Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Visual, Evocative Words to Emphasize Something—Some Inspiring Examples

A new regular feature of my blog will be the highlighting of some examples of highly effective communicators using a vivid, evocative expression to emphasize something--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.

Here is my first such list. Some are very recent, others a bit ancient—stuff that I came across while cleaning out drawers overflowing with old video tapes, newspaper clippings, and the like.

1. Talking about the 19th century botanist Robert Fortune, thanks to whom the British were able to replace China with India as their primary supplier of tea, Sarah Rose--author of “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink…”--telling NPR that Fortune went about some of his exploits in Chinese disguise, dressed up as if he were a wealthy Chinese merchant, and adding: “I don’t know if it captured the imagination of the Victorians, but that certainly captured mine, that notion of cultural transvestitism.”

2. In a speech about his proposed regulatory overhaul of the financial industry, President Obama saying: “…the cascade of mistakes and missed opportunities (of the past decades).”

3. Walter Mossberg, comparing Google to other notable search engines in a 2001 Wall Street Journal column: “I know that people have other favorite search sites, and whatever works for them is fine. But Google is a beacon in a sea of confusion.”

4. Some seven years ago, Bill Gross, America’s bond “guru,” expressing pessimism about America’s international economic dominance (as a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks), and saying: “While the United States rules the waves as well as turf and sky, I’m not so sure that we are, or perhaps will be, the economic powerhouse we once were.”

5. In describing the revulsion some Orthodox Christians have at the very thought of a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church, Tufts University’s Sol Gittleman writing in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal: “(While touring a Greek Orthodox monastery in Athens) I asked the priest how he felt about the pope’s effort to bring about a reconciliation…. ‘Never!’ he cried, and all pleasantness left his countenance. ‘We will never forget 1203, the Fourth Crusade and the murder of….’”

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