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Squiggly who?

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April June 22, 2008 10:59 AM

When I was writing today’s column on “if” and “whether,” I e-mailed Grammar Girl -- Mignon Fogarty, in real life -- to ask about the characters she uses to illustrate her usage examples: Squiggly didn’t know if Aardvark would arrive on Friday or Saturday, etc.

As someone with a unisex name, I try to be careful when I identify others in the same condition, even if they are fictional, so I wanted to know: Are they male, female, neuter? And what is Squiggly, anyway?

She answered:

Squiggly and Aardvark are my own characters. Both are male. Aardvark is a somewhat grumpy blue aardvark, and Squiggly is somewhat bumbling yellow snail. They are friends and go on adventures together. (They are sometimes joined by Sir Fragalot, a tall knight who likes to shout sentence fragments.)

So now we know. Grammar Girl is best known as a podcaster, but you can also read her episodes online, complete with footnotes and comments; the post on “if/whether” that inspired today's Word column is here.

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Rules and realities of English usage from Boston Globe Ideas columnist Jan Freeman.
Jan Freeman, a former Boston Globe editor, has been writing the weekly column “The Word” since 1997. E-mail her at freeman@globe.com.
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