BigVocab®: A Dictionary-Based Guide to Metrologically Authoritative Vocabulary Testing and Learning

BigVocab®: A Dictionary-Based Guide to Metrologically Authoritative Vocabulary Testing and Learning

Nonpartisan Education Review / Resources

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A Dictionary-Based Guide to

Metrologically Authoritative

Vocabulary Testing and Learning


by Robert Oliphant

Copyright © 2010 by Robert Oliphant

Published by Nonpartisan Education Review

ABOUT THE AUTHOR...Currently a columnist with, Oliphant is a Stanford PhD whose best known book is A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (Prentice Hall, Reader’s Digest USA, Canada, and Australia), which was also (same title) an award winning film (Monte Carlo) starring Bette Davis.

His journalistic articles have appeared in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times; his academic articles have appeared in Antioch Review, Virginia Quarterly, Midwest Quarterly, and other journals. Earlier works include The Harley Glossary (Mouton) and the novel A Trumpet for Jackie (Prentice Hall).



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1. Why Now and What’s Here? /5


2. Measuring and increasing elementary-grade vocabulary size /14

2A. How to Construct and Use Dictionary Based Headword-Definition Tests /14

2B. About Keyboard Phonetics /21


3. Measuring and increasing college-grade vocabulary size /25

3A. Access & Scope

3B. College-grade dictionaries, headword-definition combinations, and vocabulary-size testing /31

3C. 140 Test Questions /33

3D. Answer Key for Previous 140-Question Test /45


4. Measuring and increasing the mastery of 162 high tech vocabulary fields /48


5. Measuring and increasing famous-name vocabulary size /50

5A. Professional Categories /52

5B. Who’s Truly Who. . . . A Ranked List of 665 Most Verifiably Famous Names /54


6. Measuring and increasing high-speed nonfiction narrative reading achievement /82

6A. Reader Friendly Testing and the Transparent Fairness of Page-Position Recollection /82

6B. Selecting Biographies for Use with Reader Friendly Testing /86

6C. A Ranked List of 450 Famous-Name Biographies /88


7. Measuring and Strengthening Textual Memorization and Recitation Skills /123

7A. Personal choice /124

7B. Tests /125

7C. Productivity /128

7D. Personal confidence. /128

7E. The Role of Modern Metrology /128


8. Four Paradoxes and the Search for Personal Confidence /129



Chapter 1. Why Now and What’s Here?


If generals are urged to stay clear of fighting yesterday’s battles, a user’s guide like this should stay clear of the past and focus upon what’s NEW about vocabulary learning and why it’s important, hopeful, and energizing. Here are five current-relevance points to consider.


(1) The triumph of standard worldwide American pronunciation English. . . . Call it SWAPE or Ameriphonics, the replacement of French by American pronunciation English at the opening of the 2009 Beijing Olympics, though strikingly impressive, came as no surprise to many Americans, especially those of us who have noticed steady improvements in the quality of our conversational interaction with offshore telephone personnel regarding technical matters.

     Though physically in Argentina, the Philippines, India, and mainland China, the language skills of offshore Ameriphones dramatically drive home the point that what we think of as “American” English is right now a pervasively international language pulling our planet together as a peaceable giant, not a potentially endless squabble between hostile Balkanized tribes.

    Some of the reasons for this triumph will come out later on, including the sheer size of the Ameriphone vocabulary.


(2) The growth of personal-best achievement programs. . . . Twenty years ago Americans were encouraged to think of achievement in competitive terms: winning tennis matches, earning the highest grades, dominating a conversation, etc. Today, though, more and more of us are competing “against ourselves” in marathons, Iron Man competitions, and in working the New York Times crossword puzzle. As opposed to interactive education, these activities are defined by their emphasis upon measurable “test” performance — very much like Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts and her shrill insistence upon “Execution first, then the trial!”

     As we’ll see, vocabulary testing and learning are highly attractive and practical personal best options for Ameriphones worldwide. This includes seniors and senior centers, especially those with spelling bees, crossword competitions, and general-knowledge contests — Jeopardy style.


(3) The efficiency of electronic dictionaries. . . . The most striking feature of dictionary-based electronic testing and learning can fairly be called “definitionism.” Since our tests now parallel the definition-cue design of spelling bees and crosswords, this means that the electronic version of a dictionary like Random House College offers now functions as both a testing and a learning tool. This innovation stems from to its two searching options (headword and definition), along with its high speed multi-clue access via the drag-and-drop feature.

     Thus, as with turn-the-page searching, a headword input like cardiovascular will produce its entry. In addition, though, inputting a definition element like the field label anat. (for anatomy) will produce many headwords, including cardiovascular. Along the same lines, or inputting the category “Russian novelist” (crossworders take note) will produce a list that starts with Andreyev and ends with Turgenev.

    As we’ll see, quite apart from banishing small print and sticky pages, the design and efficiency of America’s electronic dictionaries define them today as high quality LEARNING TOOLS, not just reference sources.


(4) New speed reading technologies. . . . Nobody’s eyesight has ever been improved by staring into the sun for several hours. This is fundamentally what a computer screen compels readers to do, and this “eye drop world” is exactly what Kindle, Sony and other high tech readers are abolishing. Far more than a book-access revolution, these new hold-in-the-hand electronic books represent a reading-speed revolution by reviving Eric Gill’s readable-page design (34 ten-word lines).

    The result: maximum reading speed that produces maximum choice and maximum learning impact for readers of all ages — especially those who are willing to trust the old adage: lege, lege, aliquid haerebit (“read, read, something will stick”).

     As we’ll see, since actual full-detail memorization is bound to vary idiosyncratically, our “reader friendly” tests need only measure sequence recollection, e.g., “Whom did Dorothy encounter first on the Yellow Brick Road?” But cumulatively, especially at a non-fearful pace of 600 words a minute, the growth in vocabulary is always immense, measurably so — especially when the reader chooses narrative nonfiction over chaotically sequenced textbooks.


(5) The scientific authority of American metrology. . . . Our most famous American metrologist (literally, a measurement scientist) was W. Edwards Deming, who from 1930 to 1946 developed his craft at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, which has since been renamed as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, paralleling the renaming of “weights and measures” in states like California as the Division of Measurement Standards.

    As we’ll see, just as our Fahrenheit and Celsius scales represent authoritative measurement standards that can be calibrated, so the American dictionary offers exactly the kind of international authority that today’s learners need. Important though our new technologies are to vocabulary learning, it’s our recognition of the American dictionary as a metrological tool that will breathe energy and integrity into the use of this book — productively and measurably.


FIVE VOCABULARY IMPROVEMENT TARGETS. . . . Based on a standard unabridged dictionary like the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the basic Ameriphone vocabulary, excluding proper names and spoken coinages, can be authoritatively stated as comprising 1.2 million headword-definition combinations. As we’ll see, though, our dictionaries vary in the vocabulary “grades” they cover, very much like metrologists evaluating different grades of beef. Given our range of Ameriphone speakers, this variation invites a chapter by chapter examination.


Chapter 2) Measuring and increasing elementary-grade vocabulary size. . . . This is meant for use with elementary size dictionaries, especially those distributed to third graders in the USA by the Dictionary Project (now over 10 million. each year). Practically considered, each of these meets the metrological requirements of authority (a specific internationally acceptable dictionary) and calibration (a focus upon headword-definition combinations).

     The 40-item vocabulary test in this chapter can be handled by many third graders as highly challenging, especially those who enjoy definitional guessing on the order of “Which headword in the Random House large print dictionary is accompanied by more definitions — REPUBLIC or STATE? Parents surprised and delighted by the vocabulary-size results should remember that the headword-definition dictionary-sampling procedure can be replicated by anyone, including a “spelling bee” examiner.


Chapter 3) Measuring and increasing college-grade vocabulary size. . . . This chapter, using the Random House College Dictionary as its authority, presents a 140-test, and produces surprisingly high results. Its headword-definition “silent spelling bee” test questions will work just as well with other reputable Ameriphone college dictionaries, e.g., Webster’s New World, Merriam Webster, and American Heritage.

     As opposed to our preceding chapter, this one devotes plenty of space to using our dictionaries as learning tools, especially their high speed electronic versions.


Chapter 4) Measuring and increasing the mastery of 162 high tech vocabulary fields. This chapter takes advantage of subject-field searching as a tool for constructing both study lists, tests, and memorization strategies, along with lexico-statistical techniques for determining headword familiarity and question difficulty. For Ameriphone learners at every level it raises the question, “Why buy an expensive, minimum-coverage vocabulary book when an American dictionary can give much more memory-friendly information at a much higher access speed (thanks to its drag-and-drop cross reference capabilities)?

     This chapter is unique in listing almost 200 general usage technical fields and their actual in-use abbreviations, e.g., biol (not bio) for BIOLOGY.


Chapter 5) Measuring and increasing famous-name vocabulary size. . . . This chapter recognizes that the size of our famous-name vocabulary is just as important to our reading speed comprehension as the size of our headword-definition vocabulary. Practically considered it covers the same ground as recent celebrations of Cultural Literacy and Power Knowledge. But its concentration upon proper names meets the metrological requirements of dictionary authority (i.e., the Merriam Webster 30,000-name biographical dictionary) and calibration), including ranking the importance of each name by the number of lines in its specific entry).

     Many Ameriphone learners will get demonstrably impressive results from the 665-name list presented in this chapter.


Chapter 6) Measuring and increasing high-speed nonfiction narrative reading achievement. . . . Total-recall tests certainly belong in a textbook setting where an overall reading speed of 100 words a minute (12 pages an hour) offers plenty of time for highlighting, cross checking, and sustained concentration. But a nationwide infatuation with total-recall tests, especially those which target fiction reading, has nudged two generations back to an overall move-the-lips reading speed of 350 words a minute. Hence the desirability of reader-friendly tests that simply monitor whether or not a reader, assuming an overall rate of 600 wpm, has given a reasonable amount of attention to each page.

     As indicated by experiments with ESL students, nonfiction narrative, especially relatively short biographies, offers the highest level of “famous name” and technical-term testable memory impact. This chapter therefore presents a list of 450 reading-friendly “famous name” biographies — each of them ideal for learning-centered adults — along with techniques for constructing low cost reader-friendly tests.


Chapter 7) Measuring and increasing textual memorizing and recitation skills. . . . From childhood on, the next step up from learning proper names and individual words is that of learning poems and other texts by heart (“complex words,” William Empson famously called them). This chapter draws upon the recent success of Poetry Out Loud, a program developed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, as support for our “Queen of Hearts” emphasis upon metrologically sound testing. Practically considered, it invites the inclusion of poetry memorization and recitation, along with vocabulary growth and physical fitness, in any long term personal best program.


READER FLEXIBILITY. . . . What’s here is a multi-use tool kit, not a fully developed theory of dictionary-based electronic testing and learning. This means that chapters 2-6 are designed to stand on their own, enough so that learners concerned primarily with conventional vocabulary testing need not necessarily explore the chapters on famous names and high speed reading.

     Overall, though, I feel what’s here is as a whole faithful to the tenets of modern metrology and to the memory of W. Edwards Deming. If what’s here works for individual learners — and I think it will — it is due to Deming and other champions of transparent, verifiable measurement in what has increasing become a worldwide test-taking civilization. If there’s a message in this book, that’s what it is, and I earnestly hope many readers will pass that message along to their friends. . . . enthusiastically!





Chapter 2. Measuring and Increasing Elementary-Grade Vocabulary Size


With over two million internet hits on “vocabulary size” (Mar. 4, 2010), is there any American who hasn’t wept bitter tears over the inadequacy, presumed or actual, of his or her vocabulary? Understandably so, given a national climate of uncertainty and obfuscation that kicked in with the Thorndike and Lorge vocabulary counts in the thirties, accelerated with Dr. Seuss in the 60s, and has now reached maximum giddiness with the British National Corpus, which counts IT’S as a separate word, not as a contraction of It is.

     LOOKING FORWARD. . . . What’s here makes the learning-tool case in a number of ways, starting with a vocabulary-size test based upon an authoritative Ameriphone dictionary of under 40,000 headword-definition combinations. It also includes a description of basic metrology theory (authoritative standards, calibration, and testing) and its relationship to Zipf-influenced lexicology (headword-definition combinations, “long tail” variations in word frequency, principle of least effort, etc.)

      At a time when Ameriphonics is rapidly becoming a global language, I believe what’s here deserves attention from both ends of the vocabulary table: children who are beginning to learn words and senior citizens who are beginning to go blank on them. In the long run, as Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jacobson have both pointed out, it’s vocabulary, not grammar, that shapes our recognition of similarity and thus our rational awareness of the world in which we live and work.

     To measure vocabularies, or at least try, is to take the measure of ourselves, along with the social universe that houses us all — productively so.


2A How to Construct and Use Dictionary Based Headword-Definition Tests. . . . The first part of what’s here is intended to present a complete picture of how to construct and use dictionary-based headword-definition tests. It begins with a specific ready-to-use vocabulary test based upon a specific dictionary, which is followed by its answer key. It then moves on to describe how tests like these can be constructed and put to productive social use on a number of levels.


2A1 An Illustrative 40-Question Vocabulary Test. . . . This test of vocabulary size bears comparison with other tests regulated and approved by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards). In metrological terms this means that what’s here is (a) based upon an authoritative grading standard (standard lexicographical practice as represented by the Random House dictionary group), (b) the capability of being calibrated, i.e., classifying and ranking words via clearly defined variables, and (c) testable in a thrifty, transparent, and replicable manner.

       DIRECTIONS FOR TEST TAKERS. . . . Each of the following 40 test items, very much like a spelling bee, asks you to identify a specific headword-definition combination in the Random House Large Print Dictionary (RHLP) on the basis of (a) its pronunciation, as represented by keyboard characters in slant lines; (b) its part of speech via abbreviation (e.g., n. “noun”); and (c) a specific definition, exactly as it appears in RHLP, including its numerical sequence where relevant. The notation dn2, for example, indicates the definition is identified in the entry as number two.

     By way of illustration For example, the test item /ad/, v.t. dn2 “find the sum (of)” would link up with the headword “add,” and so would a completely different test item /ad/, v.t. “unite or join” (the absence of a numeral indicates a “number one” definition. As in a conventional spelling bee, the correct answer would be the 3-letter word ADD. . . . The phonetic characters used to represent the pronunciation of headword will probably be unfamiliar to most test takers at first. But they quickly begin to make sense (e.g., /breedh/ represents “breathe”, and they are certainly more helpful to test takers than the number-of-letter clues we encounter in crossword puzzles


2A2. Test Taking Directions. . . . Please spell the headwords (represented phonetically) whose entries contain the following part-of-speech designations (v.=verb, n=noun, adj= adjective), followed by a corresponding definitions. The headword-definition combinations have been chosen at random from the Random House Large Print Dictionary. Definitions which do not begin an entry are identified by their numerical headings, e.g. d6 for “definition six.”


1) /euh dapt"/, v.t adjust to

2) /euh non"euh meuhs/, adj by someone unnamed

3) /ah'yeuh toh"leuh/, n chief Muslim leader

4) /best/, v. d6 to get the better of; defeat

5) /breedh/, v d4 whisper

6) /kahr"dn l/, v. d4 high official of Roman Catholic Church

7) /serr'keuhm loh kyooh"sheuhn/, n roundabout expression

8) /keuhn duk"teuhr/, n. d4 substance that conveys

9) /kruym/, n. d1 unlawful act

10) /di ling"kweuhnt/, adj. d1 neglectful, guilty


11) /dis sat"is fuy'/, v.t. make discontented

12) /eg"nog'/, n. drink containing eggs, milk, etc.

13) /ik suyt"/, v.t. d2 cause

14) /fish/, n., pl d1 aquatic vertebrate

15) /gay"beuhl/, n triangular wall from eaves to roof ridge

16) /green"hows'/, n. building where plants are grown

17) /herrts/, n. radio frequency of one cycle of second

18) /im"ij/, n. d1 likeness

19) /in shoor"/, v. d2 guarantee payment in case of harm to or loss of

20) /keep/ v. d5 withhold


21) /lim"beuhr/, adj. d1 flexible; supple

22) /man"pow'euhr/, n. labor force

23) /min"euhm/, n. smallest unit of liquid measure

24) /myooht/, v. d5 deaden sound of

25) /oh ay"sis/, n. fertile place in desert

26) /oh'veuhr stayt"/, v.t exaggerate in describing

27) /peuhr am"byeuh lay'teuhr/, n baby carriage

28) /plej/, v. promise

29) /pray/, v. victimize another

30) /kwawrts/, n. a crystalline mineral


31) /ri luy"euh beuhl/, adj. trustworthy

32) /rownd"werrm'/, n. nematode that invests intestines of mammals

33) /skut"l/, n. d2 coal bucket

34) /shril/, adj high pitched; piercing

35) /seuh suy"i tee/, n d1 group of persons with common interests

36) /stand/, v. d1 rise or be upright

37) /suk"yeuh leuhnt/, adj. juicy

38) /tang"goh/, n. Spanish-American dance

39) /tuyd/, n. d2 stream

40) /truy"euhl/, n. d3 attempt



ANSWER KEY TO THE 2A TEST. . . . 1) adapt. . . . 2) anonymous. . . . 3) ayatollah. . . . 4) best. . . . 5) breathe [note: the dh/th phonetic contrast distinguishes between THY and THIGH]. . . . 6) cardinal [this system uses the “vocalic” /l/ to represent the syllable /eul/]. . . . 7) circumlocution. . . . 8) conductor. . . . 9) crime 10) delinquent. . . . 11) dissatisfy. . . . (12) eggnog. . . . 13) excite. . . . 14) fish. . . . 15) gable. . . . 16) greenhouse. . . . 17) hertz. . . . 18) image. . . . 19) insure. . . . 20) keep. . . . 21) limber. . . . 22) manpower. . . . 23) minim. . . . 24) mute. . . . 25) oasis. . . . 26) overstate. . . . 27) perambulator. . . . 28) pledge. . . . 30) quartz. . . . 31) reliable. . . . 32) roundworm. . . . 33) scuttle. . . . 34) shrill. . . . 3) society. . . . 36) stand. . . . 37) succulent. . . . 38) tango. . . . 39) tide. . . . 40) trial. . . .


NOTE. These 40 one-word answers represent 40 randomly chosen from the 32,000 headword-definition combinations in the Random House Large Print Dictionary via the formula, “every fifth HDC on the 40 pages 10, 30, 50, 70, 90, etc. on up to and closing with page 800.”

    HOW TO COMPUTE VOCABULARY SIZE. . . . As previously notes, the Random House Large Print Dictionary has 32,000 headword-definition combinations. Since the headwords have been randomly selected, a score of 30 correct answers (80% of the total 40) would indicate a vocabulary of 25,600 (80% of 32,000), just as a 90% score would indicate a vocabulary of 28,800. . . . To some, vocabulary-size computations like these may seem unduly high. But remember, what’s counted are headword-definition combinations, not single words. In the last five years, incidentally, dictionary publishers have begun to state their number of definitions explicitly.


