usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

Check the Calendar!


During a recent networking meeting, someone got up and talked about how important it is to get one’s marketing materials in order as soon as the year starts.

“I did this on the very first day of the year, January second,” he said.

Hmmm. What planet starts its numerical sequence with 2?

I think that guy is at least one day short of a month!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get His Name Right!


I have never met Bob Gale. In fact, I don’t know who he is, and I didn’t know why I would.

But this past weekend, I went to the Hollywood Museum and saw a “Back to the Future” exhibit, and it was there I was reminded that Gale co-wrote the series with Robert Zemeckis.

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Then I saw this:

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I did a double-take. Was I really seeing this? His name was everywhere, yet no one noticed the misspelling?

I told the friend standing next to me. He didn’t notice it, until I pointed it out to him. Then he couldn’t unsee it.

I hope Bob Gale finds out about this, contacts the museum and requests the correction be made.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Lose Your Loose Balls


While visiting my daughter at Chapman University this past weekend, we played a little mini golf, and my daughter spotted this sign:

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Look at the third rule.

How do you loose your ball? Maybe they mean “If your ball comes loose from the course,” but it’s more likely a typo.

And for what it’s worth, I saw numerous people ignore the second rule.

Including us.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

On Due Process vis-a-vis Impeachment


We are approaching a momentous day: For only the third time in our history, the Senate will decide if an impeached president should be removed from office.

But this isn’t about politics. This is about words. And people are using the words incorrectly.

I have heard people say, “The Senate will never impeach Trump.” They’re right; that’s the House’s job. What they mean to say is that they believe the Senate will never vote to convict and remove the president from office.

I also refer to a statement I saw from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham: “President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due-process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated.”

I take issue with the part about due process being denied. Trump and his supporters often have complained that the House’s impeachment inquiry denied the president due process.

However, the House impeaching a president is akin to a grand jury hearing. According to Find Law, a prosecutor works with a grand jury to decide whether to bring criminal charges or an indictment against a potential defendant. There is no defendant, no defense attorney, no right to call witnesses or anything else associated with the provisions laid out in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

In short, there is inherently no due process, so it can’t be denied.

Once the trial in the Senate commences, due process comes into play. The president will have people defending him, with all the rights granted in the two aforementioned Amendments, plus anything else the Senate decides to allow. If something happens that prevents that, then we’ve got a real problem.

For now, though, everything is correct, no matter what one side tries to say.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Written and Spoken Networking Nonsense


As I’ve written before, I hear more nonsense coming out of networker’s mouths than anywhere else. Sometimes, I read nonsense coming out of networker’s printers, too.

Like this from a dentist:

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Now, when I saw this, I immediately knew this was a typo. The R and T keys are next to each other on a keyboard, so it’s obvious the guy accidentally typed the T instead of the R.

But, for God’s sake, USE SPELLCHECK! Then you’d know it’s not only obviously misspelled, it’s two words.

Of course, what would be a networking meeting without someone uttering something ridiculous? The other night, I heard a hairdresser say, “Today, I was working on Audrey Hepburn.”

Really? You do know she died in 1993 and is buried in Switzerland? That’s some trip you took. And how difficult was it to dig her up? What did her hair look like after all these years? Did you also shampoo it?

Now, I know she meant to say she was working on a woman’s hair that resembled a style Audrey Hepburn once wore, perhaps from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

But you’ve got to be able to speak clearly and concisely or your credibility takes a hit.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read the Labels and Decide for Yourself


My daughter is quite the activist, so much so that she was voted Class Activist by her high school class.

Most of her activism stems from a desire to see women treated equally, but sometimes she moves into gender-neutral areas.

Such as water.

She recently asked me if I’ve ever read the label of a Dasani water bottle. I hadn’t, so she showed me, asking me to pay close attention to the last ingredient:

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Salt. It makes you thirsty.  According to Indiana public media, when the thirst center in your brain goes on alert because things are too salty and the body needs water to dilute the salt, that’s when you start to feel thirsty. The kidneys help dilute the salt too by slowing down urine production and conserving water.

My daughter said she thinks Coca-Cola, which owns Dasani, has salt added so you will drinik more because you’re thirsty from all that salt. Time magazine begged to differ, writing in 2014 , “The additives being put into water are those naturally found in water and the quantities of these additives are likely too small to be of much significance.”

