Nouns form the solid base of a sentence. As taught in the education system, nouns are a "person, place, or thing": they name people, places, and things so that we can identify them. The fun part about nouns is that you can really play around with them. You can be as detailed or as vague as you like when it comes to naming and identification.
There are four basic kinds of nouns that we use (we won't get into pronouns and countable nouns and such just yet):
1. Proper nouns: these are capitalized names, identifying the noun as something specific. It may be the name of a person (Sagan), a country (Canada), a day of the week (Tuesday), or the name of a blog (Living Rhetorically in the Real World).
2. Common nouns: these are everyday, general terms that we use on a regular basis. Blog, computer, bike, and condo are all examples of common nouns.
3. Abstract nouns: these involve ideas or theoretical notions that are not physically tangible. Emotions (happy), states of being (peace), and other philosophies and concepts are included in this category.
4. Collective nouns: these include entities and groups. Teams, armies, and organizations refer to collective nouns.
Make it even easier:
Proper nouns and common nouns are opposites- now you have nearly half as much information to remember!
So why use it?
If we didn't make use of nouns, we would be unable to convey information in a precise manner. Identification and detail rely heavily on nouns. Primitive conversation is often achieved by exchanging nouns with one another; when we travel to foreign countries and are dealing with a language unknown to us, we tend to learn a handful of nouns so that we can communicate quickly and (somewhat) effectively. If you bark "hospital!" at someone, they'll likely understand that someone is in dire need of health care. Similarly, children are often taught nouns when they are learning how to read. Pictures associated with "dog", "house", and "apple" assists in early childhood learning. Nouns, therefore, are essential to basic communication.
A very sweet blogger recently sent me some goodies: a few packages of Kay's Naturals protein chips and protein cookies! These products are advertised as nutritious foods, and they do an excellent job of appealing to the public:
1) Product Name: With products such as "Cookie Bites" and "Kruncheeze", these products appeal to all ages. They sound fun and they also sound tasty! These products are advertised as snack foods rather than as a breakfast or a mini-meal, and for 100-200 calories per serving, they are certainly the right size for a treat during the day.
2) Front Label Nutrition Stats: The calorie count and amount of fibre, total fat, and protein are all listed on the front of the package for the Cookie Bites. The average consumer will likely appreciate seeing the information right in front of them in big letters, particularly in the cute differently-shaped, coloured boxes that each statistic is stated in.
3) Health Claims: The Cookie Bites are a clear winner in terms of the advertising strategies in the health claims. Marketed as gluten-free with no cholesterol, trans fats, and made with all-natural ingredients, the Cookie Bites also include the statement "1 ounce = Protein of 2 Eggs". That is very clever. Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and are well-loved in health circles for their protein content and perfect balance between protein and fat. Comparing a manufactured product to a whole food is a great way to convince consumers to buy a product.
4) Visual Layout and Font: Kay's Naturals uses large lettering on its package to clearly outline what their products are all about. Straight to-the-point, bulleted lists highlight essential information, making it easy for the consumer to just give the product a quick scan to gather the information they're interested in. The font itself is rounded and wide to increase accessibility.
So, are Kay's Naturals "actually" healthy? They do use some really nutritious ingredients, but some of their products also include "natural flavouring" and different kinds of sugar. They are by far healthier than most products you'll find on the grocery store shelves. It is better to think of these products as snacks, however, than an important part of your daily diet. There's no way that I would choose one of these products over eggs in terms of health, but if I'm craving cookies, then I would definitely say that these products are an excellent choice to make. And certainly a yummy choice!
Scrabble is possibly one of the best board games in the world to play. I was recently given it as a gift and it is proudly displayed on my bookshelf as one of my prized possessions. Here is what I love about this game and the top five reasons why you should play Scrabble, too:
1) You learn lots of new words. Okay, so you might be stumped and resort to adding prefixes or suffixes to words already on the board (and I admit that I definitely take advantage of words already on the board). Or maybe you find yourself with nothing except one-syllable words that are common in everyday language (again, I admit to being the kind of person who uses words such as "life" and "edit" ). But at some point in the game, the other player is likely to use a word that might be unfamiliar to you. Or maybe one of you will use a word that you have heard and used before, but you don't know exactly what it means. This is your opportunity to open up the dictionary and check it out. Most of us use words without really knowing their meaning and it is a delight to discover that a word has much more depth than previously believed.
2) It's a good bonding experience. Board games are fun. They bring people together, even if half the time you're arguing over what counts and what doesn't. It might show your lack of knowledge in complex words, or your inability to do simple math when trying to calculate the points from a word. Who cares? This is an opportunity to learn something about the person you're playing with as well as learning new words.
3) It challenges the mind. You have a jumble of letters to choose from that have to somehow intersect with other letters already on the board. You have to mentally rearrange the letters to figure out how you can form a word for the most points possible. If that's not a great challenge, I don't know what is.
4) It gets the creative juices flowing. I don't really like getting the blank tablets, and I think that they know it because they always seem to land in my hand when I'm reaching into the bag of letters. The main reason why I don't like the blank tablets is because I have to envision any letter in its spot in order to create a word. But it shouldn't be a nuisance: instead, it would be better to look on it as a chance to play around with the letters! The other creative aspect is when you get to the point where you only seem to have vowels in your hand. Trying to form a word from that can be tricky- but there are quite a few words that can be made if you think outside the box.
5) If there's ever a point of contention, the dictionary will solve all problems. I think that this is a good metaphor for life. What problem cannot be solved with words? Most people get to where they are in life by being able to talk their way to their position. I'm not saying this is always the case, but it stands to reason that if we can sell ourselves with effective communication, we'll get farther than the person over there that is too humble or shy to acknowledge and talk about their accomplishments. In Scrabble, it's also nice to have the dictionary there to settle a dispute: if the players are at odds and can't decide if a word should be allowed or not, the dictionary holds the answer.
What's your favourite board game? Are you a Scrabble fan?
There are some truly wondrous words in the dictionary, some which are barely pronounceable and others that are foreign to the average person's vocabulary. But I like that slang words are included in the dictionary, too: they are just as important to our daily life as the more complex words are.
Lulu (noun): slang
A remarkable, incredible, or memorable person or thing, esp. for its unpleasantness (a lulu of a nightmare).
19th c., perhaps from Lulu, pet form of Louise.
This word adequately describes the recent film Splice. Fantastic movie- and highly disturbing.
I feel sorry for anyone named Louise, though; why does the Canadian Oxford English Dictionary assume that the word is associated with the name of a person? I'm guessing that whoever wrote the entry for Lulu has an ex-wife named Louise. Just sayin'.
Nearly every time I go grocery shopping at Safeway, they have some kind of charity that they are trying to raise money for. In a recent stop at the grocery store, I was interested by the cashier's choice of words: instead of asking, "Would you like to donate x amount of money to x organization?", he said, "Can we donate x amount of money to x organization today?".
The "would/can" and the "you/we" make a very big difference, rhetorically speaking. When the cashier says "would you", it implies that you are the one in control. "Can we", is more of a group initiative, suggesting that the cashier is involved and wants to donate but is being polite by requesting your affirmation.
Saying "no" to "would you" is likely fairly common. Responding with a "no" to "can we", however, drives the point much further home that you do not want to give to that particular charity. The words "can we" are effective for inducing guilt.
I would be fascinated to know how much more money Safeway can raise for worthy causes by using the words can we rather than would you.
In one way, I feel that there has been a definite decline in literacy rates over the years. Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes abound; even leading newspapers are rife with typos. No doubt part of this is due to online writing, texting, and the shorthand of social media networks such as Twitter. In another way, I see texting and shorthand writing styles as a brand new version of English: a whole language in and of itself. They have also, I believe, altered slang words and thus had a profound effect on the way that we speak.
What particularly interests me is how the way that we speak and the way that we write can vary considerably.
When I was a child, I attended church every Sunday morning. One part of the ritual each Sunday morning at church was to recite the Lord's Prayer. I would stand up with my hands folded in front of me, head bowed, and murmur the words along with everyone else as we stood in the pews.
At least, I thought I was murmuring the words.
In reality, I had no idea what many of the words were. When everyone says the same lines together, it becomes sounds being made rather than words being spoken: Our Father, who art in heaven, howl be thy name...
We slur our words when we speak. We drop off letters and turn the "t" into a "d". Speaking with precision and enunciation* is as rare these days as good posture.
Most of the time, we are aware of the proper spelling (or at least, I should hope that we are). Even if we do slur our words ("gonna" instead of "going"), we tend to realize how they should really be pronounced. Other times, such as with my experience of the Lord's Prayer, we simply have no idea about what the real word is: hallowed instead of howl.
One of the most common mistakes occurs in the usage of "have been". I would have been frequently becomes I would of been in e-mails, because that is how we say the phrase. And it gives me cause to wonder how many people write "of been" without realizing that it should be the word "have" instead. If we make the effort to enunciate words correctly, we will be more capable of perfecting our knowledge of sentence structure and grammar, and of increasing our vocabularies.
*Until writing this post, I ironically believed that "enunciate" was spelled "annunciate", due to incorrect pronunciations of the word! "Annunciate" actually means "to announce".