2A3 Translation of TRANSLATION OF A1 TEST INTO MULTIPLE-CHOICE FORMAT WITH THREE VERSIONS. . . . Any one-word answer can be translated into a multiple-choice format by asking for a spelling-vowel answer in lieu of a one-word answer, e.g., “Please indicate the FIRST spelling-vowel letter of each target word in section A1a by choosing one of the following (A) (E) (I) (O) (U, also standing for “none of these”), e.g., A for Q38 (tango), I for Q39 (tide), and I for Q40 (trial)

     Along the same lines, we can create a second translation by changing our spelling-vowel request to SECOND, and a third by changing it to THREE. Although these multiple-choice translations encourage more guessing, they also open the door to low-cost group testing. Here by way of illustration are the one-word answers to our A1a test, each followed by its “second spelling vowel” answer — A, E, I, O, U (also standing for “none of these.”.


2A4. MULTIPLE CHOICE ANSWER KEY. . . .Word answers and “second letter” answers for large groups

1) add U. . . . 2) anonymous O. . . . 3) ayatollah A. . . . 4) best U. . . . 5) breathe A. . . . 6) cardinal I. . . . 7) circumlocution U. . . . 8) conductor U. . . . 9) crime E 10) delinquent I. . . . 11) dissatisfy A. . . . 12) eggnog. . . . 13) excite I. . . . 14) fish U. . . . 15) gable E. . . . 16) greenhouse U. . . . 17) hertz U. . . . 18) image A. . . . 19) insure U. . . . 20) keep E. . . . 21) limber E. . . . 22) manpower O. . . . 23) minim I. . . . 24) mute E. . . . 25) oasis I. . . . 26) overstate E. . . . 27) perambulator A. . . . 28) pledge E. . . . 30) quartz U. . . . 31) reliable I. . . . 32) roundworm U. . . . 33) scuttle E. . . . 34) shrill U. . . . 3) society I. . . . 36) stand U. . . . 37) succulent E. . . . 38) tango O. . . . 39) tide E. . . . 40) trial A


2A5. . . .How the 2A Test Was Constructed. . . . If justice delayed is justice denied, as the saying goes, then time-efficiency test construction is our best defense against corruption in education, government, and the workplace. Hence the importance of explaining how a 40-item test like A1 can be constructed at a time-cost of only one minute per test item.

     STEP ONE: Locate the first test item’s dictionary position (e.g., the fifth HDC in the first column of page 10 of RHLP). Then enter its item number and transcribe the headword ( e.g., 1. adapt). . . . STEP TWO: Locate the test item’s phonetic transcription in the Random House unabridged electronic dictionary; then drag-n drop it and position it immediately after the headword, including its part of speech (e.g., /euh just"/, v.t. . . . STEP THREE: Locate the test item’s definition in RHLP, copy it, and position it after the headword’s part of speech designation, e.g., adjust to. Then repeat these three steps until you have produced your 40-item test work sheet (usually less than 40 minutes). The result will work well as a question sheet in the hands of a questioner, spelling bee style.

     NOTE. . . . To produce an answer key for a written test, copy the original sheet, retain the headwords and their item numbers, and delete the rest (part of speech, phonetics, definition). To produce a question sheet for a written test, copy the original, delete the headwords, and retain the rest (item number, phonetic transcription, part of speech, and definition (including its definition numeral if called for).

     This three-step sequence assumes the test designer has created a random-selection procedure that distinguishes between headword-definition entries and other kinds of entries (proper names, phrases, etc.), along with distinguishing between single-definition and multiple-definition headword-definition entries.


2A6 Recognizing headword-definition dictionary entries. . . . To echo Tolstoy, all dictionaries are lexicographically happy in the same way. This means that they present all entry words in bold print and position them at the far left side of each column or page. It also means that headword-definition entries are clearly identifiable via lower case (proper names are capitalized), phonetic transcriptions (abbreviations lack these), and “word status,” i.e., separated by spaces in writing (this rules out phrases like “high school.”

     Most headword-definition dictionary entries, especially the high tech terms in college size and unabridged dictionaries, contain only one definition. Frequently used headwords, however, often have two or more definitions, each of which is identified numerically in boldface. Our 40-item worksheet, for example, presents two questions based on multiple definition entries: 4) /best/, v. d6 [for “definition 6”] to get the better of; defeat and 5) /breedh/, v d4 [for “definition 4”] whisper.


2B About Keyboard Phonetics. . . . Our question-a-minute testing system requires the use of a phonetic transcription system that uses keyboard characters, not the dots and squiggles of 19th century phoneticians like Henry Sweet (1845-1915) the founder of IPA, a friend of George Bernard Shaw, and the model for madcap Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady.” Hence the need for using either the Random House WordGenius® transcription system or those of those currently in use by foreign language textbooks (Berlitz, Cortina, etc.)

      Hence also the desirability of actually checking how well IPA-based systems work, especially with respect to special symbols like boldfaced symbols for syllabic stress, e.g., | vs. | — a contrast which does not show up in the medical dictionary used by the National Institutes on Health, along with many American college size dictionaries.

     To sum up for the moment: Metrologically, these dictionary based tests have solid authority; linguistically their focus upon headword-definition combinations will make sense to any crossword puzzler; ophthalmologically they can be read, comprehended, and transcribed twice as fast as our 19th century holdovers.

     To blast the trumpet for a moment. . . At a time when “phonics” is still an educational buzzword, our national leaders — not just educators — should give far more attention to basic learning tools like dictionaries, keyboard-compatible phonetic alphabets, and vocabulary-size testing.


2B1. Constructing Tests for the Elementary Dictionary-Grade. . . . In terms of metrology, apart from its simplicity, the most attractive feature of our “question a minute” construction system is its use of a authoritative standards, namely, the Random House Large Print Dictionary and the phonetics system of the Random House unabridged electronic dictionary (WordGenius®).

     Practically considered, this feature means that our system can use almost any American dictionary as a testing instrument for measuring vocabulary size in a specific grade as long as there is a practical relationship between individual scores and the number of actual headword-definition combinations in the dictionary source

    In plain language, the above means that knowing how many headword-definition combinations actually appear in RHLP (32,000) permits us to infer that a test taker achieving a 70% score on our 40-item test (24 right) probably would achieve a 70% score on a similarly designed 320-item test (224) or — theoretically, at least — on a test comprising all of the 32,000 word-definition combinations in RHLP, thereby justifying a claim that such a test taker has a personal testable vocabulary of 22,400 HDCs.

     This claim is supported by our test’s random-selection design, which calls for the selection of every fifth HDC from the left hand column of every thirtieth page in RHLP, starting with p. 10 and closing with page 800 of RHLP. Going further, we would also expect to see similar score distributions in random tests based upon other dictiona

ries in the elementary “grade” category, i.e., Ameriphone dictionaries ranging in coverage from 40,000 HDCs down to at least 20,000 HDCs.

     It’s worth noting here that the currently distributes over 10 million of these elementary-grade dictionaries to American third graders via participation from Kiwanis, Rotary, and many other service organizations. A single “grade,” consistent randomization, access and use by youngsters for at least 5 years, multiple participation by publishers, schools, and service organizations — thanks to the, almost any American home can right now determine the size of their children’s vocabularies in less than 20 minutes using their “elementary grade” home dictionaries and the tools presented in subsections A1a and A1b.


2B2. . . .Metrology, Calibration, and Multiple Grades. . . . As might be expected for an Ameriphone word that entered the language between 1505 and 1515, GRADE has a number of definitions, the earliest of which emphasize notions of classification by degree, e.g., our four highest grades of beef: prime, choice, select, and standard.

     As with students in the same school grade, these classifications each cover a range of variation within limits, and therefore invite the classification of Ameriphone dictionaries in four basic degrees: Unabridged (from 1.2 million headword-definition combinations up to 2.4 million); College (from 80,000 HDCs to 1.2 million); Desk (from 40,000 HDCs to 80,000), and Elementary (20,000 up to 40,000).

     This range of HDC-coverage means that any measurement of vocabulary size is meaningless if it does not specify the dictionary grade, the specific dictionary within that grade, its total number of HDCs, the number of HDCs in the measurement sample, and the specific score/s of those whose vocabulary size is being computed.

     To some educators and psychometrists, these requirements may come across as unfair and time-consuming. But as Dr. Cassell’s “Lake Wobegone” findings indicate, metrologically sound requirements like these will go far in rebuilding global confidence in both Ameriphone dictionaries and Ameriphone education.


 USING DICTIONARY-BASED TESTS AS ELECTRONIC LEARNING TOOLS. . . . Part of learning is learning how to guess, especially when our mind blanks out on correct answers. Using Q1 and Q2 from our opening test, here’s how to increase your guessing skills by using your electronic dictionary’s resources.

     Q1) /euh dapt"/, v.t adjust to. . . . USING THE DEFINITION BOX: Simply input the definition (adjust to). If you’re lucky, as in this example, the entry for ADJUST will appear, including the highlighted phrase adjust to, which appears as part of definition 6 for the headword ADAPT.

     Q2) /euh non"euh meuhs/, adj by someone unnamed. . . . USING THE HEADWORD BOX: Although this target doesn’t work with the definition box, your knowledge of the phonetics system (see Ch. 3) will equip you to guess that /euh/ might stand for the letter A and that the second syllable would stand for NON. And sure enough, inputting anon* (using the asterisk to signal the input is incomplete), your electronic dictionary will cough up ANONYMOUS.

    It’s worth noting here that the Scripps National Spelling Bee emphasize this kind of “intelligent guessing” as a key step in mastering their target group of 800 “rare” words, most of them with only one definition.





Chapter 3. Measuring and Increasing College Grade Vocabulary Size


As pointed out earlier, what’s here is a blast of the trumpet, not a full concerto. There’s nothing original about its primary focus, namely, Ameriphone dictionaries. Nor is there anything original about its basic ideas. Assaulting the notion that words “have meanings” (as opposed to forming word-meaning partnerships) is still standard practice for most American linguistics, thanks to Uriel Weinrich and George Kingsley Zipf.


3A1 Access. . . . An Ameriphone dictionary, as Andrew Carnegie put it regarding free libraries, gives the user nothing for nothing. The Random House Large Print, for instance, offers over 800 pages of vocabulary knowledge in a learnable, testable form. Yet its low price of eighteen dollars is valueless without the measurable expenditure of time in actual study, be it checking a spelling, concentrating upon a list of headword-definition learning targets, or intelligent guessing.

     As far as the time element goes, incidentally, it may be worth testing the acceptability of a statement like “Concentration trumps Intelligence seven days a week!” I’ve yet to find an American of any age who disputes this somewhat obvious assertion.

     By way of the time factor. The 40 items in A1, our first illustrative example, took less than an hour to write up and print. Yet any parent could use those two pages as a highly legitimate “spelling bee” for measuring a youngster’s vocabulary size. Going further, using those same pages as study materials, any parent or home schooler could assign those 40 words, assuming 5 minutes of study per word, to a youngster as an independent study calling for a total effort of 200 minutes, or 3.3 hours and a monetary reward commensurate with that effort.

     In this connection it’s worth noting that China’s educators are beginning to adopt “credit hour” study time accountancy, e.g., three “Carnegie” units of credit calling for 135 hours inside and outside of class from an average-ability student. More ambitiously, it’s also worth noting that the 800 “exotic” words in each year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee at a “hard work” rate of 10 minutes per word call for 133 hours of honest study time — directly echoing our three Carnegie units.


At a time when both high schools and colleges are still Carnegie unit bookkeepers, educators can easily and thriftily reduce expenses by increasing outside study time by students and testing the results. The records of Cal State University, for instance, currently show that the average student working at a 20 hour per week simultaneously carries a 12-unit course load (family insurance coverage require this). The same records show that these students also earnsan average grade of B+ — theoretically and officially a 60-hour work week (20 + 40) that is patently impossible and would not in years past have survived traditional audits as conducted by the California State Department of Finance.

       Anti-metrologists would probably be horrified at the thought of running California education like a meat market. But most citizens would probably welcome a return to metrologically responsible measurement, along with the thesis that good learning is more measurable than good teaching and less expensive — especially when it’s accessible worldwide!


3A2 Scope. . . . Be it meter or binary digit, a single authoritative standard of measurement can be applied to a very large range of targets, be they large or small. We’ve already seen how our headword-definition combination can be used to measure the size of dictionaries and permit us to place them in four grades: unabridged, college size, desk, and elementary. Given the international status of Ameriphone dictionaries, let us consider what other kinds of measurement we can use our headword-definition combinations for.

     WORD FREQUENCY. . . . Headwords themselves are composed of letters which in turn, depending upon their frequency of use, are subject to Zipf’s Principle of Least Effort. Hence an Ameriphone dictionary can be converted into a de facto frequency list based on two features: (a) number of letters (e.g., 4-letter words are used more than 14-letter words), and (b) number of definitions (words with 20 definitions are used more frequency via Zipf’s “long tail” principle, recently popularized by Chris Anderson.

PHONETICS AND PHONEMES. . . . As noted earlier, the use of non-keyboard characters can fairly be described as vision-unfriendly and user-unfriendly. In addition the use of audio phonetics can fairly be described as “Asian unfriendly.” Asian learners come from “tone language” backgrounds in which variations in relative pitch distinguish one word from another.

Hence Asian learners are often confused by the random variations in pitch they hear in audio pronunciations, e.g., really versus really? Hence the desirability of representing the individual speech sound in sequence in both audio and phonetic form,


By way of illustration, here’s how the Random House electronic version, which includes phoneme by phoneme pronunciation help, represents the word SEQUENCE. . . ./see” kweuhns [s as in see” /see/, ee as in be /bee/] [k as in keep /keep/ w as in away /euh way”/ euh as in along /euh lohn”/ n as in now / s as in see /see/. . . . For the learner this representation cues a slow assembly of separate parts: S-EE-K-W-EUH-N-S. But the computer processing is incredibly fast, since only 54 separate symbols are involved, as opposed to 315,000 full-word phonetic representations.

     Practically considered, this feature means far less disc space (only 14.7 mb, as opposed to 600mb for the American Heritage), which means much faster processing, along with enabling small-print college and unabridged dictionaries to be used as high speed learning tools.


SUPPLEMENTARY ENTRY INFORMATION. . . . If headword-definition combinations, single or numbered, are the core of true lexical entry, the rest of the apple is filled with special-purpose nourishment. Parts of speech, derivative words, etymologies, date of entry into the language, cross references — these features ensure that a dictionary entry today is far more informative and learner-friendly than a conventional study list.

     SPECIAL FIELD IDENTIFICATION. . . . In addition an entry, usually via italics, will identify special features of specific numbered definitions. One important identification feature is the technical field label. For SEQUENCE, cf. d5 Music, d6 Liturgy, d8 Cards, d9 Genetics, d10 Math., d12 Biochem. Since most electronic dictionaries offer access to a “word within all definitions,” These field labels can serve as vocabulary study lists by offering students access to ALL the words whose definitions include one with a specific field label, e.g., the 248 headwords which will be called up by inputting GENETICS, i.e., accessory chromosome to zygosity

     ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES FOR DEFINITIONS. . . . Since many definitions also include sentences or phrases illustrating a specific meaning. often a figurative, e.g., D11 HEAD to bring matters to a head (cited to illustrate the definition, “a culminating point, usually of a critical nature; crisis or climax,” they themselves can be used as questions to test a speakers awareness of figurative language, e.g., “What does the expression, “to bring matters to a head mean” to you? as opposed to the expression, “Two heads are better than one.”


DICTIONARY QUESTIONS AND EDUCATIONAL ACCOUNTANCY. . . . American education — officially, at least — still marches to the beat of a clock, not just a drum. This means that students at every level earn credit on the basis of test scores and the aggregate time (inside and outside of the classtoom) presumably spent in preparing to earn those test scores.

     Consequently, since we can reasonably estimate the average time an average ability student will need to learn an average difficulty headword-definition combination as five minutes, e.g., the 67 hours customarily assumed as necessary to achieve 70% accuracy on tests covering the 800-word requirement of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Given the acceptability of such an estimate, any dictionary based learning/ testing program can fairly presume to offer academic credit, even on the elementary level.

     As should be apparent, the implications of what’s been set forth here are quite serious, especially for American educators. I feel what’s called for is first of all a metrological examination of our current dictionary resources, print and electronic, by an appropriate government agency, ideally by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

      This study should be followed by a professional assessment of the possibilities of dictionary based electronic learning and testing with particular attention to its cost effectiveness in tomorrow’s “thin city” climate for American education, ideally by a first rate university, e.g., George Washington University in the D.C. area.


3B College-grade dictionaries, headword-definition combinations, and vocabulary-size testing. . . . Can anyone deny that the daily crossword puzzle, especially those of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, represents an informal measure of vocabulary size and fluency? If not, why do upscale intellectuals persist in trumpeting their completion times to all who will listen, e.g. 5 minutes for easy Monday, 15 minutes for pencil-chewing Sunday (some do it in un-erasable ink). In the interests of adding verifiable luster to this kind of achievement, here’s an authoritative do-it-yourself test to take.

     Guided by the requirements of modern metrology, the science of measurement as practiced by our National Institute for Standards and Technology, our test uses and authoritative standard, i.e., the WordGenius electronic version of the Random House College Dictionary (1427 pp.), which comprises 56,000 headword-definition combinations. As crossworders and lexicographers all know, familiar words often have many different definitions (the RHC lists over a hundred for HEAD). So ordinary words like head can have over a hundred numbered definitions). So our standard has far more transparency and integrity than the Dr. Seuss word counts currently employed by many professional educators.


The first item is our testing packet is a test containing 140 items randomly selected (the fifth HDC on every tenth page), followed by a pronunciation key for those unfamiliar with the “keyboard friendly” symbols used. The second item is a double-duty answer key: the headword itself for a “silent spelling bee” and a “second spelling-vowel letter for groups requiring multiple-choice answers. The size of each participant’s vocabulary calls for multiplying 56,000 by the percentage of correct answers, e.g. a score of 98 (70%) would indicate a vocabulary of 39,400 headword-definition combinations.

     This kind of test can be thriftily constructed with any authoritative college dictionary (e.g., Merriam Webster, Webster’s New World and American Heritage). So in time it will soon put to use in many Ameriphone schools, especially in Asia. For the present, though, it demands attention by American crossworders, who are prime examples of a great civilization’s greatest asset — people who love its vocabulary and learn it.


3B 140 Test Questions. . . . Suitable for “silent spelling bee” single-word answers OR “second letter spelling vowel. . . .”second letter A” = (a), E = (b), I = (c), O = (d) U or “none of these” = (e)


1..10/5 (1/1) /euhsee"dee euh/ n. sloth; spiritual torpor or indifference; apathy.

2..20/6 (1/3) /ee"jis/ n. sponsorship; auspices.

3.. 30/6 (2/3) /al"keuhhawl', -hol'/ n. an intoxicating liquor containing this liquid.

4...40/5 (2/3) /euhmend"meuhnt/ n. an alteration or addition, as to a bill.

5..50/6 (1/3) /an"lz/ a record of events, esp. a yearly record, usu. in chronological order.

6..60/6 (1/1) /euhpawrt", euhpohrt"/ adv. on or toward the port side of a ship.

7..70/5 (1/1) /euhres"ting/ adj. attracting or capable of attracting attention or interest; striking.

8..80/6 (1/1) /aytoh nal"i tee/ n. music composed without reference to traditional tonality and employing the chromatic pitches on a free and equal basis.

9..90/6 (1/1) /bah"bah, -beuh/, n. a small yeast cake often containing raisins, usu. served soaked in a rum syrup.

