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All the English You Will Ever Need

 

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The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.

 

 

Word of the Every So Often

October 16, 2018 

beldame:  (noun)  an old woman, especially an ugly one; a witch.  This year for Halloween, I'm going to dress up like a beldame.

 

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Antiques Roadshow is the Anti-Christ

There is conclusive evidence that the Antiques Roadshow, if not actually the anti-Christ, is definitely in league with the Dark Forces.  Slowly, a pattern has emerged, that of Hummel figurines being stolen after they were taken to the Antiques Roadshow for an appraisal of their value. This, in itself, is not surprising, as the show would be an ideal place for nefarious individuals to plan thefts of valuable items.  However, none of the items stolen was certified as authentic, making them all but worthless.  More...

3:40 pm pst 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

President’s’ Day

Becau’se mo’st people dont know how to use apos’trophe's, the apo’strophe in Pre’sident’s’ day is often made s’ingular, meaning only one pre’sident.  Therefore, the way I ‘see it, each year I get to choos’e which pre’s’ident to honour.  And this’ year I choos’e Martin Van Buren.  (Those random apostrophes do get annoying, don’t they...)

Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States (1837-1841), was the first of the forgettable Presidents.  Born on December 5,1782, shortly after the United States declared its independence, Martin Van Buren “was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject.”  (Martin Van Buren)  And that’s pretty much it. 

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11:37 am pst 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine’s Day

There really was a person named Valentine who really became a saint.

As the legend goes, Valentine was a Roman who was martyred on… yup, you guessed it, February 14, in 269 A.D.  The Roman emperor at the time, who was affectionately nicknamed Claudius the Cruel, reportedly banned all marriages in order to get men to join the military, reasoning that if the men weren’t married then they would be more willing to join in with his campaigns.  Hmmm… sex or carnage… that’s a tough choice.  Valentine, doing his part for the Empire, secretly married couples.  And Claudius, doing his part for the Empire, had Valentine dragged out in the streets, beaten to death with clubs, and then beheaded.  Luckily, that custom wasn’t widely adopted.

Long before Valentine, though, February 14 had been celebrated in honour of Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, among other things, including fertility.  One of the Roman customs on this day, which was then known as the feast of Lupercalia, was for young girls’ names to be drawn from a jar by young boys, and then they would be each other’s sexual partners for the following year.  Flowers were optional.

In 469 A.D. Pope Gelasius (remember him?) deified Valentine, making him the patron saint of lovers and finally giving him a first name – Saint.  And February 14 was officially set aside in his honour.  Pope Gelasius also sought to make St. Valentine’s day a bit less… fun.  He tried to change the custom of drawing a lover’s name to that of drawing the name of saint that you would then try to emulate over the next year.  And, yes, there is really a patron saint of celibacy, in fact, there are several.  Among them are the obvious:  St. Mary and her husband St. Joseph.  Then there’s St. John, who has been argued to be superior to Peter since he never married.  Go figure.  As well, there is St. Jerome (the patron saint of librarians), who ardently supported celibacy, and St. Marie Goretti, a fairly recent saint, who chose to die rather than succumb to the advances of a young man.  Suffice it to say, there’s not a whole lot of saints’ names that you could draw that would be anywhere near as fun as the celebration used to be.  Suffice it to say that was a custom that didn’t garner many followers.

The first Valentine was supposedly sent in 1415 from the Tower of London by the imprisoned Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife.  A Miss Esther Howland is credited with having sent the first Valentine’s card in the United States, sometime in the 1800s, and from there commercialization took over, as it is wont to do.  Over one billion dollars are spent each year by men buying chocolates alone, and Valentine’s day is decidedly the biggest day of the year for florists.  Heck, one web site will even sell you a heart shaped Jell-O mold which is bound to impress even the most reluctant lover.

Cupid, by the way, was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty.  Whereas Cupid is now thought of as a gentle boy who helps bring lovers together, his quiver originally held two different kinds of arrows – silver tipped arrows that would cause you to fall passionately and desperately in love and lead tipped arrows that would do just the opposite.  Imagine the fun you could have with those babies!

 

Work Cited

“About Valentine’s Day.”  Holiday Insights.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.holidayinsights.com/valentine/

Ovid.  Metamorphoses.  Rolfe Humphries, translator.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1955, 16-17.

“St. Jerome:  Doctor of the Church.”  Catholic Online.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=10

“St. Maria Goretti, Martyr of Purity.”  July 2002.  Youth Apostles Online.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.youthapostles.com/newsletters/2002-07.html

“Valentine’s Day History and Things.”  Picture Frames.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.pictureframes.co.uk/pages/saint_valentine.htm

“Valentine’s Day:  Not What it Used to Be.”  2012.  Wilstar.com.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://wilstar.com/holidays/valentn.htm

3:26 pm pst 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Groundhog's Day 

Groundhog’s Day appears to have roots in old European traditions, though they used badgers and bears.  Those traditions, in turn, probably go all the way back to the Neolithic period in Ireland, when the date, Imbloc, had special significance because it fell between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  As a consequence, pretty much everybody to ever come out of Ireland has found some reason to celebrate something on this day.  The Gaelic dudes, the Celts, the pagans, and the Christians all whooped it up or continue to whoop it up on or about the second.  Not even the Wiccans are left out.  The second of February represents one of their eight holidays.

The first specific mention of celebrating Groundhog’s Day in America – with a groundhog on February 2 – was from a diary entry in 1841 Pennsylvania.  The reference, though, was to an older German custom, which is pretty much the entire custom as we know it – a medium-sized, furry animal emerges from its burrow on Candlemas Day (which is the second), and if it doesn’t see its shadow, then there are six more weeks of winter.  Candlemas, by the way, is the day that commemorates when Mary was certified clean after giving birth to Jesus, as was required by Jewish law.

Though many communities (including those in Portugal, Germany, Serbia, and the UK) celebrate Groundhog’s Day in their own, unique ways, Punxsutawney Phil, from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is undoubtedly the most famous Groundhog of them all.  2014 will be his 124 appearance, which is a pretty nifty trick for a rodent whose lifespan, at best, is only about 14 years.  Supposedly, Phil’s longevity is attributed to sipping “Groundhog Elixir” every summer, which magically extends his life for another seven years.  The heck with his predictions; I want some of that elixir.

At best, the prognosticating rodent seems to be correct about 40% of the time…if that.  On a “will-or-won’t” proposition, you could get better odds flipping a coin.

 

Work Cited

“Candlemas.”  2009.  New Advent.  29 Dec. 2011.  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03245b.htm

“Groundhog Day.”  29 Dec. 2011.  Wikipedia.  29 Dec. 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day

Groundhog Day – February 2:  Punxsutawney Phil.  29 Dec. 2011.   http://www.gojp.com/groundhog/

“Groundhog Day History.”  2011.  Groundhog Day:  The Official Site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.  29 Dec. 2011. http://www.groundhog.org/groundhog-day/history/

 “Imbloc.”  5 Dec. 2011.  Wikipedia.  29 Dec. 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc

“Punxsutawney Phil.”  7 Nov. 2011.  Wikipedia.  29 Dec. 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punxsutawney_Phil

 

3:48 pm pst 


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