Interrobang: Is it even real ‽ 

Image by Peggy_Marco on Pixabay
Image by Peggy_Marco on Pixabay

While everyone’s heard of a period, question mark, and interrogation point, a lot fewer people have heard of their newest member: the interrobang. The interrobang is defined as “a punctuation mark designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question” (Merriam-Webster). The interrobang is officially symbolized by ‽. However, since most keyboards do not have this specific key, it is also unofficially represented as ?! Or !?.  

The interrobang was invented by Martin K. Speckter, an advertising executive, in 1962. He thought of it as “the typographical equivalent of a grimace or a shrug of the shoulders…when a writer wished to convey incredulity” (qtd in Martin K. Speckter).  However, the meaning of this punctuation evolved over time. Rather than just a grimace or shrug, it is now used to show surprise and question. Quite literally, it became a mix of an exclamation point and a question mark. Sentences where an author may write ?! or !? can end with ‽. Some sentence examples are: 

  • You did what ‽ 
  • Are you sure ‽ 
  • Seriously ‽ 

Why did the interrobang fall out of public use?

It is not an officially recognized punctuation mark- so use at your own discretion. A big point to consider is its relationship with modern keyboards and typewriters when thinking about its history. Was it not included because it was not widely used or was it not widely used because it was not included? The world may never know. Given the limited space available, it was more economical to include the exclamation point and question mark due to their prominence and simply use both of them when the situation calls for it instead of including a third key that was not as popular. Thus, the interrobang was lost and largely forgotten by the world.

Works Cited

“Interrobang.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

“Martin K. Speckter, 73, Creator of Interrobang.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Feb. 1988,

Jyoti | 2022

Five Podcasts to Help You Become a Better Writer

Over the past few years podcasts have become a source of entertainment as well as information for many people. With podcasts being accessible for many, they have allowed people to both broaden and deepen their interest among an assortment of topics, which includes writing. Writing centered podcasts actually have a fairly large listener base and there are many different types of writing based podcasts to listen to. No matter the kind of writing you’re interested in or skill you want to improve, there is probably a podcast out there that addresses it. Check out some of the podcasts below and be prepared to get hooked!

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

This podcast takes a look at a wide variety of writing topics with a different subject every week. Topics include grammar, punctuation, style, different types of writing, writing tips for success, and even writing history. Whether you are a seasoned writer or you are just starting to get into writing, this podcast will address topics that will connect you more to your writing and hopefully help to improve it.

Grammar Girl :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™
Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing podcast cover

The Creative Penn Podcast

This podcast is targeted towards those interested in becoming an author. Episodes are centered on being able to make a living out of your writing and how exactly a person can get to that point. They include interviews, and information on how to become and stay inspired as a writer, they look at creativity, publishing options for first time and experienced authors, marketing for writing, and the entrepreneurial side of being an author.

The Creative Penn Podcast: Writing, Publishing, Book Marketing, Making A  Living With Your Writing | The Creative Penn
The Creative Penn Podcast cover

So You Want to be a Writer

This podcast is for anyone that might be interested in the world of writing and publishing. Host Valerie Khoo goes in depth on different writing strategies and techniques to use and attempts to discover when and how popular authors got their big break. In doing this, many guest stars who are well known in writing and publishing are interviewed on the show and their secrets to success and happiness are shared.

So You Want to be a Writer | Podcasts on Audible |
So You Want to be a Writer cover

A Way With Words

In this podcast run by National Public Radio (NPR), language is the focus. This program analyzes and traces language throughout history focusing on its connection to family origin and culture. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett debate language and consider the variation and development of both old and new language. It is full of fun and interesting stories and great information that connects to everyday use of language.

A Way With Words | New Hampshire Public Radio
A Way With Words podcast cover

The Writing Life

Known as “a podcast for anyone who writes,” this show takes on a variety of writing focused topics. Created by the UK’s National Centre for Writing, this podcast seeks to introduce writers of all levels to the journeys of experienced writers as they talk through their early careers, experiences with self-publication, working in publishing, and looking at developing one’s technique. Featured guests include authors like Margaret Atwood, Sara Collins, and many more.

The Writing Life | Podcasts on Audible |
The Writing Life podcast cover

These five podcasts are just a small representation of all the writing focused podcasts that are out there. Whether you are looking to become a published author, want to work on the business side of writing and publishing, or just write in your spare time, these podcasts are sure to help provide you with some inspiration and great tips to use in the future.

Micaela | 2022

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Meet the “Woof”-ers

Have you ever wondered what dog breed has the most to teach you about collegiate academic writing? Well then look no further than the McDaniel College Writing Center and our “paws-itively” talented crew.

