Feb 13, 2013 by Lindsay Gower
I got some ribbing from a colleague last week for beginning an email message “Dear Dave.” Dear? Dear? Why not simply Hi Dave, she wanted to know.
Here’s why I choose to use Dear:
- Dave is the head honcho on a project on which BJ and I are working. He is the final decision-maker, which includes the power to hire and fire me.
- We rarely meet, rarely speak and rarely correspond. This is not to say he is cold or forbidding; I just do most of my work with the other consultants on the project.
- I was writing, on behalf …
Jan 27, 2012 by Lindsay Gower
Drum roll, please! It’s time for Word of the Year, 2011: Occupy
Each year, the American Dialect Society votes for the “vocabulary item” (perhaps a word, perhaps a phrase ) that was in common use or had a high profile (meaning, all us common folk might not have used it but the media sure did).
Occupy, of course, refers to the movement about…uh, did anyone figure out what it was about? I live near Oakland, which got plenty of media attention for its Occupy Movement, and from what I read, the occupiers focused on being, to say the least, an enormous inconvenience …
Dec 27, 2011 by Lindsay Gower
I’ve written before about the spoken word, because whether you’re writing it down or saying it out loud, it’s communication.
Today, I want to point out how sloppy habits of spoken language do not translate well when written down.
I was like, how can he? And he was like, well, that’s what I like. So, like, I’m suppose to like that he’s like, It’s soooo great!?
How many times did you have to read that to translate the “likes”? That is a snippet of conversation I heard at Starbuck’s last week. (I was not eavesdropping. The speaker was on her phone in line …
Sep 15, 2011 by Lindsay Gower
Soap box time. I’m anti-multitasking and I’m here to say why.
I have clients and colleagues who multi-task in an unproductive way: They make phone calls while concentrating on something else. (Often, they’re driving. Sometimes, they’re on their computers while also pretending to be on the phone with me.)
They think they’re being productive. They think they’re getting two things done at once. Let’s look at what they are actually communicating:
I’m not concentrating on the point of this phone call
These people lose track of the conversation. They struggle with simultaneous, competing thoughts, such as “Can I merge safely into traffic now?” and …
Mar 2, 2011 by Lindsay Gower
I write about writing, meaning I write about words. Today, I’m going to write about words we speak. Specifically, words we shouldn’t speak. No, I don’t mean profanity. I mean useless filler words.
Ya know what I mean?
We all know which of our friends, family or co-workers cannot utter a sentence without inserting some useless phrase. Yet most of us are unaware when verbal bad habits creep into our own conversation.
For most, it’s an unconscious habit. When the filler phrase doesn’t make sense, the speaker is probably unaware they even uttered it. Consider the common verbal tics ya know and, worse, …
Feb 11, 2011 by Lindsay Gower
Each morning I walk Archee McLeash passed JFK University’s lovely creekside campus. Recently, they installed new No Smoking signs. The signs look like this:
That’s the sign: The word please with a no smoking graphic.
Why did they include please on the sign? Please implies a request, that a person can make a choice to comply, or not. However, here in California, it’s against the law to smoke within 20 feet of a public building. There’s no choice. I’d rather see a sign that says, flat out, Don’t smoke here.
Dec 15, 2010 by Lindsay Gower
Ever seen a frustrated Mom try to get sense out of her tantrum-tossing kid? “Use your words, honey…”
Words. Use your words, people.
I just saw Powermat’s new commercial about their bleeping fabulous product. That’s literally the word used throughout the commercial: Bleeping.
That’s bleeping it?
It’s bleeping charging?!
All bleeping day long.
That’s bleeping magic!
Powermat is then proud to tag this juvenile dialog with: Powermat. Bleep the cords.
Let’s check in with people who have more respect for words, and for the intelligence of the English speaker, than do Powermat’s copywriters:
“Eschew surplusage.” Meaning we should shun or avoid, as something wrong or from a …
Nov 5, 2010 by Lindsay Gower
O fabulous day! The SF Giants won the World Series!
No, they did not defeat every team in the whole wide world. So why is it the World Series? After all, professional baseball is played in dozens of countries. The sport is immensely popular in Japan and throughout Central and South America. And although Major League Baseball’s teams are from both the US and Canada, and those teams field players of various nationalities, the competition is obviously limited to North America.
Is it fair to call the championship a World Series?
Watching Wednesday’s victory parade in San Francisco, I contemplated this question and …
Sep 22, 2010 by Lindsay Gower
It’s September, soon to be October and, ever interested in words, I again note the oddity that the root of September means seventh, October means eighth, November ninth and December tenth. Do the math: September isn’t the seventh month, nor is October the eight.
What other words do we use daily that no longer mean what they meant?
Congratulations, that’s so awful.
London’s St Paul’s Cathedral was built out of the ashes of the 1666 Great Fire. It’s said (perhaps apocryphally) that this masterpiece was described as awful, artificial and amusing. In those days, amusing meant amazing, awful meant awe-inspiring and artificial meant …
Sep 16, 2010 by Lindsay Gower
I’ve been recommending Mark Twain’s treatise “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” for years now. Read it! You’ll learn a lot about writing, and you’ll enjoy a few laughs.
Here are Twain’s points 12-18, with my own comments beneath. He says that these “little rules” require that the author shall:
Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
When you merely come near to it, your reader might be confused. Worse, your reader might not be confused; he might accept as true what you don’t mean.
If you mean to say “Wednesday at 3:00″ don’t say …