10..100/6 (1/2) /bahr"beree, -beuhree/, n., a shrub of the genus Berberis, esp. B. vulgaris, having yellow flowers in elongated clusters.


11..110/5 (1/2) /bi kawz", -koz", -kuz"/ conj. for the reason that; due to the fact that.

12..120/6 (1/1) /bid"ing/ n. command; summons

13..130/7 (1/2) /blas"teuhderrm'/ n. the primitive layer of cells that results from the segmentation of the ovum.\

14..140/20 1/1 /bond"woom'euhn/, n. a female slave.

     15..150/5 1/1 /brah vis"euhmoh'/ interj. (used to express the highest praise to a performer.)

16..160/9[2] 1/5 /beuhfay"/ n. a sideboard or cabinet for holding china, table linen, etc.

17..170/14 (1/2) /kab'euhl yair"oh, -euhlair"oh/, n.   ;   a Spanish gentleman.

18..180/14 (1/1) /keuhnawr"euhs, -nohr"-/ adj. melodious; musical.

19..190/8 (1/2) /kas"ti gayt'/, v.t., to criticize or reprimand severely.

20..200/12 (1/3) n. /seuhr tif"i kit/; a document providing evidence of status or qualifications.


21..210/9 (1/1) /chows, chowsh/, n. (in the Ottoman Empire) a court official who served as an ambassador, emissary, or member of a ceremonial escort.

22..220//8 (1/1) /sin'euhmeuhtek"/ n. a motion-picture theater showing experimental or historically important films.

23..230/5 (1/5) /klohn/, n. cell, cell product, or organism genetically identical to the unit or individual from which it was asexually derived.

24..240/6 (1/1) /kol"eeg/ n. an associate; fellow worker or fellow member of a profession.

25..250/5 (1/3) /keuhm pen"dee euhm/, n. a brief treatment or account of a subject, esp. an extensive subject.

26..260/5 (1/10) n., adj. /keuhn glom"euhr it, n. anything composed of heterogeneous materials or elements.

27..270/9 (1/2) /kon"treuhverr'see/, n. a public dispute concerning a matter of opinion.

28..280/5 (2/2) /koz mol"euhjee/ n. the branch of astronomy that deals with the general structure and evolution of the universe.

29..290/6 (1/2) /kray"fish'/, n. also called crawdad, crawdaddy. any of various mainly freshwater decapod crustaceans, esp. of the genera Astacus and Cambarus, resembling small lobsters.

30..300/5 4/6 /kub/ n. a young person serving as an apprentice.

31..310/5 1/3 /suy"preuhs/ n. any of several evergreen coniferous trees, having dark-green, scalelike, overlapping leaves.

32..320/7 (1/3) /dek"ayd/ n. a period of ten years.

33..330/5 3/8 /dem'euhn stray"sheuhn/ n. a description or explanation, as of a process, illustrated by examples, specimens, or the like.

     34..340/8 /2 /dek"steuhr/ adj. on the right side; right.

35..350/5 2/5 /di rek"teuhree/ n. a board or tablet on a wall of a building listing the location of the occupants.

36..360/6 1/2 /duy'euhret"ik/ adj. increasing the volume of the urine excreted.

37..370/5 1/2 /draw"down'/ n. a lowering of water surface level, as in a well.

38..380/8[2] 1/6 /duk/, vt. to plunge or dip in water momentarily

     39..390/5 1/1 /ek"lawg/ n. n. a pastoral poem, often in dialogue form.

40..400/5 3a/3 /i lip"ti keuhl/ adj. characterized by extreme economy of expression in speech or writing.


41..410/1 1/1 /en playn"/, v.i, to board an airplane.

42..420/9 1/4 /i skayp"meuhnt/ n.the portion of a watch or clock that measures beats and controls the speed of the going train

43..430/5 1/2 /ek"suyz, n. an internal tax or duty on certain commodities, as liquor or tobacco, levied on their manufacture, sale, or consumption within the country.

44..440/17 2/6 /fab"rik/ n. the texture of a cloth or material.

45..450/6 1/1 /fawn/ n. any of a class of ancient Roman deities of the countryside, identified with the satyrs of Greek myth.

46..460/12 2/4 /fil"euhmeuhnt/ n. the stalklike portion of a stamen, supporting the anther.

47..470/10 1/1 /flee"werrt', -wawrt'/ n. a European plantain, Plantago psyllium, having seeds that are used in medicine.

48..480/1 6/7 /foot"bawl'/ n. a problem over which various parties debate continually

49..490/3[2] 1/5 /fray/ n. a fight; skirmish; conflict.

50..500/3 1/3 /fyoor"awr/ n. a general outburst of enthusiasm, excitement, controversy, or the like.


51..510/5 1/1 /geuhvot"/ n. an old French dance in moderately quick quadruple meter.

     52..520/5 [2] 1/5 /jin/, n. to snare (game).

53..530/8 1/48 /good/, adj. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous.

54..540/11 1/1 /green"roohm/ n. a lounge, as in a theater, for use by performers when they are not onstage.

55.5550/5 1/2 /juy"roh/, n. GYROSCOPE.

56..560/4 2/5/heuhrang"/, n. a long, passionate, and vehement speech, esp. one delivered before a public gathering.

57..570/6 1/3 /hek"teuhr/ v.t. to harass or urge by bullying.

58..580/4 1/1 /huy"euhr euhdoohl'/ n. (in the ancient world) a slave attached to the temple of a particular deity.

59..590/7 1/5 /heuhmol"euhgeuhs/ adj. having the same or a similar relation; corresponding, as in relative position or structure.

60..600/4 3/9 /hum/, v.i. to give forth an indistinct sound of mingled voices or noises.


610/4 1/1/his'teuhree"sis/ n. a lag in response exhibited by a body in reacting to changes in forces, esp. magnetic forces, acting upon it.

62..620/2 1/1/im pray"zeuh/, n. an emblem.

63..630/4 1/3 /in'deuhvij"ooheuhlee/ adv. one at a time; separately.

64..640/7 1/1 /in"roh/, n. a small lacquer box with compartments for medicines, cosmetics, etc., worn on the waist sash of the Japanese kimono.

65..650/5 1/1 /in ter"euhbang'/ n. a printed punctuation mark, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection.

66..660/3 1/1 1/1/uyseuhmawr"feuhs/ adj. (of a chemical compound or mineral) capable of crystallizing in a form similar to that of another compound or mineral.

67..670/5 5/12 /jog/ v.i. to run at a slow, steady pace.

     68..680/10 1/1 /ker"euhtin/ n. a tough, insoluble protein that is the

     main constituent of hair, nails, horn, hoofs, etc., and of the outermost layer of skin.

     69..690/7 1/1 /kooroohsh"/ n., a monetary unit of Turkey, equal to 1/100 of a lira.

70..700/3 1/1 /lath"euhriz'euhm/ n. a painful disorder esp. of domestic animals caused by ingestion of a poison found in certain legumes of the genus Lathyrus and marked by spastic paralysis.


71..710/2 2/14 /lengkth/ n. the measure of the greatest dimension of a plane or solid figure.

72..720/5 2/4[1] /limp/ v.i. to proceed in a lame, faltering, or labored manner.

73..730/2 4/8 /loj"ik/ n. the system or principles of reasoning applicable to any branch of knowledge or study.

     74..740/4 1/4 /lus"tee/, adj. full of or characterized by healthy vigor.

     75..750/8 2/2 /ma mil"euh/, n. any nipplelike process or protuberance.

     76..760/19 1/4 /mas"teuhree, mah"steuh-/ n. command; grasp.

77. 770/5 1/4 /mem'euhran"deuhm/ n.           a short note designating something to be remembered.

78..780/13 1/2 /mid"n/ n. a dunghill or refuse heap.

79..790/6 1/1 /mis"iv/ n. a written message; letter.

80..800/4 4/8 /mon"yeuhmeuhnt/ n. something written, esp. a legal document or a tribute to a person.


81..810/5 3/8 /mul"teuhpleks'/ adj. of, pertaining to, or using equipment permitting the simultaneous transmission of two or more trains of signals or messages over a single channel.

82..820/7 5/10 /nay"cheuhr/ n. the particular combination of qualities belonging to a person, animal, thing, or class by birth, origin, or constitution; native or inherent character.

83..830/2 1/1 /nik"euhteen'/ n. a colorless, oily, water-soluble, highly toxic liquid alkaloid, C10H14N2, found in tobacco and valued as an insecticide.

84..840/9 3/6 /nawrm/ n. a behavior pattern or trait considered typical of a particular social group.

85..850/2 3/3 /euhb strukt"/ v.t         to block from sight; be in the way of (a view, passage, etc.).

86..860/3 1/2 /on'euhmat'euhpee"euh, n.      the formation of a word, as cuckoo or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.

87..870/11 1/1 /os"i keuhl/ n. a small bone.

88..880/3 2a/5 /oh"veuhr cheuhr n. a. an orchestral composition introducing a musical work, as an opera.

89..890/5 2/2 /pah"peuh, peuhpah"/, n FATHER.

90..900/1 6/10/pas"teuhr euhl, pah"steuhr-/ adj pertaining to or designating the herding of domesticated animals as the chief means of subsistence.


91..910/2 2/3 /huyeur"ling/ n. a person who works only for pay, esp. in a menial or boring job, with little or no concern for the value of the work.

     92..920/5 2/3 /pet"ee/ adj. Law. small; petty; minor.

93..930/6 1/9 /pik"up'/ n. an improvement, as in health, business conditions, production, etc.

94..940/8 1a/9 /plan"it/ n. any of the nine large heavenly bodies revolving about the sun and shining by reflected light: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto in the order of their proximity to the sun.

95..950/6 1/9 /poyz/ n. a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight.

     96..960/1 5/10 /peuhzes"/ v.t.  to have as belonging to one; have as property; own.

     97..970/8 1/2 /pree nayt"l/ adj. previous to birth or to giving birth; antenatal: prenatal care for mothers.

     98..980/6 1/4 /pruy vay"sheuhn/ n. lack of the usual comforts or necessaries of life.

     99..990/4 1/1 /pros'en sef"euhlon'/, n. the forebrain.

     100..1000/8[2] 1/3 /pun"cheuhn/ n. a heavy slab of roughly dressed timber for use as a floorboard.


101..101..1010/4 3/12 /kween/ n. a woman, or something personified as a woman, preeminent in some respect

102..1020/8 1/2/ran"sid/ adj. having a rank, unpleasant smell or taste: rancid oil.

103..1030/9 1/2. /ri kawrd"/ v.t. to set down in writing or the like, as for the purpose of preserving evidence.

104..1040/3 1/12 /rel"euhtiv/ n. a person who is connected with another by blood or marriage.

105..1050/2 1/1 /ri sawrb"/ v.t. to absorb again, as an exudation.

106..1060/7 1/1/ruy"bohs/ n. a white, crystalline, water-soluble, slightly sweet solid, C5H10O5, a pentose sugar obtained by the hydrolysis of RNA.

107..1070/3 4/6 /roohm, room/ n. pace or extent of space occupied by or available for something

108..1080/2 3/3 /roohth/ n. self-reproach; remorse.

     109..1090/2 2/2 /saf"euhr in/ adj. deep blue.

110..1100/6[2] 1/1 /skrap"ee/, adj. Informal. fond of fighting.


111..1110/1 1] 5/30 /see/, v.t. to accept or imagine as acceptable I can't see him as president.

112..1120/4 1/5 /seuhreen"/ adj. calm; peaceful; tranquil.

113..1130/8 1/2 /shel"fuyeur'/ n. the firing of explosive shells or projectiles.

114..1140/2 4/11 /sig"nl/, n. a token; indication.

115..1150/2 6/8 /skuy/ v.t. to raise, throw, or hit aloft or into the air.

116..1160/3 1/3 snee"king/ adj. acting in a furtive or underhand way.

117..1170/3 1/2 /sawr"tl ij/ n. divination by the drawing of lots.

118..1180/7 1/6 /spuyl/ n. a peg or plug of wood, esp. one used as a spigot.

119..1190/10 2/2 /sree, shree/ n. a respectful title of address prefixed to a man's name in India; Mr.

120..1200/1 [2] 5/6 /stem/ v.t. to stanch (bleeding).


121..1210/1 5/12 /streek/ n. a flash leaving a visible line or after effect, as of lightning; bolt.

122..1220/2 1/1 /sub"soyl'/ n. the bed or stratum of earth immediately under the surface soil.

123..1230/1 5/12 /seuhpluy"/ v.i. to substitute for another, esp. in the pulpit of a church.

124..1240/2 1/2 /sim"peuhthuy'zeuhr/ n. a person who is in approving accord with a cause or person.

125..1250/19 1/1 /tan"zee/, n. any of several composite plants of the genus Tanacetum, esp. an Old World herb, T. vulgare, having clusters of tubular yellow flowers.

126..1260/9 1/1 /ten"it// n. any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc., esp. one held as true by members of a profession, group, or movement.

127..1270/10 1/5 /thik/ adj. having relatively great extent from one surface to the opposite.

128..1280/4 2/2 /tim"id/, adj. indicating fear or lack of assurance.

129..1290/4 2/2 /tawr"teuhs/ n. a very slow person or thing.

130..130/3 2/11 /trans pawrt"/ v.t. to carry away by strong emotion; enrapture.


131..1310/4 1/2 /trol"euhp/ n.   an immoral or promiscuous woman, esp. a prostitute.

132..1320/6 1/2 /tweet/ n. a chirping sound, as of a small bird.

133..1330/3 2/2 /un klohzd"/ adj. not concluded or settled.

134..1340/8 2/5/un pak"/ v.t. to remove (something) from a container.

135..1350/10 5/7 /vay"keuhn see/ n. lack of thought or intelligence; vacuity.

136..1360/3 2/8 /verr"teks/ n. the top of the head.

137..1370/7 [1] 1/1 /vohlt/ n. the SI unit of potential difference and electromotive force, equal to the difference of electric potential between two points of a conductor carrying a constant current of one ampere, when the power dissipated between these points is equal to one watt.

138..1380/15 3/3 /wosh"owt'/ n. Informal.    a. a complete failure or disappointment.

139..1390/16 5/17 /wet/ adj. allowing or favoring the sale of alcoholic beverages

140..1400/5 1/5 /wilt/ v.i. to become limp and drooping, as a fading flower or parched plant; wither.



     C3 Keyboard-friendly pronunciation symbols. . . . This treatment of pronunciation has been adapted from the electronic edition of the Random House College Dictionary), which uses keyboard characters to represent standard worldwide American pronunciation English (SWAPE or Ameriphonics for short). Hence representations of foreign language and American dialect pronunciations are here excluded in the interests of worldwide consistently intelligible “platform” speech.” as the 1934 Webster’s Second International called it.


VOWELS. . . . A SOUNDS: in act /akt/ in star /stahr/ in age /ayj/. . . . E SOUNDS: in dare /dair/ in edge /ej/ in bee /bee/ in burn /berrn/. . . . I SOUNDS: in cheer /chear/ in big /big/ in ice /uys/ . . . . O SOUNDS: in ball /bawl/ in ox /oks/ in boat /boht/ in cow /kow/ in hour /oweur/ * oyas in oil /oyl/ U SOUNDS: in alone /euh lohn"/ in book /book/ in ooze /oohz/ in sun /sun/ NOTE: This keyboard-character system also uses the nasal and lateral consonants N, and L to represent syllables, e.g. BUTTON /but"n/ and LITTLE /lit"l/


CONSONANTS. . . . in back /bak/ in beach /beech/ in bed /bed/ in that /dhat/ in fit /fit/ in give /giv/ in hit /hit/ in where /hwair/ in just /just/ in keep /keep/ in low /loh/ in him /him/ in now /now/ in sing /sing/ in pot /pot/ in read /reed/ in see /see/ in shoe /shooh/ in ten /ten/ in thin /thin/ in voice /voys/ away /euh way"/ y..  as in yes /yes/ in zoo /zooh/ in treasure /trezh"euhr/


STRESS. . . . " (double quotes) = primary stress. . . . ' (single quote) = secondary stress NOTE. Both of these are positioned AFTER the stressed syllable. Syllable divisions not identified by stress indicators are indicated by blank spaces, e.g., as in alone /euh lohn". The absence of a space between syllables indicated they are to be pronounced as a unit, almost as one, cf. CARDIOVASCULAR /kahr'dee oh vas"kyeuhleuhr/ . . . . Original Copyright © 2006 Eurofield Information Solutions Pty. Ltd.




3D Answer Key for Previous 140-Question Test. . . . one-word answer first, then “vowel surrogate” multiple choice asking for the SECOND SPELLING LETTER vowel via (a) for A, (b) for E, (c) for I, (d) for O, (e) for U or “none of these.”


1..10/5 acedia (b). . . . 2..20/6 aegis (b) . . . . 3 30/6 alcohol (d). . . . 4...40/5 amendment (b) . . . .5..50/6 annals (a). . . . 6..60/6 aport (d) 7..70/5 arresting (b). . . .8..80/6 atonality (d). . . .9..90/6 baba (a). . . . 10..100/6 barberry (b) . . . . 11..110/5 because (a). . . . 12..120/6 bidding (c). . . . 13..130/7 blastoderm (d). . . . 14..140/20 bondwoman (d). . 15..150/5 bravissimo (c). . . . 16..160/9 buffet[2] (b). . . . 17..170/14 caballero (a). . . . 18..180/14 canorous (d1). . 19..190/8 castigate (c). . . . 20..200/12 certificate (c). . . . .


21..210/9 chiaus (a). . . 22..220//8 cinematheque/ (b). . . . 23..230/5 clone (b). . . . 24..240/6 colleague (b). . . . 25..250/5 compendium (b)

26..260/5 conglomerate (d). . . . . 27..270/9 controversy (4). . . . 28..280/5 cosmology (4). . . . 29..290/6 crayfish (c). . . . 30..300/5 cub (e). . . . 31..310/5 cypress (b). . . . 32..320/7 decade (a). . . . 33..330/5 demonstration (d). . . . 34..340/8 dexter (b). . . . 35..350/5 directory (b) 36..360/6 diuretic (e). . . . 37..370/5 drawdown (d). . . . 38..380/8 duck [2] (e). . . . 39..390/5 eclogue (d). . . . 40..400/5 elliptical (c). . . .


41..410/1 enplane (a). . . . 42..420/9 escapement (a). . . . 43..430/5 excise (c). . . . 44..440/17 fabric (c). . . . 45..450/6 faun (5). . . . 46..460/12 filament (a). . . . 47..470/10 fleawort (a). . . . 48..480/1 football (d). . . . 49..490/3 fray[2] (e). . . . 50..500/3 furor (d)

51..510/5 gavotte (d) 52..520/5 gin[2] (e). . . . 53..530/8 good (d) . . . . 54..540/11 greenroom (b). . . . 55.5550/5 gyro (d). . . . 56..560/4 harangue (a). . . . 57..570/6 hector (d). . . . 58..580/4 hierodule (b). . . . 59..590/7 homologous (d). . . . 60..600/4 hum (e)


61..610/4 hysteresis (b). . . . 62..620/2 impresa (2). . . . 63..630/4 individually (c). . . . 64..640/7 (d). . . . 65..650/5 interrobang (b).. . . . 66..660/3 isomorphous (d). . . . 67..670/5 jog (d). . . . 8..680/10 keratin (a). . . . 69..690/7 kurus (e). . . . 70..700/3 lathyrism (e). . . . 71..710/2 length (e). . . . 72..720/5 limp[1] (e). . . . 73..730/2 logic (c). . . . 74..740/4 lusty (e). . . . 75..750/8 mammilla (c). . . . 76..760/19 mastery (b). . . . 77. 77/5 memorandum (d). . . . 78..780/13 midden (b). . . . 79..790/6 missive (d). . . . 80..800/4 monument (e).