You might not know this, but the tutors of the McDaniel College Writing Center each learned their craft from a common household pet. They have since combined their fluffy-soft wisdoms in tutoring styles specifically for you. Scroll through our list of tutoring styles from the top to the bottom and the “ruff” to the gentle.

A gathering of dogs in party hats and other funky outfits. They are a squad.

Pug-Style Tutoring” taught by Vanessa and Natalie

The Pug was not bred to be a fighter or a hunter or a bomb-sniffer. The pug exists solely as a companion and many owners describe their Pugs as “little shadows” following them around. The Pug is an easy-going breed that only wants to make their families happy. They love constant attention and thrive in households with the elderly, children, or multiple generations. A pug is happy as can be when resting in their human’s lap and bringing comfort to their little family. This means that your Pug-style tutor is a well-rounded emotional supporter and one-stop motivation shop.

They understand that sometimes it is more than the assignment itself that weighs upon their student. They will be the first to admit that other sources of stress can make starting an assignment seem impossible—no matter how important it is. This tutor always tries to remember that their student is their own person, and someone who is going through their own issues. They might encourage the student to center themselves before the session or guide them into a headspace that is best for learning. This tutor knows that sometimes a student will need to be continuously motivated during a session—especially if they struggle to motivate themselves. Their ideal session would end with a student finding newfound confidence in themselves or their abilities—and hopefully by bringing a smile to their faces.

Come and meet the Writing Center Pugs today. They’re sure to be your new best friends.

A running, smiling pug licking at its jowls. So photogenic.

The Bloodhound Method” taught by Becca

The Bloodhound is a sweet, docile, and fiercely independent dog. It is not uncommon for a bloodhound to follow orders one minute and do whatever it pleases the next. Their biggest skill is their heightened sense of smell, which can pinpoint a target from miles away. Their owners have to get used to chasing after them when they bound away, intent on finding the sweet-smelling source. No matter how loving the house, humans must always remember that their bloodhound has a mind of their own. A Bloodhound-tutor is an opportunistic one that might seek to “shock” or “trick” a student into realizing something about their writing.

This tutor might even seem to be working against the goal of the session or taking a backwards approach—but there is always a method to the madness. They want to show their students the benefit of a fresh set of eyes or a new approach in an old assignment. Sometimes they must convince their students to trust them—and they have probably been accused of wasting someone’s time before. When successful, however, students can see the through lines between concepts that they may have never thought of before. This tutor uses their “trickster” style for the good of your assignments. The threshold for their ideal session is rather low: just a student willing to trust their tutor.

Come and shake hands with the famous McDaniel College Bloodhound today. See if you can withstand her might.

A sleeping, lazy, slightly spilled-out bloodhound. So vicious. So scary.

The Way of the Retriever” taught by Molly, Evie, Jyoti, and Nicole-Antoinette

Retrievers are well-trained and versatile dogs that love to please. They have been popular family dogs for years due to their caring and playful nature. They are well-known for their intelligence and ability to learn complex tricks, but all of that is in service of bringing a smile to their human’s face (and maybe a treat to their own). This dog truly drives home why they are Man’s Best Friend. If your tutor follows the Way of the Retriever, they are most like a friend to their students–one who offers support when they are working on a difficult task.

This tutor is sympathetic, empathetic, and encouraging. They explain things in terms that the student can understand or personally relate to. This tutor is the epitome of the equal—they know they aren’t an authority figure of a professor. They are a student and a peer. They might as well be taking this class with their student, as everything is seen as relatable and understandable for them. This tutor’s ideal session is one that begins with immediate rapport—and they would love to have an inside joke with their student.

Visit your nearest Retriever-Tutor today! They get quite lonely by themselves.

Golden Retriever looking to the distance. No thoughts, head empty.

“Kitty-Cat Thought” taught by Raquel, Dylan, Micaela, Ciara, Brooke, and Danielle

The Cat is a silent and non-judgmental companion. They are fiercely independent creatures, but still love their packs deeply and reward their attachments with attention and affection. They appreciate their alone-time and the ability to develop as an individual. A cat’s respect is earned through gentle hands and gentle tones. They are quick to reward the patient. Your Cat-style tutor is most likely a quiet tutor who considers your words before sounding them back to you to evaluate yourself.

