New and Old Christmas Carols

When we think of traditional Christmas carols such as “Away in a Manger” or “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” we assume they have been with us through the ages. As with many assumptions about history, we’re wrong. There is no way to prove what the first Christmas song was, but Christmas music has been…

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Principles for Critiquing? Or Bone-crushing Reviews?

On June 14, 1922, Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. President to have his voice transmitted by radio. This did not impress journalist H. L. Mencken, who said of Harding, “He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing…

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Thanksgiving or Turkey Day?

I was sad years back to find that numerous students even in Christian high schools and colleges do not know the origins behind American Thanksgiving and join many others in simply calling it Turkey Day. The busiest air traffic day of the year, the fourth Thursday in November is a heartwarming time to join family…

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More Interesting Word Origins

I love tracking word origins because so there is so often are interesting stories behind them. Apparently knucklehead refers to someone with a brain the size of a knuckle. Samuel Johnson, the compiler of England’s first dictionary, claims the word nincompoop comes from the Latin phrase non compos mentis (“not of right mind”), initially a…

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Dated Words – Here Today Gone Tomorrow

This blog highlights popular expressions made obsolete as technology marches forward. For example, I used to joke that I had a photographic memory that wasn’t developed (which worked fine in the camera film era but not in digital days). Some joke that it’s hard for any Clark Kent to change into Superman in this cell…

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October 16 is National Dictionary Day

October 16 is National Dictionary Day, an unofficial holiday celebrating the birthday of Noah Webster who published An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, the earliest version of the now famous, widely-used Merriam-Webster Dictionary. A dictionary is a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online source containing the words of a language alphabetically and providing information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflections, and derived forms. The best way to celebrate Dictionary Day is by expanding our…

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Danger Zone or Unwise Questions

Who has not accidentally asked unwise awkward questions you immediately wished you could retract? We vocalize questions in light, rising tones, but if offensive, the answers may fly back in heavy, angry tones. Here are danger zone examples. Unless you’re sure a pregnancy is involved, a question to avoid if you see a friend gaining…

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“Lest We Forget”

“Lest we forget” is a phrase often used in Remembrance Day services in English-speaking countries, but it also applies to other dates. September 11, 2001 is one such day the world remembers. Its events were four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States. It is believed that Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,…

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Onomatopoeia – sound effect words make storytelling live

Delores E. Topliff Profound thanks to the Greeks for creating sound effect words. The term comes from two combined Greek words, onoma meaning “name” and poiein meaning “to make” or create words that sound like the action described. This post gleaned information from http://examples.yourdictionary.com/5-examples-of-onomatopoeia.html Onomatopoeic words can be verbs or nouns. “Slap” is the sound heard when skin hits skin…

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Improve your writing by joke-writing and -telling

For those eager to write prizewinning stories, consider mastering the art of joke-writing. Jokes are miniature stories with a definite beginning, middle, and end. Get the sequence wrong, or leave out something essential, and it falls flat, giving you instant feedback. Master comedian and joke-writer, Sid Caesar, once said, “A joke is a story with a curlicue.”…

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