San Diego Poetry Guild

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Excential Texts 1

from CrimethInc's D.I.Y. Guide II:

D.I.Y Spelling & Grammar

Here's a guide to a few often-used and often-misspelled words.

Bourgeois (pronounced something like "boojwha"): No wonder you can't spell it--it's French. Try remembering it in pieces: "bourg" means town (just like the -burg or -boro ending on a lot of city names) and "eois" means of or having to do with. Put together it means a dull, respectable, materialistic middle class town-living kind of person, neither peasant nor aristocrat, neither millionaire nor bum.

Distribution: The short form may be "distro", but the full word is still "distribution".

Existence: There's no logic to this one, so you'll just have to memorize it. Existence is spelled with an E and Resistance is spelled with an A. it helps if you get used to the slightly different pronunciations and say them bouth in your head ("exiSTENCE, resiSTANCE, exiSTENCE, resiSTANCE.") Good luck.

Grief (also "thief", "relief", "siege", "belief", and "chief"): Remember this little rhyme: "I before E except after C or when sounded like A as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'." Foolproof with one exception, to be explained later.

Hierarchy: Another I-before-E word. Even easier if you remember that hierarchy is spelled the way it is pronounced--"higher-archy". The adjective is "hierarchical"--it's a little confusing, since the adjective for "patriarchy" is "patriarchal", but that's just one of those inconsistencies you have to live with in the English language. Hierarchical. Hierarchical.

Hypocrite: This word comes directly from the ancient Greek for actor, "one who pretends to have virtues he doesn't possess." The "hypo" part indicates under (as in hypodermic=under the skin)--in this case it means "underhanded". If you remember the root it's easier to remember the spelling. As a bonus--even good spellers get this one wrong--its companion word is spelled "hypocrisy", with an S in front of the Y, not a C.

Independence: like "existence" it ends with an ence. Tell yourself (Emma Goldman, of course, would disagree) that "there is no dance in independence."

Insurrection: Two Rs. Pronounce it that way in your mind: "Insur Rection", not "Insur Ection".

Pervert: Each syllable has a specific meaning in Latin. "per" means thoroughly, "vert" means turn aside. Put them together and it makes sense. The common misspelling "prevert"--if it were actually a real word--would mean something like "turn aside before." Probably not what you had in mind.

Prejudice: Prejudice means to pre-judge something; if you remember the root of the word it's easier to spell. For some reasons the J and the D often get reversed.

Privilege: This one trips up lots of people. Pronounce it in your mind as priVILege, not priVALege or priVELege. And remember, there is no D in "privilege" --don't spell the last syllable as "ledge".

Tragedy: Say it in your mind as you spell it--"tra-je-dy". People often mistakenly reverse the G and the D.

Weird: The major exception to the I-before-E rule. Pretty easy to remember if you tell yourself that "weird" is weirdly spelled.


PERSONAL PRONOUNS: No one gets he, she, him, her, me and I right all the time, but for some people misused pronouns can be as grating as fingernails on a chalkboard. It's actually not that hard to get it right if you think it through. Look at the sentence "She handed the balaklavas to he and I." Now strip it down to the "She handed them to I." Sound right? Of course not. It should be "She handed the balaklavas to him and me." ("She handed the balaklavas to him. She handed the balaklavas to me.") It's the same with "her and me went dumpster diving." If you wouldn't say "Her went dumpster diving," or "Me went dumpster diving" don't say "Her and me." The right sentence would be "She and I went dumpster diving." It gets easier the more you try it.


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