Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Driving Past Effingham

erasersIf a road trip ever takes you past Eff­in­g­ham, Illi­nois, you won’t be able to miss the 198-foot giant cross that looms over two inter­states.

And yet, did that tow­er­ing sym­bol of her reli­gious beliefs inspire my moth­er to sing a rous­ing cho­rus of “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” as we drove past it? No, indeed.

That was because at the time, she was much too busy chortling over the name “Eff­in­g­ham.” To her, it sound­ed like a euphemism for THAT word—the one that, in her opin­ion, is the sin­gle most offen­sive utter­ance in the Eng­lish lan­guage.

Label­ing some­thing “naughty” only makes it more irre­sistible. So from the moment we first spied an Eff­in­g­ham road sign, Mom spo­rad­i­cal­ly repeat­ed the name out loud, laugh­ing anew each time. It turns out that “Eff­in­g­ham” is emi­nent­ly glee-wor­thy to at least one grand­moth­er of five.

Or maybe she’d just inhaled too many exhaust fumes that day.

One of the best ways to give stu­dent erasers a work­out is to tell stu­dents to read their writ­ing out loud. This is a sure­fire revi­sion tac­tic; read­ing some­thing out loud ensures that stu­dents will hear mis­takes they have nev­er noticed before. Or you can have stu­dents give a copy of their piece to a part­ner. As their part­ner reads it to them, the writer of the piece should lis­ten espe­cial­ly for all the places where the read­er stum­bles, paus­es too long, or looks con­fused.

These are all places where the writer will need to con­sid­er revi­sions.

Per­haps the founders of Eff­in­g­ham should have said their new town name out loud a few more times, until one of them noticed its poten­tial for pro­nun­ci­a­tion humor.

Or maybe, in the end, they sim­ply chose not to revise.

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