English Language Blog

Tag Archives: American history

Let’s Talk About a Stick Posted by on Jan 6, 2022

Stick is an English word that can be both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it can be, as the image above implies, a dog’s toy that was once a part of a tree. It can also be another name for a billiard cue, a golf club, a baseball bat, a car’s gear…

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Understanding the Word Pilgrim Posted by on Nov 18, 2021

Discussing the history of the Pilgrims who established the first New England colony in 1620 can open up a complex set of questions and arguments. Were they heroic trailblazers or foolish zealots? Were they rescued by the local natives, or did they exploit them? There are no easy answers. The Pilgrims of our first Thanksgiving…

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All About the Penny Posted by on Aug 12, 2021

The penny is the lowest valued unit of U.S. currency, one cent, equaling one one-hundredth of the U.S. dollar. It is also the subject of many idioms and phrases, some memorable songs, and a long-standing debate about its future. Some hate it, many ignore it, but the penny is as much a part of American…

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The Many Problems with Tomatoes Posted by on Jun 24, 2021

There are several problems with tomatoes. I don’t mean that growing them is a problem (although they are susceptible to blights, worms, and pests of all kinds.) Rather, pronouncing, spelling, and even defining tomatoes in English are among the most irksome and debatable issues in our language. Songs have been written about this. The Supreme…

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Juneteenth Posted by on Jun 17, 2021

The United States has two independence days. You are undoubtedly familiar with July 4th, commemorating the Continental Congress’ formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence. You would be forgiven for being less familiar with Juneteenth, marking the final, formal emancipation of slaves in this country. This is not a new holiday, nor is it a…

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The Eruption of Mt. Saint Helens Posted by on May 6, 2021

Image by Keith Hardin from Pixabay In the United States, we rarely think about volcanos. Iceland, Japan, and several sites south of the Equator are seeing dramatic activity as I write this. A live, erupting volcano in the US, however, is quite rare, especially in the 48 contiguous states. Oh, sure, we all know about Kilauea in Hawaii…

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America’s Pioneering Female Composer Posted by on Mar 4, 2021

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve never heard of Amy Beach. She was one of the finest composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She had been a musical child prodigy, a concert pianist at 16, composer of the first symphony by a woman to ever be published, and had a long…

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