language and mind

May 19, 2013

A new people come

Filed under: cognitive progression, etymology, language, language bias, nationality — teresapelka @ 7:22 am

Charles Thomson Great Seal report page2

Charles Thomson Great Seal report page2

“The Date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence, and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra which commences from that Date”, says Charles Thomson in his report on the design of the Great Seal to have become the accepted pattern.

Man in U.S. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Man in U.S. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Wikipedia relates the Great Seal motto, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, to Virgil’s Eclogues and ancient pagan ritualists, Sibyls.

Arguably, the picture on the left is not to suggest aprons or paganism; the Great Seal is associated with American executive powers. Charles Thomson, the author of the Great Seal design, was a staunch Presbyterian. He — same as many people, not only Presbyterian and me included — would not have a Sibyl for an elder. Let us mind that those pagan rituals relied on narcotics and burnt offerings.

Importantly, Charles Thomson was also a sound expert at Latin and Greek. His spelling did acknowledge the digraph “æ”, as may be seen in the preserved original image on the right. And the word ‘seclorum’ in his Seal design does not have the digraph.

         … the new American Æra (Charles Thomson’s report) 

Novus Ordo Seclorum (the Great Seal)

ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo (Virgil’s Eclogue quoted for the source)

The phrase is sometimes mistranslated as “New World Order” by people who believe in a conspiracy behind the design; however, it does directly translate to “New Order of the Ages”, says Wikipedia

Novus ordo seclorum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2013-05-22 07-15-31 Novus ordo seclorum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hardly anybody will believe in a time without a place on this planet, therefore the translation ‘a new order of (the) ages’ can cause doubt. Does the Seal say it, however? Telling the time by the people would have been an endeavor too haphazard even to the human as irrational as an ancient Roman. :)

I do not believe the Seal would have a misspelling. I abandon the Eclogue hypothesis and find the Latin form seclum for earlier than saeclum and seculum. These forms were also used in ancient Rome and not only in the Middle Ages, as Wikipedia claims. The lexical item ordo seclorum could refer to people, a kind, and a generation. Let us compare Cicero and the Philippics:

Accuse the senate; accuse the equestrian body, which at that time was united with the senate; accuse every order or society, and all the citizens; (…) at all events you would never have continued in this order, or rather in this city; (…) when I have been pronounced by this order to be the savior of my country; (…) when you, one single young man, forbade the whole order to pass decrees concerning the safety of the republic (…)

There is an aspect of language use we should take into account interpreting Latin. When we speak, we may not refer our words to written resources ― do we say “morning” early in the day because there would be a Whig journal to come with the Oxford Companion? ;)

Latin experts have been our human contemporaries. The persons could not have just memorized dead text. They have developed the capability to use Latin generatively.        I believe Charles Thomson formed the motto himself. This would explain why his report does not provide any bibliographical reference and it gives a rendition of the meaning and not its direct translationAttat (!) :)

 … the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra (Charles Thomson).

The word people may help see how word meanings change. The noun people is derived from the Latin populus. It did not connote nationality in ancient times and often referred to laying waste or degrading: perpopulor, to devastate, pillage; populabilis: destructible. Ancient Romans did not have much of a sense of nationality. Their militaristic culture recognized mostly status. Latin had words aerarius and aerarium for residents who had to pay tax but were not allowed to vote or hold offices, and the part of the temple of Saturn for the public treasure as different from that of the elites. The word Aera in Charles Thomson’s note refers to time in the modern sense of an era.

Nowadays, the noun people means a group of human beings, or a nationality. As a group, it takes a plural verb: The people here all speak English. Only as a nationality or ethnicity, the noun may take on the plural itself: The peoples of Europe have formed a Union. Status does no longer decide on civil rights.

I think Charles Thomson knew about these aspects of language change. Forming the motto, he used the Latin ordo to avoid the unfavorable ancient connotations. Ordo had a dignified sense, as we may compare in Cicero. Naturally, it did not necessarily denote a linear array. The modern word order comes from Latin ordo, an arrangement, group, or class.

The contemporary word to seclude can give us some light on the seclorum in the Seal. Latin secludere meant to separate, become distinctive with a regard. Seclorum is a participal form, hence a new people come (a new people to have become).

I propose voluntary extra practice on comprehension and language in my grammar book, too.

View this document on Scribd

“Hailing the Nation: the American Great Seal” is another project of mine.


Pär Lagerkvist wrote a few interesting books on the history of human conflict and ancient influences.

 The Sibyl may tell — this depends on the focus — about the primitive treatment pagan temples gave women as well as the nonsense of the pagan practice and belief.

The Sibyl (Vintage)


 The Dwarf describes a persistent propensity for contradiction and strife.

The Dwarf


March 28, 2013

British grammar nazis

ImageDisclaimer: the adjacent — and colored meaningfully yellow — graphic piffle is not intended to mean the Union Jack proper. It is the British grammar nazis logo on Facebook.

BGN Facebook

The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full form on the right. Now, without going into matters of the meaning of life, or the spoken lore on WWII and British losses — invaluable for those hard of reading — let me focus on the statistics and implications.

Much has been written about WWII. Evidently, mere gathering orthography and other detail does not make one capable of text interpretation.

 The site has about 50 K ‘likes’. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand functionally illiterate among about 63 million people. Some might say it is not so bad, it is not even one percent. Still, you’d better ‘think literacy’, going to the UK.

