Notes from the Smithy… #84
Notes from the Smithy… #84
Hello from Southern Oregon! Summer is here with a vengeance with hot temperatures. For most of you, school is out for a few months. Enjoy.
NEWS what’s happening
JUST FOR FUN tricky questions
ONLINE ED trends & options
VERBS helpful subsets
RECENT READS a few from me
MISCELLANY as it says
This quarter things got derailed due to illness on my part. I pretty much missed a month of doing anything, so I am behind on all fronts. Late spring chores are finally getting caught up, but nothing has been done on the punctuation lessons.
The vocabulary books are being reprinted. In the new printing a note about getting the major tests from me will appear. You can still email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to get a set of major vocabulary tests for Jensen’s Vocabulary. I am the only source for these tests. They are free, but you will have to print them off. Each set includes the test and the answers.
As far as printing schedules, the writing books are next, and they will be followed by Jensen’s Grammar. There are no changes of substance being planned in any of these books.
I am considering putting English Fun Stuff into an electronic format, but that task will have to wait until the printings are done and the punctuation exercises are written.
The coauthor of the Grammar Land series has a couple more years before retiring from active teaching and is talking about writing part 6 in the series. We got together in early July and had a discussion about the Grammar Land books.
JUST FOR FUN
Most folks make assumptions as they read, and much of the time that facilitates understanding, but sometimes it doesn’t. What follows is a reading test to see if you are paying attention. See how you do.
1. Mary’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?
2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop; he is five feet ten inches tall, and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?
3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
5. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?
6. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible?
7. In California you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?
8. What was the President’s Name in 1975?
9. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
10. Which is correct to say, “The yolk of the egg are white” or “The yolk of the egg is white”?
11. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?
See the end of this letter for the answers.
Online options have morphed with technology. Recently I’ve been getting all sorts of offers for college degrees and so forth. Just what is available, and for what levels, and what are the options? Let’s take a look.
Nicole Foster contacted me about an article on the changes in online education. You can find it at www.bestcollegesonline.com. The title is “Ten Years of Online Education.” She makes the case that online education, at least at the college level, has gotten much better over the years.
There are advantages to doing courses online. You don’t have to move. You can work a job and still take classes. You can take less than a full load. In some cases you can work more or less at your own pace; other times you are on a schedule just like at a brick and mortar school. Generally the costs are cheaper. Today I received a promotion from Liberty University. They talk about flexible schedules, affordable degree options, and 160 fields of study.
Most of the ads I receive are about college level courses, but what about K-12 options? From what I see, pretty much whatever you want is available. For a virtual academy try www.k12.com; they offer year long programs for all grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. You can get a full year with online teachers and counselors for all subjects at a given grade level. They offer a free online public school, a private school, and individual courses.
For single courses or even short videos that teach a particular skill, Khan Academy is a likely spot to go, www.khanacadey.org if you are interested in math and sciences. They are branching out and now have some other offerings as well. Math at all levels is represented; you can find everything from the simple basics of addition and subtraction to calculus and linear equations.
For a nice list which includes some of the above sites, try www.sheknows.com and find the article by Tiany Davis on online homeschool options. She gives a dozen or so sites to look at.
For those of you who have an ipad, iphone or ipod, you can download the iTunes U app. Once you have the app, you can find a list of K-12 schools that offer online courses; some are free, and some you have to pay for. I suppose if you have a PC, you can still access iTunes and get the app and be on your way to looking at schools and courses.
Of course, some schools and programs will still send you DVD’s that are not dependent on an internet connection. A drawback to this approach is that you don’t have the interaction with a teacher or counselor, but that is not always the case as some programs offer support in other ways. However, DVD programs are great for working at your own speed, and you can repeat and re-watch earlier lessons to your heart’s content.
Nothing replaces mom or dad at the kitchen table, but sometimes having a non-resident expert at hand to help a student, and even a mom, through a difficult section is a real plus. I am making no recommendations regarding any given program, but in most homeschooling situations I do think it would be at least worth checking out what is available in the electronic media.
Verbs are a curious lot. They are the second only to nouns in number in the English language, so there are lots of them. Verbs are broken down by grammarians in a variety of ways: auxiliary and main, linking and active, regular and irregular, strong and weak. I will review each of these.
Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs; they help the main verb. Auxiliary verbs have a sub group called modals. The modals are can, could, shall should, will, would, may, might, and must. There are nine all together, and with the exception of must, they have two forms, past and present. These modals give us a range of probability. I might is much less probable than I must.