As such, this tutor tries to allow a student to “hear” themselves and consider their work from an outsider’s perspective. They tend not to contribute much advice, as this tutor believes the answers are already within the student’s mind or work. This means that students who are insecure about or overwhelmed by their work tend to appreciate this tutor, as they allow a student to evaluate their own thoughts less self-critically. Gentle is the name of the game. It is incredibly important to this tutor to understand the specific goals and concerns of the student. “Is this what you mean?” or “Could you explain more?” are among their most frequently asked questions. This tutor’s ideal session involves a lot of parroting and a little lightbulb above their student’s head.

Come and meet the McDaniel Kitty Cats today. They might not get lonely, but they sure do love company!

A cat in mid-meow or hiss, exposing its teeth and tongue. One of its eyes is squinted.

“The School of Corgi” taught by Ella

The Corgi is a dog with a subtle intensity. Fluffy and sweet, they are also notorious little tricksters with big opinions and attitudes. The Corgi does not let their humans off the hook—and for good reason. This little helper is outgoing and energetic, keeping the pack motivated and moving. Their noses can sniff out danger and their barks are little, but powerful. The Corgi is not afraid to tug at the cuff of your jeans to drag you where you need to go. This means that your Corgi-tutor is a well-skilled tutor in the minutia of writing.

This tutor knows exactly where your commas are supposed to go—and why. They are quick to explain difficult concepts and always, always remember to check for subject-verb agreement, tense consistency, or possessive apostrophes. However, this tutor is not a “know-it-all,” as there are many concepts which they themselves do not understand. This is when they turn to a fellow tutor or another resource to find an answer for a student. For this tutor, no question is ever too small. They have many skills, but their trademark is their eagle eyes, which can always see the forest, no matter the trees. In fact, this tutor has probably already noticed all the unnecessary commas in the previous sentence. This tutor’s ideal session would be with someone looking to practice a writing skill for its own sake. They love working on “not-assignments.”

Visit the Writing Center Corgi-tutors today and make their whole week!

A grown Corgi and a puppy Corgi walking through the woods. Both have one paw lifted and their mouths open. I love them.

“Pitbull-ology” taught by Maddy

Pitbulls are friendly and outgoing dogs with a deep nurturing side. For a time, the pitbull was a “nanny dog,” tasked with protecting small children and the house. This means that a pitbull knows what is important and is not easily distracted. In many cases, the pitbull is misunderstood. Some people are wrongfully judge pitbulls because their powerful loyalty can be mistaken as aggression or “coming on strong.” Your pitbull-style tutor is most likely an observer who seeks to take each session to the “next level.”

This tutor loves explaining the connections between writing concepts. Creative writing or journaling is probably a personal hobby of theirs. No matter what happens in a session, this tutor always remembers that writing is a skill greater than the sum of its parts. They want the student to believe in what they could do with time and practice—and to provide perspective on writing as a discipline. Their style can intimidate some students, but most know they mean well. This tutor wants to inspire a love of writing for writing’s sake and tends to always think beyond the limitations of the assignment before them. For this tutor, an ideal session would end with a student seeking out more writing opportunities on campus to practice their new skills.

Come and meet the nearest Pitbull-Tutor today! They get a bad rap. For all you know, your new best friend is waiting.

Pitbull open mouth panting at the camera. Handsome man.

The McDaniel College Writing Center is open Sunday through Friday. Come and meet your new best friend today!

What Happened to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief?

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom and dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life. Being a half-blood is dangerous. It’s scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful nasty ways.” 

Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief 

One of my favorite book series growing up was Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I very vividly remember finding The Sea of Monsters in our mini 4th-grade library and reading the whole thing in less than a week. Upon learning that it was the second book, I immediately begged my mom to buy the first book and every book thereafter.  

I had a very different reaction when I learned of the movie. Still full of wonder from reading the book for the first time, I watched the movie and left feeling astonished… How could such a good book turn into such a bad movie? With Disney announcing they will be turning the first book into a show for Disney Plus, we will be going down memory lane and discussing what went wrong and if anything went right.  

1. Tweens to Teens

In the books, Percy and Annabeth were twelve while Grover was twelve passing. The story of twelve-year-old Percy was about a young boy struggling through childhood and wanting to find a place to belong. He was a character that the target audience could project themselves onto. After all, doesn’t everyone in middle school want something better? Percy’s youth also creates a fascinating contrast between a scrawny twelve-year-old boy and centuries-old monsters. He was a child fighting monsters that adults fear. He was forced to grow up and fight for survival. By making Percy sixteen, we lessen this impact. The audience’s view of Percy is changed from a pre-teen overcoming his fear to yet another teenage YA protagonist going on a heroic journey.   

