What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 106 of 127


Name that tone … and the next one, too

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In which panel does the tone of Sam’s form letter change: the first, second, third or fourth? What is the tone at the beginning of the comic strip? How would you describe the tone later on?  What words in the letter signal a change in tone?  Check tomorrow's blog for answers.
 

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A tone she won’t condone

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good thing Sam's admitted his Christmas letter is a first draft, which is often called a rough draft. The tone is a bit rough for the holiday season. (See yesterday’s blog on tone.)

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Tone in toons

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, December 6, 2010


In “Freshly Squeezed” today cartoonist Ed Stein creates an ironic tone with the word “intimate.” Used as an adjective here, intimate means “closely acquainted or associated,” according to Webster’s. An intimate form letter is definitely a contradiction in terms. (Intimate can also be a verb, meaning to suggest or imply.)

Tone is a short word with a long list of meanings. For now, let’s just look at Webster’s definition of the word’s literary meaning: “a manner of speaking or writing that shows a certain attitude on the part of speaker or writer; consisting of choice of words or phrasing, etc.”

George Lichty’s “Grin and Bear It” below is another good example of tone in speaking or writing.

Before you analyze his caption, consider the meanings of two words: Bourgeois (boor ZWAH) is a word borrowed from the French that means materialistic or conventional, and Neanderthal refers to a primitive human being who lived many centuries ago.

Now, judging by the look on Dad’s face, how would you describe the tone of his daughter’s words?


For a fun lesson on tone that is appropriate for sixth grade, go to

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/11687.aspx
 

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Duped into a trip-up

By Debra Dobbins
Friday, December 3, 2010

Kudos should go to Dolly for trying out a new word. She must have learned the word “duplicate,” which means an identical copy, and extended the meaning when she spied triplets … or triplicates, if you will.

Watching children figure out language is both fascinating and charming. My three-year-old granddaughter told me recently that she “drawed” a picture for her father. Since most English verbs are regular verbs that use “ed” in the past tense, she has inferred that adding the “ed” suffix is how to describe an event in the past.

Choosing not to correct her, I replied, “Yes, you drew a beautiful picture.” I could almost see her brain’s neurons fire up. I know that she’s tucked away that usage away and, when her stage of development is right, she’ll say, “I drew a picture.” I just hope she doesn’t say, “I drew a picture all over the living room wall.”


 

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Stormy title, stormy times

By Debra Dobbins
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jeremy has my sympathy today. Wuthering Heights is not the easiest book to read.

Wuthering is an adjective used by inhabitants of Northern England that describes blustery winds or turbulent weather. As you’ve probably guessed, the word heights just means a place that is higher than others.

Wuthering Heights is a metaphoric name for a story about two ill-fated lovers in rural England. Their personal lives, racked with high drama, set up conflict for the next generation, as well.

Published in 1847, Emily Bronte’s gothic novel is replete with archaic words and convoluted sentence structure. Reading it can be a challenge. Still, the novel is a fascinating look into the souls of two iconic characters, and it inspired Kate Bush’s song with the same title in 1978. To see Bush performing the song, check out a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxZiDQ6Iw5s&feature=related.

Wuthering Heights truly is worth "sussing out." Let’s hope Jeremy perseveres.
 

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Page 106 of 127




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