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understand or the exact shade of meaning of which he does not get. A little help from the teacher and practice will show him the great help that he can get from the illustrative sentences. To most people hearing or seeing a word used tells more about its meaning, particularly its exact meaning, than any number of definitions could. But the definition and illustration is the perfect and sure method. A child should be required to recite not the definition just as the dictionary has given it, but rather in his own words and then to illustrate it in a sentence of his own making. What the child needs is to assimilate the word so that he can use it himself,—not merely to remember a formal definition temporarily.

The first drills in definitions should be given on well-known words that have only a few meanings; then on strange words with, preferably, a single definition; then, finally, on words that have a larger number of meanings, the pupil deciding which one he needs by the context of the sentence in which it occurred to him.

For older students exact meaning is often fixed by contrasting the word with its synonyms. No two words mean precisely the same thing, and the differences in meaning are often made very clear in the larger dictionaries, both by explanation and by illustration. If a pupil is hazy in his comprehension of a word that he has already “looked up," ask him how it differs from some synonym. By this means his ideas of both words may be made definite.

Grammar and Good Usage

Sometimes one goes to the dictionary for help on grammar and good usage. There he will find, of course, what the editors have judged by careful historical study and by wide travel, correspondence, reading, and observation to be the forms and meanings confirmed by the best usage. In matters of form it is wise to take the judgment of the dictionary without question: here are the principal parts of strong and irregular weak verbs, here irregular or difficult plurals of nouns, and the like. But when it comes to grammatical usage, to what part of speech a word belongs and whether a verb is transitive or not, the dictionary naturally is inadequate and not decisive. At most, it can be merely suggestive, indicating what some one else thinks. The final court of appeal in all matters of grammatical usage is the understanding and judgment of each student. As to matters of rhetoric, it must be remembered that, as someone has said, “the dictionary is a home for the living, a hospital for the dying, and a cemetery for the dead." It is the intention of the editors to mark the words of the second class “obsolescent," and those of the third “obsolete.” The dictionary also includes many words that are frequently heard but which have not succeeded in getting into good company in all sections of the country. These are marked "colloquial," "slang,” etc.

How much shall be done with etymology depends upon the teacher's interest in and knowledge of the


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subject. In the large majority of cases, very little. It is unfortunate, however, that pupils are not given an opportunity to learn the very fascinating derivation and history of such words as infantry, treacle, candidate, amethyst, nasturtium, deer, pig, etc. “A number of words that illustrate the importance of etymological study” are listed in "The Mother Tongue,” (Ginn & Co.) II. 321:

Anticipate, surreptitious, convince, dilapidated, secure, ponder, fiscal, redound, equivocation, edify, solution, sinecure, discuss, collateral, circumstance, depend, consent, oblivion, martial, insult, reluctant, transfix, pretext, abstract, insinuate, exposition, explanation, repulsion, redeem, subtraction, torture, tradition, conclusion, innuendo, exaggeration, aggravation, obvious, superannuated, negative, disturbance, implication, supercilious, encourage (compare dishearten), real, science, reveal (compare revelation), jeopardy, adventure, agreeable, engagement, feature.

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Anderson's little book, “A Study of English Words” (American Book Company), is good and interesting; but better and more full is Greenough and Kittredge's “Words and Their Ways in English Speech” (Macmillan). Even the old Swinton's “Word Analysis,” however dry it proved, was better than nothing; and in the hands of one who is genuinely interested in the subject often takes on vigorous life. Some of the spelling books pay particular attention to word analysis. Among those that do are: Cavins, Orthography, C. M. Parker, publisher; Bowen, English Words as Spoken and Written, Globe School Book Co.; Kennedy, What Words Say; and Reed & Kellogg, Word Building, Maynard, Merrill & Co.

Introduction and Appendices

Most people seldom or never consult any part of the dictionary except the body, of which we have been speaking, and that imperfectly. Beyond that there is almost a library of material in the introduction and various appendices. One who has access to any large dictionary should at once learn what it contains, and then its use and value will probably be multiplied many fold. A woman once inquired, with an unabridged dictionary at her very hand, for a good history of the English language. Teachers by looking over the contents of the dictionary can supply excellent drills on the pronunciation of proper names, the meaning of foreign phrases, various characters in fiction, etc., etc., etc.

The Dictionary Habit

A teacher should by all means get the dictionary habit. He should read with a dictionary at hand, looking up words frequently. This is common sense. If a dictionary is not immediately accessible, he should jot down on a piece of paper words that he wishes to look up. This is not so good, however, as going at the matter while the interest is keen. Make the dictionary a friend and constant helper; cease using it as a terrifying adornment to the desk.

That every school room should contain an unabridged dictionary goes without saying, at least one state having gone so far as to require this by statute. It is likewise very important that each teacher and pupil should own a dictionary. When the question of which dictionary arises, it almost answers itself. The New English Dictionary and the Century are too voluminous to be considered in any but the largest schools; Worcester's is steadily losing what ground it does hold; and the Standard has not found the footing that many expected it to take.

On the other hand, the International Dictionary has made constant improvement in value and is almost universally used. Unfortunately our copyright laws have permitted during the past few years many imitations of both the name Webster and the contents of the old editions of Webster's dictionaries. These have been edited by men who make no pretensions to scholarship and have been put on the market at ridiculously low prices. It is said that there are more than fifty imitations of the Webster dictionaries on the market today. Consequently many purchasers who really wish the best dictionary are so confused as to buy a book that is relatively worthless. For this reason, we list the geniune Webster books and their publishers.

The New International Dictionary, which is the unabridged edition, and the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary are published by the G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Massachusetts. For desk purposes,

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