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?

G is for Gulls

Larus delawarensis
These Ring-billed Gulls are gathering on the shore of Lake Ontario.

G is for gerunds

A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun or adjective. It has the suffix, —ing.

a gathering of gulls

the gathering gulls

a gathering of grinning gulls

Not all words ending in —ing are gerunds.

ceiling, evening

 

G is for gender

Gender, in English, classifies many nouns as feminine, masculine, or neuter. Unlike many other languages, English does not change the preceding article to give every noun a gender. French and Spanish, for example, distinguish a gender for every singular noun.

Feminine nouns

Nouns ending in —ess or [rarely] —ex are feminine, but are falling out of use.

cow, queen, woman

authoress, hostess

Masculine nouns

bull, king, boyfriend

Neuter nouns for plurals

cattle, monarchs, people

French nouns

la vache, la reine, la femme

Spanish nouns

el toro, el rey, el hombre

 One problem in English is the lack of a neuter word for pronouns, forcing the awkward “they” to express the even more awkward “he or she” in sentences that are meant to be inclusive. Traditionally, the pronoun he represents “he or she”, and may still be used.

When a child begins to use grownup words, he or she [they] may stumble on the pronunciation.

 

Exercises

  1. Look for gerunds in a book or the newspaper. Identify whether they are acting as adjectives or nouns.
  2. Rewrite the sentences using verbs instead of gerunds.
  3. Take a sentence apart and identify all the parts of speech that you can.

 

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 Another Ape

Gorrilla
It’s time for a snack at the Toronto Zoo.

Suffixes

There are many suffixes that begin with the letter a. This table provides the meaning of each suffix and some examples.

a  usually indicates a Latin noun in the singular.

agenda, diploma

able creates an adjective, fit for doing or able to be.

adorable, capable, valuable

ably creates an adverb, fit for doing or able to be.

adorably, inevitably, probably

aceae used to form the names of plant families.

Aceraceae [maples]

ade  creates a noun describing action done, something produced.

parade, blockade, lemonade

ae  at the end of a scientific name, signals the taxonomic level, Family.

Falconidae [falcons], Picidae [woodpeckers]

ae  at the end of a Latin noun: feminine, plural.

alumnae, algae

al or  ─ally  creates an adjective or descriptor.

formal, formally

an or ─ane  creates an adjective or descriptor.

reptilian, Anglican, urbane

ance  creates a noun describing a quality, state, instance, or action.

arrogance, chance, trance

ang  the past tense of verbs ending in ing.

ring, rang; sing, sang

ant  creates an adjective that attributes an action or state.

expectant, flippant, pendant

ant  creates a noun describing an agent of action.

assistant, deodorant

arch  denotes a kind of ruler.

matriarch, monarch

ate  resembling, having (or with) characteristics.

laminate, pontificate

ative  of, relating to, or associated with.

talkative, narrative, sedative

Exercises

1. Are you able to think of how to use any of these suffixes as prefixes? Try to think of some words, e.g., anterior.

A is for Ape

Orangutan
A young orangutan discovers water at the Toronto Zoo.

Prefixes

The meaning of the following common prefixes may help you both to understand words and to build them.

Prefixes

a— stands for on, in, or at

atop, alike

a— onward or away (especially for verbs of motion)

arise, awake

a— not or without

amoral, agnostic

a— to or into a state

agree, avenge

ab— off, away, or from

absent, abstain

ad— to, towards, addition, or change into

adapt, adhere, advance

aero— air or aviation

aerate, aerobics, aeroplane

al, all— everyone or everything

all-day, all night, all-purpose, all right

almost, alone, already, also, altogether

al— to, towards, addition, or change into (similar to ad—)

alliterate, allocate, allotment, allow

an— without or not

anarchy, anorexia

an—  on, adjacent, or attached

ancestor, anchor, ankle

ambi— both, around, or uncertain

ambidextrous, ambiguous

ana— anew, again, up, or back

analyst, analogy

ante— before

antecedent, antedate

anti— opposite, against

antibody, anticlockwise

arch— superior

archbishop, archduke

Exercise

  1. Can you think of more examples for each prefix?

A is for Apple Blossom

Apple tree in bloom
A crab apple tree in full blossom, a joy to all passers-by.

 A is for alphabetic.

There are many ways to organize things: alphabetic, numeric, alphanumeric, chronological, or by priority or importance.

To alphabetise means to put a list of things into alphabetic or alphanumeric order, letter-by-letter or word-by-word. Computers alphabetise lists automatically, placing special characters first, then numbers, then letter-by-letter. Computers may have a “stop list” of little words that don’t count, e.g., a, an, the, to. Dictionaries and phone books usually place special characters and numbers within the alphabet as if they were spelled out.

Letter by letter

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Word by word

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