Monday, February 28, 2011

Interviewers Forgetting a Cardinal Rule: Never Ever Have One of Your Palms Cradle The Jaw While Speaking

I would perhaps be insulting you if I were to make the following most basic, most obvious, most rudimentary statement: To ensure that your speech is perfectly clear and 100% intelligble, never ever rest your jaw in the palm of your hand while speaking because the hand will work like a straightjacket and affect your enunciation.

Yet, time and again, I see television interviewers lower their guard and suddenly have a hand cradling the jaw, as long-time PBS interviewer Evan Smith did just a few minutes ago in a program aired on Houston's Channel 8 from 11:00 to 11:30 p.m. this evening. And guess what! The moment he let his jaw rest on one of his hands--and this happened toward the fag end of the interview--some of his words immediately became unintelligble. Amazing! You'd think these highly experienced interviewers would know better.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sense of Achievement Each of Us Can Derive By Using Language Imaginatively; Steve Martin’s Spot-On Comment

Since many of my readers value the power of thoughtful, vivid expression, I believe the following response from Steve Martin will greatly resonate with them:

Discussing his recent novel “An Object of Beauty” on CBS Sunday Morning a couple of months ago, Steve Martin had this to say when Rita Braver asked him “What was the most rewarding part?”:

“Finding the idea, then finding the words for it, then finding the exact words for it!”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hyundai’s Sonata and GM’s Malibu “Cannibalizing” Sales of Toyota’s Camry and Corolla? An Erroneous Use of the Word "Cannibalize"

You’ve probably heard about the increase in sales last year of some cars such as Hyundai’s Sonata, Ford’s Focus and Fusion, and GM’s Malibu, thanks to Toyota’s high-profile safety problems hurting the demand for Corolla and Camry. Last week--on February 8--I was disappointed to hear Nightly Business Report’s reporter extraordinaire Diane Eastabrook describe the situation as “Sonata has probably cannibalized sales from Camry” and “Malibu has probably cannibalized sales from Camry and Corolla.” This is an erroneous use of the term “cannibalize.” Before I explain why, let me point out that Diane Eastabrook is one of my favorite reporters on all of television because her presentations are tight, cogent, extremely well delivered, and gripping.

First, a bit of insight into the word “cannibalize.” As you probably know, to cannibalize is to eat one’s own kind. In a business context, cannibalization occurs when, in an effort to push a particular product, a company uses parts or resources meant for another product, thus letting the production/ sales of the latter suffer. Alternatively stated, a product is said to have been cannibalized when its marketer lets the sales of that product decline as a direct consequence of that firm pushing the sales of another of its products. So, for instance, if Nissan was facing capacity problems on its production lines and decided to divert some of the resources essential for the manufacture of the Maxima toward the production of higher-priced Infinitis, that would be a case of the company “cannibalizing” the sales of Maxima.

Summing up, Hyundai selling more Sonatas and GM selling more Malibus because of Toyota’s travails is nothing but a manifestation of the everyday competition in the marketplace. It’s simply a case of one company taking market share away from a rival firm, something that can arise because of a number of factors. To name just three: (i) the gaining product being superior, (ii) the losing product’s manufacturer acquiring a taint, (iii) a product shortage, because of manufacturing or distribution problems.

© Copyright 2011  V. J. Singal

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So, How Do You Pronounce “Jekyll” When Referring to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”?

Until now, when talking about Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” or when referring to someone with an apparently split personality, I had always pronounced Jekyll as [JEK-il]. Nor can I recall anyone else pronouncing it differently.

Well, the day before yesterday, I happened to watch the best known film version of Stevenson’s classic novel, the one produced in 1932 and starring Fredric March, who won the Oscar for best actor for playing the dual title roles. I was mighty surprised to hear Jekyll pronounced as [JEE-kul] throughout the movie. Subsequent Googling seems to confirm that [JEE-kul] is indeed the correct pronunciation!

© Copyright 2011  V. J. Singal