Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Visual, Evocative Expression to Emphasize Something: “I wish he (Pope Francis) could bottle it because I would order a case...”

Here is a recent example of a highly articulate American using a vivid, evocative expression while emphasizing something and thus making his assertion indelible:

During his last appearance on CBS “Face the Nation” (April 20, 2014), an elated Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked about how the popularity of the Catholic Church was at a historic high, saying “more people than ever feel that the Church is in touch with their needs,” something he attributed to the new pope. “Pope Francis has ignited the imagination of the world,” said Dolan, which led to interviewer Norah O’Donnell asking “What is it about Pope Francis?”  Here is how the Archbishop responded:

“I wish I knew and I wish he could bottle it because I would order a case…I need it,” followed by his customary big laugh.

© Copyright 2014  V. J. Singal

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

The latest edition of Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, has been online for about two weeks. 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. vainglorious
2. canard
3. arcana
4. impregnable
5. talismanic
6. pontificate

Here are extracts from some of my favorite examples, all carefully designed to help you implant the featured word into your conversational vocabulary and use it with confidence:


-- the vainglorious Vladimir Putin has two more accomplishments to brag about—a Winter Olympics that was devoid of terrorism and the annexation of Crimea

-- considering that Meg loves to talk about her career accomplishments at every opportunity, her latest achievement is bound to further inflate her vainglory

-- according to a well-known sportswriter, baseball great Joe DiMaggio was so vainglorious that, as a precondition for attending an event, he insisted on being introduced as “the greatest living ball player”; Gen. George Patton, famous for displaying, vaingloriously, a chestful of medals and other military decorations

-- I wouldn’t be surprised if the sales dept. ends up having a lot of egg on its face—lately, they’ve been giving lots of vainglorious estimates of what they can accomplish next year; I was so embarrassed when the introducer read out almost the entire bio page on my website--the audience must have pronounced me a vainglorious buffoon

-- with reference to the famous Wake Island meeting between Truman and MacArthur (when the general tried to get the president’s plane to land before his), Evan Thomas attributing those actions of MacArthur to the military commander’s “vaingloriousness”


-- David Kirkpatrick of NYT telling “Charlie Rose” that Egypt’s Gen. al-Sisi and his henchman are behind the canard that Morsi was trying to turn Egypt into an Iran-like Islamic state

-- these statements about my past are totally false and I have the documents to disprove these canards

-- despite numerous studies having established that women make better managers than men, many people continue to voice this old canard that women are lousy managers

-- an analyst trying to dispel the canard that corporate America is scandal-ridden

-- Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith telling “60 Minutes” that the well known story about Vincent van Gogh having committed suicide is a canard—the two American authors claim van Gogh died as a result of “accidental manslaughter”


-- former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s wife telling “60 Minutes” about the kind of arcana her husband used to plunge into while having his morning coffee—for example, reports on the variation in protein content among the different varieties of grain

-- Herb can explain the most arcane technology in the simplest of terms—so simple that even a 6th grader can understand

-- this is pretty simple stuff—it’s not some arcana that’ll drive you up the wall; regarding my upcoming presentation, I’ve been told not to get into the arcana because that will put everyone to sleep; having to grapple with some arcane formulas

-- a lawyer going through the city’s bylaws with a fine-tooth comb in the hopes of finding, within the arcana, a loophole that can help his client; a Hindu priest performing arcane rituals; to specialize in the arcane field of proteomics

-- an investor avoiding hi-tech stocks, saying such businesses are too arcane and beyond his comprehension


-- thanks to compelling evidence by several witnesses for the prosecution, some legal analysts saying that the case against Oscar Pistorius is almost impregnable

-- Hank will never succumb to any vices—his values, his beliefs, his principles are impregnable

-- a computer’s supposedly impregnable firewall; an attorney’s impregnable arguments in a court case; a company impregnable to a takeover, thanks to its new shareholder structure

-- finding Troy’s walls to be impregnable, the Greeks coming up with a deceptive device—the Trojan Horse—to enter the city

-- the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, stripped our sense of the U.S. mainland’s impregnability and led to the creation of, among other things, the Dept. of Homeland Security


-- Todd Purdum of Politico commenting that the State of the Union seems to have “a talismanic effect” or talismanic power on conversations in D.C. following that annual address by the president

-- the late Rev. Reg Dean, who died recently at the age of 110, attributed his long life to a talismanic potion given him by a doctor in India during WWII

-- for speech contests and the like, this author preferring to wear his striped maroon shirt, referring to it as “my talismanic shirt

-- somebody’s seemingly talismanic approach to work deadlines; something with talismanic significance; talismanic symbols that originated in Ancient Egypt and are still in use, such as the “Ankh” and the “Eye of Horus”

-- a piece of jewelry believed to serve a talismanic function; a shaman administering a talismanic formula to cure someone


-- ever since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the media being saturated with talking heads’ pontifications about how the U.S. should respond

-- even though she is the most senior and most knowledgeable person around here, Dawn expresses her opinions without being dogmatic, without pontificating

-- Bill is an out-and-out pontificator, which is why it’s so hard to get him to so much as acknowledge other points of view

-- a coworker who loves to pontificate about the architectural styles of downtown buildings

-- some former lawmakers who have turned into pontificators, earning tens of thousands of dollars for each speech despite their dubious record while in office

© Copyright 2014  V. J. Singal

Botching the relatively common word “litigious”; Even you Frank Deford?

Among all the men and women who grace American radio and television, sports commentator Frank Deford’s command of the English language is perhaps second to none, a position occupied during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by the late Louis Rukeyser. But this morning, while listening to Deford’s regular Wednesday segment on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” I realized that even this master of the English language has some glaring weaknesses in the matter of everyday American lexicon.

While discussing the LA Clippers owner, whose scandalously racist comments over the weekend have created a sensation, Deford said to NPR host Steve Inskeep: “Donald Sterling is known to be a very litiginous man. He’s not going to go softly into the night.”

Litiginous? Really? There is no such word in the English language! The correct word, and a pretty common one at that, is litigious, pronounced [luh-TIJ-us].

© Copyright 2014  V. J. Singal