81..810/5 multiplex (c). . . . 82..820/7 nature (e). . . . 83..830/2 nicotine (d). . . . 84..840/9 norm (e). . . . 85..850/2 obstruct (e). . . . . 86..860/3 onomatopoeia (d). . . . 87..870/11 ossicle (c). . . . 878..880/3 overture (b). . . . 89..890/5 papa (a). . . . 90..900/1 pastoral (d). . . . . . . . 91..910/2 hireling (b). . . . 92..920/5 petit (c). . . . 93..930/6 pickup (e). . . . 94..940/8 planet (b). . . . 95..950/6 poise (c). . . . 96..960/1 possess (b). . . . 97..970/8 prenable (a). . . . 98..980/6 privation (a). . . . 99..990/4 prosencephalon (b). . . . 100..1000/8 puncheon[2] (b)


101..1010/4 queen (b). . . . 102..1020/8 rancid (c). . .. 103..1030/9 record (d). . . . 104..1040/3 relative (a). . . . 105..1050/2 resorb (d). . . . 106..1060/7 ribose (d). . . .107..1070/3 room (d). . . . 108..1080/2 ruth (d). . . . 109..1090/2 sapphirine. . . . (c). . . . 110..1100/6 scrappy[2] (a) . . . .111..1110/1 see[1] (b). . . . 112..1120/4 serene (b). . . . 113..1130/8 shellfire (c). . . . 114..1140/2 signal (a). . . . 115..1150/2 sky (e). . . . 116..1160/3 sneaking (b). . . . 117..1170/3 sortilege (c). . . . 118..1180/7 spile (b). . . . 119..1190/10 sri (e). . . . 120..1200/1 stem[2] (e)


121..1210/1 streak (a). . . . 122..1220/2 subsoil (d). . . . 123..1230/1 supply (e). . . . 124..1240/2 sympathizer (a). . . . 125..1250/19 tansy (e). . . . 126..1260/9 tenet (b). . . . 127..1270/10 thick (e). . . . 128..1280/4 timid

(c). . . . 129..1290/4 (d). . . . 130..130/3 transport (d). . . . . . . . 131..1310/4 trollop (d). . . . 132..1320/6 tweet (b). . . . 133..1330/3 unclosed (d). . . . 134..1340/8 unpack (a). . . . 135..1350/10 vacancy (a). . . . 136..1360/3 vertex (b). . . . 137..1370/7 volt[1] (e). . . . 138..1380/15 washout (d). . . . 139..1390/16 wet (e). . . . 140..1400/5 wilt (e).





Chapter 4. Measuring and Increasing the Mastery of 162 High Tech Vocabulary Fields


WARNING: In using field labels, watch out for potential confusion between field labels themselves and context word in a definition e.g., ARMOR; or between abbreviation and word, e.g. GRAM (for grammar) and GRAM (unit of measurement). The full version (40,000 high tech terms) can be accessed as “An Access Dictionary of High Tech Internationalist English” via


Accounting (150) Acou/stics (70) Angling (80) Aeronautics (299) Aerospace (99) Agri/culture (70) Amer/ican Hist/ory (45) Anatomy (1138) Anglican Ch/urch (50) Animal Behav/ior ( 60) Anthropol/ogy (77) Archaeol/ogy (82) Archery (20) Archit/ecture  (486) Arith/metic (320) Armor (190 (Artillery (90) Astrol/ogy (88) Aviation


(40) Banking (90) Baseball (540) Basketball (130) Billiards (60) Biochem/istry (853) Biol/ogy (1011) Bookbinding (70) Bookkeeping (100) Botany (1324) Buddhism (90) Building Trades (40) Cards (270)


Carpentry (210) Cell/ular Biol/ogy (190) Chemistry (3389) Class/ical Myth/ology (3000) Class/ical Pros/ody (20) Coal Mining (300) Com/merce (150) Computers (631) Cookery (300 Cricket (100) Crystall/ography (130) Curling (40) Dentistry (135) Drafting (30) Diving (70) Eastern Ch/urch


(60) Ecclesiastics (360) Ecology (118) Econ/omics (80) Education (73) Electricity      (627) Electronics (442) Embryol/ogy (150) Eng/ineering       (140) Eng/lish Hist/ory (100) Entomology (122) Finance (120) Fine Arts (130) Football (1210) Fort/ification (70) Fox Hunting (40) Fr/ench Hist/ory (20) French Cookery (50) Furniture (510)


Genetics (304) Geog/raphy (76) Geology (604) Geometry (230) Gk [Greek] and Rom/an Antiq/uities (50) Glassmaking (25) Golf (240) Gram/mar (913) Gymnastics (60) Heraldry (400)

Hinduism (190) Hist/ory (360) Horol/ogy (80) Horse Racing (50) Hunting (270)


Immun/ology (600) Insurance (320) Irish Legend (20) Jainism(10) Jazz (170) Jewelry (130) Journalism (120) Judaism (150) Law (2109) Library Science (60) Ling/uistics (359) Liturgy (40) Logic (380) Mach/inery (300) Mathematics(1289) Masonry (180) Mech/anics (80) Med/icine (944) Metal Working (80) Metall/urgy (300) Meteorol/ogy (283) Mexican Cookery (25) Mil/itary (603) Motion Pictures (200) Mineral (750) Mountain Climbing (5) Music (1434) Mycol/ogy (180) Naut/ical (1252) 


Numismatics (40) Ophthal/mology (180) Opt/ics (800) Ornithol/ogy (123) Parl/iamentary proc/edure 15) Pathol/ogy (2113) Petrog/raphy (40) Pharm/acy (952) Philately (60) Phonetics (304) Photog/raphy (330) Physical Chem/istry (150) Physical Geog/raphy (40) Physics (1289) Physiol/ogy (334) Plant Pathol/ogy (150) Plumbing (90) Poker (80) Printing (361) Prosody (202) Psychiatry (236) Psychoanal/ysis (80) Psychology (361)


Radio and Television (1100) Railroads (150) Real Estate (160) Rhetoric (86) Rocketry (90) Rom/an Cath/olic Ch/urch (400) Rom/an Hist/ory (50) Scand/inavian Myth/ology (80) Shipbuilding (90) Sociology (124) Sports (450) Statistics (220) Stock Exchange (90) Surg/ery (320) Survey/ing (120) Telecommunications (70) Television (750)       Textiles (160) Theat/er (210) Theology (150) Thermodynam/ics (70) Transportation (150) U.S. [United States] (3000) U.S. Govt [Government] (60) U.S. Marines (20) Vet/erinary Med/icine (40) Vet/erinary Pathol/ogy (240) Whist (40) Wrestling (50) Zoology (874)




Chapter 5. Measuring and Increasing Famous-Name Vocabulary Size


Both formally and informally, our best test of famous-name literacy is our knowledge of chronology as indicated by our ability to answer spot questions like “Who was born first: Benjamin Franklin or George Washington? The correct answer is nearly always a matter of public record, and the challenge can be increased by offering more choices. Best of all, it builds a “big picture” of who was doing what when by encouraging logical guessing.

     Overall, of course, any famous-name question thrown at us is itself always worth questioning. Some celebrity names in crossword puzzles disappear rather quickly; others stay on and even find their way into the dictionary. Still others are clearly more familiar than others, as indicated by how well the family as a whole does on specific Jeopardy questions.

     Unfortunately, since those who devise tests are invariably very reluctant to describe their premises and procedures, test takers rarely get their questions answered beyond the implicit reassurance of “Trust us — We’re professionals!”


The best way to understand how test makers work (or should work) is to devise one on our own. As far as celebrity names go, our best bet is to let someone else choose them for us, namely, an authoritative biographical dictionary, in which case we can rank them in terms of how many lines appear in their entries. Other ranking criteria could include (a) the number of citations in a data base like Info-Trac, (b) the number of name-as-subject hits in a library catalog, or even (c) the number of hits on an internet check.

     Once we have a ranked list of names, our next challenge is to construct test questions that also have clearly verifiable correct-incorrect answers, such as “Who was born first — A, B, or C?” or (more difficult) “Who died first?” or “Who lived longest?” Since dictionaries also list nationality and profession, another practical question is “What nationality is listed in dictionary X for Name A?” (note how “listed” will produce a clearly verifiable correct-incorrect answer. Still another is “What profession is listed FIRST in dictionary X for Name A? Of the alternatives here, “general” turns up most frequently, along with “author.”

     Practically considered, we can give our test a professional appearance if we translate it into an abc (or abcde) multiple-choice format. One way to do this is to list our alternatives on a separate sheet and identify them simply as N1, N2, N3. . . . N100, etc. With this done, we can then phrase each question in general terms and score them all with a simple abcde key, as in the following:


Q-Type 1. . . . Please indicate which of the following (the full names appear on an accompanying list) was born FIRST. Resolve any ties alphabetically. Your alternatives are (a) N1, (b) N2, and (c) N3.


Q-Type 2. . . . Please indicate which of the following, if any, is identified FIRST as a “general.” Resolve any ties alphabetically. Your alternatives are (a) N1, (b) N2, (c) N3, (d) N4, (e) none of these.


5A Professional Categories. . . . The prompt “general” can be replaced with a wide range of alternatives. The biographical names section at the end of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (eleventh editions) lists the following professions first under C: Cabeza de Vaca to Cambaceres: explorer, novelist, navigator, navigator, explorer, founder (of X), poet, statesman, composer, adventurer, novelist, novelist, sculptor, president (of X), dramatist, author, politician, emperor, prime minister, author, soprano, general, sculptor, philosopher, orator, proprietor (of X), theologian, chemist, jurist. As this list stands, incidentally, it’s almost like a crossword-puzzle list, e.g., “a soprano beginning with CAL-, or “an explorer beginning with CAB-.

     REGROUPING. . . . If desired, these could be grouped under four main headings: (a) warfare and politics, (b) science and technology, (c) literature and the arts, (d) philosophy and religion. . . . This step, however, would introduce a personal-judgment factor, as opposed to the explicitly verifiable citation of dictionary evidence.


DEVELOPING AN ONOMASTICAL PERSPECTIVE. . . . Today historians still argue about who is more important in the history of our planet: famous names or gradual changes. But practically considered, proper names are still our best tool for record keeping. Even more important, going blank on proper names is today seen as a symptom of early senile dementia (Alzheimer’s): less serious than going blank on words, but worrisome just the same. So feel free to track names in the same way we track words — source, combining elements, changes in meaning, etc.


5B Who’s Truly Who. . . . A Ranked List of 665 Most Verifiably Famous Names. . . . This is a ranked list of famous names based upon the number of lines allocated to each in Webster’s New Biographical Dictionary, Merriam Webster, 1988 (WNBD). . . . Rank appears first, followed by number of entries, followed by name and other information (as presented in NEBD).

     For convenience the names appear in groups of ten, the first two of which separate rank and number of entries by slashes. For subsequent economy, the slashes are dropped beginning with the third group. The Preface to WNBD describes it as “wholly revised and reedited,” including a “greatly increased” coverage of the “non-English part of the world,” while at the same time retaining a relatively “fuller and more detailed” treatment of American, Canadian, and British subjects.

     Since living persons are excluded, the WNBD will probably strike some Americans as overly emphasizing Dead White British Male Parliamentarians and Politicians. But as matters stand today, the NEBD as of 2006 is clearly our most accessible and authoritative tool to use in strengthening and testing — onomastically, as it were — the civilizational literacy of Americans, young and old, in 2006. . . . The first numeral indicates the name’s rank, the second numeral indicates the number of lines in its entry. Additional descriptive words (titles, etc.) that appear in NMW have been retained.


1        /88     Napoleon I

2        /50     Cromwell, Oliver

3        /49     Michelangelo

4        /44     Charles II, King of England

5        /43     Washington, George

6        /37     Edward III, King of England

7        /37     Hitler, Adolf

8        /36     Franklin, Benjamin

9        /36     Milton, John

10      /36     Scott, Sir Walter

11      /35     Charles I, King of England

12      /34     Augustus, Gaius

13      /34     Louis XIV, King of France

14      /33     Crammer, Thomas

15      /33     Hyde, Edward, 1st Earl of Clarendon

16      /33     More, Sir Thomas, Saint

17      /33     Tennyson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson

18      /33     Wilson, Woodrow

19      /32     Columbus, Christopher

20      /32     Drake, Sir Francis


21      /32     Edward IV, King of England

22      /32     Pitt, William, the Younger

23      /31     Churchill, Sir Winston

24      /31     Edward I, King of England

25      /31     Elisabeth I, Queen of England

26      /31     Penn, William

27      /30     Churchill, John, 1st Duke of Marlborough

28      /30     Defoe, Daniel, MOLL FLANDERS

29      /30     Lenin, Vladmir

30      /30     Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

31      /30     Swift, Jonathan, GULLIVER’S TRAVELS

32      /29     Bismarck, Otto von

33      /29     Nelson, Horatio

34      /29     Sun Yat-Sen

35      /29     William I, King of England, the Conqueror

36      /28     Caesar, Julius

37      /28     Henry VIII, King of England

38      /28     Raleigh, Sir Walter

39      /28     Shakespeare, William

40      /27     Balzac, Honore de, PERE GORIOT

41      /27     Dryden, John

42      /27     Napoleon III

43      /27     Newman, John Henry

44      /27     Prokofiev, Sergey

45      /27     Roosevelt, Theodore

46      /27     Wagner, Richard

47      /27     Wesley, John

48      /27     Wordsworth, William

49      /26     Byron, George Gordon, Lord Byron

50      /26     Chaucer, Geoffrey

51      /26     Dante Alighieri

52      /26     Darwin, Charles

53      /26     Fredrick II, King of Prussia, the Great

54      /26     Hugo, Victor, LES MISERABLES

55      /26     Mendelssohn, Felix

56      /26     Morris, William

57      /26     Muhammad

58      /26     Mussolini, Benito

59      /26     Woolsey, Thomas

60      /25     Browning, Robert

61      /25     Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

62      /25     Cooper, Anthony Ashley, 1st Earl of Shaftsbury

63      /25     Emerson, Ralph Waldo

64      /25     Freud, Sigmund

65      /25     Galilei, Galileo

66      /25     Jesus

67      /25     Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

68      /25     Mill, John Stuart

69      /24     Bacon, Francis

70      /24     Beethoven, Ludwig

71      /24     Bolivar, Simon

72      /24     Burke, Edmund

73      /24     Clemens, Samuel, Mark Twain, HUCKLEBERRY FINN

74      /24     D'Annunzio, Gabrielle

75      /24     Dickens, Charles, DAVID COPPERFIELD

76      /24     Gandhi Mohandas Mahatma

77      /24     Grant, Ulysses S.

78      /24     Johnson, Samuel

79      /24     Leonardo da Vinci

80      /24     Liszt, Franz

81      /24     Massine, Leonid

82      /24     Monck, George

83      /24     Montfort, Simon de

84      /24     Peel, Sir Robert

85      /24     Pilduski, Josef

86      /24     Rousseau, Jean-Jacques

87      /24     Ruskin, John

88      /24     Schilling, Johann

89      /24     Shaw, George Bernard

90      /24     Sheridan, Philip Henry

91      /24     Stanley, Sir Henry Morton

92      /24     Wayne, Anthony, Mad Anthony

93      /24     Wellesley, Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington

94      /23     Coke, Sir Edward

95      /23     Fremont, John Charles

96      /23     Irving, Washington

97      /23     Jefferson, Thomas

98      /23     Picasso, Pablo

99      /23     Poe, Edgar Allan

100    /23     Rembrandt van Rijn

101    /23     Victoria Queen of England

102    /23     Wells, Herbert George,THE TIME MACHINE

103    /22     Chamberlain, Neville

104    /22     Chang Kai-Shek

105    /22     Howells, William Dean, THE RISE OF SILAS LAPHAM

106    /22     James I, King of England

107    /22     Livingstone, David

108    /22     Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Ze-Dong

109    /22     Nehru, Motilal

110    /22     Parnell, Charles

111    /22     Pretorius, Andrew

112    /22     Roosevelt, Franklin

113    /22     Sidney, Sir Philip

114    /22     Stravinsky, Igor

115    /22     Turner, Joseph

116    /22     Vega, Lope, de

117    /22     Wycliffe, John

118    /21     Antonius, Marcus, Mark Antony

119    /21     Chamberlain, Joseph

120    /21     Cobbett, William

121    /21     Edwards, Jonathan

122    /21     Hannibal

123    /21     Henry IV, King of France

124    /21     Ibsen, Henrik

125    /21     Irving, Sir Henry

126    /21     James, Henry, THE AMBASSADORS

127    /21     Laplace, Pierre-Simon

128    /21     Lincoln, Abraham

129    /21     Meredith, George, THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL

130    /21     More, Hannah

131    /21     Pym, John

132    /21     Shelley, Percy Bysshe

133    /21     Stalin, Joseph

134    /21     Stevenson, Robert Louis

135    /20     Addison, Joseph

136    /20     Attaturk, Kemal

137    /20     Cervantes, Miguel de

138    /20     Charlemagne, Charles the Great

139    /20     Cicero, Marcus Tullius

140    /20     Diderot, Denis

141    /20     Disraeli, Benjamin

142    /20     Edward VII, King of England

143    /20     Goethe, Johann

144    /20     Lully, Jean-Baptiste

145    /20     Meternich, Klemens

146    /20     Owen, Robert

147    /20     Peshkov, Aleksey, Maxim Gorky

148    /20     Pitt, William the Elder

149    /20     Rhodes, Cecil

150    /20     Rupert, Prince

151    /20     Russell, John, 1st Earl

152    /20     Venizelos, Eleutherios

153    /20     Walpole, Sir Richard

154    /19     Antiochus III, the Great

155    /19     Bach, J.S.

