Monday, December 19, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (November/December 2016) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online since the Thanksgiving holidays? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The ArticulateProfessional-3rd Edition”): 

1. exigent
2. galvanic
3. recrimination
4. nadir
5. hypercritical
6. inapposite

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Video Clip of Top Exec Using Assertive Hand Gestures to Convince His Audience and Disabuse it of Wrong Notions

[Rewritten on February 26, 2017]

The clip below, which I recently “rediscovered” while combing through my archives, features then U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood giving an exemplary and instructive performance at a 2010 Congressional hearing. He appears at the 1 minute 5 second mark.

Whether you are a top corporate executive, a manager or supervisor, or, say, a low-profile environmentalist addressing a bunch of misguided climate change deniers, Ray LaHood’s hand gestures will be a valuable addition to your “nonverbal vocabulary” for accentuating your most important words and sentences during a meeting, Q&A, and the like.

Among the infinite variety of situations where LaHood-style emphatic gestures, especially palms vertical in a rigid slicing motion, can be eminently useful:

  • when trying to convince, reassure, or inspire someone
  • when trying to rid people of their disbelief or incredulity
  • when reinforcing or underscoring a key statement
  • when giving an oral guarantee
You can bet that in future executive coaching sessions, the LaHood clip will be one of my prized exhibits, especially when illustrating executive presence.

© Copyright 2017  V. J. Singal

  video
 

Monday, November 21, 2016

“A Deep-Sea Serengeti”; “It’s Like a Dr. Seussian World Down There”—The First Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Engenders Brilliant Analogies

[Rewritten on February 22, 2017]

The creation of the nation’s first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean last September engendered tremendous excitement among anyone and everyone who wants to preserve some of the beauty that exists in our oceans. The event also generated some wonderful and imaginative use of similes and metaphors. 

Known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and measuring nearly 5,000 square miles (the size of Connecticut), this underwater world, which is located off Cape Cod, is probably more wondrous and mesmerizing than the treasures in Aladdin’s Cave. It contains “lush forests, canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, vivid bubblegum-like corals, extinct volcanoes...” and a huge variety of sea life, some of it not found anywhere else on the planet. Not surprisingly, Brad Sewell and other environmental advocates have described these waters as “a deep-sea Serengeti”; “an underwater Yellowstone”; and “a Dr. Seussian world.” 

For more, visit NPR’s September 15 report on the subject by clicking here. 

© Copyright 2017  V. J. Singal

Monday, October 31, 2016

“We’ll be in a Hailstorm of Footwear Before Election Day”; “a David Without a Slingshot”; “The Internet is a Battlespace, as are Land, Air, and Sea”--Use of Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize One's Point

Here are some recent examples of highly effective communicators using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative use of the language, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter.
 

  • Appearing on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, October 9 (two days after the leak of that 2005 hot mic tape of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women), John Heilemann of Bloomberg Politics saying: “There will (probably) be worse Donald Trump tapes between now and Election Day, and there will probably be worse Hillary Clinton emails between now and Election Day... There are more shoes to drop. We will be in a hailstorm of footwear before we get to November 8.”

  • Commenting on the Syrian rebels, who have been valiantly resisting President Assad’s Russian-backed military, former Defense Secretary William Cohen telling BBC last month: “The Syrian rebels are David against Goliath, but they are a David without a slingshot!”
 
  • Talking about state-sponsored cyberattacks and why some nations, most notably Russia and China, seem to be getting the better of us, Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, saying on “Face the Nation”: “(The problem is) that we are not treating the Internet as a battlespace as we do land, air, and sea....(The U.S. must realize) that the Internet is a battlespace that we have to fight to control and win!”
 © Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (September/October 2016) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online since this past weekend? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The Articulate Professional-3rdEdition”):

1. totemic
2. searing
3. protracted
4. atrophied
5. grandiloquent
6. dragoon

I believe you will absolutely love the word “totemic,” my new favorite word!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Video of a Perfect Handshake; Yes, it’s “Three Pumps” Regardless of Gender!

