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- How to Speak and Write Correctly - 1/29 -


HOW TO SPEAK AND WRITE CORRECTLY

By JOSEPH DEVLIN, M.A.

Edited by THEODORE WATERS

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I REQUIREMENTS OF SPEECH Vocabulary. Parts of speech. Requisites.

CHAPTER II ESSENTIALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR Divisions of grammar. Definitions. Etymology.

CHAPTER III THE SENTENCE Different kinds. Arrangement of words Paragraph.

CHAPTER IV FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Figures of speech. Definitions and examples. Use of figures.

CHAPTER V PUNCTUATION Principal points. Illustrations. Capital letters.

CHAPTER VI LETTER WRITING Principles of letter writing. Forms. Notes.

CHAPTER VII ERRORS Mistakes. Slips of authors. Examples and corrections. Errors of redundancy.

CHAPTER VIII PITFALLS TO AVOID Common stumbling blocks. Peculiar constructions. Misused forms.

CHAPTER IX STYLE Diction. Purity. Propriety. Precision.

CHAPTER X SUGGESTIONS How to write. What to write. Correct speaking and speakers.

CHAPTER XI SLANG Origin. American slang. Foreign slang.

CHAPTER XII WRITING FOR NEWSPAPERS Qualification. Appropriate subjects. Directions.

CHAPTER XIII CHOICE OF WORDS Small words. Their importance. The Anglo-Saxon element.

CHAPTER XIV ENGLISH LANGUAGE Beginning. Different Sources. The present.

CHAPTER XV MASTERS AND MASTERPIECES OF LITERATURE Great authors. Classification. The world's best books.

INTRODUCTION

In the preparation of this little work the writer has kept one end in view, viz.: To make it serviceable for those for whom it is intended, that is, for those who have neither the time nor the opportunity, the learning nor the inclination, to peruse elaborate and abstruse treatises on Rhetoric, Grammar, and Composition. To them such works are as gold enclosed in chests of steel and locked beyond power of opening. This book has no pretension about it whatever,--it is neither a Manual of Rhetoric, expatiating on the dogmas of style, nor a Grammar full of arbitrary rules and exceptions. It is merely an effort to help ordinary, everyday people to express themselves in ordinary, everyday language, in a proper manner. Some broad rules are laid down, the observance of which will enable the reader to keep within the pale of propriety in oral and written language. Many idiomatic words and expressions, peculiar to the language, have been given, besides which a number of the common mistakes and pitfalls have been placed before the reader so that he may know and avoid them.

The writer has to acknowledge his indebtedness to no one in _particular_, but to all in _general_ who have ever written on the subject.

The little book goes forth--a finger-post on the road of language pointing in the right direction. It is hoped that they who go according to its index will arrive at the goal of correct speaking and writing.

CHAPTER I

REQUIREMENTS OF SPEECH

Vocabulary--Parts of Speech--Requisites

It is very easy to learn how to speak and write correctly, as for all purposes of ordinary conversation and communication, only about 2,000 different words are required. The mastery of just twenty hundred words, the knowing where to place them, will make us not masters of the English language, but masters of correct speaking and writing. Small number, you will say, compared with what is in the dictionary! But nobody ever uses all the words in the dictionary or could use them did he live to be the age of Methuselah, and there is no necessity for using them.

There are upwards of 200,000 words in the recent editions of the large dictionaries, but the one-hundredth part of this number will suffice for all your wants. Of course you may think not, and you may not be content to call things by their common names; you may be ambitious to show superiority over others and display your learning or, rather, your pedantry and lack of learning. For instance, you may not want to call a spade a spade. You may prefer to call it a spatulous device for abrading the surface of the soil. Better, however, to stick to the old familiar, simple name that your grandfather called it. It has stood the test of time, and old friends are always good friends.

To use a big word or a foreign word when a small one and a familiar one will answer the same purpose, is a sign of ignorance. Great scholars and writers and polite speakers use simple words.

To go back to the number necessary for all purposes of conversation correspondence and writing, 2,000, we find that a great many people who pass in society as being polished, refined and educated use less, for they know less. The greatest scholar alive hasn't more than four thousand different words at his command, and he never has occasion to use half the number.

In the works of Shakespeare, the most wonderful genius the world has ever known, there is the enormous number of 15,000 different words, but almost 10,000 of them are obsolete or meaningless today.

Every person of intelligence should be able to use his mother tongue correctly. It only requires a little pains, a little care, a little study to enable one to do so, and the recompense is great.

Consider the contrast between the well-bred, polite man who knows how to choose and use his words correctly and the underbred, vulgar boor, whose language grates upon the ear and jars the sensitiveness of the finer feelings. The blunders of the latter, his infringement of all the canons of grammar, his absurdities and monstrosities of language, make his very presence a pain, and one is glad to escape from his company.

The proper grammatical formation of the English language, so that one may acquit himself as a correct conversationalist in the best society or be able to write and express his thoughts and ideas upon paper in the right manner, may be acquired in a few lessons.

It is the purpose of this book, as briefly and concisely as possible, to direct the reader along a straight course, pointing out the mistakes he must avoid and giving him such assistance as will enable him to reach the goal of a correct knowledge of the English language. It is not a Grammar in any sense, but a guide, a silent signal-post pointing the way in the right direction.

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN A NUTSHELL

All the words in the English language are divided into nine great classes. These classes are called the Parts of Speech. They are Article, Noun, Adjective, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction and Interjection. Of these, the Noun is the most important, as all the others are more or less dependent upon it. A Noun signifies the name of any person, place or thing, in fact, anything of which we can have either thought or idea. There are two kinds of Nouns, Proper and Common. Common Nouns are names which belong in common to a race or class, as _man_, _city_. Proper Nouns distinguish individual members of a race or class as _John_, _Philadelphia_. In the former case _man_ is a name which belongs in common to the whole race of mankind, and _city_ is also a name which is common to all large centres of population, but _John_ signifies a particular individual of the race, while _Philadelphia_ denotes a particular one from among the cities of the world.

Nouns are varied by Person, Number, Gender, and Case. Person is that relation existing between the speaker, those addressed and the subject under consideration, whether by discourse or correspondence. The Persons are _First_, _Second_ and _Third_ and they represent respectively the speaker, the person addressed and the person or thing mentioned or under consideration.


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