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 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, 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


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 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] 
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