More Punctuation History and Oddities

Delores E. Topliff My post on using the Oxford Comma (or not) made me examine other punctuation. From speech class, I know that commas are visual directions to take a breath when speaking but also clarify written material when reading silently. Written language didn’t always have punctuation. Its lines and dots are visual signs to…

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To use, or not to use, the Oxford Comma

While critiquing a friend’s work, I questioned her comma usage so checked the definition of the Oxford Comma. Here’s what I found. “The Oxford comma is used before the words “and” or “or” in a list of three or more things. Also known as the serial comma, its aficionados say it clarifies sentences in which…

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Happy Valentine’s Day Tomorrow and Every Day

Delores E. Topliff Valentine’s Day is a happy occasion for receiving flowers, chocolates, sweeter words, and maybe good books. If you’re a book lover, there are few things finer—and some of us have a hard time parting with any of them. But really, why should we? One of life’s highest joys is being surrounded by…

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Humorous words to make us sit up and take notice

Delores E. Topliff Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, and frequently humorous. (Winston Churchill loved them). Instead of predictable words we might tune out, they snap us awake and make us sit up to take notice. There are plenty, and here are fun…

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History lives just down the street and around the corner

Delores E. Topliff – September 27, 2016 I grew up in the town around Fort Vancouver, Washington, the end of the Oregon Trail, and that connection to history had impact. Built in 1825, the fort also has the oldest apple tree in the Pacific Northwest from seeds brought by an English sea captain a year…

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What the gift says about the giver

As we prepare for Christmas, you, like me, probably choose gifts hoping to bring maximum delight to the faces of those you are shopping for–whether its kids, grandkids, friends, neighbors, students, co-workers, or shut-ins. And we’re careful to give what we believe our recipients will enjoy most whether it’s movie tickets, a restaurant meal, or…

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Timing is everything, or how I once sang a live solo across all of Canada

Years back, I sang a hearty alto in our Baptist church choir during competitions that advanced us to top standing in British Columbia, Canada. After achieving that rank, we headed to the downtown broadcast studio of CBC Canada (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in Vancouver, B.C. and sang our hearts out in a show live from the…

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Spell marriage proposals correctly if “you care enough to send the very best”

Proverbs calls words in due season apples of gold in settings of silver. Whether we’re creating real-life conversations or dialogue in books, only well-chosen words convey emotion and build successful character portraits. Omitting names, I remember years ago when a nice-enough graduating college senior I hardly knew mailed me, a freshman English major, a marriage proposal tucked…

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How to maximize European tours, Part 2

Taking a computer along saves travelers money. Buying train and bus tickets online was 33-50% cheaper than standing in line at the depot. Our hotel’s main desk printed tickets for us free with a smile. We made one mistake by unwittingly buying a return trip from Venice for 8:06 (which turned out to be a.m.),…

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How to maximize European tours, Part I

On the European trip I enjoyed this summer, thanks to longstanding relationships with exchange students or guests who’ve lived in my home for up to a year or longer, I visited caves, castles, cathedrals, and locations dating as far back as Irish churchman St. Columba landing in Scotland in the late 500s to build a…

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