Contemplative Pedagogy: Activating the Imagination

Tweet This post is one of a series on contemplative pedagogy, where the subject is as much the absence of language as language itself. In an essay writing class, a fictionalizing imagination is not necessary, but students must think of everyday events and reactions in new ways, and must link these events and reactions to […]

The language of guns

Tweet We should watch our gun language. The New York Times has an article today, “In Gun Debate, Even Language Is Loaded,” documenting the pervasive gun references in our language.  I speak six languages, and in thinking about each, I believe the article is correct — we have far more expressions, verbs, and nouns which […]

A teacher’s dilemma

Tweet A consistent mistake made by my students is using “everyday” instead of “every day.” “everyday” is an adjective, as in “That is an everyday concern of mine.” The other is a noun with a modifier, as in “Every day I brush my teeth.” While on an unrelated Internet quest (looking for the website which […]

Punctuation confusion

Tweet As the semester opens, next week, I don’t know what to tell my students about punctuation. Authoritative books, such as A Writer’s Reference, The Everyday Writer, and the latest edition of the Modern Language Association handbook on my shelf, the 6th, have almost identical lists of rules about commas, for example, yet the series […]

Italian university decides to teach all classes in English

Tweet The Politecnico University in Milano, Italy, has decided that it will teach all of its classes in English.  As you might imagine, this has caused controversy. As European (and other) universities attract a student body from various countries, there is something of a trend to teach classes in English.  Montclair State University, for example, […]

Journals: a comment on literacy

Tweet This weekend I saw Dr. Andrew Weil speak about mental health at the Book Fair in Tucson, Arizona.  Dr. Weil is a well known author and doctor who advocates integrated health care, using both traditional and modern medical techniques. Among the many elements of maintaining mental health, he mentioned gratitude. We should be grateful, […]

Lexicography exercise

Tweet We often think of dictionaries as definitive in their definitions, without questioning their authority, yet there are many different kinds of dictionaries, and students should be encouraged to use them with discretion and sophistication. An example: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 5th ed. (WNCD) aims its definitions at the “college student and general reader,” while […]

A confession

Tweet What do you do when a college freshman, who has passed the required classes and tests to get into college, says the Subject of the sentence, After being forced to look into a deeper meaning I realized how that one little factor could alter your mood, is “mood?”  (Please ignore the other problems with […]


Tweet My linguistics professor once posed the question, “What is an idea?” I must admit that I am still unsure. There is a complex process which occurs between thinking something and speaking or writing it. When we speak, we have not taken the time to figure out exactly what we think beforehand. The American Heritage […]

September 11th, 9-11, 9/11 – Words from our worst day

Tweet We still are not sure how to refer to that awful day — is it “nine eleven” or “September 11th?” As a society, we’re still vacillating. In 2001, 9-11 (or equivalents) was the Word of the Year, according to the American Dialect Society. In 2002, it was Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). What do […]