2. Slow Burn to Whirlwind Romance 

In the books, it took Percy and Annabeth around five years to develop a romantic relationship while it took the movie around half an hour. The movie version of Percy and Annabeth had a small rivalry during their first meeting and subtle romantic nods by the middle of their quest. This quick progression erases the fact that they were enemies and best friends way before they were a couple. In the book, the entire quest showed how they overcame their parent’s rivalry. Instead of a son of Poseidon and a daughter of Athena, they progressed to simply being Percy and Annabeth.  

3. Look at Luke 

As a consequence of aging up the main trio, there was no longer an obvious age gap with Luke. In contrast to the twelve-year-old protagonists, Luke was originally portrayed as a more mature and experienced seventeen-year-old. He was portrayed as the cool older brother figure. He was one of Percy’s first friends. He looked out for Percy and was well-loved by the entire camp. This relationship was diminished in the movie because they looked the same age. Without this relationship, his betrayal, in the end, did not have the same impact and was less unexpected.  

4. Grover’s Personality Shift 

Another character that underwent a transformation was Grover. The only two similarities between the book Grover and the movie Grover were that they were friends with Percy and that they were satyrs. Everything else was drastically different. They were two characters that had opposite personalities. Book Grover was very shy and anxious while movie Grover seemed to be the embodiment of confidence. This shifted his dynamic with Percy. The book pair had Percy sticking up for Grover and trying to look out for him while the movie pair had Grover showing Percy the ropes. There’s nothing wrong with the movie Grover’s character- except that it wasn’t Grover. 

5. Was It Even the Same Quest? 

While the movie was technically called Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, it could very well have been named The Pearl Finder since that took up most of the plot. In the books, Percy was given three pearls as a gift from Poseidon. In the movie, they were created by Persephone and Percy had to go and fetch all of them. This created a whole new focus that took away from the main quest.  

Additionally, the existence of the pearls as a quick getaway for Percy, Annabeth, and Sally characterized Hades differently as well. Sally uses a pearl to leave in the movie while she was voluntarily returned by Hades in the books. The plot twist in the book was that Hades just wanted to be left alone while Ares was the problematic god attempting to stir up a war. The movies cut Ares completely and stuck with the stereotype of the god of the underworld being the villain of the story. 


Overall, if the movie did not have the words ‘Percy Jackson’ in the title it might have been better since it was almost unrecognizable from the source material. From wildly different characters and characterization to a completely different quest, this movie was a wild ride from start to finish. Still not convinced? I would say ask Rick Riordan, the author, since I know he would agree with me. However, this isn’t possible since he’s confessed to never even watching it after reading the script.  

Interested in what Rick Riordan has to say? Click here to read his letter to the producers!

Jyoti Duwady, Fall 2021 

Works Cited 

Haguenauer, Esther. “Percy Jackson: Everything That Went Wrong with the Movies.” ScreenRant, 13 July 2020,  

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. Papyros, 2010. 

Subconscious Similarities: Conceptual Metaphors

TIME IS MONEY is a common conceptual metaphor. (Image by geralt via Pixabay.)

While you think that you leave metaphors restricted within the four walls of your English classroom, you might be surprised by how often metaphorical language slips into your speech.

This phenomenon happens regularly through what linguists call conceptual metaphors. The Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) claims that metaphorical language is abundant in the everyday speech of native speakers, and said metaphorical language affects our thoughts and behaviors as well as our speech patterns (Rasse et al. 311). Our use of conceptual metaphors is often done unconsciously, and conceptual metaphors are, by nature, indirect. Instead of calling one concept another, in conceptual metaphors, a source domain is mapped onto a target domain. In other words, as language related to one concrete concept (source domain) is applied to the other, more abstract concept (target domain), the two things are indirectly compared.

There are several major conceptual metaphors that manifest in the English language with native speakers:

One example of a conceptual metaphors that we often use is TIME IS MONEY. We often talk about time as if it’s something tangible, something that can be owned or lost. We spend time, we waste time, we invest time (Perdawdy, slide 24). All of these verbs directly relate to money (the source domain), but, in those contexts, they have been applied to the abstract concept of time (the target domain). This conceptual metaphor has many implications for how we view time as a society.

We often equate money and time management through the TIME IS MONEY conceptual metaphor, and this connection has important ramifications for our societal beliefs about time. (Image by tskirde via Pixabay.)

Another common conceptual metaphor is LOVE IS A JOURNEY. We often speak about relationships, particularly romantic relationships, as they will arrive at a destination or as if they are constantly in motion. We say things like, “this relationship has gone off track,” or, “look how far we’ve come,” or, “we’re at a crossroads in our relationship” (Perdawdy, slide 19). In this metaphor, the characteristics of the concrete concept of a journey (source domain) are applied to the more abstract concept of a romantic relationship (target domain).

