English: use of which

Tutoring English, grammar inevitably arises. The tutor mentions a use of which he’s long considered.

Decades ago I read a humorous article I really liked that included something like this:

He didn’t like that dish. Which is why he always ordered it.

Although I really liked that construction, I didn’t believe I’d get away with it in an English assignment. Therefore, I never used it myself. Still, I wondered what, technically, would be wrong with it.

Perhaps today I have found the answer: Which is a relative pronoun, meaning it refers to a noun in the central idea of the same sentence it appears.

In the quote above, which refers to the idea stated in the previous sentence: He didn’t like that dish. To be used properly, which must represent a noun in its same sentence, perhaps like so:

He didn’t like that dish, which is why he always ordered it.

Source:

Hodges, Horner, et al. Harbrace Handbook for Canadians, 6th ed. Scarborough: Nelson Education, 2003.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle, reading: blogs: Maanini

Finding blogs to follow leads to self-tutoring: the tutor mentions Maanini Singhvi’s blog A Fresh Outlook.

Reading a blog can inject you with the writer’s point of view. Such was my experience today, reading Tagore’s Ideals and Our Progress. Therein, Maanini observes challenges India faces towards becoming an ideal nation. I wonder if Maanini realizes any large democracy could be the subject.

Tagore’s poem, displayed above the post, sounds almost biblical, and reminds the reader that our “western” ideals actually come from the eastern world. Asia was the centre of human civilization for thousands of years before the “western” countries even existed. India, China, Iraq, and Egypt, with their marvelous agricultural potential and other natural resources, hosted the development of our common ideas of civilization.

Large western democracies had their time of prominence during the 20th century, but now, seemingly, need reinvent themselves. Maanini, mentioning India’s internal challenges, highlights our own as well.

A couple of clauses from Maanini’s article catch my attention. One is the observation that Parliament’s “sessions are washed away with trivial issues….”; I love the imagery there. The other is that India’s progress is a thousand mile journey that must begin with a single step, which is based on the saying by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

While India and China seem seldom to be mentioned together, they are neighbours. Both have emerged into dominance this new millennium, from starkly different approaches. As we all go forward, what will those two old giants teach to each other, and to us in the west?

Source:

www.cia.gov

www.brainyquote.com

maanini.wordpress.com

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: reading: Hardy Boys, Danger on Vampire Trail

The tutor talks briefly about a book he recently finished.

I still read Hardy Boys mysteries to my kids, now 12 and 14, especially before bed. It’s a special time; I’ve always enjoyed reading to the family.

Danger on Vampire Trail is number 50 of the Hardy Boys series. It’s different from most Hardy Boys mysteries in a few ways:

  • The story is set outdoors; the boys are camping.
  • The boys face trouble from characters who aren’t the criminals they’re after, but apparently cause them nuisance time and again.
  • There is an eccentric character whose participation is potentially distracting.
  • Fenton Hardy appears only at the beginning.

The boys struggle throughout the mystery, perhaps with fewer clues than in most of their cases. The pace of Danger on Vampire Trail seems a little slower than a typical Hardy Boys novel, possibly because they are meant to be (somewhat) on vacation even as they track the credit card counterfeiters.

Source:

Dixon, Franklin W. Danger on Vampire Trail. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1971.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Reading: The Dead Man of Varley Grange

The tutor brings up a title he read over the weekend.

Last weekend, we had some dreary weather that foreshadowed Halloween. My older son thought I might read a ghost story. I got out a book called Victorian Ghost Stories, then settled on The Dead Man of Varley Grange.

In a Victorian way, The Dead Man of Varley Grange is overdone. It’s as comedic as supernatural, and very entertaining. It explores the absurdity of the Victorian point of view.

The Dead Man of Varley Grange is probably much better read aloud to a group, then read alone. I like reading to people, and highly recommend The Dead Man of Varley Grange for that purpose.

Good reading:)

Source:

Victorian Ghost Stories. London: Senate, 1995.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: Hardy Boys Mysteries: Mystery of the Spiral Bridge

The tutor recommends Hardy Boys Mystery 45: Mystery of the Spiral Bridge.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I love reading Hardy Boys mysteries to my family. The tradition started, I believe, before my kids joined school. I’ve read dozens aloud during mealtimes, stormy afternoons, car rides, or bedtime. While it’s taken a backseat to the children’s other activities, it continues. Number 45, Mystery of the Spiral Bridge, is our current Hardy Boys mystery.

During its early chapters, Mystery of the Spiral Bridge didn’t appeal to me as I’d hoped. While there was lots of action, the plot didn’t seem unified: there were just too many surprises. Chapter XI, however, marks a turning point: the action settles in one locale, and its unique characters (particular to Mystery of the Spiral Bridge) develop. At the same time, under cover amongst many ex-jailbirds, the boys learn and begin using prison lingo to gain acceptance.

The prison lingo, along with a few other events and suggestions, gives the novel a darker feel than most Hardy Boys mysteries. Sudden, wild events occur in a way I can’t recall from others in the series. Yet, the gritty, hillbilly setting of the novel’s second half hosts the developments with credibility: Mystery of the Spiral Bridge becomes a page-turner.