156    /19     Benso, Camillo, Count Cavour

157    /19     Coverdale, Miles

158    /19     Cowper, William

159    /19     Darius I, the Great

160    /19     Donne, John

161    /19     Gaulle, Charles de

162    /19     Groot, Hugh de, Grotius

163    /19     Hammerstein, Oscar

164    /19     Humboldt, Alexander von

165    /19     Joan of Arc

166    /19     Kant, Immanuel

167    /19     Lafayette, Marie-Joseph

168    /19     Lessing, Gottfried

169    /19     Louis XV, King of France

170    /19     Matisse, Henri

171    /19     Plessis, Armand-Jean du, Cardinal Richelieu

172    /19     Pope, Alexander

173    /19     Priestly, Joseph

174    /19     Sheridan, Richard Brinsley

175    /19     Sullivan, SirArthur

176    /19     Voltaire, Francois-Marie Aroet, CANDIDE

177    /19     Whitman, Walt

178    /19     Wilkes, John

179    /19     Wilkinson, James

180    /19     William I, Stadtholder of the Netherlands, the Silent

181    /19     Zola, Emile, NANA

182    /18     Blucher, Gebhard

183    /18     Calvin, John

184    /18     Carlyle, Thomas

185    /18     Coleridge, Samuel Taylor

186    /18     Cortes, Hernando

187    /18     Cromwell, Thomas

188    /18     Edward, Prince of Wales, the Black Prince

189    /18     Fox, Charles

190    /18     Handel, George

191    /18     James II, King of England

192    /18     Lomonsov, Mikhail

193    /18     Louis-Philippe, King of France

194    /18     Mehmed II, the Conqueror

195    /18     Middleton, Thomas

196    /18     Millais, Sir John

197    /18     Montague, Charles, 1st Earl of Halifax

198    /18     Montessori, Maria

199    /18     Murray, Gilbert

200    /18     Nansen, Fridtjof

201    /18     Paine, Thomas

202    /18     Plato

203    /18     Pole, Reginald

204    /18     Spencer, Herbert

205    /18     Thackeray, William, VANITY FAIR

206    /18     Webster, Noah

207    /18     Whistler, James McNeil

208    /18     Wilde, Oscar, THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GREY

209    /17     Aristotle

210    /17     Athnasius, Saint

211    /17     Belloc, Hilaire

212    /17     Bentham, Jeremy

213    /17     Boccaccio, Giovanni

214    /17     Brahms, Johannes

215    /17     Canning, George

216    /17     Carnegie, Andrew

217    /17     Clive, Robert

218    /17     Constantine I, the Great

219    /17     Cook, James, Captain Cook

220    /17     Davis, Jefferson

221    /17     Dickenson, John

222    /17     Diocletian, Gaius, Roman Emperor

223    /17     Edward, Anglo-Saxon king of England, the Confessor

224    /17     Eisenhower, Dwight

225    /17     Gutenberg, Johannes

226    /17     Henry II, King of England

227    /17     Jackson, Andrew

228    /17     Jung, Carl

229    /17     Lee, Robert Edward

230    /17     Linne, Carl von Linnaeus

231    /17     Louis XVI, King of France

232    /17     Margaret of Anjou

233    /17     Molotov, Vyachelav

234    /17     Philip II, King of France, Philip Augustus

235    /17     Philip II, King of Spain

236    /17     Philip IV,King of France, the Fair

237    /17     Pound, Ezra

238    /17     Prester, John

239    /17     Schonberg, Arnold

240    /17     Sherman, William Tecumseh

241    /17     Stephen, King of England

242    /17     Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilich

243    /17     Thomson, William, 1st Baron Kelvin

244    /17     Welles, Orson

245    /17     William III, Stadtholder of the Netherlands and King of England

246    /17     Wright, Frank Lloyd

247    /17     Wright, Wilbur and Orville

248    /16     Abelard

249    /16     Albertus Magnus

250    /16     Alexander II, Czar of Russia

251    /16     Alexander III, the Great

252    /16     Aquinas, Saint Thomas

253    /16     Bell, Alexander Graham

254    /16     Bernini, Gian/ Giovanni

255    /16     Boyle, Robert

256    /16     Bulow, Bernhard von

257    /16     Catherine II, the Great

258    /16     Caxton, William

259    /16     Cobden, Richard

260    /16     Cocteau, Jean

261    /16     Conrad, JosephLORD JIM

262    /16     Cornwallis, Charles, 1st Marquis

263    /16     Curzon, George, 1st Baron

264    /16     Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV

265    /16     Douglass, Fredrick

266    /16     Dudley, Robert, 1st Earl of Leicester

267    /16     Duns Scotus

268    /16     Eden, Sir Anthony

269    /16     Edison, Thomas Alva

270    /16     Edward VIII, King of England

271    /16     Einstein, Albert

272    /16     Farragut, David

273    /16     Fletcher, John

274    /16     George III, King of England

275    /16     Gershwin, George

276    /16     Gluck, Christoph

277    /16     Gregory VII, Saint

278    /16     Gustavus II, King of Sweden

279    /16     Hamilton, Alexander

280    /16     Hauptmann, Gerhart

281    /16     Henry VI, King of England

282    /16     Hung Hsiu-Chuan, Chinese religious leader

283    /16     Huxley, Thomas Henry

284    /16     Jeanneret, Charles le Corbusier

285    /16     Kaganovich, Lazar

286    /16     Kipling, Rudolf, KIM

287    /16     Laban, Rudolf

288    /16     Marie Antoinette

289    /16     Melanchthon, Philipp

290    /16     Mommsen, Theodore

291    /16     Montmorency-Bouteville, Francois-Henri

292    /16     Moore, George

293    /16     Moore, Thomas

294    /16     Nero, Roman Emperor

295    /16     Neville, Richard, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker

296    /16     Pasteur, Louis

297    /16     Peary, Robert

298    /16     Peter I, Czar of Russia, the Great

299    /16     Petrarch, Francesco

300    /16     Selden, John

301    /16     Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha

302    /16     Smith, Joseph

303    /16     Southey, Thomas

304    /16     Strindberg, August

305    /16     Sullivan, John

306    /16     Vaughn Williams, Ralph

307    /16     Vecelli Tiziano, Titian

308    /16     Wallenstein, Albrecht

309    /16     Wieland, Christoph

310    /15     Akbar, the Great

311    /15     Alexander I, Czar of Russia

312    /15     Ambrose, Saint

313    /15     Attila, the Scourge of God

314    /15     Auden, Wystan Hugh

315    /15     Balfour, Arthur

316    /15     Brecht, Bertholt

317    /15     Briand, Aristide

318    /15     Britten, Benjamin

319    /15     Bryan, W illiam Jennings

320    /15     Calderon de la Barca, Pedro

321    /15     Canute, the Great

322    /15     Casaubon, Isaac

323    /15     Charles, Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold

324    /15     Charles VII, King of France

325    /15     Chekhov, Anton

326    /15     Chopin, Fredric

327    /15     Christian IX, King of Denmark

328    /15     Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt

329    /15     Cooper, James Fennimore

330    /15     Davenant, Sir William

331    /15     Diaz deVivar, Rodrigo, El Cid

332    /15     Douglas, Stephen, the Little Giant

333    /15     Eleanor, Queen of England and Acquitaine

334    /15     Eugene, Prince of Savoy

335    /15     Francis I, King of France

336    /15     Fredrick William, the Great Elector

337    /15     Freneau, Philip

338    /15     Galsworthy, John, THE MAN OF PROPERTY

339    /15     Garcia Lorca, Federico

340    /15     Gide, Andre, THE COUNTERFEITERS

341    /15     Giraldi Giambattista, Cinthio

342    /15     Gladstone, William Ewart

343    /15     Gordon, Charles, Chinese Gordon

344    /15     Gossec, Francois

345    /15     Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm

346    /15     Harun al Rashid

347    /15     Hastings, Warren

348    /15     Hayden, Franz

349    /15     Hearst, William Randoph

350    /15     Hemholtz, Hermann

351    /15     Henry, Patrick

352    /15     Henry III, King of England

353    /15     Hobbes, Thomas

354    /15     Holmes, Oliver Wendell, the Older

355    /15     Houston, Samuel

356    /15     Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

357    /15     Ibn Saud

358    /15     John, King of England, Lackland

359    /15     Kandinsky, Wassily

360    /15     Kokoschka, Oskar

361    /15     Leibniz, Gottfried

362    /15     Louis XVIII, King of France

363    /15     MacCleish, Archibald

364    /15     Marlowe, Christopher

365    /15     Masefield, John

366    /15     Mazzini, Giuseppe

367    /15     Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig

368    /15     Mill, James

369    /15     Morris, Gouveneur

370    /15     Nietzsche, Fredric

371    /15     Ockham, William of Occam

372    /15     Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople

373    /15     Pius II, Pope, Aeneas Sylvius

374    /15     Porter, Cole

375    /15     Ptolemy I, Ptolemy Soter

376    /15     Pushkin, Aleksandr

377    /15     Rameau, Jean-Philippe

378    /15     Robespierre, Maximilen

379    /15     Rogers, Richard

380    /15     Rossetti, Dante Gabriel

381    /15     Sandburg, Carl

382    /15     Seneca, Lucius, the Younger

383    /15     Shostakovich, Dimitry

384    /15     Smollett, Tobias, RODRICK RANDOM

385    /15     Steele, Sir Richard

386    /15     Strauss, Richard

387    /15     Tallyrand, Perigord

388    /15     Theodosius the Great

389    /15     Thompson Benjamin, Count Rumford

390    /15     Trajan, Roman Emperor, Germanicus

391    /15     Trumbull, John, American painter

392    /15     Vanderbilt, Cornelius

393    /15     Wallace, Alfred

394    /15     Webb, Beatrice

395    /15     William I, Emperor of Germany

396    /15     William IV, King of England, the Sailor King

397    /15     Williams, Roger

398    /14     Agassiz, Louis

399    /14     Alcott, Amos Bronson

400    /14     Ashurbanipal

401    /14     Berlioz, Hector

402    /14     Bjornson, Bjornstjierne

403    /14     Burns, Robert

404    /14     Cabot, John

405    /14     Calder, Alexander

406    /14     Cardano, Geronimo

407    /14     Chamberlain, Sir Austen

408    /14     Charles, Archduke of Austria

409    /14     Chateaubriand, Francois

410    /14     Chesterton, Gilbert Keith

411    /14     Cochrane, Thomas, Lord

412    /14     Danton, Georges

413    /14     Devereux, Robert, Earl of Essex

414    /14     Digby, Sir Kenelm

415    /14     Drayton, Michael

416    /14     du Pont de Nemours, Pierre

417    /14     Duffy, Sir Charles

418    /14     Eliot, Sir John

419    /14     Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor

420    /14     Ferdinand II, King of Aragon

421    /14     Franco, Francisco

422    /14     Fulton, Robert

423    /14     Garibaldi, Guiseppe

424    /14     Gautier, Theophile

425    /14     Hawthorne, Nathaniel, THE SCARLET LETTER

426    /14     Henry IV, King of England

427    /14     Hogarth, William

428    /14     Hooke, Robert

429    /14     Hsuan-yeh, Chinese Emperor

430    /14     Hunter, John

431    /14     Hus, Jan

432    /14     Huygens, Christian

433    /14     Ibn al-Arabial Andalus

434    /14     Ibrahim Pasha

435    /14     Ignatius of Loyola, Saint

436    /14     Ivan IV, Czar of Russia, the Terrible

437    /14     Jacoba, Countess of Holland

438    /14     James III, King of Scotland

439    /14     Jaspers, Karl

440    /14     John of Austria, Don Juan

441    /14     Josephus Flavius

442    /14     Kemal, Mehmed

443    /14     Kepler, Johannes

444    /14     Kettering, Charles

445    /14     Kiesler, Fredrick

446    /14     Kleist, Heinrich von

447    /14     Klopstock, Freidrich

448    /14     Kotzebue, August

449    /14     Kung Chiu, Confucius

450    /14     Kuo Mojo

451    /14     Lagrange, Joseph-Louis

452    /14     Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste

453    /14     Lamb, Charles

454    /14     Lang, Andrew

455    /14     Llull, Ramon, Raymond Lully

456    /14     Mantegna, Andres

457    /14     Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor

458    /14     Maria Theresa

459    /14     Marin, Thomas

460    /14     Marston, John

461    /14     Marvell, Andrew

462    /14     Marx, Karl

463    /14     Massinger, Philip

464    /14     Mauriac, Francois

465    /14     Maurras, Charles

466    /14     Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico

467    /14     Mithradates VI, Eupator, the Great

468    /14     Moliere, Jean-Baptiste

469    /14     Montherlant, Henri-Marie

470    /14     Mordaunt, Charles

471    /14     Morgan, John Pierpont

472    /14     Morse, Samuel

473    /14     Muir, John

474    /14     Ney, Michel

475    /14     O'Connell, Daniel, the Liberator

476    /14     O'Donovan, Michael, Frank O'Conner

477    /14     Pascal, Blaise

478    /14     Pepys, Samuel

479    /14     Pessoa, Fernando

480    /14     Petrie, Sir Flinders

481    /14     Petty, Sir William

482    /14     Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, the Magnanimous

483    /14     Pirandello, Luigi

484    /14     Pitty-FitzMaurice, Henry

485    /14     Poincare, Raymond

486    /14     Porter, William Sidney, O Henry

487    /14     Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur

488    /14     Rambert, Dame Marie

489    /14     Sadat, Anwar

490    /14     Seleucus I

491    /14     Solon

492    /14     St. John, Henry, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

493    /14     Steuben, Baron Friedrich von

494    /14     Stevens, John

495    /14     Stewart, Lord James

496    /14     Stowe, Harriet BeecherUNCLE TOM’S CABIN

497    /14     Strauss, Johann, the Waltz King

498    /14     Swedenborg, Emanuel

499    /14     Theoderic, the Great

500    /14     Theotokopulos, Domenikos, El Greco

501    /14     Tiberius, 2nd Roman Emperor

502    /14     Tieck, Ludwig

503    /14     Tolstoy, Lev, Leo WAR AND PEACE

504    /14     Trotsky, Leon

505    /14     Velasquez, Diego

506    /14     Verdi, Giuseppe

507    /14     Walker, William, the filibuster

508    /14     Walpole, Horace, THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO

509    /14     Wheelock Eleaszar

510    /14     Whitefield George

511    /14     William II King of England, Rufus

512    /14     Wodehouse Sir Pelham GrenvilleTHE INIMITABLE JEEVES

513    /14     Xavier, Saint Francis

514    /14     Zangwill, IsraelTHE CHILDREN OF THE GHETTO

515    /14     Zinoyiev, Grigory

516    /13     Abdul Hamid II

517    /13     Alexander I, Prince

518    /13     Alexander VI, Pope

519    /13     Alfred the Great

520    /13     Arnold, Benedict

521    /13     Augustine, Saint

522    /13     Baker, Sir Samuel

523    /13     Blake, William

524    /13     Brougham, Henry

525    /13     Bruno, Giordano

526    /13     Buchanan, George

527    /13     Carteret, Sir George

528    /13     Cecil, William

529    /13     Chambers, Sir Robert

530    /13     Charles XII, King of Sweden

531    /13     Charles Edward, the Young Pretender

532    /13     Chatterton, Thomas

533    /13     Cohan, George M.

534    /13     Coligny, Gaspard II, Admiral

535    /13     Conde, Louis II, the Great Conde

536    /13     Cruikshank, George

537    /13     Dalton, John

538    /13     Daly, Augustin

539    /13     Dampier, William

540    /13     Darrow, Clarence

541    /13     DavySir Humphry

542    /13     DawesCharles

543    /13     DekkerThomas

544    /13     Desmoulins Camille

545    /13     DeweyJohn

546    /13     DouglasGavin

547    /13     Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan

548    /13     Dumas, AlexanderDumas, Pere

549    /13     Eliot, Thomas Stearns

550    /13     Emin Pasha, Mehmed

551    /13     Erasmus, Desiderius

552    /13     Eyck, Hubert van

553    /13     Faraday, Michael

554    /13     Faulkner, WilliamAS I LAY DYING

555    /13     Francis of Meyronnes

556    /13     Fredrick II, Holy Roman Emperor

557    /13     Fredrick William III, King of Prussia

558    /13     Gamow, George

559    /13     Gascoigne, George

560    /13     Gates, Horatio

561    /13     Gaugin, Paul

562    /13     Giotto

563    /13     Granville-Barker, Harley

564    /13     Griffith, Arthur

565    /13     Hadrian, Roman Emperor

566    /13     Hearn, Lafcadio

567    /13     Hecht, Ben

568    /13     Hegel, Georg

569    /13     Henry, Prince of Portugal, the Navigator

570    /13     Henry VII, King of England

571    /13     Heraclius, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire

572    /13     Herder, Johannes

573    /13     Hindemith, Paul

574    /13     Hood, Thomas

575    /13     Howard, Thomas II, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

576    /13     Howard, Thomas III, 4th Duke of Norfolk

577    /13     Hung-Li, Chinese Emperor, Chien Lung

578    /13     Innocent III, Pope

579    /13     Ives, Charles

580    /13     John Maurice, Count of Nassau, the Brazilian

581    /13     John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy

582    /13     Jonson, Ben

583    /13     Knox, John

584    /13     Koch, Robert

585    /13     KomenskyJan, Comenius

586    /13     Langley, Samuel

587    /13     Lavoisier, Antoine-Laurent

588    /13     Lawrence, David Herbert WOMEN IN LOVE

589    /13     Lawrence, Thomas EdwardShaw

590    /13     Lee, Richard Henry

591    /13     Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor

592    /13     Leveson-GowerGranville, George

593    /13     Lewes, George Henry

594    /13     Lewis, WyndhamTHE APES OF GOD

595    /13     Locke, John

596    /13     Lowell, James Russell

597    /13     Lubbock, Sir John

598    /13     Lubitsch, Ernst

599    /13     Lucas van Leyden

600    /13     MacArthur, Douglas

601    /13     Madison, James

602    /13     Marot, Clement

603    /13     Marshall, John

604    /13     Martinozzi, Gyorgy

605    /13     Masaryk, Tomas

606    /13     Mason, George

607    /13     Massena, Andre

608    /13     Mather, Cotten

609    /13     Maurice of Saxony

610    /13     Mead, Margaret

611    /13     Mencken, Henry

612    /13     Minamoto, Yoritomo

613    /13     Moses ben Maimon, Maimonides

614    /13     Moutbatten, Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma

615    /13     Mussorsky, Modest Petrovich

616    /13     Nabokov, Vladmir

617    /13     Nash, Thomas

618    /13     Necker, Jacques

619    /13     Noyes, John Humphrey

620    /13     Oates, Titus

621    /13     Offenbach, Jacques

622    /13     Patrick, Saint

623    /13     Perry, Matthew

624    /13     Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing

625    /13     Piozzi, Hester, Mrs. Thrale

626    /13     Pizarro, Francisco

627    /13     Prynne, William

628    /13     Pui,. last Emperor of China, Henry Pu Yi

629    /13     Pusey, Edward

630    /13     Radek, Karl

631    /13     Ramsay, James Andrew

632    /13     Raphael, Sanzio

633    /13     Ravel, Joseph-Maurice

634    /13     Ray, John

635    /13     Reynolds, Sir Joshua

636    /13     Richard III, King of England

637    /13     Root, Elihu

638    /13     Rosecrans, William

639    /13     Rossini, Giocchino

640    /13     San Martin, Jose

641    /13     Satie, Erik

642    /13     Schlegel, Fredrich von

643    /13     Schurz, Carl

644    /13     Sennacherib

645    /13     Skelton, John

646    /13     Smith, John

647    /13     Soult, Nicholas

648    /13     Stanley, Edward George

649    /13     Suarez, Francisco

650    /13     Swinburne, Algernon

651    /13     Szilard, Leo

652    /13     Taft, William Howard

653    /13     Temple, Henry John

654    /13     Tesla, Nikola

655    /13     Tilden, Samuel

656    /13     Tokugawa Ieyasu

657    /13     Tyndall, John

658    /13     Victor Emmanuel II, King of Italy

659    /13     Webster, Daniel

660    /13     Wesley, Charles

661    /13     Williams, Tennessee

662    /13     Winthrop, John

663    /13     Wotton, Sir Henry

664    /13     Young, Brigham

665    /13     Yuan Shih-Kai





Chapter 6. Measuring and Increasing High-Speed Nonfiction Narrative Reading Achievement


From a reader’s point of view, the bookseller’s distinction between fiction and nonfiction obscures the extraordinarily close relationship between biographies, officially a nonfiction form, and novels, both of which are similar in length and in narrating a “story” (short for history) that focuses upon the adventures of a central character. While our concern will center upon biographies, our so-called “reader friendly” testing system, as we’ll see, works just as well with novels.


