A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Baby Talk

I want to write a book offering parents of young children advice in the art of circumlocution. And believe me, it is an art. Do you know how many ways there are to say "I think Olivia and I will go play on the swing at the park tomorrow," without actually using those words? Of particular importance to avoid are the words park, swing, swingset, toy, back-and-forth (because we associate that with certain toys), and even go. ("Go? Go? Go? Go?" Olivia--er, I mean, the typical child--may petition for a half hour while attempting to put on her shoes.)

For starters, there's:

1. I think Olivia and I will make use of the pendular child's apparatus at the recreational greenspace tomorrow.

2. I think Olivia and I will revisit the chain-suspended motion-chair at the municipal commons tomorrow. (This is the Beowulf version.)

3. I think Olivia and I will exploit the hanging, swaying seat that at the community leisure grounds tomorrow.

Now isn't that more creative than you-know-whatting on the thingie at the you-know-where?

And here's a gratuitous shot of Olivia on the pendular child's apparatus:

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rhetoric Defined

The other day in my Intro to Composition Studies course for first-year Ph.D. students, I asked the class to work in pairs and develop definitions of rhetoric. I didn't think to get permission to share any of theirs (I haven't been thinking like a blogger lately), but I'll share mine. I realize now that this is the definition I've been working with for some time, but I've only now concretized it. And, of course, as I continue to read, write, talk, and listen, I'm sure it will evolve:

Rhetoric is the process or agglomeration of processes whereby language acts--whether through purposive deployment by a person or people, independently of human intention, or some combination--to give shape to human environments and understanding and meaning to human endeavors, as well as the study of such processes.
Pithy it's not. (I.A. Richards gets the nod in that category.) But it works well for what I want to say and do.

Have you got your own definition? If so, leave it in a comment. Or, better yet, blog it.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


1. Obviously, the blog hasn't been one lately. But I've been getting in some great family and travel time as well as quite a bit of productive research-related reading and course planning.

2. Even though I still have a fair amount of tweaking to do to my Intro to Composition Studies syllabus (for new Ph.D. students), I spent an hour and a half today making sure the course banner was just right.

3. I could stay at the office and work more this evening, but it's pinot noir night at the Thursday tasting.

I'm outta here.

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