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