I highly recommend Mystery of the Spiral Bridge.

Source:

Dixon, Franklin W. Mystery of the Spiral Bridge. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1966.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Canadian language: what does Kabloona mean?

The tutor shares a term he discovered in the dictionary.

Kabloona is an Inuit term referring to a non-Inuit; the term particularly suggests a white person. It has been used to describe white people present to do specific functions: police, missionaries, etc.

Kabloonamuit refers to Inuit people who emulate White ways. They generally participate in the economy as a white person would – having a job instead of being self-employed, and buying clothes and food from stores.

Having learned only recently of the terms Kabloona and Kabloonamuit, I don’t know if they’re meant for conversational use. I’m intrigued I’ve never heard of them.

Source:

Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary & Thesaurus. Glasgow:
  HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.

thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbel River, BC.

English: sedulous

The tutor brings up a word discovery.

Not often does a word catch my eye. However, thumbing through my Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary recently, I noticed the word sedulous.

I can’t remember hearing sedulous or seeing it in print. Being in a rush that moment, I remembered the word and looked it up later. Here is its meaning:

sedulous (adj): persistent; tirelessly working towards a goal.

Since sedulous seems to be a complimentary term, one might expect to hear it more often:)

Source:

Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary & Thesaurus. Glasgow: HarperCollins,
   2006.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: reading: Harry Potter: Tom Riddle and Voldemort, part 0

The tutor opens a discussion about Tom Riddle and Voldemort.

As I mentioned in my Jan 19, 2015 post, I’ve read the Harry Potter series to my children twice. We’re on our third time, midway through The Half-Blood Prince. We are about to embark on a memory of Tom Riddle.

Tom Riddle is a favourite character of mine from the Harry Potter series. Of course, he becomes the antagonist, Voldemort. We are led to believe that, by age eleven, soon to enter Hogwarts, Tom is already paranoid and predatory.

What makes Tom Riddle intriguing to me is his single-mindedness, as well as his charisma. Dumbledore admits that most of Tom’s activities at Hogwarts, while almost certainly ambitious, go undetected – even in spite of Tom’s popularity.

Perhaps, like with so many people, Tom’s best years are at school. After Hogwarts, he fades into the background, metamorphosing into Voldemort.

While even Voldemort has his moments, he’s not so attractive (to me) as Tom Riddle. Sitting here, sipping my coffee, I’ve finally wrestled with why. The answer is that Tom Riddle’s focus is personal development, while Voldemort’s is controlling others. An academic always appreciates personal development, but doesn’t have much taste for power. Controlling others, after all, doesn’t lead to self improvement.

I’ll be talking more about characters from the Harry Potter series in future posts:)

Source:

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: Reading: Short Horror: H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Tomb”

The tutor shares some thoughts about Lovecraft’s short story “The Tomb.”

“The Tomb” is classic Lovecraft. First, it centres on an abandoned location connected with former greatness. Second, its narrator develops a connection to the supernatural world. Finally, the narrator’s exposure to that other world consumes him, so he cannot return to normal life.

In my experience, Lovecraft focuses on setting more than character development, which I appreciate. I read more for setting than any other facet of a story. In “The Tomb”, the narrator is irresistibly attracted to a wooded area, once part of the estate of a great family that returned to Europe after a tragedy. There the narrator finds the tomb.

Spending time around the tomb, the narrator has a supernatural experience whence he learns how he can enter it. The narrator’s experiences in the tomb cause him to prefer it to the everyday world. He comes to feel he belongs therein.

Eventually, the narrator casts his fate with the perished occupants of the tomb. He rejects normal life, seeking to be “reunited” with them. He suggests he may be a reincarnation of one of them who, mysteriously, never wound up in the tomb.

Three focuses I’ve noticed of Lovecraft’s stories:

  1. The supernatural world is much bigger than our own and surrounds us.
  2. The supernatural world can be entered surprisingly easily, either purposefully or by accident.
  3. Once a person enters the supernatural world, they may not be able to return.

Source:

Padgett, JoAnn, et al (editors). Classic Tales of Horror. San Diego: Canterbury
  Classics, 2015.

English: Reading: E. F. Benson: “The Room in the Tower”

The tutor shares about a late read.

Two days prior, I’d never heard of E.F. Benson. However, the horror anthology I mention in my post of November 10 includes his “The Room in the Tower.”

The title attracted me. Benson writes with gentlemanly ease, lulling you into the setting. The story is setting-focused, rather than character-focused, which plays to my taste. Benson describes the setting repeatedly, with a difference here or there from last time; the differences develop the story’s suspense. “The Room in the Tower” is written in first-person.

I highly recommend “The Room in the Tower.” It’s ten Classic Tales of Horror pages, but might be twenty in a paperback – the perfect length for an interlude.

Source:

Padgett, Joann (Ed.) et al. Classic Tales of Horror. San Diego: Canterbury Classics,   2015.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.