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November 19, 2007

How to Pronounce *Iocaste* and Other Names from Literature

Hi Students,

Even after my long-winded explanations of phonology and etymology in our class lectures, some of you still have questions on how to pronounce some of the names from Oedipus Rex (or, Oedipus, The King).

Below, I have reprinted a few worthy explanations from voices younger than mine. Perhaps their explications are simpler to understand . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 10:09 AM and is filed under Etymology.
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November 08, 2007

Do You Talk To Your Dissertation? - What It Might Sound Like if You Could

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Ok, this is one of the funniest things that's been e-mailed to me in awhile. Sorry, I just have to share this. If you have ever been caught up in the vortex that is called "dissertation writing" you can possibly relate to this gentleman's rant. I'm assuming that . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 07:47 PM and is filed under English @ Random.
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November 05, 2007

Rumors of *Two-Spaces-After-a-Period*'s Death Are Highly Exaggerated

Image Source: http://www.bersin.com/blog/image.axd?picture=monkeyfinal_1224016198.jpg

Students and Friends,

There is a famous quotation (I forget the source, so I paraphrase) that suggests if someone hypothetically put a chimpanzee in front of a typewriter and allowed it to type randomly for an unspecified amount of time, eventually the chimp's efforts would produce a recognizable word. My question is--if you let a chimp type long enough, would it put two spaces after a full-stop period?

Folks, I learned to type on an actual manual typewriter in the 1980s! I can show you a dozen style guides that maintain the two-space after a full-stop rule. Some newer guides, such as MLA's sixth edition, claim it is now acceptable to use one OR two spaces, as long as the typist is consistent.

To me, this newfangled, one-space-only-after-full-stops thingy just looks way too "Internety," if I may use that word, on unpublished, yet printed, hardcopies of typed manuscripts. It's the same with the extra space between paragraphs and no paragraph indentions (what we used to call the business letter format). Should we or shouldn't we make distinctions between the two types of writing--unpublished, typed and printed hardcopy manuscripts and "published" online text seen on a monitor's screen?

Although many out there have come up with good reasons to try and extinguish the old and established two-space rule from the days of typewriting, I've found that . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 08:42 PM and is filed under Composition.
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November 03, 2007

Using the Articles 'A' or 'An' Before the Words 'Historic' or 'Historical'

The rule seems simple enough doesn't it? Except for words such as "heir," "hour," "honor," or "herb" the article "a," (not "an") precedes a word beginning with the letter "h." That's how I was taught, yet the either archaic or exceptional "an" article still crops up here and there, even in more "respectable" venues such as NPR, one of the supposed final bastions of clear, crisp, and articulately spoken Standard American English. Is public media's incorporation of the, for example, commonly-heard British and Canadian usage of "an" before "historic" mere pretentiousness on their part or some refusal to use Standard American English "rules" on the air? To many, this bold grammatical choice is unoffensive, but how are we to--as teachers--properly explain this inconsistency to EL learners and even native-speakers in grammar and writing bridge courses? Below is an excerpt from James Dvorkin's reply to a recent letter by Charles Everest about NPR's on-air grammatical faux-pas. (Please note Everest's own reply to this post below). Dvorkin replies . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 12:55 PM and is filed under Etymology.
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