SermonIndex Audio Sermons
SermonIndex - Promoting Revival to this Generation
Give To SermonIndex
SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases by Grenville Kleiser

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

The study of words, phrases, and literary expressions is a highly interesting pursuit. There is a reciprocal influence between thought and language. What we think molds the words we use, and the words we use react upon our thoughts. Hence a study of words is a study of ideas, and a stimulant to deep and original thinking.

We should not, however, study |sparkling words and sonorous phrases| with the object of introducing them consciously into our speech. To do so would inevitably lead to stiltedness and superficiality. Words and phrases should be studied as symbols of ideas, and as we become thoroughly familiar with them they will play an unconscious but effective part in our daily expression.

We acquire our vocabulary largely from our reading and our personal associates. The words we use are an unmistakable indication of our thought habits, tastes, ideals, and interests in life. In like manner, the habitual language of a people is a barometer of their intellectual, civil, moral, and spiritual ideals. A great and noble people express themselves in great and noble words.

Ruskin earnestly counsels us to form the habit of looking intensely at words. We should scrutinize them closely and endeavor to grasp their innermost meaning. There is an indefinable satisfaction in knowing how to choose and use words with accuracy and precision. As Fox once said, |I am never at a loss for a word, but Pitt always has the word.|

All the great writers and orators have been diligent students of words. Demosthenes and Cicero were indefatigable in their study of language. Shakespeare, |infinite in faculty,| took infinite pains to embody his thought in words of crystal clearness. Coleridge once said of him that one might as well try to dislodge a brick from a building with one's forefinger as to omit a single word from one of his finest passages.

Milton, master of majestic prose, under whose touch words became as living things; Flaubert, who believed there was one and one only best word with which to express a given thought; De Quincey, who exercised a weird-like power over words; Ruskin, whose rhythmic prose enchanted the ear; Keats, who brooded over phrases like a lover; Newman, of pure and melodious style; Stevenson, forever in quest of the scrupulously precise word; Tennyson, graceful and exquisite as the limpid stream; Emerson, of trenchant and epigrammatic style; Webster, whose virile words sometimes weighed a pound; and Lincoln, of simple, Saxon speech, -- all these illustrious men were assiduous in their study of words.

Many persons of good education unconsciously circumscribe themselves within a small vocabulary. They have a knowledge of hundreds of desirable words which they do not put into practical use in their speech or writing. Many, too, are conscious of a poverty of language, which engenders in them a sense of timidity and self-depreciation. The method used for building a large vocabulary has usually been confined to the study of single words. This has produced good results, but it is believed that eminently better results can be obtained from a careful study of words and expressions, as furnished in this book, where words can be examined in their context.

It is intended and suggested that this study should be pursued in connection with, and as a supplement to, a good standard dictionary. Fifteen minutes a day devoted to this subject, in the manner outlined, will do more to improve and enlarge the vocabulary than an hour spent in desultory reading.

There is no better way in which to develop the mental qualities of clearness, accuracy, and precision, and to improve and enlarge the intellectual powers generally, than by regular and painstaking study of judiciously selected phrases and literary expressions.

PLAN OF STUDY

First examine the book in a general way to grasp its character, scope, and purpose. Carefully note the following plan of classification of the various kinds of phrases, and choose for initial study a section which you think will be of the most immediate value to you.

I. USEFUL PHRASES
II. SIGNIFICANT PHRASES
III. FELICITOUS PHRASES
IV. IMPRESSIVE PHRASES
V. PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES
VI. BUSINESS PHRASES
VII. LITERARY EXPRESSIONS
VIII. STRIKING SIMILES
IX. CONVERSATIONAL PHRASES
X. PUBLIC SPEAKING PHRASES
XI. MISCELLANEOUS PHRASES

There are many advantages in keeping before you a definite purpose in your study of this book. A well-defined plan will act as an incentive to regular and systematic effort, and incidentally develop your power of concentration.

It is desirable that you set apart a certain convenient time each day for this study. Regularity tends to produce maximum results. As you progress with this work your interest will be quickened and you will realize the desirability of giving more and more time to this important subject.

When you have chosen a section of the book which particularly appeals to you, begin your actual study by reading the phrases aloud. Read them slowly and understandingly. This tends to impress them more deeply upon your mind, and is in itself one of the best and most practical ways of acquiring a large and varied vocabulary. Moreover, the practise of fitting words to the mouth rapidly develops fluency and facility of speech.

Few persons realize the great value of reading aloud. Many of the foremost English stylists devoted a certain period regularly to this practise. Cardinal Newman read aloud each day a chapter from Cicero as a means of developing his ear for sentence-rhythm. Rufus Choate, in order to increase his command of language, and to avoid sinking into mere empty fluency, read aloud daily, during a large part of his life, a page or more from some great English author. As a writer has said, |The practise of storing the mind with choice passages from the best prose writers and poets, and thus flavoring it with the essence of good literatures, is one which is commended both by the best teachers and by the example of some of the most celebrated orators, who have adopted it with signal success.|

This study should be pursued with pencil in hand, so that you may readily underscore phrases which make a special appeal to you. The free use of a pencil in marking significant parts of a book is good evidence of thoroughness. This, too, will facilitate your work of subsequent review.

The habit of regularly copying, in your own handwriting, one or more pages of phrases will be of immense practical value. This exercise is a great aid in developing a facile English style. The daily use of the pen has been recommended in all times as a valuable means of developing oral and literary expression.

A helpful exercise is to pronounce a phrase aloud and then fit it into a complete sentence of your own making. This practice gives added facility and resourcefulness in the use of words.

As an enthusiastic student of good English, you should carefully note striking and significant phrases or literary expressions which you find in your general reading. These should be set down in a note-book reserved for this exclusive purpose. In this way you can prepare many lists of your own, and thus greatly augment the value of this study.

The taste for beauty, truth, and harmony in language can be developed by careful study of well-selected phrases and literary expressions as furnished in this book. A good literary style is formed principally by daily study of great English writers, by careful examination of words in their context, and by a discriminating use of language at all times.

GRENVILLE KLEISER.
New York City, July, 1917

<<  Contents  >>





©2002-2024 SermonIndex.net
Promoting Revival to this Generation.
Privacy Policy