College Prep English at EIE. Updated assignments October 20, 2014

(Note: most of the referenced material below can easily be found with a simple search.)

This week’s Google Hangout class feed on Thursday Oct. 23, 2014 at 2:30:

Dear Homescholars,

Updated Assignments

Douglas AdamsDouglas Adams
Please start reading: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Prepare something to recite.

Please look through The 42 Best lines from the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Please read Adams’ delightful poem: Douglas Adams: A Dissertation on the task of writing a poem on a candle and an account of some of the difficulties thereto pertaining

Please look at the Taxonomy of Comedic Devices. See below.

Language Immersion
Stephen FryPlease watch this interview: Stephen Fry on Language
Please watch this short brilliantly worded improvisatory TED talk by Glenn Greenwald on the importance of privacy.

Please continue to write and post. Try perhaps to use comedic devices discussed below.

Please let me know if you need more homework.

Taxonomy of comedic devices
More of these

The absence as presence device:

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t. — Adams

The more he looked for Piglet, the more Piglet wasn’t there. — A.A. Milne

Nothing happened, and for quite a while nothing continued to happen. — Adams

The White KingDo you see anybody coming down the road? I see nobody. Oh, that I had such eyes, that I could see nobody — and at such a distance. — Lewis Carroll

I’m sitting here completely surrounded by no beer. — Roy Clarke

In his normal state he would not strike a lamb. I’ve known him to do it’ ‘Do what?’ ‘Not strike lambs

He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. — Adams

Self referential language — direct reference to the words being used

This is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn’t previously aware of.

Surprise is no longer adequate and he is forced to resort to astonishment

Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.

Expansion of a well-known idiom beyond its normal use:

Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled. — Wodehouse

Don’t be frivolous Richard. I promise — not a single frivol. Roy Clarke

Hell, it is well known, has no fury like a woman who wants her tea and can’t get it.

As a dancer, I out-Fred the nimblest Astaire.


Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing gloves. — Wodehouse

She decided it was time to be businesslike about the map, which was a fairly rough representation of a fairly rough landscape. She worked out once and for all where the Landrover had to be, and worked it out with such ruthless determination that the Landrover would hardly dare not to be there, and eventually, of course, after miles of trekking, it was exactly there. — Adams

The word bulldozer wandered through his mind for a moment in search of something to connect with. — Adams

A man’s subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Literal use of an idiom not normally taken literally.

“How would you react if I said that I’m not
from Guildford after all, but from a small planet somewhere in the
vicinity of Betelgeuse?” Arthur shrugged in a so-so sort of way. “I don’t know,” he said, taking a pull of beer. “Why – do you think it’s the sort of thing you’re likely to say?”

The simile taken in unusual and unexpected directions

Good God, Clarence! You look like a bereaved tapeworm.

I clutched at the brow. The mice in my interior had now got up an informal dance and were buck-and-winging all over the place like a bunch of Nijinskys.

She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest.

He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.

The metaphor taken in unusual and unexpected directions
Marriage is not a process for prolonging the life of love, sir. It merely mummifies its corpse.

Lower Priority Assignments
Terry Eagleton on the war on terror. Prof. Eagleton is one of the great speakers.

Robert Fisk on writing and journalism. Fisk is one of the most highly honored journalists in the world.

Older Assignments
Please do any as yet incomplete

What is Correct English?

What does it mean to speak and write correctly? What standard, what set of rules, whose example should the student aspire to? There actually exists an irrefutable answer to these questions.

Very simply, correct language usage is that which conveys to the intended audience the message and the impression the writer or speaker would like to give. Really this is the only measure that counts. Let’s call it the Reader Rule. To the extent that the reader receives the intended message and impression, the language is the correct choice. It then only remains to determine what that language is, given a specific body of readers.

If the readers or listeners are college professors or academic colleagues, the appropriate written language is probably a fairly formal variety of Standard English (SE), depending of course on the relationships involved. In other environments – the construction site, jazz studio, football pitch, gridiron, rodeo circuit, oil rig, prison, in various corners of the military – the language treated here might be largely inappropriate and ill suited to acceptance and camaraderie. The languages that would be fitting in these environments, while beyond the scope of this book, can certainly be researched, scrutinized and emulated using the methods here presented – to the extent that they are accessible in some recorded form on the Net.

