In Plain Engel-ish

"YOU IDIOT!"

We English professors are besotted with books, of course, but our recent interests have also included how we read them to ourselves. A fairly new subject of study, dubbed “Subvocalization,” has emerged, and theoretical critics have flocked to it, bringing with them what they do best: inventing $50 words for what is basically about $5 worth of content. If we were to define “subvocalization” in a way that professors wouldn’t recognize because of its lack of pretension, it is simply the silent speech that we all make when we read. It provides the sound of the word as we read...

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Who's Got The Button?

My parents bought me my first fine suit when I was a senior in college. It was for me to wear to my regional interview for a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate school. I think when I viewed the suit in the dressing room mirror as I first tried it on, it was the one and only time in my life that I actually ogled myself. Clothes can indeed make the man or, in my case, the nervous twenty-one year old fellowship candidate. I wore that handsome suit only once before the interview to “break it in” at a restaurant...

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As Easy As 1, 2, 3 (4)

We all know the spirit of Thanksgiving is one of gratitude; the spirit of Christmas is one of joy; the spirit of New Year’s is one of times past and future. And here we are on the morning after New Year’s Day, and the spirit is: Bummed. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, almost all Americans luxuriate in three happy holidays within a mere five weeks. But now we are faced with the coldest eight weeks of the year with only one secular holiday — Valentine’s Day. And although that holiday seems to celebrate the heart (its symbol), it actually...

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When The Deep Purple Falls

In Case you’re wondering about my topic for this Christmas-Chanukah week, I’d like to make the Case for writing about something not necessarily related to the holidays. Having carefully Cased out a number of potential subjects, I decided to go with a unique one, just in Case you wanted something a little different. Yes, astute readers, you probably already know that my topic is about A Case. No, not A Depressing Homicide Case nor even A Refreshing Case of Beer. And this English professor would never let himself be accused of writing about the grammatical nominative or accusative cases during...

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Fill In Our Blank

I was in elementary school, junior and senior high school, and even college during the 1960’s. And so my exams back then contained a mixture of four types of questions: True or False, Fill In The Blank, Multiple Choice, and Essay. Most students preferred True or False — heck, why not, with the cushy 50% odds of guessing right?  Not me. I could too easily outwit myself by over-thinking the stupid statement, seeing tricks where there were none, dissecting the ambiguous sentence until I was sure it was probably True but then again just possibly False. I knew I was...

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