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Paraph on Old Signatures

What do you call that embellishment at the bottom of old signatures, like the hash-marked line beneath John Hancock’s name? It’s called a paraph, originally used as a distinct mark to protect against forgery. This is part of a complete...

Oh My Lady Gaga

It’s another newsletter from “A Way with Words.” Woot! In last weekend’s episode: Is it wrong to type two spaces after a period? We arm-wrestle over that, and talk about the odd language in “True Grit.” Also...

Zig-Zag and Shilly-Shally

Bavarian Chalet. Mushroom Basket. Moose Point. Who in the heck comes up with the names of paints, anyway? Martha and Grant ponder that mystery. They also explain why those annoying emails go by the name spam. And Grant explains the difference...

Punctuating “Guess What”

Guess what! Or would that be Guess what? A Honolulu listener asks about the right way to punctuate this interjection. Should you use an exclamation mark or a question mark? How about an interrobang or a pronequark? This is part of a complete episode.

Punctuating “However”

An insurance fraud investigator in Milwaukee wonders if he’s correct to use a semicolon immediately after the word “however.” Grant suggests that the word and the punctuation mark should do a do-si-do. This is part of a complete...

hashtag

hashtag  n.— «What does it mean when somebody puts a number sign before a word in an online post? That’s called a hashtag, for the hash mark preceding the word (right, yet another name for the symbol we also call the number sign and the...

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