In the academic or literary worlds and in most realms of business, one would rarely ever be censured for not breaking a grammar rule, for not misusing a word according to its dictionary definition or for not failing to tie the parts of a sentence together properly. On the other hand, committing such errors may well be a cause of embarrassment and opprobrium. In most cases, well-crafted academic language differs very little from one English speaking country to another and when it does, the minor spelling and stylistic variations would only very rarely impede complete comprehension. It is for those who would communicate and interact comfortably in these realms that this book was written.

Please read: Article: Writers Should Not Fear Jargon by Trevor Quirk. Quirk wields words beautifully. In this piece he treats the importance of using appropriate vocabulary. If you are interested, go on to read his thoughtful and somewhat deprecatory but intensely eloquent review of Waking Up by Sam Harris.

Language immersion
Douglas AdamsPlease watch this short talk by Douglas Adams on his experience as a writer. Shall we look further at his works?

Ken RobinsonPlease watch this short talk by Ken Robinson on education. Does it inspire you to write an essay?

Yet Older Assignments
(please do these if you haven’t already)

MacBeth. Ian McKellen and Judy Dench

A MacBeth page has been created with two excellent video versions including one starring Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judy Dench. Please watch.

Please watch the heated and rebarbative debate with lots of ad hominem deprecation. Note the striking difference between the language of the two debaters. Which would you prefer to emulate? Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway debate intervention in Iraq.

William F. BuckleyPlease watch this old debate beween legendary orators: William F. Buckley vs Noam Chomsky

Here is a fairly comprehensive List Of Fallacious Arguments
for reference.

Language immersion: Some fun with animals and language:

The Zoo in Winter. Please watch this wonderful piece by Jonathan Miller for its eloquence. How far does your spoken language need to go to mimic his?

2015 Scholastic Writing Awards
This is a contest to which we may want to submit papers.

The query letter
EIE is starting up a new blog that may need contributions from students. Let’s be very proper and submit query letters.

  • The lead, which is designed to catch the editor’s attention. It might be a startling statistic, a time peg, or an anecdote. Your lead should interest the editor enough to continue reading your query.
  • The why-write-it section. This paragraph (or two, if you have a particularly detailed query) fleshes out the idea, demonstrating why the readers of the magazine will be interested in the topic.
  • The nuts-and-bolts paragraph. Here you give the details of the story itself. What types of sources will you contact? How long will the story be? Will it have sidebars, and if so, how many? What section of the magazine will the story fit in? What’s the working title?
  • The I’m-so-great paragraph, or ISG. Here you highlight your relevant qualifications, including your writing experience and background with the subject matter. This is the paragraph in which you showcase your unique qualifications and convince the editor to give you the assignment.

Please watch the debate on US surveillance with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and constitutional attorney and journalist Glenn Greenwald. Enjoy watching this epic eloquence battle between eristic giants.

A classroom page for examples of successful essays contains a couple of examples from the essay book, Essays That Worked edited by Boykin Curry, ISBN: 0449905179. We did read parts; please read them more thoroughly and prepare to speculate upon the characteristics that make them successful.

Please consider Shakespeare plays for watching, dramatic readings and discussion. Suggestions: Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, MacBeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet. Please refer to Masefield’s Guide to the Shakespeare Plays for a quick overview. We decided to do MacBeth, possibly followed by Romeo and Juliet

Be familiar with the list of suggested debate topics

Please read the first chapter in our textbook: SAT ACT TOEFL College Prep English Practice, available at the EIE bookstore and

Please watch this High School Debate Contest, the City Club of Cleveland’s High School Debate Championship. Debate is on whether the US should support and comply with the International Criminal Court.
This is a very fine debate with positions well presented and justified. The commentary is also very useful, particularly for it’s explanation of the judges’ evaluation of the contestants.

Please watch the Oxford Union whistleblower debate.

Our online classroom contains a vast trove of English language resources ranging from full text books and audiobooks to films, plays, software and all of the assignments and activities generated in previous years. Please feel free to explore and suggest any specific items for inclusion in our high priority assignments.

Please post questions, suggestions and discussion

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