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Grammar Granny        < Previous        Next >


The King of the Humdingers


Last week's Grammar Granny focused on the importance of a phonics background in being able to break down long, unfamiliar words into syllables so that you can pronounce them and figure out what they mean, or at least try.


A really long word that's relatively easy to remember because it's easy to pronounce is:




It means a political viewpoint that it is OK to mix church and state, rather than break them apart. To remember it, break it down into word parts: anti - dis - establishment - arian - ism.


It seems highly complex. But actually, it's a shortie, compared to some other words. Here's the longest word in the English language - 45 letters! It's the scientific name for black lung disease. Let's see how you do, pronouncing it:




Whew! Take a breath!


OK, here's the "cheat sheet" from the dictionary definition, which always gives a pronunciation guide before each word; saying it aloud can really help you remember it, although you won't get any black marks if you don't memorize this one instantly:




Looking at all the roots in the word, you can see how it has something to do with the lungs (pneumo-), very small things (microscopic-), bits of sand (silico-), blackness (volcano-) and is a medical syndrome (-iosis).



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 027 2006


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