Three regular auxiliary verbs and their forms exist. When I say their forms, I mean the five forms that most verbs have. For instance, run, runs, running, ran, run or walk, walks, walking, walked, walked are the five forms of run and walk. I know, the last two forms of walk are the same, but I’ll cover that later. The three common auxiliary verbs are the forms of be, have and do. The first two are found all the time while the latter is generally used only for emphasis. In my book Jensen’s Grammar, I give the verb cluster syntax. It is a formula that all active voice sentences follow: modal (+ simple) have (+ en) be (+ ing) Vbw. I am not going to explain it all here, but the syntax is very dependable in that it does not vary. The student does have to decide which verb is the verb base word, but the Vbw is always the last verb in the cluster, so that helps make things easier. Being able to find the Vbw is most helpful in figuring the grammar of a given sentence.
The key to understanding types of sentence patterns lies in knowing and recognizing the linking verbs. There are twelve common linking verbs. If a student knows these twelve and their various forms, he can assume that any verb which is not one of these twelve is automatically an active verb. The twelve are be, become, remain, look, appear, taste, smell, sound, feel, act, grow, and seem. The first three represent some state of being; the next six have to do with the senses, and the last three don’t fit any category. Seem is unusual in that it is always linking. The others can sometimes be active.
Linking verbs do not show action; they state an observation or a judgment of a condition. Her perfume smelled good represents a judgment, so smell in this case is linking. I smelled a skunk is different. It is active; I did some sniffing. Linking verbs don’t take objects; they are followed by subject complements, either adjective or noun. You might know them as predicate adjectives and predicate nouns.
Another way to split up the verbs is by the forms they take in the past forms. I contend that verbs have two tenses, present and past. Tense is a grammatical category. Unfortunately the terms past and present also have meaning in time. The obvious question becomes, “How can we talk about the future if we have no future tense?” The answer is we use modals and adverbs.
Verbs, with the exception of the modals and the verb be, have five forms. Three are present, and two are past. Remember the run and walk example given earlier. Run is an example of an irregular verb while walk is an example of a regular verb. Regular verbs have past forms that end in –ed like walked. Irregular verbs do something else, usually an internal vowel change but not always.
The five forms are simple, -s, -ing, -ed, and –en. Corresponding terms are first person singular present, third person singular present, present participle, simple or narrative past, and past participle. I think my terms are simpler.
To help students figure out the five forms, Jensen’s Grammar gives them five test frames. Today I – is the test frame for the simple form. Yesterday I – is the simple past test frame. I have – is the test frame for the past participle. Just dump the verb of your choice into the last two test frames to see if it is regular or irregular. If it ends in –ed, it is regular.
The next category, strong and weak verbs, is a bit tricky and is of interest to the grammarian. Most students won’t need to know this, but I will lay out the case for it here. These terms come from Germanic language verbs. You should know that English is a Germanic language as is Dutch and so forth. Strong verbs are irregular verbs that undergo a vowel change and do not end in a t or a d. Examples are sing-sang, wear-wore.
A weak verb is a verb in the Germanic language set that forms the past or past participle by adding a t or a d. This group includes irregular verbs such as sleep-slept, hit-hit, and bend-bent, and it includes all regular verbs. The largest class of irregular verbs is the no-change verbs: hit-hit, put-put, set-set, bid-bid, spread-spread, hurt-hurt and so on. Why don’t these verbs have –ed endings? Steven Pinker thinks that people just don’t like to add an –ed to words that end in t or d.
This strong-weak and regular-irregular stuff is all wrapped up in history. Language didn’t just fall out of the sky for us. We tend to speak the way our folks and others around us do. We learn by listening. People are generally pretty conservative when it comes to language, so they hold on to the forms they are used to. Adults and older children are quick to correct youngsters when they make a mistake. I bringed it gets a reprimand along with the correct form, I brought it.
New verbs are brought in as regular verbs: fax-faxed or email-emailed for instance. If a verb shifts over time, it is usually from strong to weak. Leapt is changing to leaped and dreamt is on equal terms today with dreamed. Stopt has long since become stopped, but slept has yet show signs of movement.
Strong verbs usually occur in families: drink-drank-drunk, sink-sank-sunk or bring-brought-brought, buy-bought-bought. That’s just two families. Be is the oddball of them all. It has eight forms: be, is, am, are, being, was, were, been. How did those forms persist? They were very common; everyone used them every day. Old habits are hard to break. That’s enough on verbs for now, probably more than you wanted to know.
