S is for Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus
The book, “Animate Creation” is “Fully Illustrated with Scientific Accuracy.”

S is for Simple

Here is Dr. Holder’s version of “simple”. How would you put it?

In the present Volume, I have endeavored to carry out, on a more extended scale, the principle which has been partially indicated in several of my smaller works; namely, to present to the reader the outlines of zoologic knowledge in a form that shall be readily comprehended, while it is as intrinsically valuable as if it were couched in the most repellent vocabulary of conventional technicalities. In acting thus, an author must voluntarily abnegate the veneration which attaches itself to those who are the accredited possessors of abstruse learning, and must content himself with the satisfaction of having achieved the task which has been placed in his hands. In accordance with this principle, the technical language of scientific zoology has been carefully avoided, and English names have been employed wherever practicable in the place of Greek or Latin appellatives. 

–J.B.H.

From the Preface to “Mammalia,” volume I of Animate Creation; Popular Edition of “Our Living World,” a Natural History by the Rev. J. G. Wood, revised and adapted to American zoology by Joseph B. Holder, M.D., 1885.

 

Exercises

  1. Do you have trouble reading this passage? Try reading it out loud.
  2. How long is each sentence? Try to re-write the passage by breaking it into short sentences.
  3. Look up the words you don’t know. Are they now archaic or are they pedantic?
  4. Has the English language changed since 1885?
  5. Do you agree with what Dr. Holder is saying?

S is for Strawberries

strawberry
Wild strawberries are small but delicious and sweet.

S is for Syllables

A syllable is a unit of pronunciation having a vowel sound and usually one or more consonant sounds. Syllables give words their rhythm and make poetry possible.

Saying an unfamiliar word syllable by syllable may help, although an understanding of prefixes and suffixes is essential for proper pronunciation.

A word may have only one syllable or many:

air (1 syllable)

afar (2 syllables)

ambush (2 syllables)

ambushed (3 syllables)

absolute (3 syllables)

absolutely (4 syllables)

avocation (4 syllables)

A prefix may have more than one syllable.

anti— an + ti (2 syllables)

A suffix may have more than one syllable.

─ally  al + ly (2 syllables)

A root word may have more than one syllable, as well as a prefix and a suffix, making up a long word.

septic  sep + tic (2 syllables)

antiseptically  an + ti + sep + tic + al + ly (6 syllables)

P is for Pelican

Pelicanus erythrorhynchos
The White Pelican, which summers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada, has a wingspread of about nine feet.

Prefixes

ped— usually relates to feet, footed, or a line of descent.

pedestrian

peddle

pedigree

post— means “after”, “afterwards”, “later”, or “behind”.

posterior

post-glacial

post-graduate

postpone

pre— means “before” in time or place, or in the order or importance of things.

precaution

precede, precedent

predate

preface

prescribe, prescription

president

pro— can mean “before” in time or place, or in the order of things.

promise

prophet

pro— can mean “favouring” or “supporting”.

pro-government

pro— can mean “in front of”, “forwards”, or “onward”.

probation

proceeds

progress

pros— means “towards” or “in addition to” something.

prosecute

prosper

prospect

proto— means “first”.

protocol

prototype

Suffixes

pede or —pedal create a noun or adjective that refers to feet or something footed.

bipedal

centipede

impede

stampede

 

pod or —pode also refer to feet or a number of feet.

hexapod

megapode

tripod

Exercises

  1. Which suffixes correspond to a prefix similar in meaning?
  2. Identify additional words with prefixes and suffixes beginning with the letter P.

Special reading assignment

  1. Philippa and her friend Stephen sloughed off their scarves and photographed the phantom pheasant phenomenon in the pharmacy.
  2. White pelicans scoop up fish while swimming; brown pelicans plunge from a height, bill-first, to catch fish.

 

Note: This blog post is an excerpt from a book, “English Manual: Letter by Letter,” to be published sometime soon.

B is for Blackbird

Grackle
A grackle sits in an oak tree.

Prefixes

be— stands for existing or doing

beneath, bestir, between, beware

bi— stands for two

bicycle, bisexual

biblio— about books

bibliography, bibliophile

bio— about life

biochemistry, biology, biome

by— means near, along, passing through, or done by an agency

byplay

 

 

 

Suffixes

by Words that end in b may be given a ─y suffix. The addition of the —y requires the b to be doubled to preserve the sound of the vowel.

 crabby, tabby, hobby, lobby

able and —ible

Words that end in ─able or ─ible refer to something able to be or fit to be.

able

biddable

ible

credible

 

 

 

 

B is for Banana

Fruit: bananas
A basket of bananas.

Significance, abbreviations, and contractions

B stands for the second in the order of things.

b. may stand for “born” or “date of birth”, e.g., the Right Hon. Richard Bedford Bennett, b. 3 July 1870.

As an abbreviation, B.A. or BA after a name is a bachelor of arts degree.

B’y is a contraction for “boy” in Newfoundland English. (“I’s the b’y that builds the boat” is a popular folk song.)

Bye in “good bye” is also a contraction. “Good bye” means “God be with you”.

Bye-bye” is a further contraction.

 

A is for Alvar

alvar
This alvar is near Ottawa, Ontario.

Alvars can be found around Canada’s National Capital Region.

Some letter combinations

ae— is found in words derived from Latin and may have different pronunciations, depending on regional dialects.

Aesop (an ee sound)

palaeontology  (ee or A sound)

aerial (ai sound)

aesthetic (soft e sound)

ar ─ The letter R may change the pronunciation (this is called an R-controlled vowel).

arch, arbour, archangel, argon, argument, ark, arm, art

Exceptions:  Arab, arid, arise, array, arrest, arrive

au─  The au letter combination is not pronounced the same way each time. A diphthong is a way to slide a sound. Try these out.

auburn, auction, audio, August, aura, Australia, auto, automatic, autumn, because, caught, cause, clause, daughter, faucet, fault, Paul, sauce, taught, taut, vault

In some ─au─ words, this letter combination is not pronounced as a diphthong.

aunt, beautiful, quay (pronounced key)

The aw  and ay combinations are also diphthongs. Try these words.

aw

caw, claw, crawl, dawn, draw, flaw, gnaw, hawk, jaw, law, lawn, macaw, paw, pawn, raw, slaw, straw, thaw, Warsaw, yawn

ay

ay, aye (yes), ayah (Hindu nurse)

air─ is a common combination in many words. Are these diphthongs?

chair, fair, hair, lair, pair, stair

Exception:  naïve [French]

all─ is a common combination in many words.

all, allow, ball, fall, hall, small, wall

alt─ is a common combination in many words.

alternate, cobalt, halt, malt, salt

alk─ is a common combination in many words.

alkaline, chalk, stalk, talk, walk

Exercises

  1. Read through the lists of words. Can you think of any more to add in each category?
  2. Play with the words a little. Act them out. Write them up in the air using your left hand and your right. Write them down on paper.
  3. Listen to your friends. Do they pronounce the letter a differently? Which words do they pronounce and how? What do you prefer?

Special reading assignment

An alvar is a limestone plain with little or no soil and unique vegetation.

A is for Aster

Flower

Asters are like living asterisks.

You may see the similarity between an aster, an asterisk, and a star.

Another special character or symbol is the “at sign” (@), which we use most often in an e-mail address, e.g., janedoe@serviceprovider.com.

Traditionally, the at sign is used for listing prices in an inventory or invoice, and means “at the rate of”.

e.g., 5 apples @ .50 = $2.50.