Take a look at the second-to-last ingredient. Recognize it? It’s the third drug in the cocktail used to execute by lethal injection. I seriously doubt there’s enough in a bottle to kill you, but it’s still interesting.

So, here’s the point: Read the labels, and then decide if the words are really a conspiracy or just a list of ingredients.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Word Origins That Have Been Verified as True


I recently got an email from somebody touting the origins of words and phrases, such as “a shot of whiskey.” The article said it comes from the Old West, where  a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, and so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a “shot” of whiskey.

But this is simply not true, and Snopes debunked it: here.

So, here are others from that same email that I verified and/or corrected where necessary.

Barrel of oil — I often wondered why we refer to gasoline by the gallon but oil by the barrel. It’s because in the early days of oil drilling, people used existing barrels used to store water, whiskey, fish, turpentine or molasses to store the oil. (The original email said it was just water barrels.)

Buying the farm — Some sources believe it traces back to WWI pilots getting life insurance policies worth about the value of an average farm. Other sources say it has to do with a plane crashing on a farm and the farmer suing and collecting from the damage. (The original email listed the farm value at $5,000, which I couldn’t verify.)

Cobweb — We all know these are spider webs. The Old English word for spider was coppe, pronounced “cob.” (The original email had the original word as “cob.”)

Curfew — It’s from the French couvre-feu meaning “cover fire.” It described the time to blow out all oil lamps and candles. Its original meaning refers to a law made by William The Conqueror that all lights and fires should be covered at the ringing of an eight o’clock bell to prevent fires from spreading within communities of timber buildings.

(The original email told a story about how “homes had no real fireplaces so a fire was built in the centre of the room. In order to make sure a fire did not get out of control during the night it was required that, by an agreed upon time, all fires would be covered with a clay pot called-a ‘curfew.’ ” I couldn’t find that story anywhere, nor could I find proof that a clay pot was called a curfew.)

Hot off the press — If you’ve ever picked up a newspaper right after it came off the printing press, you’d know how hot it is. I have. The memory scars me.

Over a barrel — Before CPR, a drowning victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in an effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective.

Also, people were draped over a barrel and flogged.

Either way, it’s a sign you’re in deep trouble.

Stateroom — From the Latin status, meaning “condition or manner of being.” Rooms in a mansion were “rooms of state” and were very fancy and luxurious. So was the captain’s quarters on a ship. (The original email said steamship rooms were not numbered but named after states, which I couldn’t verify.)

I sent the email back to everyone whose address was listed. Many of these people I did not know, but I found it important enough to inform them they are getting bad info.

I ended my email with the following warning: Don’t believe everything you read, especially online.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Spice Skips a Generation


As I reached for my deodorant the other day, what I read on the container struck me as funny:

Old Spice

I understand what Proctor & Gamble is trying to do. It’s subtly saying that Old Spice has been around and has been popular for generations; and since you’re using it now, you are more important.

But I can’t help but remember my grandfather didn’t sire me. My father did.

So, yes, if my grandfather hadn’t worn it, my father wouldn’t exist, so maybe I wouldn’t, either.

This is an advertising shortcut that, taken literally, doesn’t work.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth and Legend of Hanukkah


Hanukkah began last night and will run until next Monday. It’s really a minor holiday that commemorates a series of military victories by the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, over the armies of Seleucid Empire and the Greek influence on Jewish life.

The Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, tells the story of how, after driving out the Seleucids and restoring the rededicating the Second Temple, the Jews found only enough oil to light the menorah for one day, but the oil miraculously lasted eight days, giving them enough time to get more oil.

However, this story comes from a text that was codified hundreds of years after the Maccabee victory. I’ve heard Reform rabbis acknowledge this story is a myth, invented so the Roman occupiers wouldn’t be threatened by the real story.

Regardless, most people know Hanukkah only by the miracle, and I found a T-shirt that sums it up.

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Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Just In: Jane Austen is Still Dead!


Monday (Dec. 16) was Jane Austen’s birthday, and my daughter found this on Twitter:
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Immediately, I thought to paraphrase “Weekend Update” from the first season of “Saturday Night Live:” Jane Austen is still valiantly holding on in her fight to remain dead!

Or: Jane Austen is still dead. Doctors say her condition is unchanged.

Fortunately, others on Twitter responded appropriately.

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Austen died in 1817. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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