As emphasized in my previous post on the subject, which featured a clip of Brian Williams shaking hands with the wife of then Republican nominee Mitt Romney, yes, it’s three pumps regardless of gender. 

In my seminars on how to create a highly favorable first impression, how to enhance your executive presence, and other related topics, invariably some participants express incredulity when I tell them that the perfect handshake constitutes three pumps even when it’s a guy shaking hands with a woman. The video clip below shows Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren doing a three-pump handshake with a store employee. (Some may quibble, saying that his is approximately three and a half pumps!) 

© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal
 
video

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

“As if Some Flying Saucer Had Landed on Top of That Tower”; “It Was the Web Equivalent of a 100-Year Flood”--Use of Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize One's Point

Here are some recent examples of highly effective communicators using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative use of the language, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter.
 
  • At a memorial service held on August 1 to mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting massacre at UT Austin’s Clock Tower, Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett (who was a student on campus on the day of the shooting) saying: “This massacre, we need to remember, occurred before terms like gun violence, mass shootings, or SWAT teams were even a part of our regular vocabulary. This campus attack was unprecedented...it was as unexpected for us in the university community and for our police dept. as if some flying saucer had landed up there on top of that tower.” 
 
  • Earlier this month, while presenting his “Brief but Spectacular” view of The New Yorker to PBS “NewsHour,” the magazine’s editor David Remnick saying: “...Everybody does his or her job in a moment in time. My moment in time is not only to make the magazine as great as it possibly can be but help us cross this technological and even financial roaring river of change. The Internet is at the center of everybody’s attention... and I have to leave a New Yorker that’s got its soul as well as its technological act together.”
 
  • (this one from my 2013 archives) Describing the events of Sept. 11, 2001--also known as 9/11--journalist and author Molly Knight Raskin telling PBS “NewsHour”:  “Websites were being swamped and overwhelmed by people desperate to get information on their loved ones...there was a crush of requests; it was the web equivalent of a 100-year flood! In fact, CNN.com and other well-known news websites crashed that morning.”
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Answer to Yesterday’s Quick Quiz

To make sense of this post, you need to first read the previous one, which lays out the context in which NBC reporter Katy Tur mistakenly used vociferously when she meant a similar sounding but completely different word.
 
There is no question that the word she had in mind was voraciously. And one of the definitions for voracious: exceedingly eager or avid; insatiable. [This sense is from the second edition (1995) of my book “The Articulate® Professional.” Voracious is not featured in the book’s latest edition.]
 
By substituting voraciously for vociferously, her sentence “You know Donald Trump watches the news and reads headlines about himself voraciously, so it’s no surprise he is going to come out and push back...” makes perfect sense. 
 
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Quick Quiz: Which Word Did NBC Reporter Katy Tur Have in Mind When She Misspoke and Uttered “Vociferously” While Talking About Donald Trump? Another Case of “Synaptic Malfunction”

At the outset, let me state categorically that this post has absolutely no ideological underpinnings. In other words, this “quick quiz” is purely to test your command of the language and it has nothing to do with politics.  

Now to the video clip below. After Katy Tur starts speaking (at about the 13-second mark), you will hear her use the word “vociferously” which is clearly inapplicable in the context. [If you’d like to review the definition of vociferous and a few examples illustrating its use, click here.] 

Can you guess which similar sounding word Tur had in mind? [Hint: the first two characters are “vo”] Tune in to this blog tomorrow--Monday--for the answer 

[Here is a transcript of what you’ll hear from Katy Tur in that August 3, 2016, excerpt: “You know Donald Trump watches the news and reads headlines about himself vociferously, so it’s no surprise he is going to come out and push back...”] 

Incidentally, the above is a case of what I call “synaptic misfire,” just as happened to Senator Cruz a month ago (click here for that quick quiz) and to President Obama during a “60 Minutes” interview about five years ago, when he mistakenly uttered denigrate in place of a similar sounding word. [See the “Quick Quiz” post of May 15,2011.]
 
