Tag Archives: vocabulary

Batch of Blogideas Bookmarks

My Delicious site continuously fill up with great links that don’t necessarily merit a post of their own, but that readers of this blog might enjoy. Here are a few of those.

Mad Libs are one of those few fun and educational activities that can be done by yourself or with a whole class. There are several copy-cat sites on the net, but It’s a Mad Libs World wins out for the definitions that appear over the parts of speech when you hover over them, rather than being elsewhere on the site.

Wordies may enjoy Word for Word, Ben Zimmer’s insightful examination of the thesaurus and its founder Peter Mark Roget, who, according to Zimmer, “intended for his readers to immerse themselves in the orderly classification system of the thesaurus so that they might better understand the full possibilities for human expression”.

In an perfect world, research assignments would be student-led, when that spark of curiosity is allowed free rein to seek answers posed by the students themselves as is idealistically mandated in Alberta Learning’s Focus on Inquiry document. Kevin D. Washburn offers¬†Four Strategies to Spark Curiosity via Student Questioning to help facilitate this optimum method of learning.

On the front page of Read Kiddo Read, author James Patterson warns parents that their children could fall two years behind in school over the summer. To assist parents and the rest of us who want to encourage reading, Patterson has assembled a terrific site with reading lists arranged by age group along with interviews and occasional contests.

Google supports current system of copyright protection by removing 250,00 links per week from searches at the request of copyright holders.

Stories, games, history and more will delight fans on Just-Pooh.com.

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It’s Been as Long as the Dickens – 200 Years Today, Since the Birth of this Brilliant Wordsmith

“Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.”*

Charles Dickens 7 February, 1812 - 9 June 1970

I am a word lover in awe of those who can not merely find the right word to put in the right place to say what needs to be said, but who can find a new word, the best word, the most exciting, evocative and impactful word to nudge, to punt, to shake a brand new sensation into the heart of the pedestrian reader.

Charles Dickens is one of those who inspires that admiration, that awe and incredulity. I smile when I read Dickens’ novels – sometimes inappropriately through the most horrific and effecting scenes – just as I might smile when receiving a gift, because Dickens had fun with words and it’s a privilege to join in the play.

Humour is the soul of his work. Like the soul of man, it permeates a living fabric which, but for its creative breath, could never have existed.” George Gissing in ‘Charles Dickens: A Critical Study’

According to many, Charles Dickens was one of the most influential writers when it comes the shape of modern English.

“One way to measure the extent to which Dickens has enriched the lexicon is to see how often he is cited by the Oxford English Dictionary to illustrate the usage of words and phrases. Among writers quoted in the current edition of the OED, Dickens lags behind only Shakespeare, Scott, Chaucer, Milton, and Dryden for total number of citations (9,218). No one in the past two centuries comes close.” Ben Zimmer

As the most widely read Victorian author, Dickens brought the earthy slang of the times into widespread and enduring usage: sawbones and butterfingers were popularized after publication in The Pickwick Papers. Many of his own creative concoctions – words, phrases and characters’ names – have also become part of the general lexicon.

And then there is his own name. Due to the indelible mental pictures he painted, Dickensian has come to mean more than just a reference to his works, but an expression evoking the squalor and alternatively the conviviality of his representation of the Victorian era. Dickens was a master of character as well and boorishly comic people  have also been referred to as Dickensian.

Dickens had to grow up with a name that already evoked amusement, perhaps partially accounting for his unique and creative sense of humour. The use of ‘dickens‘ itself as a euphemism for fury as in, ‘we ran like the dickens’, mischief or the devil has been traced back before Charles’ time to Shakespeare and possibly beyond.

Click to examine the manuscript in high definition detail and check out the related blog post at the second link below.

SOURCES & RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
Ben Zimmer’s “Not to Put Too Fine a Point Upon It”: How Dickens Helped Shape the Lexicon
Sevaan Franks “A Christmas Carol” manuscript reveals Charles Dickens’ writing process
Jonathon Green’s “Heros of Slang: Charles Dickens”
David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page
InfoBritain Charles Dickens Biography and Visits
The Victorian Web Dickens: A Brief Biography
Nonfiction Monday: A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson – Review of the book for Grades 2-5
Dickens 2012 Curriculum resources

Jill Krementz Covers Charles Dickens at 200 at the Morgan Library and Museum New York
*Title quote from The Old Curiosity Ship (ch. VII) by Charles Dickens

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