There are many other examples of common conceptual metaphors: THE MIND IS A MACHINE (“I can see the gears turning in your head”), GOOD IS UP and BAD IS DOWN (feeling “up” and feeling “down”), ARGUMENT IS WAR (“she defended her claim”), IDEAS ARE FOOD (“food for thought,” half-baked idea,” “raw data,” etc.), and more (Peradawdy, slides 28, 31, 18, & 20).

The next time you have a conversation, try to keep track of how often you use metaphorical language. It probably happens more often than you’d think.

Works Cited

Perdawady, Ismail. “Conceptual Metaphors.” Slide Share, 11 Jan. 2018,

Rasse, Carina et al. “Conceptual Metaphors in Poetry Interpretation: A Psycholinguistic Approach.” Language and Cognition, vol. 12, no. 2, Cambridge University Press, 28, Feb. 2020, pp. 310-342. Google Scholar, doi:10.1017/langcog.2019.47.

Danielle | 2022

New Zealand Book Recommendations

Painting of New Chums beach, New Zealand
Image by Caz Novak in Pacifica collection “New Chums Beach”

Books are a way for people to learn about other’s perspectives and experiences in life. I have found that people do not often enough read books from other countries and make an effort to find books other than what we get given in class. I have spent most of my life in New Zealand and found it to be full of culture and great books. Here are some that I have enjoyed and others I plan to read. All photos and descriptions and photos are from Goodreads.

The God Boy by Ian Cover cover
The God Boy by Ian Cross

The God Boy by Ian Cross

“Set in a small town in New Zealand, the story is told through the eyes of a gauche thirteen-year-old boy called Jimmy Sullivan. It is the haunting tale of a young boy growing up in a catholic household, seeing things he shouldn’t and struggling to cope. The book appears to be domestic in scope and provincial in vision, but by the end of the novel, the reader has encountered murder, and witnessed the warping of a promising mind and the destruction of a family.” 

Read more about God Boy on Goodreads.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme cover
The Bone People by Keri Hulme

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

“In a tower on the New Zealand coast lives Kerewin Holmes: part Maori, part European, asexual and aromantic, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon’s feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality.” 

Read more about The Bone People on Goodreads.

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera cover
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

“Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’ In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild—and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, Kahu will do anything to save them—even the impossible.” The Whale Rider was made into a movie in 2002 that is well known in New Zealand.

Read more about The Whale Rider on Goodreads.

Tu by Patricia Grace cover
Tu by Patricia Grace

Tu by Patricia Grace

“In this new novel acclaimed Maori novelist Patricia Grace visits the often terrifying and complex world faced by men of the Maori Battalion in Italy during World War II. Tu is proud of his name–the Maori god of war. But for the returned soldier there’s a shadow over his own war experience in Italy. Three brothers went to war, but only one returned–Tu is the sole survivor.” 

Read more about Tu on Goodreads.

Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump cover
Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump

Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump

“A tale of raw adventure as Uncle Hec and Ricky use all their skills to survive in the hard world of precipitous hills and impassable forest. It uncovers the slow maturing of love and trust between two loners in a hard world.” There is now a New Zealand movie based on the book called “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” directed by Taika Waititi that was released in 2016.

Read more about Wild Pork and Watercress on Goodreads.

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff cover
Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

“Once Were Warriors is Alan Duff’s harrowing vision of his country’s indigenous people two hundred years after the English conquest. In prose that is both raw and compelling, it tells the story of Beth Heke, a Maori woman struggling to keep her family from falling apart, despite the squalor and violence of the housing projects in which they live. Conveying both the rich textures of Maori tradition and the wounds left by its absence, Once Were Warriors is a masterpiece of unblinking realism, irresistible energy, and great sorrow.” Once Were Warriors was also made into a famous New Zealand movie in 1994.

Read more about Once Were Warriors on Goodreads.

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield cover
The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

“The fifteen stories featured, many of them set in her native New Zealand, vary in length and tone from the opening story, “At the Bay, ” a vivid impressionistic evocation of family life, to the short, sharp sketch “Mrs. Brill, ” in which a lonely woman’s precarious sense of self is brutally destroyed when she overhears two young lovers mocking her. Sensitive revelations of human behavior, these stories reveal Mansfield’s supreme talent as an innovator who freed the story from its conventions and gave it a new strength and prestige.” 

Read more about The Garden Party and Other Stories on Goodreads.  

Ella Tomkins | 2021

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit