Who created these North American flags?

Until July 4th approached, I didn’t know there were doubts that Betsy Ross created our first American flag. The Betsy Ross Facts website says, “Of all famous American Revolutionary women in history, the woman who stands out as an icon is Betsy Ross. Although there is no actual historical evidence, she is widely regarded as the…

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Word Fruit Salad

Delores E. Topliff We’ve all done it, gotten our words fractured and said the wrong thing. English clergyman William Archibald Spooner became so famous for his accidental tongue twists with unintentional comic effect, we now call them Spoonerisms. Thanks to fun-with-words.com, the column on the left shows what his hearers heard, often in sermons, and…

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Travel is its own reward

For many, June officially kicks off travel season. Because I take writing seriously, and also love meaningful travel, it boosted my morale when Trip Advisor told me that my occasional trip and travel evaluations have currently been read and voted helpful by over 17,000 people. What? Who knew? That encourages me to take greater care…

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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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