6A Reader Friendly Testing and the Transparent Fairness of Page-Position Recollection. . . . There’s nothing new about personal-choice testing. Our local gyms are packed with Americans working out alone (echoing Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone”) and measuring their personal-best achievement. Nor is there anything new about a one-size-fits-all test. Music professors have always given students position-sequence tests that work with a wide range of listening-experience challenges, much like asking a four-year-old, “Whom did Dorothy meet FIRST on the Yellow Brick Road — the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman, or the Scarecrow?”

    As far as books go, long and short, all that’s called for in this kind of test is to choose an appropriate number of pages from the target and put them in a random sequence. Afterwards, sequence clues having been removed (page numbers, etc.), the test taker can be asked to put the pages back in their correct sequence. Here’s a short example using full pages selected from Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” In this example, the pages are conveniently short, often containing no more than one sentence, but the recollection is even more powerful with full length pages of 400 words.

     By way of self-persuasion, simply reread four full pages chosen at random from a book, fiction or nonfiction, you’ve read — even one from ten years back. You’ll be amazed at how much your “subconscious memory” of the book will be reactivated.

     A PETER-RABBIT READER-FRIENDLY TEST. . . . Here are four full pages selected AT RANDOM from our book-target and identified as pg. A, pg.B, pg.C, and pg.D.......... Pg.A: And rushed into the tool shed, and jumped into a can. It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had not had so much water in it. . . . Pg.B: First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes. . . . Pg.C: Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds. . . . Pg.D: “Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”

     DIRECTIONS. . . . Please indicate your awareness of the ACTUAL Peter Rabbit sequence by designating which page in the following a-b-c question-groups actually appears FIRST in the published version of the book. The question groups are: Gp.1: pg.A, pg.B, pg.C. . . . Gp.2: pg.B: pg.C, pg.D. . . . Gp3. pgC: pg.D, pg.A. . . . Gp.4: pg.D, pg.A, pg.B. . . .NOTE: By way of offering you a full range of sequence-possibilities, Gp.3 contains a previously used item (pg.A), and Gp.4 contains two (pg.A and pg.B). . . . This previous-use feature will work well with larger question groups. . . .Correct-sequence answers appear down below.


A position sequence test like this, especially with 350-word pages, is much more friendly to unsophisticated actual readers of the book, young and old, than to highly sophisticated nonreaders. It therefore encourages high speed, high volume recreational reading, since all that’s measured is whether each page has received a reasonable amount of attention, as opposed to intense study and analysis. Any personal-best reader can therefore (many have) spend less than half an hour making up his or her book-based test in advance, put it away, read the book, and then use the test as a do-it-yourself challenge — just like stepping on the scales after a week or so of vigorous exercise.


Low-cost reader-friendly tests like this have been used with large-scale fiction programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District and with nonfiction on the university level (California State University, Northride). There’s no doubt, of course, that they encourage guessing and that their difficulty will vary with the strength of a target’s overall narrative structure (short-story anthologies don’t work at all well). The page-cue booklets, usually ten full pages are admittedly cumbersome.


But these weaknesses cancel themselves out in large scale reading programs for either individuals or groups. A hundred novels averaging 300 pages apiece (400 million words of personal- choice reading) translates into 400 study hours, which is roughly equivalent to 15 Carnegie units (a full semester) of college credit.


Books, pages, words, reading rates, study hours — this presumptive time-commitment can be monitored officially or unofficially, as we have seen, with book-based reader-friendly tests. Similarly, the presumptive educational impact of, say, an overall 70% achievement level can be tracked via established achievement tests: spelling achievement, vocabulary growth, general knowledge, and even writing skills. All this with very little input from teachers and other voices of authority — just like a long term personal-best exercise program monitored by standardized tests covering weight, body fat, muscle tone, pulse rate, blood pressure, blood samples, etc..


[NOTE: The actual Peter Rabbit sequence is for our out-of-sequence pages is pg.D (p. 13, “going out”), pg.B (p.21, “lettuces”), pg.A (p.37, “tool shed”), and pg.C (p.53, “Mr. McGregor”).] . . . . Speed reading and proper-name vocabulary growth are natural partners. As Frank Smith has put it, we comprehend what we read because we already know 50% of what’s on the page in front of us, including proper names and allusions. And conversely, we expand our knowledge of proper names by encountering them again and again in nonfiction books intended for the general reader. Most literary nonfiction prizewinners fall into this category, just as most of them consistently cite the same thousand culturally important proper names —Caesar, Julius, and Churchill, Winston, still have impressive index visibility, I have noticed.


6B Selecting Biographies for Use with Reader Friendly Testing. . . . Reading is for Americans today what the weather was for Mark Twain. We all talk about it but nobody does anything, especially when it comes to recapturing our traditional recreational-reading pace of 600 words per minute. By way of giving aspiring high speed readers, young and old, some productive tools to work with, here’s a book list that can fairly be described as authoritative, practical, and testable..

     AUTHORITY. . . . Webster’s New Biographical Dictionary (Merriam Webster). . . . Biographies are the best target for aspiring high speed readers in terms of what might be called the Flesch-Hirsch Principle. Rudi Flesch pointed out long ago that proper names are a key element in a book’s readability, and E.D. Hirsch, Jr. has stressed the importance of a familiarity with culturally important proper names (“cultural literacy”) as a key element in a reader’s ability to comprehend who’s doing what to whom on the page in front of him or her. This “virtuous circle” means that reading biographies quickly helps us learn who’s who, which then helps us to read even more quickly and retentively, which means we then read even more quickly, etc., etc.

     For aspiring high speed readers some proper names (e.g. Napoleon) are bound to turn up more frequently on the printed page than others, and hence can fairly be described as more important. The Merriam Webster (MW) explicitly indicates the relative importance of biographical subjects via the number of lines allocated to each of its roughly 30,00 biographees: 88 for Napoleon versus 9 for Elvis Presley and 5 for Mary Cassatt. Consequently, even though the actual books may vary in quality, we can fairly use a number-of-lines criterion to indicate their potential importance and usefulness for aspiring high speed readers.


JOHN T/ GILLESPIE’S BEST BOOKS FOR HIGH SCHOOL READERS. . . . To most American librarians John T. Gillespie is a familiar and important name. My own local library, for instance, has eleven books of his on its shelves, ranging from those centering upon professional concerns (library collections, Newberry Award, etc.) to special bibliographies for special age groups and a recent (Greenwood, 1994 with Catherine Barr) comprehensive work that includes a hundred pages of recently published biographies that can fairly be described as both respectable and readable.

     What follows presents the intersection of Merriam Webster’s biographical dictionary with GILLESPIE. This means that every biography in GILLESPIE has been checked in MW to produce a ranked list of biographees, each followed by at least one specific title. Since GILLESPIE emphasizes readability at the ninth-grade level, the titles are ideal for high speed readers of all ages. In addition, since the MW status of their subjects guarantees their proper-name relevance, the titles offer aspiring high speed readers, young and old, the opportunity to build up their “famous name vocabulary” page by page and book by book — quickly and productively.

     This list should not be taken as ruling out personal selections, especially in a tutorial or home schooling setting. From a personal-best learning perspective, though, I feel this list deserves to be taken very seriously by personal-best learners. These biographies are all short and readable, which means the learner can cover almost three times as much Famous-Name territory (including minor actors) in the same reading time.

     In addition, especially at the top, the list offers plenty of choice. Read fast but give each page a fair share of your time, and trust your personal mind-set to absorb what’s interesting to you. Later on you can tackle the great biographers and historians with a confidence-building reader-friendly knowledge base.


6C The 405 Best Biographies in English for Beginning High Speed Readers. . . . Preliminary Note: This list is based on two primary sources: Webster’s New Biographical Dictionary (Merriam Webster) and Best Books for High School Readers, John T. Gillespie and Catherine Barr (Greenwood, 2004).

     The titles appear in three groups: Major Figures (those centering on people whose entries in Merriam Webster comprise at least 13 lines); General Interest ( those whose entries comprise between 12 and 8 lines); and Special Interest (those whose entries comprise between 7 and 4 lines. . . . Depending upon what’s available in GILLESPIE, as many as three titles may be listed for Major Figures, and as many as two for the category General Interest, with only one for the category Special Interest.

     The presentation sequences is that of (a) importance rank (based upon number of entries, with ties resolved alphabetically; (b) biographical subject (last name first; (c) number of entry lines (in parentheses); (d) title of the biography or autobiography (rare); (e) author (s), last name first; (f) publication date. The biographical subjects are presented in groups of five.


The list can be searched for specific biographees by using MW as an alphabetical index leading to the number of lines and hence to the list location. GILLESPIE can be searched for additional title information (grade level, etc.) via its content groupings: Adventurers and Explorers; Artists and Architects; Authors; Performers; Presidents and Their Families; Other Government and Public Figures; Science, Medicine, Industry, and Business; Sports Figures; and World Figures.

     REGARDING ACCESS. . . . Most public libraries offer internet access to their catalogs. So I’ve checked the overall availability of the above titles. Somewhat to my surprise, it turns about to be surprisingly good, just as the list of books under the category of Juvenile Biography turns out to be surprisingly big. Even though, like book stores, libraries sing the praises of juvenile fiction, it’s the biographies they keep year after year and the novels they throw away.


6C1 A Ranked List of 450 Famous-Name Biographies. . . . The number of Merriam Webster biographical lines Is indicated in parentheses. 


1 Michelangelo Buonarroti (49) Michelangelo. Di Cagno, Gabriella (1996). Michelangelo, Richard McLanathan (1993).

2 Washington, George (43) Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation. Smith, Richard Norton (1993). George Washington. Bruns, Roger (1986). George Washington. Old, Wendle C. (1997).


3 Hitler, Adolf (37) Hitler. Harris, Nathaniel (1989). Adolf Hitler. Heyes, Eileen (1994. Adolf Hitler, Ayer, Eleanor (1996).


4 Franklin, Benjamin (36) The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, Benjamin (1986). Benjamin Franklin. Looby, Chris (1990). Benjamin Franklin: Founding Father and Inventor (1997).


5 Caesar, Augustus (34) Augustus Caesar. Walworth, Nancy Zinsser (1988).



6 Drake. Sir Francis (32) Sir Francis Drake and the Struggle for Ocean Empire. Duncan, Alice Smith (1993) The Sea King: Sir Francis Drake and His Times. Marrin, Albert (1995).


7 Wilson, Woodrow (32) Woodrow Wilson, President. Randolph, Sallie (1992). Woodrow Wilson: Visionary President for Peace (1997). Woodrow Wilson: 28th President. Collins, David R. (1989).


8 Elizabeth I, Queen of England (31) The Life of Elizabeth I. Weir, Alison (1998). Behind the Mask: The Life of Queen Elizabeth. Thomas, Jane Resh (1998).


9 Churchill, Winston (30) Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist (1996). Churchill: The Unruly Giant. Rose, Norman (1995).


10 Lenin, Vladimir Ilich (30). Lenin. Rawcliffe, Michael (1988). Vladimir Ilich Lenin. Haney, John (1988).



11 Henry VIII, King of England (28) Henry VIII. Dwyer, Frank (1988).


12 Caesar, Julius (28) Julius Caesar. Bruns, Roger (1987). Julius Caesar. Green, Robert (1996). Julius Caesar. Nardo, Don (1997).


13 Darwin, Charles (26) Charles Darwin: A Biography. Bowlby, John (1991). Charles Darwin: Revolutionary Biologist (1993).


14 Roosevelt, Theodore (26) Theodore Roosevelt and His America. Meltzer, Milton (1997). Theodore Roosevelt: 26th President of the United States. Stetoff, Rebeca (1995).


15 Galileo (25) Galileo Galilei: First Physicist. MacLachlan, James (1997).



16 Grant, Ulysses S. (25) Ulysses S. Grant: 18th President of the United States/ Falkof, Luchille (1988). Unconditional Surrender: U.S. Grand and the Civil War. Marrin, Albert (1994).


17 Leonardo Da Vinci (25) Leonardo da Vinci. McLanathan, Richard (1990). Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Inventor, and Scientist of the Renaissance (1995). Leonardo DaVinci for Kids: His Life and Times (1998).


18 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland (25) Mary Stuart’s Scotland. Random House, eds. (1995). Mary, Queen of Scots. Stepanek, Sally (1987).


19 Bolivar, Simon   (24) Simon Bolivar: South American Liberator. Goodnough, David (1998).


20 Freud, Sigmund (24) Sigmund Freud: Explorer of the Unconscious. Muckenhaupt, Margaret (1997).



21 Gandhi, Mahatma (24) Gandhi. Fischer, Louis (1982). Gandhi: Great Soul. Severance, John B. (1997).


22 Twain Mark [Samuel Clemens] (24). Mark Twain: A Writer’s Life. Meltzer, Milton (1989). Mark Twain: The Man and His Adventures. Lyttle, Richard B. (1994). Mark Twain from A to Z. Rasmussen, R. (1995).


23 Jefferson, Thomas (23) American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. Ellis, Joseph (1997). Jefferon: Architect of Democracy. Severance, John B. (1998). Thomas Jefferson and the Creation of America. Miller, Douglas T. (1997).


24 Penn, William (23) William Penn: Quaker Colonist (1998). Doherty, Kieran (1998).


25 Picasso, Pablo   23      6764 Pablo Picasso. Beardsley, John (1991). Picasso. Loria, Stefano (1996). Picasso. Selfridge, John W. (1993).



26 Poe, Edgar Allan (23) Edgar Allan Poe: A Mystery. Anderson, Madelyn Klein (1993)


27 Rembrandt Van Rijn     23      6767 Rembrandt. Schwartz, Gary (1992). Rembrandt and Seventeenth Century Holland, Pescio, Claudio (1996). A Weekend with Rembrandt. Bonafoux, Pascal (1992).


28 Victoria, Queen  23      7891 Victoria and Her times. Chiflet, Jean-Loup, and Alain Beaulet (1996)/ Her Little Majesty: The Life of Queen Victoria. Erickson, Carolly (1997)/


29 Wells, H.G. (23). J.G. Wells. Martin, Christopher (1989).


30 Ataturk, Kemal   (22) Kemal Ataturk. Tachau (1987).



31 James I, King of England (22). James I. Dwyer, Frank (1988).


32 Livingstone, David (22) David Livingstone: Missionary and Explorer (1998).


33 Mao Zedong [Mao Tsetung]    (22) Mao Zedong: Founder of the People’s Republic of China. Stefoff, Rebecca (1996).


34 Shakespeare, William (20) The Importance of William Shakespeare. Thrasher, Thomas (1998).


35 Roosevelt, Franklin, Jr. (22)    7325 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President. Devaney, John (1987). Franklin D. Roosevelt: U.S. President. Nardo, Don (1995). Franklin D. Roosvelt: The 4-Term President. Schuman, Miachael A. (1996)



36 Hannibal  (21) Hannibal. Green, Robert (1996).


37 Stevenson, Robert Louis (21) Robert Louis Stevenson: Finding Treasure Island. Carpenter, Angelica S., and Shirley, Jean (1997). Robert Louis Stevenson: Teller of Tales. Gherman, Beverly (1996.


38 Cervantes, Miguel de (20) Miguel de Cervantes. Goldberg, Jake (1993)


39 Charlemagne (20) Charlemagne. Biel, Timothy L. (1997). Stories of Charlemagne. Westwood, Jennifer (1976).


40 Lincoln, Abraham (20) Lincoln. David, Donald (1995), With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Oates, Stephen B. (1978). Abe Lincoln Grows Up, Sandburg, Carl (1975).



41 Cortes, Hernando (19) Hernando Cortes: The Great Adventurer. Lilley, Stephen R. (1996)


42 Davis, Jefferson (19) Jefferson Davis: President of the Confederacy. Burch, Joann J. (1998).


43 De Gaulle, Charles (19) Charles de Gaulle. Whitelaw, Nancy (1991).


44 Joan of Arc (19) Joan of Arc. Stanley, Diane (1998).


45 Lafayette, Marquis de   (19) Why Not Lafayette? Fritz, Jean (1999).



46 Linnaeus (Linne), Carl (19) Carl Linnaaeus: Father of Classification. Anderson, Margaret J. (1997).


47 Matisse, Henri (19) Henri Matisse. Kostenevich, Albert, and Lory Frankel (1997). A Weekend with Matisse. Roddari, Florian A. (1994).


48 Rogers, Will (19) Will Rogers: Cherokee Entertainer (1993). Sonnenborn, Liz (1999).


49 Whitman, Walt (19) Walt Whitman. Reed, Catherine (1995).


50 Calvin, John (18) John Calvin. Stapannek, Judy (1986).



51 Paine. Thomas (18) Tom Paine: Voice of Revolution. Meltzer, Milton (1996). Thomas Paine. Vail, John (1990).


52 Whistler, James McNeill (18) James McNeill Whistler. Berman, Avis (1993).


53 Wilde, Oscar (18) Oscar Wilde. Nunokawa, Jeff (1994).


54 Carnegie, Andrew (17) The Many Lives of Andrew Carnegie. Meltzer, Milton (1997).


55 Edison, Thomas Alva    (17) Edison: Inventing the Century. Baldwin, Neil (1995). Thomas Alva Edison: Inventing the Electric Age. Adair, Gene (a996). Thomas Edison. Anderson, Kevin C. (1994).



56 Jackson, Andrew (17) Jackson and His America. Meltzer, Milton (1993). Andrew Jackson: 7th President of the United States. Stefoff, Rebecca (1988).


57 Lee, Robert E.    (17) Robert E. Lee. Brown, Robert (1991). Robert E. Lee: Southern Hero. Kerby, Mona (1997). Robert E. Lee, Thomas, Emory M. (1995).


58 Newton, Isaac (17) Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution. Christianson, Gale E. (1999).


59 Wright, Wilbur and Orville (17) The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane. Freedman, Russell (1991). The Wright Brothers. Reynolds, Quentin (1963). The First Flight: the Story of the Wright Brothers. Taylor, Richard (1990).


50 Alexander the Great (III) (16) Alexander the Great. Stewart. Gail B. (1994)/



51 Bell, Alexander Graham (16) Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections. Brown, Jordan (1996).


52 Cid, El (16) El Cid. Kislow, Philip (1993)


53 Einstein, Albert   (16) Einstein: The Rebel behind Relativity. Goldberg, Jake (1996). Einstein: Visionary Scientist. Severance, John B. (1999). The World in the Time of Albert Einstein. MacDonald, Flora (1998).


54 Eisenhower, Dwight D. (17) Dwight D. Eisenhower: A Man Called Ike. Darby, Jean (1989). Dwight D. Eisenhower: 34th President of the United States. Ellis, Rafaela (1989). Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sandberg, Peter (1986).


55 Hamilton, Alexander (16) Perfect Union: The Story of Alexander Hamilton. Whitelaw, Nancy (1997).



56 Pasteur, Louis (  16) Louis Pasteur: Disease fighter. Smith, Linda W. (1997).


57 Peary, Robert (16) Robert Peary and the Quest for the North Pole. Dwyer, Christopher (1992).


58 Sherman, William T. (16) William Tecumseh Sherman: Defender and Destroyer. Whitelaw, Nancy (1996).


59 Wright, Frank Lloyd (16) Frank Lloyd Wright: Maverick Architect. Davis, Frances A. (1995). Frank Lloyd Wright. Rubin, Susan G. (1994). Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect: An Illustrated Biography. (1993).


