sports broadcasters, sports reporters all speak/enjoy a certain lexicon/idiomatic expressions
DIASYRM = rhetorical device damning the opposition by faint praise, disparagement, ridicule
DIATYPOSIS = a brief, but vivid and powerful presentation by the use of exciting language
DICHAEOLOGIA = any form of rhetoric used to defend one's failure or disgrace by blaming it
on everything and everyone else, but oneself; extenuating circumstances are also blamed
ECHO = the repetition of the same sound -- or combination of sounds -- fairly close to each
other so that they "echo" one another; a common device in verse to strengthen meaning
and structure, and sometimes to provide tune and melody e.g., assonance, alliteration,
consonance and various kinds of rhyme are all varieties of echo
ONOMATOPOEIA (ECHOIC WORD / "FIGURE OF SOUND") = a word that imitates the sound
associated with the subject or object it represents, e.g., "tick-tock," "crackle," "pop," "gong,"
"buzz," "chirp," "boom," "gurgle," "snap," "hiss," "murmur," "cock a doodle doo," etc.
PHONESTHEME = a particular sound or sound sequence that suggests a certain meaning,
e.g., "glitter," "glimmer," "glisten," the initial "gl-" is associated with vision or light
EMOJI = UNlike emoticons, emoji are actual pictures and are actually extensions to the
character set used by most operating systems; emoticons are manually input by users
EMOTICONS = a typographic display of a facial expression, used to convey emotion in a
text only medium, e.g., :-)
EPILEXIS = a form or style of argument which seeks to shame the interlocutor (debater) into
seeing the point, e.g., "If you had any sense at all, you would understand that ...!"
EPIPHONEMA = a terse summary of an argument often expressed by means of an epigram
or sententia, i.e., a wise, witty or pithy maxim or aphorism is used to sum up the preceding
material in this instance an argument
FLUMMERY = meaningless or deceptive compliments or flattery; silk talk, nonsense
GALLICISM [HYPERFOREIGNISM or "loan translation"] = a French idiom, word or expression
used in another language, e.g., English words that are "anglicized" Gallicisms such as
lingerie, cliche, cafe, attache, beret, cache, cul-de-sac, tour de force, a la carte, coup d'etat
HAPLOLOGY = the contraction of a word by omitting syllables when the word is spoken, e.g.
"probably" is often pronounced "prob-lee" or even "pro-lee" in rapid fire speech
HIPPOPOTOMONSTROSESQUIPEDALIOPHOBIA = a fear of big, long words; a phobia
HYPERPOLYSYLLABICSESQUIPEDALIANIST = a person who enjoys using really long words
ICONOGRAPHER = a person who draws illustrations or symbols based on a branch of art
history which studies the identification, description and interpretation of images/symbols
IDEOGRAM (IDEOGRAPH) = a graphic symbol that represents a whole word, idea, concept
or an obscenity / vulgar term originally developed from the pictographic, e.g., # $ @ * % & !
INTERLANGUAGE = a blend/mixture of two (2) languages spoken used by an ESL learner
where words from their native tongue are mixed with the targeted language being acquired
and words from both languages are used regularly in their sentences
COGNATE LANGUAGE = a language which is historically derived from the same source as
another language, e.g., Spanish/Italian and French/Portuguese with examples of
"pere" / "padre" [father] which are cognate words or cognates
CREOLE (CREOLIZED) LANGUAGE = a type of language that evolves when two (2) groups
having their own languages integrate the more obvious features of the other's language
which becomes the mother-tongue of a speech community as in the case of Jamaica, Haiti,
Dominica and other ex-colonial parts of the world
ISOGRAM [word play] = long words in which NO letter appears more than once; a word in
which the letter appears an equal number of times, e.g., ambidextrously
LIOKIGKLOPLEIOLAGOIOSIRAIOBAPHETRAGANOPTERYGON = at 177 letters long, it IS the
longest word in English literature; it is a fricassee of 17 sweet and sour ingredients including
mullet, brains, honey, vinegar, pickles, marrow and ouzo [from Aristophanes' "The Ecclesiazusae"
circa 390-393 BCE]
MELLILOQUENCE = pleasant-sounding speech; charming eloquence spoken harmoniously
METANALYSIS = the fusing of words or groups of words into new elements, e.g., an ewt
became of newt and a napron became an apron
METATHESIS = transposition of the usual sequence of letters, syllables or sounds of a word,
e.g., "aksed" for "asked," "irrevelant" for "irrelevant," etc. NOTE: over time, metathesis may
produce a permanent change in a language
METONYMY = a word, phrase or figure of speech of not just what it denotes, but something
it's closely associated with, e.g., "the White House says," = the president; "the Crown," =
British monarchy; "Beltway" = political Washington; "Broadway" = NYC theater
MISOLOGIST = person who hates knowledge; also hates argument, debate, logic, reasoning
MONOGENESIS = the theory that all languages have a single ancestral origin
POLYGENESIS = the theory that there is more than one (1) independent source of language(s)
MONOGLOT = a person who speaks, writes and understands only one (1) language
POLYGLOT / POLYGLOTISM = a person who speaks/writes and understands more than one (1)
MONONYM = a single name by which a person or a thing is known and addressed by, e.g.;
Madonna, Picasso, Prince, Liberace, Shakespeare, Mozart, Mantovani, etc.
