Grammar and More, Sponsored by Portico Books Sample Icons To Represent Parts of Speech: Spring - Action Verb, Screw - Subordinating Conjunction, Glue - Conjunction, and N-Cube - Noun

Advanced Search
  Grammar and More on Facebook Fran Hamilton on LinkedIn

Portico Books
P.O. Box 6094
Chesterfield, MO 63006
Email Us

2000-2011 Portico Books
All rights reserved.

We Rated with RSAC!
Labeled with ICRA



LinguaPhile, June 2004

A monthly e-mail newsletter nurturing the development and enjoyment of English language arts at home and at school.


Welcome New Subscribers

We welcome new subscribers from the following conferences attended since the last issue of LinguaPhile was published in February: IAHE, NCEA, Home School Book Fair (Arlington, TX), FPEA, and NICHE.

Back to Top

Hot Off the Press: The Second Edition of Hands-On English!

The second edition of Hands-On English is, at long last, a reality. For those of you who are fond of the first edition, don't worry; I think you'll recognize the second edition as your trusted friend. It has the same clear, concise explanations, the same tidy layout, and the same icons to represent parts of speech and sentence constructions.

The second edition is even more conversational than the first and is thirty-two pages longer. Most of the additions are in the Reading and Writing sections. There is new material on decoding (dividing words into syllables, determining the correct vowel sound, and placing the accent) and on finding the main idea. The Writing section has new information about paragraph development and conciseness.

The Activity Book has been updated to correspond with the new handbook. It includes fifteen new pages -- as well as some pages that have been revised to cover expanded content. In addition to "Reproducible" and "Consumable" editions -- housed in a one-inch binder with tests, answers, teacher's notes, and an annotated resource list -- a student workbook is now available. The workbook has perforated pages, which are three-hole drilled so that they can be kept for reference after they're completed.

Prices of the new Activity Book remain the same as for the first edition: $14.95 for the Consumable Edition and $29.95 for the Reproducible Edition. The workbook and the second edition of Hands-On English are $14.95 each.

I had hoped to have new pages posted on the GrammarAndMore website before I announced these new products to you. Everything is taking longer than I anticipated, however, and I couldn't wait any longer! You can order by calling (toll free) 1-888-641-5353. You can also order on the GrammarAndMore website, but if you want the second edition, be sure to indicate that -- and confirm the price -- in the Comment section. The order forms and the shopping cart should be updated within a couple of weeks.

If you want first edition books, I encourage you to order those right away. I have several hundred copies of Hands-On English and about 150 Activity Books. Those will not be reprinted.          

Back to Top

Could You Benefit from Hands-On English?

People in a variety of situations have found Hands-On English to be a valuable resource:

  • people who teach English at any level, whether their students are gifted or struggling. While Hands-On English is a great resource for teachers, it is even more effective when each student has a personal copy. Having the information at their fingertips helps students develop independence and confidence with English. And when students can quickly find and understand the information they need, teachers can more easily meet the diverse needs of students in their classes.

  • students fourth grade or older, including adults

  • homeschoolers

  • parents who are not homeschoolers. (Homeschooling Today deemed the book "a worthwhile addition to any home library.")

  • adults who are not necessarily parents. Everyone needs to check usage or mechanics rules from time to time -- how about copies for your home and your office?

  • student teachers -- in any subject               

  • people learning English as an additional language (the vocabulary section and irregular verb lists are especially helpful)

  • people trying to strengthen basic skills in order to improve their employment options

Many teachers and home educators have told me that Hands-On English is the clearest English book they've found. Get your copy today -- and get additional copies to give as gifts. 

You can order by phone, fax, snail mail, or on the Internet. MasterCard and Visa are accepted, and purchase orders are accepted from institutions. Discounts are available on quantity purchases.

If you have questions, or call (toll free) 1-888-641-5353. This number will also accept fax orders.

Back to Top

Upcoming Conference: St. Louis

A conferences is a great place to
• get a firsthand look at Hands-On English products
• introduce your colleagues to Hands-On English products
• give feedback on products you're using (including suggestions!)
• get your questions answered
• avoid shipping costs on Hands-On English purchases

If you'll be attending the Christian Home Educators Fellowship conference (CHEF) at the Heart of St. Charles Banquet Center June 23 and 24, be sure to stop by the Portico Books table to say hello to Fran and take a look at the second edition of Hands-On English. Take your friends along!
If you won't be attending the conference but know people who will be, please encourage them to do the same. Becoming familiar with Hands-On English products on the website can give you a good background for seeing the products in person:

Back to Top

Bloomsday Centennial

The day detailed and immortalized in James Joyce's revolutionary stream-of-consciousness novel, Ulysses is June 16, 1904. Sites around the world are having special celebrations to mark the centennial. (Dublin is celebrating for five months.) A Google search will let you know what is happening in your area.