60 Hindenburg, Paul von (15) Paul von Hindenburg. Berman, Russell A. (1987).



61 Houston, Sam (  15) Make Way for Sam Houston. Fritz, Jean (1979).


62 Cleopatra (14)    7793 Cleopatra. Nardo, Don (1994). Cleopatra: Goddess of Egypt, Enemy of Rome. Brooks, Polly Schoyer (1995). Cleopatra. Hoobler, Dorothy, and Thomas Hoobler (1986).


63 Confucius (14) Confucius: Philosopher and Teacher/ Wilker, Josh (1999).


64 Douglass, Frederick (14) Escape from Slavery. Douglass, Frederick (Knopf, 1994). Frederick Douglass and the Fight for Freedom. Miller, Douglas (1988). Frederick Douglass. Russell, Sharmen Apt. (1988).


65 Garibaldi, Giuseppe (14) Giuseppe Garibaldi. Viola, Herman J. (1987)/



66 Hawthorne, Nathaniel (14) Nathaniel Hawthorne: American Storyteller. Whitelaw, Nancy (1996).


67 Muir, John (14) The Importance of John Muir. Ito, Tom Ito (1996). John Muir: Wilderness Protector. Wadsworth, Ginger (1992).


68 Stowe, Harriet Beecher (14) Harriet Beecher Stowe. Coil, Suzanne M. (1993), Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. Hedrick, Joan D. (1994). Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author and Abolitionist (1989).


67 Arnold, Benedict (13) Traitor: the Case of Benedict Arnold. Fritz, Jean (1981). Benedict Arnold and the American Revolution. King, David S.(1998)/


70 Brown, John (13) Fiery Vision: The Life and Death of John Brown. Cox, Clinton (1997). John Brown of Harper’s Ferry. Scott, John A. (1988). The Trial of John Brown. Tackach, James (1998).



71 Byrd, Admiral (13) Black Wednesday: Admiral Byrd Alone in the Antarctic. Burleigh, Robert (1998)


72 Curie, Marie       (13) Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. Pasachoff, Naomi (1996). Marie Curie and Her Daughter Irene. Pflaum, Rosalynd (1993).


73 Faraday, Michael (13) Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics. Ludwig, Charles (1988).


74 Gaugin, Paul (13) Paul Gaugin. Greenfield, Howard (1993).


75 MacArthur, Douglas (13) Douglas MacArthur and the Century of War. Scott, Robert A. (1997). Douglas MacArthur: American Hero. Feinberg, Barbara S. (1989). The Emperor General: A Biography of Douglas MacArthur. Finkelstein, Norman H. (1989).



76 Mead, Margaret (13). Margaret Mead: Coming of Age in America. Mark, Joan (1999). Margaret Mead. Ziesk, Edra (1999).


77 Magellan, Ferdinand (13) Magellan. Joyner, Tim (1992). Ferdinand Magellan and the Discovery of the World Ocean. Stefoff, Rebecca (1990)


78 Tesla, Nikola (13) Nikola Tesla: A Spark of Genius. Dommermuth-Costa, Carol (1994).


79 Adams, John (12) John Adams: 2nd President of the United States. Stetoff, Rebecca (1988).


80 Audubon, John James  (12) John James Audubon. Kastner, Joseph (1992)/




81 Balanchine, George (12) George Balanchine: American Ballet Master. Kristy, Davida (1996)/


82 Barrie, J.M. (12) J.M. Barries: The Magic Behind Peter Pan. Aller, Susan Bivin (1994)/


83 Burroughs, John (12) John Burroughs: The Sage of Slabsides. Wadsworth, Ginger (1996).


84 Chaplin, Charlie (12) Charlie Chaplin: The Beauty of Silence. Schroeder, Alan (1997).


85 Clemenceau, Georges  (12) Georges Clemenceau. Gottfried, Ted (1987).



86 Fermi, Enrico (12) Enrico Fermi, And the Revolution in Modern Physics. Ludwig, Charles (1999).


87 Hoover, Herbert (12) The World of Young Herbert Hoover. Hilton, Suzanne (1987).


88 Lindbergh, Charles (12) An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindbergh. Denenberg, Barry (1996). Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero. Giblin, James Cross (1997).


89 Lloyd George, David     (12) David Lloyd George. Shearman, Denis (1987).


90 Madison, James (12) James Madison. Malone, Mary (1997).



91 Tamerlane [Timur] (12) Tamerlane. Wepman, Dennis (1987).


92 Woodhull, Victoria (12) Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull. Gabriel, Mary (1998). Victoria Woodhull: First Woman Presidential Candidate (1999).


93 Zaharias, Babe Didrikson (12) The Life and Legend of Bade Didrikson Zaharias. Cayleff, Susan E (1996).


94 Addams, Jane (11) Jane Addams. Hoyde, Jane (1989). Jane Addams. Wheeler, Leslie (1990).


95 Frost, Robert (11) Robert Frost: A Biography. Meyers, Jeffrey (1996)



96 Hemingway, Ernest (11) Ernest Hemingway: The Writer Who Suffered from Depression. McDaniel, Melissa (1996). The Hunt and the Feast: A Life of Ernest Hemingway. Tessitore, John (1996).


97 London, Jack (11) Jack London: A Biography. Dyer, Daniel (1997).


98 Marti, Jose (11) Jose Marti: Cuban Patriot and Poet. Goodnough, David (1996).


99 Neruda, Pablo (11). Pablo Neruda: Nobel Prize-Winning Poet. Goodnough, David (1998). Pablo Neruda. Roman, Joseph (1992).


100 Paderewski, Ignace (11). Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Polish Pianits and Patriot. Lisandrelli, Lisa S. (1995).



101 Polo, Marco (11) The Travels of Marco Polo. Polo, Marco (Penguin, 1958).


102 Powell, John Wesley   (11) John Wesley Powell: Explorer of the Grand Canyon. Bruns, Roger (1997).


103 Serra, Junipero (11) Father Junipero Serra. Dolan, Sean (1991). Father Junipero Serra. Genet, Donna (1996).


104 Sitting Bull (11) The Lance and the Shield: The Life and times of Sitting Bull. Utley, Robert M. (1993).


105 Stuart, Jeb (11) Jeb Stuart: Confederate Cavalry General. Pfleuger, Lynda (1998).



106 Bourke-White, Margaret (10) Margaret Bourke-White: Photographing the World. Ayer, Eleanor (1992). Margaret Bourke-White. Daffron, Carolyn (1988).


107 Wright, Richard (11) Richard Wright. Urban, Joan (1989).


108 Chagall, Marc   (10) Marc Chagall. Kagan, Andrew (1989). Chagall. Pozzi, Gianni (1998).


109 Cleveland, Grover (10) Grover Cleveland: 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Collins, David R. (1988).


110 Cochise (10) Cochise: Apache Chief. Schwarz, Melissa (1992).



111 De Soto, Hernando (   10) Hernando de Soto: A Savage Quest in America. Duncan, David Ewing (1996)


112 Du Bois, W.E.B. (10) The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois, W.E.B. (1970). W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat (1986). Stafford, Mark (1989).


113 Genghis Khan  (10) Genghis Khan. Humphrey, Judy )1987).


114 Kennedy, John F. (10) John F. Kennedy. Randall, Marta (1987). John F. Kennedy: Courage in Crisis. Selfridge, John F. (1989).


115 Lewis, C.S. (10) The Man Who Created Narnia: The Story of C.S. Lewis. Coren, Michael (1996). C.S. Lewis: Christian and Storyteller. Gormley, Beatrice C. (1997)



116 Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (10) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: America’s Beloved Poet (1998).


117 Malcom X (10) Malcom X: His Life and Legacy. Brown, Kevin (1995). The Autobiography of Malcom X. Malcom X and Alex Haley (1999).


118 Monroe, James (10) James Monroe, Wetzel, Charles (1989).


119 Morgan, Sir Henry (10) Terror of the Spanish Main: Sir Henry Morgan and His Buccaneers. Marrin, Albert (1999).


120 Orozco, Jose (10) Jose Clemente Orozco: Mexican Artist. Cruz, Barbara C. (1998).



121 Ponce de Leon (10) Juan Ponce de Leon. Dolan, Sean (1995).


122 Randolph, A Philip (10) Philip Randolph: Labor Leader (Hanley, Sally (1989).


123 Rivera, Diego (10) The Journey of Diego Rivera. Goldstein, Ernest (1996). Diego Rivera: His Art, His Life. Gonzales, Doreen (1996).


124 Rogers, Will (10) Will Rogers: Cherokee Entertainer. Sonnenborn, Liz (1993).


125 Roosevelt, Eleanor (10) Eleanor Roosevelt: A Passion to Improve/ Spangenburg, Raymond (1996). Eleanor Roosevelt. Toor, Rachel (1989).



126 Toussaint L'Ouverture (10) Toussaint L’Ouverture: The Fight for Haiti’s Freedom. Myers, Walter Dean (1996).


127 Truman, Harry S. (10) Truman. McCullough, David (1992). Harry S. Truman, President. Fleming, Thomas (1991).


128 Villa, Pancho (10) Pancho Villa. Carroll (1996). Pancho Villa. O’Brien, Steven (1994).


129 Adams, Samuel (9) Samuel Adams: The Father of American Independence/. Fradin, Dennis B. (1998).


130 Bradford, William (9) William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim. Schmidt, Gary (1999).



121 Buck, Pearl (9) Pearl Buck. La Farge. Ann (1988)


122 Cather, Willa (9) Willa Cather. Keene, Ann (1994). Willa Cather. O’Brien, Shannon (1994)


123 Garvey, Marcus (9) Marcus Garvey. Lawler, Mary (1987).


124 Hellman, Lillian (9) Lillian Hellman, Rebel Playwright. Turk, Ruth (1995)


125 Jackson, Stonewall [Thomas] (9) Stonewall. Grtiz, Jean (1979). Stonewall Jackson,: Confederate General. Pflueger, Lynda (1997).



126 Mendel, Gregor (9) Gregor Mendel: The Roots of Genetics. Edelson, Edward )1999). Gregor Mendel: Father of Genetics. Klare, Roger (1995).


127 Millay, Edna St, Vincent (9) Edna St. Vincent Millay. Daffron, Carolyn (1989).


128 Patton, George (9) Soldier of Destiny: A Biography of George Patton (1989).


129 Peale, Charles Willson (9) The Ingenious Mr. Peale: Painter, Patriot, and Man of Science. Wilson, Janet (1996). The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones. Giblin, James Cross (1999).


130 Pinkerton, Callan (9) Allan Pinkerton. Green, Carl R., and William R. Sanford (1995).



131 Presley, Elvis (9) Elvis Presley. Gentry, Tony (1994). Elvis Presley. Woog, Adam (1997).


132 Robeson, Paul (9) Paul Robeson: Singer and Actor. Ehrlich, Scott (1988). Paul Robeson: Hero before His Time. Larsen, Rebecca (1989).


133 Sequoyah (9) Sequoyah: Inventor of the Cherokee Alphabet. Shumate, Jane. (1994).


134 Shelley, Mary (9) Spirit like a Storm: The Story of Mary Shelley


135 Van Gogh, Vincent (9) Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye. Bonadoux, Pascal (1992). Van Gogh. Crispino, Enrica (1996).


136 Washington, Booker T. (9) Booker T. Washington. Schroeder, Alan (1992). Up from Slavery. Washington, Booker T. (1992).


137 White, E.B. (9) E.B. White: The Elements of a Writer. Richmond, Merle (1988). E.B. White: Some Writer. Tingum, Marilyn (1987).


138 Alcott, Louisa May (8) Louisa May Alcott. Burke, Kathleen (1988)


139 Bethune, Mary McCleod        (8) Mary McCleod Bethune. Halasa, Malu (1988)/


140 Bly, Nellie (Seamen, Elizabeth) (8) Nellie Bly: Daredevil Reporter, Feminist. Kroeger, Brooke (1994). Around the World in 72 Days: The Race Between Pulitzer’s Nellie Bly and Cosmopolitan’s Elizabeth Bisland. Marks, Jason (1993).


141 Borges, Jorge Luis 8 Jorge Luis Borges. Kennon, Adrian (1991)


142 Brandeis, Louis (8) Louis Brandeis. Freedman, Suzanne (1998).


143 Bunche, Ralph (8) Ralph Bunche: Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Schraff, Anne (1999).


144 Burnett, Frances Hodgson (8) Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden. Carpenter, Angelica S. (1990)


145 Carson, Kit (8) Kit Carson’s Autobiography. Quaife, Milo Milton, ed. (1966).



146 Carver, George Washington (8) George Washington Carver. Adair, Gene (1989).


147 Casals, Pablo (8) Pablo Casals. Garza, Hedda (1993)


148 Cody, Buffalo Bill (8) Buffalo Bill Cody: Western Legend. Spies, Karen B. (1998).


149 Harriot, Thomas (8) Thomas Harriot, Science Pioneer. Staiger, Ralph C. (1998).


150 Homer, Winslow (8) A Weekend with Winslow Homer. Beneduce, Ann Keay (1993).



151 Houdini, Harry (8) The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. Brandon, Ruth (1994).


152 Hughes, Langston (8) Langston Hughes: Poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Hill, Christine M. (1997). Free to Dream: The Making of a Poet, Langston Hughes. Osofsky, Audrey (1996).


153 Johnson, Lyndon (8) Lyndon Baines Johnson. Eskow, Dennis (1993). Lyndon B. Johnson. Kaye, Tony (1987).


154 Kennedy, Robert F.     (8) Robert Kennedy. Mills, Judie (1998). Ripple of Hope. Terris, Daniel, and Harris, Barbara (1997).


155 King, Martin Luther, Jr. (8) He Had a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Schulke, Flip (1986). I Have a Dream: The Life and Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Haskins, Jim (1993).



156 Lewis and Clark (8) Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. Ambrose, Stephen (1996). Lewis and Clark’s Journey of Discovery in American History. Edwards, Judith (1998).


157 Marshall, George C. (8) George C. Marshall. Saunders, Alan (1995).


158 Merton, Thomas (8) Thomas Merton: Poet, Prophet, Priest. Bryant, Jennifer (1997).


159 Pocahontas (8) Pochontas: Powhatan’s Peacemaker. Holler, Anne (1992).


160 Pulaski, Casmir (8) Casmir Pulaski: Soldier on Horseback. Collins David R. (1995)



161 Renoir, Auguste (8) Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Rayfield, Susan (1998).


162 Shreve, Henry Miller (8) Mississippi Steamboatman: The Story of Henry Miller Shreve. NcCall, Edith (1986).


163 Steinbeck, John (8) John Steinbeck. Paron, Jay (1995). John Steinbeck. Reef, Catherine (1996).


164 Tecumseh (8) Tecumseh: Shawnee Rebel. Cwiklik, Robert (1991). Tecumseh of the Shawnee Confederacy. Stetoff, Rebecca (1998).


165 Thorpe, Jim (8) Jim Thorpe: Sac and Fox Athlete. Bernotas, Bob. Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete. Wheeler, Robert W. (1981)/





166 Tito, Josef Broz (8) Josef Broz Tito. Schiffman, Ruth (1987).


167 Wilder, Laura Ingalls (8) Laura Ingalls Wilder: Storyteller of the Prarie. Wadsworth, Ginger (1997). Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Zochert, Donald (1976).


168 Wood, Grant (8) Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood. Duggleby, John (1996).


169 Anthony, Susan B. (7) Susan B. Anthony: Voice for Women’s Voting Rights. Martha E. Kendall (1997).


170 Austen, Jane (7) Jane Austen. Le Faye, Deirdre (1999).



171 Barnum, P.T. (7) Prince of Humbug: A Life of P.T. Barnum. Andronkik, Catherine M. (1994).


172 Barton, Clara (7) Clara Barton. Hamilton, Leni (1987). Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse. Whitelaw, Nancy (1997).


173 Cezanne, PauL (7) Cezanne from A to Z. Sellier, Marie (1996).


174 Christie, Agatha (7) Agatha Christie: Writer of Mysteries (1997). Bommermuth-Costa, Carol (1997).


175 Crazy Horse (7) The Life and Death of Crzy Horse. Freedman, Russell (1996)



176 Degas, Edgar (7) Edgar Degas. Meyer, Susan E. (1994).


177 Disney, Walt (7) The Man Behind the Magic: The Story of Walt Disney. Greene, Katherine, and Richard Greene (1991.


178 Earhart, Amelia (7) Amelia. Goldstein, Donald M., and Katherine V. (1990)


179 Geronimo (7) Geronimo: His Own Story. Barrett, S. M. er. (1983).


180 Guevara, Che (7) Che! Latin America’s Legendary Guerrilla Leader. Newmark, Anne E. (1989)



181 Hammarskjold, Dag(7) Dag Hammarskjold. Sheldon, Richard N.


182 Lange, Dorothea (7) Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange. Partridge, Elizabeth (1998).


183 Leakey, Louis and Mary (7) Ancestral Passions: The Leaky Family and the Quest for Humankind’s Beginnings. Morell, Virginia (1995).


184 Louis, Joe (7) Joe Louis. Jakoubek, Robert E (1990)


185 McCarthy, Joseph (7) Joseph McCarthy: The Misuse of Political Power. Cohen, Daniel (1996).



186 Miro, Joan (7) Joan Miro. Higdon, Elizabeth (1993).


187 Basie, Count (7) Count Basie. Klimen, Bud (1992).


188 Harriot, Thomas (7) Thomas Harriot: Science Pioneer/ Staiger, Ralph C. (1988).


189 Moses, Grandma(7) Grandma Moses. Hiracree, Tom (1989).


190 Mott, Lucretia   (7) Lucretia Mott: A Guiding Light. Bryant, Jennifer (1995).



191 Munoz Marín, Luis (7) Poet and Politician of Puerto Rico: Don Luis Munoz Marin. Bernier-Gran, Carmen T. (1995).


192 Murrow, Edward R.     (7) With Heroic Truth: The Life of Edward R. Murrow. Finkelstein, Norman H. (1997).


193 Nast, Thomas   (7) Thomas Nast: Cartoonist and Illustrator, Shirley, David (1998).


194 Ochs, Adolph S. (7) Printer’s Devil to Publisher: Adolph S. Ochs of the New York Times. Faber, Doris (1996).


195 O'Keeffe, Georgia (7) Georgia O’Keeffe: Painter. Berry, Michael (1988).



196 Parker, Quanah (7) Quanah Parker: Comanche Chief. Wilson, Claire (1998).


197 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (7) Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Women’s Liberty. Cullen-Dupont, Carolyn (1988).


198 Veysey, Denmark(7) Denmark Vesey: Slave Revolt Leader. Edwards. Lillie J. (1990).


199 Wharton, Edith (7) Edith Wharton: Beyond the Age of Innocence. Turk, Ruth (1997).


200 Armstrong, Louis (6) Louis Armstrong: An American Genius. Collier, James L. (1983).



201 Black Hawk (6) Black Hawk: Sac Rebel. Bonvillain, Nancy (1994)/


202 Bonney, William (6) Alias Billy the Kid, the Man Behind the Legend. Cline, Don (1986).


203 Boone, Daniel  (6) Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer. Faragher, John Mack (1992).


204 Bosch, Hieronymus (6) Hieronymous Bosch. Schwartz, Gary (1997).


205 Bowditch, Nathaniel    (6).



206 Braque, Georges (6) Georges Braque. Wilkin, Karen (1992)


207 Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Burk)   (6) Calamity Jane: Her Life and Her Legend. Faber, Doris (1962).