POLYNYM = a name consisting of multiple words; may include pseudonyms for the same
MONOSEMY = a word having single meaning with NO ambiguity
POLYSEMY = words that have multiple meanings; approximately 40%+ of all English words
have more than one (1) meaning, e.g., pupil = eye; pupil = student / bat = animal;
bat = implement / foot = mammal anatomy; foot = base of something
RELATED TERM: HOMONYMY / HOMONYMS = words with identical forms, but different
meanings HOMONYMY and POLYSEMY are both related, but while HOMONYMS are distinct
entry words (lexemes) that share the same form, in POLYSEMY a single entry word (lexeme)
is associated with multiple meanings or senses; POLYSEMY usually involves related meanings
whereas homonymous entry words are generally NOT related
EXAMPLES: HOMOYNM: bank = financial institution; bank = land bordering on river ...
NOT related / POLYSEMY: may = permission; may = possibility ... closely RELATED
MONOGLOSSIA = the existence of only one (1) language in a speech community
DIGLOSSIA = the coexistence of two (2) languages within a speech community
TRIGLOSSIA = the coexistence of three (3) languages within a speech community, e.g.,
the use of French, Classical Arabic and Colloquial Tunisian Arabic in Tunisia
DISGLOSSIA = aka advertising RESPELLS, e.g., Toys R Us, Cheez-It, Factory 2 You, etc.
ENDOGLOSSIC = the native language of most or all of the population of a geographical area;
English is endoglossic for most of Australia and England, but EXOGLOSSIC for Singapore,
Quebec and others parts of Canada (which are endoglossic as well)
IDEOGLOSSIA (CRYPTOPHASIA or AUTONOMOUS SPEECH) = an invented form of speech
known only to the inventor(s) and common with "loners" / a special form of communication
which often emerges between twins and popularly referred to as "TWIN LANGUAGE"
GLOSSLALIA aka "SPEAKING IN TOUNGUES" = is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables
that lack any comprehensible meaning often times occurring during a religious practice/ritual;
GLOSSOLALIC speech is often taken as "proof" of a religious conversion marked by repetitive
phrases and lacking any conventional reference; considered by some to be a "sacred language"
XENOGLOSSY aka XENOLALIA = the demonstration of the ability by the subject to spontaneously
speak or write in an UNknown language which they could NOT have obtained by natural means;
most common in people manifesting a previous incarnation / lifetime in REINCARNATION
NEOLOGIST = a person who creates new words or gives new meanings to established words
NEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS = "lung disease caused by
breathing volcanic or other fine dust"; 45-letter monster word found in Webster's Third New
International Dictionary and presently the longest word in standard, accepted English usage
PABLUM = bland, insipid, oversimplified writing for intellectual fare; mindless drivel
PABULUM = nourishment for the mind from books/literature with thought-provoking ideas
PARADIASTOLE = the use of a euphemism to advance an argument by replacing an
UNfavorable term with a favorable one often disregarding part of the truth, e.g., "illegal alien"
= "UNdocumented worker" (or even just "worker"); "illegal immigration" = "immigration"
PARALINGUISTICS / PARALANGUAGE aka “BODY LANGUAGE” = referring to the NONverbal
speech elements in communication such as silence, tempo, intonation, volume, voice tone,
gesticulation, body posture, facial expressions; in written communications such as e-mail
and chatrooms, paralanguage appears as emoticons, emojis, capitalization, choice of fonts,
PARAMNESIA = the INability to recall the meaning of words OR using them INcorrectly
PARLANCE = a particular way of speaking or using words, especially common to those with
a specific job, career or specialized interest
PARANORMAL = the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific
explanation in the arena of purportedly supernatural phenomena, e.g., psychokinesis,
telekinesis, extrasensory perception or other events that lie beyond normal experience
AUGUR = to foretell or prophesy from omens certain events, e.g., "Dark, cloudy, skies
augur a rainstorm," "A black cat crossing one's path is an augur of bad luck," etc.