If you aren't particularly fond of Joyce, plan to celebrate Bloomsday by immersing yourself in literature, by expressing yourself in writing, and/or by carefully observing the details of your surroundings.

Of Ulysses Joyce said, "I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." Compare this with what David R. Francis, president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, said about his marvelous world's fair held in St. Louis -- also in 1904: "So thoroughly did [the Fair] represent the world's civilizations that if all man's other works were by some unspeakable catastrophe blotted out, the records established at this Exposition by the assembled nations would afford the necessary standards for the rebuilding of our entire civilization." I wonder if this similarity is coincidence or if one of these geniuses modeled his remarks upon the other's.

For more on James Joyce and his work (and other sites that commemorate Bloomsday) see the June 2001 LinguaPhile:

Back to Top

Father's Day Writing Ideas

For a number of writing suggestions for Father's Day, see the June 2002 LinguaPhile:

Back to Top

Quote of the Month: Lessons from Literature

The lesson intended by an author is hardly ever the lesson the world chooses to learn from his book.
-- George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist, critic, and novelist
(1856-1950). Quoted in Oxymoronica.

Back to Top

Sharpen Your Vocabulary: oxymoron

You may know oxymoron as a rhetorical device involving an expression that appears illogical because of self-contradiction. On a deeper level, however, an oxymoron often reveals a profound truth. An oxymoron can involve a single word, a short phrase, a complete sentence, or even a longer passage. 

Did you know, though, that the word oxymoron is itself oxymoronic? As Dr. Mardy Grothe explains in his new book (reviewed below) oxymoron is forged from two Greek roots:  oxus, meaning "sharp or pointed," and moros, meaning "dull, stupid, or foolish." An oxymoron, then, is "a sharp dullness."  Another oxymoronic word is sophomore (the same moros root combined with sophos, meaning "wise or clever"). One of the most appropriate oxymoronic words is preposterous (pre meaning "before" and post meaning "after"). How could one better communicate the idea of absurdity (preposterousness) than with an oxymoron?

The word oxymoron appears in English for the first time in 1640. However, as Dr. Grothe's book illustrates, people had been creating oxymora (or recognizing contradictory circumstances) for millennia.
Hands-On English includes more than 200 morphemes, along with their meanings and examples. Knowing the meanings of morphemes can help you unlock hundreds of words the first time you encounter them. Reviewers of Hands-On English have said that the vocabulary section alone is worth the book's modest purchase price. Learn more -- and place your order -- at

Back to Top

Q and A:  Newsletters

Question: I haven't been receiving your newsletters lately. Am I still subscribed?

Answer: If you receive this newsletter, you are subscribed, and it is likely that you haven't missed any mailings. This is the first issue of LinguaPhile I have sent since February -- and I have sent only three issues of Acu-Write in the last three months. Preparation of the second edition took more time than I expected. Additional chunks of time were taken by traveling to spring conventions.

Be sure to keep me apprised of your e-mail address though -- and be sure that your mailbox will accept the newsletters. About 100 newsletters bounce back to me with each mailing -- either because they are rejected by a filtering system or because the recipient's mailbox cannot accommodate them.

I appreciate your patience with recent sporadic publication, and I hope to be back on a regular publishing schedule by the end of June.

Hands-On English will put a wealth of information at your fingertips so that you can quickly find what you need to know about grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and more. Get details -- and place your order -- at

We invite your questions for this feature:

Back to Top

Review: Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit and Wisdom from History's Greatest Wordsmiths by Dr. Mardy Grothe

Dr. Mardy Grothe, author of Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You, has written another gem -- Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit and Wisdom from History's Greatest Wordsmiths. The subtitle is perfectly apt: Wit and wisdom form the crux of an oxymoron, and Grothe's examples -- drawn from around the world -- span millennia.

As Grothe says in his introduction, "Many examples of oxymoronica appear illogical or self-contradictory on the surface. But at a deeper level, they usually make a great deal of sense and are often profoundly true."