208 Capone, Al (6) Capone: The Man and the Era. Bergreen, Laurence (1994).


209 Day, Dorothy (6) Dorothy Day: Friend to the Forgotten. Kent, Deborah (1996).


210 Eastman, George (6) George Eastman. Holmes, Burnham (1002).



211 Ellington, Duke (6) The World of Duke Ellington. Dance, Stanley (1970).


212 Fabergé, Carl (6) Carl Fabergé. Von Habsburg-Lothringen, Geza (1994).


213 Gehrig, Lou (6) Lou Gehrig in His Time. Robinson, Ray (1990).


214 Herzl, Theodore (6) Theodore Herzal: Architect of a Nation. Finklestein (1991).


215 Holiday, Billie   (6) Billie Holliday. Kliment, Bud (1990).



216 Hurston, Zora Neale (6) Zora Neale Hurston. Witcover, Paul (1990).


217 James, Jesse (6) Jesse James: Legendary Outlaw. Bruns, Roger (1998).


218 Jones, Mother [Mary] (6) The Importance of Mother Jones. Horton, Madelyn (1996).


219 Keller, Helen (6) Helen Keller: Humanitarian. Nicholson, Lois (1995).


220 Long, Huey (6) Huey Long: The Kingfish of Louisiana. La Vert, Suzanne (1995).



221 Mitchell, Maria (6) Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer. Gormley, Beatrice (1995).


222 Philip, King [Wampanoag Chief] (6) King Philip: Wampanoag Rebel (1995).


223 Sacagawea (6) Sacagawea. Waldo, Donna Lee (1997)


224 Schumann, Clara (6) Clara Shumann: Piano Virtuoso. Reich, Susan (1999).


225 Tubman, Harriet (6) Harriet Tubman, the Moses of Her People. Bradford, Sarah (1961).



226 Warren, Earl (6) Earl Warren: Chief Justice for Social Change. Herda, D.J. (1995).


227 Beiderbecke, Bix (5)   4875 Beiderbecke, Bix (5) Bix Biederbecke: Jazz Age Genius. Collins, David R. (1998


228 Booth, John Wilkes (   5) John Wilkes Booth and the Civil War. Orinoski, Steven (1998).


229 Brady, Matthew (5) Matthew Brady: His Life and Photography. Sullivan, George (1994).


230 Braille, Louis (5) Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille. Freedman, Russell (1997).



231 Cassatt, Mary   (5) Mary Cassatt: An Artist’s Life. Plain, Nancy (1994).


232 Corot, Jean Camille (5) Corot from A to Z. Larroche, Caroline (1996).


233 Davis, Benjamin, Jr. (5) Benjamin Davis, Jr. Reef, Catherine (1992).


233 Duvalier, Francois and Jean Claude (5) The Duvaliers. Condit, Erin (1989).\


234 Frank, Anne (5) Anne Frank. Wokovitz, John. (1998).


235 Jewett, Sarah Orne (5) Sarah Orne Jewett: A Writer’s Life. Silverthorne, Elizabeth (1993).



236 Joseph, Chief   (5) Chief Joseph: Thunder Rolling from the Mountains. Yates, Diana (1992).


237 Oppenheimer, Robert (5) Robert Oppenheimer: Dark Prince. Rummel, Jack (1992).


238 Shaw, Robert Gould   (5) “We’ll Stand by the Union”: Robert Gould Shaw and the Black 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Burchard, Peter (1993).


239 Straus, Levi (5) Everyone Wears His Name: A Biography of Levi Strauss. Henry, Sondra, and Emily Taitz (1990)/


240 Tolkien, J.R.R. (5) J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Fantasy. Collins, David R. (1992).



241 Truth, Sojourner (5) Sojourner Truth. Krass, Peter (1988).


242 Turner, Nat (5) Nat Turner: Slave Revolt Leader. Bisson, Terry (1988).


243 Washington, Martha    (5) Martha Washington, First Lady. McPherson, Stephanie S. (1998).


244 Bronte, Charlotte (4) Charlotte Bronte. Sellars, Jane (1998)


245 Carson, Rachel (4) Rachel Carson. Wheeler, Leslie (1988).





Chapter 7. Measuring and Increasing Textual Memorization and Recitation Skills


Did anyone actually predict Susan Boyle’s sudden rise to fame? Or did any professional educator predict the scale of Poetry Out Loud’s success? — especially its jump from 40,000 participants nationwide to 320,000 in four years. Coming closer to home, since many of us, especially those concerned with K-8 students, may want to use the Poetry Out Loud approach on our own, let’s look at how this brilliant innovation works and how it might be put to use with different groups of learner-reciters.


7A Personal choice. . . . As befits its sponsorship by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud ( offers an immense range of choice to teachers and students, i.e., over 600 individual poems, including a separate sub-listing of over 200 manageable learning targets of no more than 25. So as far as spelling and format go, the list is internationally authoritative, far more so than, say, Poems to Memorize, which “modernizes” Shakespeare (b. 1564) but retains the quaint memorization-unfriendly spellings of his younger contemporary John Donne (b. 1572).

     Practically considered, what Poetry Out Loud offers its participants is an easy-to-copy access list of established ready-to-memorize targets to choose from, along with biographical information on each poet. To use a Chaucerian phrase, it’s as close to Goddes foyson (plenty) as any learner would want — including overseas Ameriphones (over three trillion now) that study and speak standard worldwide American pronunciation English (SWAPE).

     TIME. . . . Memorizing takes time. Hence the practicality of the Poetry Out Loud 25-line list for younger learners. Its popularity level is underscored by the fact that 40 out of our “top fifty” poems (based on Grangers® data regarding anthology status) meet this 25-line requirement, and are also in public domain. For learners, since poems vary in their number of lines, line measurements also work well for time-on-task estimates, i.e., ten minutes per line as a basic memorization figure.

     It’s true that this ten-minute estimate gives participants a daunting basis for respecting what lies ahead, e.g., 140 minutes to get preliminary mastery of a 14-line sonnet which in performance as a “moment’s monument” will require only 60 seconds. But the estimate also opens the tortoise-friendly door for less verbally agile students to compete successfully by using their most productive resource — extra learning time.


7B Tests. . . . Poetry Out Loud’s ultimate test is the frightening ordeal of up front public performance, which goes far beyond accurate recollection, spoken or written, to embrace the arts of the orator and the actor. Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan were eloquent performers of poetry, for example, and so was the great French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, who won her first important audition by dramatically reciting the French national anthem. In an actual program, though, the memorization element is a confidence builder, and so is the gentle progress from classroom interaction to higher level competition.

     Our emphasis upon recitation as a primary goal raises serious questions regarding first-step suggestions like “Read the poem aloud.” As opposed to preparation for a poetry “reading,” even an informal recitation-performance requires a first step far more on the order of “Examine the poem’s line-by-line structure.” Comprehension first, then the memorization, and only then the almost endless rehearsals for a spoken and nuanced public triumph — especially in the sense of a major personal challenge met and mastered.

     The beauty of structural comprehension is that it opens the door to both self testing and large group multiple choice testing. Even after one silent reading of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods,” most of us can recall in sequence the words which close the first four lines, namely, KNOW, THOUGH, HERE, and (what else?) SNOW. With a little more study, we can also answer questions phrased solely in terms of relative location, e.g., Please identify the word in your chosen poem which appears immediately before its second “line closer” word. If your chosen poem is “Stopping by Woods,” your answer would be VILLAGE.

     If your chosen poem is “Trees,” on the other hand, your answer would be A (from “as a tree”). Both of these single-letter answers, incidentally can be represented by machine-scored multiple choice alternatives, e.g., a, e, i, o, or “none of these.” Measurable levels of line-learning difficulty and machine-scored tests — these features will open the door for the Poetry Out Load vision to work its magic in many new settings as an encouraging first step toward public recitation. Personal best confidence building, too.


7C Productivity. . . . From the perspective of society and its leaders, the social productivity of time spent in memorizing poems can best be summed up by invoking Daniel Bell’s term “psychological mobility,” which is to say that a functioning society needs citizens who collectively comprehend what is meant by words when used in the context of specific sentences, not just a vocabulary test.

     Hence the need for all of us to understand figurative language (metaphor and metonymy), especially when common sense social awareness is officially tested by questions like “What does the expression Two heads are better than one mean to you? Hence also our concern (frustration, too) regarding exactly how to explain what the “right” answer is for questions like these, especially when an older person being diagnosed for senile dementia.

     Our most authoritative source of answers to such questions are the actual sentence-phrase examples dictionaries use (e.g., Random House Unabridged) to illustrate specific definitions, as in the question, “In which of the following dictionary definitions of HEAD does the phrase wise heads; crowned head actually appear? — (a) “a person considered with reference to his or her mind, disposition, attributes, status, etc”. . . . (b) “the head considered as the center of the intellect, as of thought, memory, understanding, or emotional control; mind; brain”. . . . (c) “the maturated part of an abscess, boil, etc. [dictionary-based answer: (a)]

     Right now, as many Americans know from direct experience, over a million of us encounter casually chosen diagnostic questions like our “two heads” example. Consequently, given the importance of figurative awareness as a mainstream social survival skill, we can expect future versions of Poetry Out Loud to include senior citizens as participants seeking new challenges and new hope in facing the cognitive hazards of aging — especially in the absence of authoritative professional alternatives.


7D Personal confidence. . . . The mega-increase in Poetry Out Loud participation owes a great deal to its sixfold increase in poems to choose from, including, a strong emphasis upon poets who are still living and creating. As we’ve seen, this new emphasis upon more alternatives for personal-choice learning has clearly increased the number of participants. Even more important, though, it has transformed what was originally a win-lose competition into a personal-best confidence builder. Emotionally at least, this kind of poetry challenge is far more analogous to a local biathlon (biking and running) than to winner-take-all competitions like the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

     Given American education’s emphasis upon competition, sometimes with a stacked deck, I feel we can expect to see many derivative versions of Poetry Out Loud in the next few years. Grades one through eight is the most logical locale, of course. But many of us, I’m sure, can imagine poetry recitation spinoffs for Alzheimer’s-fearful senior citizens, and special education students, along with “mentathlons” that require a short, closing recitation requirement for each biathlon competitor. Call it Poetry Out Loud Redux or “Personal Best Cognitive Empowerment” — I believe many Americans will respect and support this new perspective and its challenges.

    7E The Role of Modern Metrology. . . . From a practical perspective (that’s what Americans want most, don’t they?) I want to express my indebtedness to the new field of “metrology,” (cf. the relabeling of “Weights and Measures” in states like California and Oregon as “Measurement Standards”). Looking forward, I have high hopes that professional metrologists will respect innovative programs based on Poetry Out Loud as having both an “authoritative” standard (i.e., an “official” text) and a measurement system that is “calibrated” (i.e., identifies different levels of difficulty and achievement).

     Though not explicitly mathematical, the arts of poetry are far more quantitative than those of prose. cf. Pope’s “I lisped in numbers for the numbers came.” Even W. Edwards Deming, who worked out a more singable version of the Star Spangled Banner, and his Total Quality Management followers would probably approve the direction in which our Poetry Out Loud vision is taking us.





Chapter 8. Four Paradoxes and the Search for Personal Confidence


Final chapters are usually pretty steamy. In how-to books like this one they usually blow the optimism whistle rather loudly; understandably so, since a how-to book has to be a personal confidence you-can-do-it book too. Practically considered, though, just as it’s the child who decides just when he or she is ready to step into the ocean waves for the first time, so it’s the individual reader who will decide when and how to translate what’s here into personal action.

     By way of making the optimism whistle more acceptable later on, I propose to start with a somewhat darker vision — four paradoxes, I call them — that stand a good chance of ringing true to the reader. After this will come the optimism part and its emphasis upon the role of personal confidence in personal best learning.


The vocabulary-size paradox. . . . To be an American is to worry about the size of our Ameriphone vocabulary.  As children we’re tested by parents and teachers, and we even test each other through riddles, jokes, and various games.  As mature adults we worry even more about going blank on words in conversation, usually interpreted as an early symptom of senile dementia.  Logically, then, we would expect our society to offer its people access to authoritative tests of vocabulary size — or at least explain why such tests are undesirable.

     The Ameriphone paradox. . . . In the last twenty years American Pronunciation English has swept the planet, enough so that right now its non-American speakers and students, especially in the Pacific Rim, far outnumber those in the United States.  Logically, then, we would expect our legislators and educators to consolidate this linguistic triumph by recognizing Ameriphonics as both a national and international language.

     The dictionary paradox. . . . In 1960 Americans had access in their homes and libraries to the greatest and most up to date dictionary in the world, namely, the 1934 Webster’s New International Dictionary (second edition).  With 600,000 entries and 3850 pages, it was, and still is, far more comprehensive 1961 edition (only 450,000 entries) 

     Logically, since this 1961 edition continues to be rejected by American newspapers as an authority, we would expect world leadership, if not America’s, to help aspiring learners by designating a full service electronic Ameriphone dictionary for use in vocabulary testing and learning.

      The learning paradox. . . . We are all learners. Tying our shoes, braving the ocean waves, long division — from childhood on, formally or informally, our minds accumulate knowledge, most of it verbal, and physical skills. Logically, we would expect learning to be a central concern for Americans, far more so than “education,” a muddled abstraction which gets 839 million internet hits (almost three times that of “learning.”


RESOLVING PARADOXES. . . . To state a paradox is to recognize the power of both elements, especially the status quo. Our national refusal to measure vocabulary size can certainly be defended as anti-elitist, since high test scores would be mostly  earned by persistence and concentration, not natural ability.  Similarly, a refusal to accept the global pervasiveness of Ameriphonics fits perfectly with our patriotic support of linguistic diversity in our nation, including our reluctance to identify a “standard American dialect” (“platform speech,” as the 1934 Webster’s described it). 

     Regarding dictionaries: Our support of a free market in dictionaries for the American public (including the Oxford) is thoroughly justified by the First Amendment.  If an American family is offended by Dictionary X’s exile of Jerry Lee Lewis from its fourth edition, they can take their business elsewhere or enroll their children in an appropriate charter school.  In the long run, after all, paradoxes like these must be resolved by James M. Buchanan’s “calculus of consent,” not by lexicographers who believe overmuch in their own intellectual authority.

     As for “education,” while granting the importance of learning, can anyone deny that education centers upon money, lots of it. Certainly it requires formal public and private monetary support, lots of it, along with expert teachers to inspire and lead students in the right direction.


PERSONAL BEST AND PERSONAL CONFIDENCE. . . . Overall what’s here has very little to do with money: dictionaries and computers are cheap, good books are free. On a solitary personal basis, then, our best option is to treat Ameriphonics as a personal resource that asks only for the expenditure of time, echoing Andrew Carnegie famous statement that a “library gives nothing for nothing.”


From a personal best point of view, solitary learning is truly a win-win situation. All that’s required is the expenditure of personal time: relatively little if we’re highly intelligent; much more if we’re in the “average” category. It’s this personal time feature that makes the learning process “tortoise friendly,” as in the saying, “Concentration trumps Intelligence seven days out of the week.” Even in formal education taking fewer courses and working hard at each course has always trumped taking eight and flunking half of them.

     Nor should we ignore what might be called “personal worst” here, especially in the wee small hours of a sleepless night during which all those dark thoughts creep into our pliant consciousness.  To think in words, after all, is to open up their shaping power for personal use and comfort. Reconstructing long poems, songs, and liturgical passages has always been an option for our species (especially in prison).  So has the creation of original compositions using traditional forms: sonnets, parodies, even acronyms. 

     In a world of words — some bad, some frightening — where staying sane is the ultimate challenge, what we’ve learned on our own (is there any other way?) may not always guarantee peace of mind.  But it certainly can help Ameriphones keep their own heads on straight in a world — and sometimes an educational system — that often refuses to make sense.   


FLEXIBILITY. . . . There’s nothing here that excludes the use of what’s here in formal Ameriphone educational programs, onshore and off shore. But I’m sure that my partiality to personal best learning is obvious throughout. Some of that partiality stems from my own teaching experience with students whose persistence, far more than talent, carried the day for them.

   Most of it, though, stems from my conviction that personal best intellectual achievement — just like running a marathon — elevates our overall personal confidence level, thereby helping us to make the Big Jump into stopping smoking or losing a few pounds, or even completing an ambitious diet-exercise program.

      By way of illustration here’s the kind of announcement that some of our local health clubs — thanks to Poetry Out Loud and dictionary-based electronic learning and testing — may well be running a couple of years from now.


Dear Member. . . . Welcome to our equipment and our trainers. If you want to lose weight, though, we strongly recommend that you (a) check out the Poetry Out Loud web site (, (b) choose 3 poems, memorize them, and then recite them to at least five people as a confidence builder, and (c) come back and start work with a much higher chance (at least 300%) of success and personal satisfaction. . . .Though Hard Work is the name of our weight loss game, it’s your own personal confidence that brings you here, and will help you to achieve your goals — energetically and productively!


For what it’s worth, congratulations on your willingness to explore what’s here, especially if you’re already thinking about making a personal-best effort on your own. Even more important, all the best in whatever personal-best achievement goals you set for yourself in the days that lie ahead. As I hope you discover, those goals can help you take the Future to bed with you each night — optimistically and productively, even healingly, some might say.




Nonpartisan Education Review / Resources

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As indicated at the outset this book is the last in a series of short books dealing largely with dictionary based testing and learning. So this is a good place to recognize the lively and generous help I’ve had nationally and locally. Nationally, I owe a great deal to Stephen Young of the Poetry Foundation, with whom I first be acquainted when Poetry Out Loud was just getting started on its highly successful — surprisingly so to many — contribution to American life and letters. I also am grateful to Dr. Dana Gioia, the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities during the years in which this project took shape and prospered, along with my colleagues: Jimmy Kilpatrick, Richard P. Phelps, and Mike Shaughnessy.

     As with other ventures, I’m grateful to my wife Jane for her companionship, affection, and sharp editorial eye. Nor should I neglect my extended family, all of whom have encouragingly shared with me their experiences and insights regarding what’s now being call Standard Worldwide American Pronunciation English (Swape or Ameriphonics for short), namely, Matthew, Cathy, Jason, Eva. Stephanie, Shannon, Cassandra, and Victoria Oliphant; David Philbrick, and Jennifer, Erik, Jaxon, Dominique, Gabrielle, and Roman Groll.

     The grand thing about philology, after all, is its blessed ordinariness: starting in our childhood with “what do they call it” and leading on year by year to more puzzling questions like “where did it come from?” along with “could this be a Ghost Word?” (many of which Herbert Dean Meritt, my Stanford mentor, searched out and laid to rest). At my age it’s hard to imagine another project taking shape. But I know my family encourages me in the role of Professor Ding Dong, enough so that none of us will be surprised at whatever notions force their way into my head and demand attention. All this by way of saying I’m grateful for the encouragement others have given me and hope what’s here will pass some of it on — measurably so.