Would you live in a library if you could?

When I was a young mom and grad student with two little boys ages 5 and 3, I took them with me everywhere I could (sometimes even to classes I taught). We often visited public and university libraries, some with deep, dark basements, and others seven-stories high, for lengthy periods of time. My sons took…

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What if familiar stories ended differently?

Delores E. Topliff Twice so far, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul where I teach has hosted the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association annual championships and will do so again this summer. NCFCA is the oldest and most established homeschool forensics league in the U.S. I’ve loved being a finalist judge the last two times…

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Spoonerisms, plus Victor Borge, and too much alphabetized logic for me

Delores E. Topliff Spoonerisms are verbal errors in which speaker accidentally transpose the initial sounds or letters of two or more words, usually to humorous effect, as in the sentence accidentally saying you have hissed the mystery lectures, instead of, you have missed the history lectures, a simple tlip of the songue, or tons of soil for sons of toil,…

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April showers bring May flowers

April showers bring May flowers—or so we’ve been told. One source traces that phrase to an 1886 saying which might have deeper roots in a 1610 poem. Another source says the phrase should sound like this: “March winds bring April showers which bring May flowers AND June bugs.”  In general, rain does affect the timing and…

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May these thoughts spurn you on. What?

Delores E. Topliff You may have seen this great post about Acryologia shared on Facebook. But wait, there’s more; and I make no apologies. I love delightful word misuses and have a small collection of my own. Plus I also manage to goof up occasionally and get my tang toungled. Years ago when many products…

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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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Consider these larger-than-life word names in our language

Delores E. Topliff We have words in our everyday vocabulary, with roots in history, that have grown larger than life. Jezebel was the Phoenician wife of King Ahab who urged Israel to worship Baal. Her schemes killed Naboth, and she vowed to kill Elijah, but instead dogs licked her blood as Elijah prophesied. Today her name describes any impudent,…

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