A linguaphile extraordinaire, Grothe has been collecting quotations for nearly four decades. From his eight to ten thousand examples of oxymoronica, he has culled nearly 1500 for inclusion in the present volume. He has arranged them into fourteen chapters, each with a theme, such as romance, family, politics, the arts, and literature. One chapter is devoted to "ancient oxymoronica," another to "inadvertent oxymoronica."  Grothe provides commentary through about the first half of each chapter, citing oxymora (the purists' plural) that illustrate his points. The last half of each chapter presents additional oxymora without commentary. Grothe advises readers not to read these too quickly but to take time to savor each one as if it were gourmet chocolate.

Here are a few of my favorites from Oxymoronica:

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply. 
--Kahlil Gibran

There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. 
--James Thurber

People have one thing in common: they are all different.
--Robert Zend

We are never prepared for what we expect. 
--James Michener

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. 

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.
--G. K. Chesterton

Fire is a natural symbol of life and passion, though it is the one element in which nothing can actually live.
--Susanne K. Langer

Revenge leads to an empty fullness, like eating dirt.
--Mignon McLaughlin

The principal contributor to loneliness in this country is television. What happens is that the family "gets together" alone. 
--Ashley Montagu

I'm the Hiroshima of love. 
--Sylvester Stallone

Oxymoronica is a linguaphile's paradise. It will delight you again and again with its double-faceted gems. It is a celebration not only of people's wit and wisdom but also of the paradoxical nature of our world.

Published by HarperResource, 2004. 256 pages, including an author index.

For more about oxymora, see

To explore the phenomenon of chiasmus, see

Available from Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History's Greatest Wordsmiths.

Back to Top

Puzzler: Match Wits with a Telephone

I was recently introduced to the idea of "predictive text messaging," which I found fascinating. Telephones with this capability can decode numerical messages by predicting which letter (represented by a particular number on a key pad) that number is most likely to represent in the context of a message.

For example "843" is most likely to be the. UHF, VHF, and vie, are also possible, however. 

It seemed to me that a puzzle was inherent here. As far as I know, this puzzle format is original (please let me know if you've seen it before).

Decode this quotation, which is an example of oxymoronica from Mardy Grothe's book. In case you don't have a telephone key pad handy, here are the possibilities for each number:

1 (not used)      6 M N O
2 A B C   7 P Q R S
3 D E F  8 T U V
4 G H I  9 W X Y Z
5 J K L 0 word space

Here's the message:

"4 8 0 8 2 5 3 7 0 2 0 4 3 2 7 0 6 3 0 7 3 6 7 3 0 8 6 0
9 7 4 8 3 0 4 6 6 3 0 6 6 6 7 3 6 7 3." --6 2 7 5 0 8 9 2 4 6

My telephone, by the way, misinterpreted one of the numbers, so you have a very good chance of besting the machine.

Answer to February Puzzler

Can you find a 15-letter word that suggests a good deal of anxiety and contains no ascenders and no descenders?


Back to Top

Thank you for reading. If you find LinguaPhile helpful and interesting, don't keep it a secret! Consider which of your friends would also enjoy it, and send them information about subscribing. Those receiving this forwarded message can subscribe at . People who have e-mail but do not have Internet access can subscribe by clicking on this link and requesting to subscribe: .

We welcome your comments and suggestions:

The index to LinguaPhile, which is updated monthly, is now available in either a text or .doc format on the GrammarAndMore Web site:
This makes the information from previous issues readily accessible. You are encouraged to print the index for your convenience or to share it with friends. Why not send them the URL of the text version?
It's a gift you can give, yet still have for yourself!

© 2004 Fran Santoro Hamilton


FREE Newsletters

Subscribe to LinguaPhile
Subscribe to Acu-Write

View Cart/Checkout


Package Deal!
Add to Cart

Buy Hands-On English, the Activity Book (Reproducible Edition), and Hands-On Sentences for $50.00

Hands-On English, Second Edition (Handbook)
Add to Cart

The Activity Book (Practice Pages)
Reproducible Edition:
Add to Cart

Consumable Edition:
Add to Cart

Student Workbook:
Add to Cart

Hands-On Sentences (Card Game)
Add to Cart

Wild Card from Hands-On Sentences

Hands-On Icons (Visual Aids)
Add to Cart

Icon for Compound Sentence
Email this page to a friend!


About Portico Books



View Cart/Checkout