During a writing course I was asked to write a piece demonstrating an understanding of parts of speech. I decided to make a cheeky response. Someone photo-copied my work and put it into the course magazine, and now I've scanned those magazine pages. I hope that you enjoy reading my definitions. Thinking them up was great fun!
You have asked each of us to set an individual test, concentrating on those areas where we experience most difficulty. I personally find many of the words used to identify different parts of language to be somewhat obscure and confusing. I have therefore made a list of some troublesome grammatic and literary terms. Beside each I've then attempted to write an explanation.
- abridgement: a system of platforms so constructed as to give easy passage across a river or other difficult feature.
- accidence: unplanned events, frequently resulting in property damage or personal injury, and which are caused by carelessness on the part of those in charge of motor vehicles, hot stoves, chemicals, or ladders.
- accusative: the position taken by the prosecutor in criminal trials.
- agreement: a situation sometimes hard to arrive at in structure classes.
- alliteration: the act of dropping papers, beer cans, etc. onto footpaths or anywhere in public places.
- analogy: a condition in which the lungs, skin and mucous membranes are irritated by substances harmless to most people.
- apposition: the party that didn't win at the election.
- blank verse: a sheet of paper with absolutely nothing written on it but having the right hand edge trimmed in a pleasing and regular pattern.
- case: preferably, two dozen bottles of wine or whiskey but, more commonly, just a lot of oranges.
- clause: what you wish the cat didn't have when it's making bread on your lap.
- collective: an adjective used to describe charitable institutions.
- colon: the lower bowel.
- complement: something said in praise of a person's appearance, achievements, etc.
- conjugate: something not quite nice that single cells do in order to become double cells.
- couplet: one male and one female of any species of small animal, e.g. mice, especially when they are courting.
- dactyl: the back half of a prehistoric flying reptile.
- decline: what you should do to alcohol if you're planning to drive.
- digraph: a chart showing, by means of lines or columns, the amount of colouring matter required when treating fabrics of different weight or composition.
- ellipsis: events in which one heavenly body is partly or wholly obscured by another.
- homonyms: word relating specifically to the male and therefore no longer acceptable.
- metaphor: previously introduced.
- meter: device designed to produce anxiety in those students who drive to college.
- mood: that in which one should, as often as possible, be in a good.
- mutes: those of us too frightened, or too polite, to speak out in class.
- neuter: unfamiliar e.g. I cannot complete this exercise, because the construction is neuter me.
- object: what I hope our esteemed teacher won't do to this exercise.
- onomatopoeia: one who refuses to settle accounts unless standing on a rug.
- oxymoron: a particularly stupid bullock.
- phonetic: one who is obsessed, beyond reason or judgement, as with religion, cleanliness, political persuasion, etc.
- prefix: to repair something before it breaks down.
- punctuation: a process of making tiny holes in something, e.g. bicycle tyres. In writing, this may be represented by the use of small dots.
- relative pronouns: words used in place of such terms as uncle cousin or mother-in-law.
- reported speech: something the newspapers said a politician said when he actually said something quite different.
- semi-colon: severely atrophied lower bowel, often associated with crash diets or drinking slot-machine coffee.
- split infinitive: something much larger than anything you can possibly imagine, and which has burst open down the middle.
- subjunctive: unwanted and useless items which have been thrown under the house.
- syntax: revenues exacted by the government from the owners of brothels, gambling dens, etc.
- tense: temporary dwellings, usually made of canvas.
- voice: that which I'll probably not use when you ask who did this.
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.
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