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

video

 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

“Un-Amazonable” – A New, Instantly Understood, and Easy-to-use Word that has Just Entered Our Lexicon and is Evocative!

It was only a few weeks ago when I came across the word “un-Amazonable” in the media for the first time. Not only did the term make instant sense and catch my attention, it also made me wonder “Why didn’t I think of this simple and evocative word which lends itself to ready application (such as when talking about marketing strategy and tactics for a retailer of consumer products)?”

[To elaborate, it was a reporter on American Public Media’s “Marketplace” who used this word while discussing a highly successful bricks-and-mortar retailer of beauty products. And the reporter’s point in using unamazonable? That the sum total of those beauty products’ intrinsic characteristics plus the services and customer buying experience at the physical stores have made that retail chain’s market share immune to erosion or threats from Amazon.com and other online entities.]

And thus was born an all-new category of future blog posts, one that will feature words that are “new” (at least new to me) but not of such high caliber and multiple senses as to merit inclusion in my regular editions of “Words of the Month,” wherein I design at least half-a-dozen examples for each profiled word. Specifically, words featured under this new label (i.e., “new word just entering our lexicon”) will have to satisfy one or more of the following criteria: 

  1. Newly entering our lexicon.
  2. Easily understandable.
  3. Lends itself to even informal conversations, such as those around the office Keurig machine.
  4. Helps make one’s point indelible, succinct, etc. because of, say, the images it conjures up.
  5. If not outright new, it is “re-entering” conversational English, i.e., some event or occurrence has made it freshly “airborne,” as happened to the word braggadocio after Carly Fiorina used it in a Republican debate last year. [See main example at http://www.verbalenergy.com/to_print/2016_05-06/braggadocio.html] 
 
An exhortation to you, the reader: Because unamazonable is so easy to use and its sense so obvious and compelling, I expect it to become a fairly common or quotidian term within just a year or two. So, start employing it right away, before it becomes a cliché.  

© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (July/August 2016) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online since this past weekend? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The Articulate Professional-3rdEdition”):
 
1. garrulous
2. tin ear
3. prodigious
4. incandescent
5. vacuous
6. timorous

Sunday, July 31, 2016

“There’ll be Plaster Coming Off the Ceiling in the Chancelleries of Europe”; “He Just Jumped Through the Phone”; “the Mt. Everest of Challenges”--Use of Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize One's Point

Here are some recent examples of highly effective communicators using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative use of the language, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter. 

  • Last month (July 14), following his shock appointment as Britain’s new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson (who, you may recall, was a leader of the “Leave” or pro-Brexit movement) was asked by reporters to respond to the harsh criticism of him by his now-counterparts in Western Europe. [For instance, the foreign minister of France had denounced Johnson as “a liar” just two weeks earlier.] Johnson’s response: “After a vote like the June 23 referendum, it’s inevitable that there’ll be a certain amount of plaster coming off the ceiling in the chancelleries of Europe. It wasn’t the result they were expecting. Clearly they are making their views known in a frank and free way.”
 
  • During a PBS “NewsHour” segment on Trump’s early years as a Manhattan real estate developer, Gwenda Blair, author of “The Trumps,” saying: “When Donald came to Manhattan in the mid-70s, New York City was in terrible financial straits--it was on the verge of bankruptcy--and people who dealt with him in those early days say that he just jumped through the phone--he was so competitive, so ambitious, so eager, that he just jumped into the spotlight at every possibility to get any kind of attention.”
 
  • (this one from my archives) In response to Charlie Rose’s question why it had taken him ten years to make the 2013 documentary “Salinger” (yes, it’s about the famously reclusive author of “The Catcher in the Rye”), filmmaker Shane Salerno saying: It was the Mount Everest of challenges. How do you make a documentary about a man who never did a single interview; about whom there’s no film footage, there’s no audio material, the only photos that exist you can’t use... convincing people to talk was a huge challenge--took years in some cases.”
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Answer to Yesterday’s Quick Quiz

To make sense of this post, you need to first read the previous one, which lays out the context in which Senator Ted Cruz used dungeon when he meant a similar sounding but completely different word.
 