CHARM = a chanted word, phrase or verse assumed to have "magic" power intended to
help or hurt the human target; an incantation; connotation is often used in a positive sense
CURSE = calling down evil and/or injury/harm on someone or something by a sorcerer
HEX = a spell brought on by a witch/sorcerer to cause bad luck to someone
JINN = in Muslim folklore, a supernatural being lower in rank than angels that can take
human or animal form and influence human affairs for either good or evil purposes
JINX = someone or something that causes repeated bad luck that results in an accident;
an extended period of bad luck
MAGICAL THINKING aka "PRAYER" = the belief that events or the behavior of others can be
influenced by one's thoughts, wishes or rituals, e.g., "our thoughts and prayers are ... "
MYSTICISM = the view that there are real sources of knowledge/truth other than that obtained
via sensory experience and deduction; any claim that such knowledge comes through
inspiration, revelation or other religious experiences that are not strictly sensory in
nature, and that union with the "divine" can be achieved through a personal experience
OCCULT = belief that certain arts, studies or practices -- magic, alchemy, astrology, etc. --
involve mysterious powers that some people believe can affect the way things happen
OMEN = an event that is perceived to signal/portend good or evil in the near future
PHANTASM = perception of something that has no physical reality; creation of fantasy
PHANTASMAGORIA = A dreamlike state in which images both real or imagined blur together;
this often times occurs during "lucid dreaming"
SPELL = a word, a formula, or a form of words alleged to have some magic power via an
incantation or resulting in a trance via irresistible charm
PARONOMASIA = a pun ("no pun intended") is form of word play that suggests two (2) or
more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words,
for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect
PENDANTIC aka PENDANT = a person given to flaunting knowledge; an intellectual show-off;
use of lengthy words meant to impress readers / listeners in an ostentatious display of learning
sometimes of superficial erudition
PLAGIARISM = derives from the Latin word plagarius, i.e, "kidnapper, sea raider, plunderer"
/ the act of stealing/copying another's written work OR the expression of ideas and then
claiming it as one's own without crediting the source of the original cited/quoted source
POLYMATH = a person of great, diversified learning and wide-ranging knowledge; polyhistor
PSEUDEPIGRAPHIA = a term for books or writings which have a false title and/or are
ascribed to an author who is NOT the real one; wrongly attributed authorship that tells the truth
while also disguising it
PSEUDONYM aka NOM DE PLUME aka PEN NAME = fictitious name used especially by
writers (it is synonymous with "ALIAS" though it is free of the criminal connotation it often
carries); a PEN NAME is a writer's pseudonym; NOM DE GUERRE is French for PSEUDONYM
which was derived from NOM DE PLUME and is used in English writing; NOM DE GUERRE is
also used by non-writers when they don't want their true identity known, e.g., lottery winners
who wish to remain anonymous and wish to be masked from public view
PSITTACISM = meaningless speech / writing that is repetitive in the of a manner a parrot
REDUPLICATION = a morphological process in which phonological aspects of the root or
stem word are repeated, but with a slight variation in pronunciation thereby giving the
aspect of either rhymes or alliteration, e.g., helter-skelter, hanky-panky, hocus-pocus,
harem-scarem, humpty-dumpty, shilly-shally, etc.
SEMIOTICS = is the general science of SIGNS which is a part of modern-day LINGUISTICS;
words, traffic lights, gestures, Xmas presents and anything that has meaning are also signs
SESQUIPEDALIAN = a person who likes using long, big words in speech OR is characterized
by their use of long words in written form; literally means "a foot and a half" from the 1600s
SOLECISM = an UNgrammatical combination of words; NONcompliance with the rules of
syntax or a deviation from standard usage; errors in grammar and styling conventions
TACHYLOGIA = rapid and excessive talking; excessive speech often found in clutterers
TAPINOSIS = the debasement of something or someone by the use of UNdignified language
by referring to it as something much less dignified than it really is, e.g., calling the Supreme
Court a "bunch of judges," the Mississippi River a "streamlet," George W Bush as "W," etc.
TAUTOLOGY = repetition of an idea using a near synonymous word which adds nothing
VERBAL DUELING = speakers try to outdo each other by uttering increased verbal ingenuity
VERBIAGE = words that have little or no content and are considered UNnecessary
VERBICIDE = the deliberate distortion or destruction of a word's original meaning
VERBOMANIA = a person who engages in an excessive, obsessive use of words
VERNACULAR = native or indigenous everyday language spoken by either a specific
group or individuals in a certain region which is NOT necessarily literary nor learned formally
VOCABULARY = can also mean "WORD HOARD," but in a generalized sense the use and
access of terms in a dictionary though a distinction must be made between an active and
passive vocabulary; the former refers to entry words [lexemes] people regularly use; the
latter to (entry) words which they understand, but do not regularly use
WORD-HOARD = the sum total of a person's vocabulary one understands and uses at will
WORDSMITH = an expert user of words and who uses language skillfully as in a
professional writer; can also mean a person who coins new words
PHILOSOPHY of the SCHOOL ROOM in one generation will be the
GOVERNMENT in the next." -- Abraham Lincoln
"A QUICK ONLINE GRAMMAR GUIDE TO MODERN AMERICAN USAGE"
is maintained by VICTOR MARTINEZ at: