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Greetings Flossers:
Yesterday on the mental_floss blog, I asked readers to make National Grammar Day resolutions. (By the way, yesterday was National Grammar Day. Happy belated.) Without warning, resolutions began to take haiku form, which is fantastic. I'd like to share a few, share my own, and invite you to put your resolution in pixels.

Shudder not nor slap
My colleagues in government
Who use legalese
"“Conan the Grammarian

I will try to stop
Overusing em dashes
while writing—really!
"“Phraktyl

Hark! Language Changes!
New rules evolve over time.
Get over it, y'all.
"“James

And here's mine:

Interchangeably,
I use colons and dashes.
I can do better.

You can read many more resolutions and make your own right here. I welcome your colon/em dash wisdom, too. But first, keep reading for a few wild facts about punctuation marks from Sandy + Kara.

Best Wishes,
Jason

This Week's Theme: THE MILITARY
Our insanely interesting fact: As a young woman Dr. Ruth Westheimer was trained by the Israeli military as a sniper.

Can you out-trivia us?
Send in your fascinating one-sentence submissions, along with your full name and address to beatourfacts@gmail.com. This week's winners will win new T-shirts from the mental_floss store.

Oh, and even if your fact doesn't win you some swag, it could win you some fame! The best user-submitted facts will go into our Amazing Fact Generator.

Last Week's Theme: FRUIT
1) In an 1893 Tariff case the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared the fruit, tomato, to be a vegetable.
-Jim Kraft

2) Pears are somewhat unique within fruits in that they ripen from the inside outwards.
-Anthony L. Pope

3) Although a nut in the culinary sense, a cashew is actually a seed found in the fruit of the cashew tree.
-Stacie Hackel

Sandy + Kara's Trivia Facts
By Sandy Wood and Kara Kovalchik

"¢ The question mark is thought to have evolved from the Latin word quaestio. The "point of interrogation," as it was originally called, was indicated with a large "˜Q' over a small "˜o.' As time went on, the hastily written symbol developed into a "˜?' shape.

"¢ During the 1400s, printers began using the ¶ sign, called a "pilcrow," to indicate a new paragraph. Why not just indent, or double-space? Paper was much more expensive back then, and typographers were careful not to waste any space.

"¢ In the early days of typesetting, the exclamation point was often referred to as a "screamer" or a "bang." Some journalists still use this phraseology. Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post once summed up the difference an exclamation point can make thusly: "'Yeah' is either "˜yes,' without the screamer, or "˜oh boy' with it."

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Orange-Themed Trivia
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