Try for a plain passport photo, that is, without brooches, scarves, ties, anything you do not always carry; the piffle shows the guys’ attention to picture specifics. ;)

Remember to wave your hand, getting a taxi; it is a simple, therefore legible gesture. Try to get a map with statues and other tourist attractions in large icons. It is better to take a walk from the National Museum than end up the Piccadilly, owing to small print. ;)

In hotels, always tick the boxes. At best, you ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. ;)

When it comes to mailing letters, get the recorded: they have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers: there are odds they can read them. Never ever leave your books or papers, especially open: they might be taken for other utilities. ;)

It is not only to me that Hitler figures and grammar study do not get along, I believe. I do not associate grammar with humiliation and abuse — I’ve hardly had problems; teachers happened to be strict, yet never insulting.

The most important feature to make grammar nazis incongruous yet remains in intellection. I have grammar for a conceptual framework, not a disaster. Hitler, who spoke like and was a madman, wreaked havoc wherever he turned.

Feel welcome to try some of my concepts. Form Relativity is a new idea to try conciliation on the Conditional and Unreal Past. Dynamic mapping can boost language economy on the tenses. :)

Grammar web log

Relativity loopDynamic mapping

March 5, 2013

Mignon Fogarty will not let you go on with love – no reason to try to make the French ashamed

Filed under: cognitive progression, language, life, psycholinguistics, psychology — teresapelka @ 11:34 pm

As it must, it shall be disclosed: the Grammar Girl forbids progress with love. ;)

The Grammar Girl is the Mignon Fogarty. Ms. Fogarty says:

It turns out that when it comes to progressive tenses, English is divided into two groups of verbs: dynamic and stative.

The issue at hand is whether verbs like “to love” can be conjugated in a progressive tense, which you use to indicate that something is happening at the moment and is continuing around the time to which you refer.

Grammar Girl

Let us think about language altogether. The French, for example, however they might be right next to the Casanova bad fame for superficiality, would never ever honestly tell you not to say love round the time you feel it. Well, the emotional difference is American? ;)

Mignon Fogarty says, Dynamic verbs relate an action or a process. Common dynamic verbs are “to walk,” “to yell,” and “to read.” These verbs can be conjugated in progressive tenses, so it’s fine to say, “I will be walking all day” and “He was yelling at me”.

To quit has to be a stative verb owing to an American habit: one walks in, yells, and then reads something to work as the riot act; then another, at the moment and continuing around the time, says I quit. I saw such things in the moving pictures and could believe, but well … grammar would be plenty of a movie thing to remember …   ;)

The CNN offer an international perspective in a written form: Tired of your boss? Five ways to resign in style. Naturally, do not take the matter for my counsel, please. :)

Let us see the ‘verdict':

Grammar Girl - Is -I'm Loving It- Proper Grammar- -- Quick and Dirty Tips ™ 2014-03-14 10-00-47‘That said, it’s still probably best for ESL teachers to continue to advise their students not to say, I’m loving it or to use other potentially incorrect stative verbs in progressive tenses. ESL teachers should point out, though, that students will hear native speakers using stative verbs in progressive tenses when the moment seems right.’

Minding my ESL hours, minutes, and seconds — whenever the moment seems right ;) — I have to deny. My story is here, with Travelers in Grammar.

If we tell people to mind to say I love, we tell them to mind to say I hate, too. See Feelings.

Stative mapping

To varied extents, all grammar books are stories. Their definitions and rules gain efficiency only when people get to know them and work with them. This story does not have rules: it has concepts and ideas. The story does not promise to tell the truth, with an important regard: there is not even one method in the world to work always and for all minds. However, we can say after Mark Twain, whose writings are of reference in our grammar venture: If the story is good for you, it can be your true friend. Our learner strategies have already worked (the Introduction). :)

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The grammar guidance is purposely more relaxed than that of most resources. The course is to present American English as it actually happens to be written or spoken. The work aspires to draw conclusions from natural language learning and use, not formalized definitions or rules only. I am an English philology M.A. specialized in language psychology with own, successful learning and teaching experience. I am absolutely opposed to behaviorism. :)


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August 11, 2012

How to grind effective – a brief intro

Filed under: cognitive progression, learning — teresapelka @ 5:07 pm

Inborn skills, gifts, and talents may become mediocre myths with exams. We either have the talent, gift, and inborn skill to ‘cram’, or we end up doomed to unfulfilled dreams of prospect.

Now, the important thing: we never cram. We work at least a little every day. The brain gets a habit. The grand matter is in finding a fancy. Before we think about going schools, we consider what we really, really like. And we do not forget about it even on school leaves and vacations. We think outside the schoolbox. Our knowledge needs to belong with us, not schedules.

Think outside the schoolbox. See the grammar grapevine.

Outside the schoolbox

We never memorize. We try to see things for ourselves. Schoolbook authors put things in words own ways. We always think how we can view and express the study content independently.

Aspect mappingWe can map tense Aspects. See why think about space.

We make cursory notes. A verb or two, and from time to time only — we see if we ‘get ourselves’ returning to our notes after a while. We also can come up with sample test questions. For example, we learn about the Constitution. The question — First? — could do for the Article and the Amendment. The question — Representative? — might cover the Senate with regard to representative functions. I mean, we make our questions open-ended. It can be anyway a pleasant surprise only, if we discover that real tests are not as detailed. ;)

And we never take ‘happy pills’. As probably everybody, I happened to be offered those a few times and never took them: even if someone says it is ‘the good stuff’, artificial chemistry can only compete against that natural chemistry our brains need to make memories. After ‘happy pill learning’, we could end up with state-dependent memories, that is, ‘happy pill test taking’ — not a practicable resolve, especially with entire school terms in view.


Herbs are not bad, however. Chamomile, melisa, mint. They don’t put to sleep, unless in amounts definitely bigger than a cup or two. We could feel like our entire futures depend on the exams; herbs help keep calm and cool.

We remember always to have some sleep. Good luck (!)

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