Benjamin Franklin On Ignorance

While browsing on franklinpapers.org, I stumbled upon a letter written by Benjamin Franklin to John Lining of South Carolina, dated March 18, 1755. Franklin’s perspective about admitting one’s ignorance caught my attention: I find a frank acknowledgment of one’s ignorance is not only the easiest way to get rid of a difficulty, but the likeliest […]

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Rough and Tough

There had been many verses written over the years that talk about the intricacies of English pronunciation. The following verse from The Mixture of Low Spirits (1875) is just one of many:

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Gleanings From The Past #57

Ingenious Postmen The following ludicrous direction to a letter was copied verbatim from the original and interesting document: too dad Tomas hat the ole oke otchut I O Bary pade Sur plees to let ole feather have this sefe. The letter found the gentleman at ‘The Old Oak Orchard, Tenbury.’ In another letter, the writer, […]

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Rejection Letter From A Chinese Editor

The following is said to be an exact translation of the letter sent by a Chinese editor to a would-be contributor whose manuscript he found it necessary to return: Illustrious brother of the sun and moon: Behold thy servant prostrate before thy feet. I kowtow to thee, and beg that of thy graciousness thou mayst […]

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The Economist’s Blunder

Geoffrey K. Pullum On March 20, 1997, linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum sent the following letter to The Economist in response to the article regarding the Russian oil pipeline problems the newspaper published a week prior: Sir: “Connections needed” (March 15) reports that Russia’s Transneft pipeline operator is not able to separate crude flows from different […]

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A Description Of Bad Handwriting

Image: 9gag The following is from a letter of John Twedell to Dr. Samuel Parr written in November 1792. Tweddell expressed his irritation regarding the penmanship of Dr. Parr’s assistant:

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Gleanings From The Past #35

Lines Worked on a Hearth Rug Fair one, take heed how you advance, Nor tempt your own undoing; If you’re too forward, fearful Chance A Spark may prove your Ruin. — The New-York Mirror, December 27, 1823

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An Attorney General’s Letter To Santa Claus

Image: 1zoom In December 1982, Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer, Oregon’s chief law enforcement officer, got a letter of complaint from “I.M. Grinch” against Santa Claus. “Grinch” also added that closer attention should be given to chimney cleaning regulations. Of course, Frohnmayer rejected the absurd complaint. However, he can’t help but give his tongue-in-cheek legal opinion on […]

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Letter To Santa Claus From The 19th Century

The following is a letter to Santa Claus written by a young girl, first published in The Sidney Daily News, December 21, 1898: Dear Santa, I thought I would drop you a few lines and tell you a few things what I want. Well, I want a pair of skates, because I think by the time […]

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