Below you will find some short reviews of my last quarter’s reading. Although I started out at a good pace, my sickness slowed me way down, and I read nothing for three weeks or so. Dismal!
It was with some sadness that I finished the Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. This past quarter I read three: ThePotter’s Field (#17), The Holy Thief (#19) and Brother Cadfael’s Penance (#20). Previously I had read #18. She wrote so well. From #17: “I think truth, like the burgeoning of a bulb under soil, however deeply sown, will make its way to the light.” The question is asked what they can do; the answer is to pray and wait. Later this description is given while on a morning ride. “But the birds were up and singing, busy and loud, lords of their own tiny manors, crying their rights and privileges in defiance of intruders.” And at the end this: “…God’s justice, if it makes no haste, makes no mistakes.” From The Holy Thief I will share two snippets. “It might be all too easy to take a wrong path! And Heaven knows, once launched, it’s all too hard to turn back and look again for the missed trace.” And finally, “Sin detected can contrive all manner of veils to cover its nakedness.”
I finished two commentaries on 1 & 2 Timothy. Passing on the Truth, by Michael Bentley is one of the Welwyn commentary series; it was helpful. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit was written by Kent R. Hughes. It was a series of sermons albeit edited some; it was quite readable, interesting, and informative.
Harry L. Reeder III is PCA pastor who heads up a church rejuvenation ministry. I read his newer book, The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders. I believe the book was designed for larger churches since it speaks of staff quite a bit. However, there is information that is helpful to churches of all sizes. His criteria for selecting elders was very good.
Just for fun I picked up #2 in the Troy Rising series by John Ringo. This one was called Citadel. It carries on the story begun in #1, but it didn’t carry my interest as much as the first book. Mr. Ringo is very into technical stuff, and he cites numerous folks in his acknowledgements who helped with the finer points of space mechanics and so forth. I doubt I will read #3.
The Last Temple by Hank Hanegraff and Sigmund Brouwer is the third and last volume in their series about the end times from a non-dispensational perspective. Brouwer’s hand is all over the book with twists and turns and layers of plots; the explanations emerge as the book moves on. It is a book that should be read after the first two for certain things to make sense. I enjoyed it. If you like page turners and end times stuff, get this series.
When I want a quick and light read, I often pick one of my Louis L’Amour books off the shelf. Taggart was my choice this time. It was a typical L’Amour western, lots of action, no character development, and the good guys win. Yep, them white hats got it all over those fellers wearing black.
Ray Comfort’s book, The Beatles, God, and The Bible, is about all three. He talks about Beatle history and works in his apologetics and evangelizes at times. John Lennon is the Beatle that gets the most focus, but there are chapters on the other three as well. Comfort was and by his admission still is a fan of the Beatles. They were talented fellows but sorely mixed up by the fame and money that came their way. He shows the evolution of their individual and collective faiths and how it changed their music. It was an interesting book.
The Wordy Shipmates is by Sarah Vowell. She is obviously very liberal and not a Christian although she grew up in a Pentecostal family. The book has a focus on John Winthrop, but Roger Williams and Ann Hutchinson get some attention also. It appears she has done her homework on the era and on Winthrop especially. My observation is she has a sort of love-hate relationship with Winthrop. She is very appreciative of some of what he wrote and did, but other things she dislikes. Well, who is perfect anyway? She is a bit of a smart aleck when she writes and often slides into more modern political situations and personalities and taking pot shots at whoever conveniently fits the picture. I would not recommend the book unless you like smarty writing and an unconventional look at John Winthrop.
1. This newsletter is posted quarterly on the website, and it is emailed free to those who wish to subscribe.
2. Remember, if you have questions, I am only an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am your support, so use me when the need arises.
3. Answers: 1) Mary 2) meat 3) Mt. Everest, it just wasn’t discovered yet. 4) None, there’s no dirt in a hole. 5) incorrectly 6) He lives below the equator. 7) You need a camera; wooden legs don’t take pictures. 8) same as it is now, Barak Obama 9) 2nd, you passed the 2nd place person, not the first. 10) Neither; the yolk is yellow. 11) One, he combined them into one stack.
4. The next issue of Smithy Notes is scheduled for distribution in the fall, Lord willing.
RESTING IN HIM,
July 4, 2013 / Frode / 0