There is no question that the word he had in mind was dudgeon, the definition for which is:  a fit of resentment, offense, or anger, now usually in the phrase “in high dudgeon”; a feeling of indignation at something regarded as a wrong or insult. 

By substituting dudgeon for dungeon, his sentence “…in response to an ISIS terror attack, the Democrats go on high dudgeon that we’ve got to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of …” makes perfect sense.  

Incidentally, dudgeon was featured in the March/April 2015 edition of my “Words of the Month.” Click here to review seven examples illustrating its use.
 
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Quick Quiz: Which Word Did the Extraordinarily Articulate Senator Have in Mind When He Misspoke and Uttered “Dungeon” During a Recent Speech? Case of “Synaptic Malfunction”!

The video clip below is a 24-second excerpt from a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate last month by the uncommonly articulate Ted Cruz. You hear the Texas senator use the word “dungeon” which is clearly inapplicable in the context.  

[Here is a transcript of what you’ll hear: “…gamesmanship. And I think the American people find it ridiculous that in response to an ISIS terror attack, the Democrats go on high dungeon that we’ve got to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. This is not a gun control issue…” ] 

Can you guess which similar sounding word Cruz had in mind? Tune in to this blog day after tomorrow--Saturday--for the answer 

Incidentally, the above is a case of “synaptic misfire,” just as happened to President Obama during a “60 Minutes” interview about five years ago, when he mistakenly uttered denigrate in place of a similar sounding word. [See the “Quick Quiz” post of May 15, 2011.] 

© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

video
 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“Etonian Panache”; “They’re the Dog that Caught the Car”; “Mr. Elastic”; “Enjoying the Warm Embrace of Schadenfreude”… the Brexit Shock Triggers a Stream of Stirring Expression

An expert on international affairs has described last Thursday’s Brexit referendum as “the biggest single shock to the European political system since the fall of The Berlin Wall.” Other leading analysts have echoed that sentiment. Not surprisingly, Brexit was a dominant issue this past week on “Charlie Rose,” NPR, the television talk shows last Sunday morning, and other current affairs programs. And the often animated and vigorous discussion generated an outpouring of fresh, evocative, turns of phrase. Among them: 

  • When asked whether Boris Johnson (former Mayor of London and a leader of the “Leave” campaign) will be able to lead the Tories, Lionel Barber of the Financial Times saying on “Charlie Rose”: “Yes, the one adjective that sums him up best is ‘elastic.’ He’ll do what he thinks is in his interest, even if it means saying something one day and another the next day…. He’s the one person who can drop and abandon all of his past positions with the most Etonian panache! [The above edition of “Charlie Rose” aired three days before Johnson took himself out of the running for prime minister.]
 
  • While describing yesterday’s scene in the European Parliament, when the UKIP leader Nigel Farage (who, too, is deeply anti-EU and campaigned fiercely for “Leave”) in a speech taunted his audience which, still in a state of disbelief, stared at Farage with disgust and loathing, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg quipping: “Farage is delighted at Brussels’s agony…he wants to enjoy the warm embrace of schadenfreude.” [For an insight into the word schadenfreude, which wasfeatured in my “Words of the Month” in 2011, click here.]  

  • Referring to the leaders of the “Leave” campaign who, within hours of the vote, were beginning to backtrack from their criminally misleading sloganeering that had played on people’s fears, David Rennie of the Economist saying on “Face the Nation”: “(The pro-Brexiters) have kind of gone into hiding. They don’t know what to do with their win (because they don’t have a plan). They are the kind of dog that caught the car.” Appearing on the same show, Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics commenting:The U.K. is going down the rabbit hole” (because it’s now in unknown territory)." 

© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

Monday, June 20, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you checked out the latest edition (May/June 2016) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online since last month? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The Articulate Professional-3rd Edition”):

1. infelicitous
2. braggadocio
3. insular
4. superlative
5. imbroglio
6. perfidious

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

“(Must) Destroy Islamic State in the Parent Tumor of this Cancer”; “the Great Rock of Sisyphus for One President After Another”--Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize Something

Here are some recent examples of articulate people using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative use of the language, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter.

  • During an interview last month (April 18) in Iraq, here’s how Defense Secretary Ash Carter responded when asked by NBC’s Lester Holt why more troops are being sent to that country: “It is necessary to destroy (the Islamic State) in the (pause) parent tumor of this cancer, which is here in Iraq and Syria. That’s where this thing arose in the first place and we need to destroy it there physically and also the idea that there can be a state based on this evil ideology.”
 
  • [From a March 21, 2014, edition of “Washington Week in Review,” the notes for which I stumbled upon just a few days ago] Discussing President Obama’s foreign policy agenda, Michael Crowley of Time magazine saying: “The Middle East peace process, which is the great rock of Sisyphus for one president after another, and he’s pushing that boulder and he may think that if only I can get this boulder to the top of the hill, I will have a legacy, but it’s a real long shot.”
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Just realized that I hadn't posted on this blog the still-current edition (March/April 2016) of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online for over a month. Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The Articulate Professional-3rdEdition”):

1. roseate
2. stupefaction
3. disembodied
4. vortex
5. slothful
6. élan

Friday, March 18, 2016

Your Clothes Can Affect Your Success in a Negotiation or in Selling Your Point of View

Being rewritten; not sure of the new date. Feel free to contact me at 281-463-2500 if you'd like information about the website that contains the source material.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2015 Word of the Year is singular “They”; a Solution to English’s Lack of a Gender-neutral Third-person Singular Personal Pronoun

Just learned about this while watching the January 10 edition of “CBS Sunday Morning”: Earlier this month, the American Dialect Society voted for they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun as its 2015 Word of the Year!
 
In other words, says “CBS Sunday Morning,” it’s no longer “he went to the car” or “she went to the car.” Instead, it’s “they went to the car." It’ll be worth your while to read the American Dialect Society’s full explanation on their webpage (at
Most notable for me was the following comment by Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Washington Post: “(It’s) the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”
 
© Copyright 2016 V.J. Singal

Saturday, January 30, 2016

“Should Wait Until it Clearly Sees the Whites of Inflation’s Eyes”; “His Right Hand is Playing (so fast), a Traffic Ticket is Waiting for Him When He’s Done”--Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize Something

Here are some recent examples of articulate people using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making their assertion indelible--examples which, I hope, will inspire the rest of us into similarly imaginative use of the language, especially when we are trying to break through the clutter.

  • During an edition of “ABC This Week” earlier this month (Sunday, January 10), here’s how Nobel laureate Paul Krugman responded when asked whether the Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates again: “I’d be holding my fire. I wouldn’t have done (last month’s) rate hike because… The Fed should be waiting until it really, clearly sees the whites of inflation’s eyes because…”
 
  • [From a January 3, 2016, "60 Minutes" segment about 12-year-old jazz pianist prodigy Joey Alexander, who hails from Bali and now lives in NY] Commenting on a rendition of “My Favorite Things” by the wunderkind, jazz radio station WBGO’s Gary Walker: “If you listen to the way Joey Alexander plays (that piece of music), at one point his sensibility through his left hand is almost like you’re going to church…but his right hand is playing at such a fleeting moment, there is a traffic ticket waiting for him when he’s done (laughter).” 
© Copyright 2016  V. J. Singal

Friday, January 29, 2016

Vocabulary Expansion Words: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

Have you looked at the latest edition of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, which has been online for the past couple of weeks? Here are the six featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, The Articulate Professional-3rdEdition”):

1. preternatural
2. sinews
3. funereal
4. revulsion
5. disapprobation
6. artful