usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

With a “Friend” Like Him…


Like many of us, I receive scam emails. Usually, I just ignore them. But this one got my attention. This one had the audacity to call me “Friend.”

Dear Friend,

I got your e-mail address contact through your country’s Information Exchange On
line while browsing and after that,I decided to contact you to ask for your
assistance in this urgent matter that requires trust, confidentiality because you
might receive this message in your Inbox,Junk/Spam folder.

My name is Mr. Nafiz Karadere senior Manager of ( GARANTI BANK OF TURKEY) I am 55
years old man,married with four children.

I have a very urgent,confidential and profitable business for both of us Valued at
$25.5 Million (Twenty Five Million, Five Hundred Thousand United state Dollars).
This fund is an excess of what my branch in which I am the senior manager made as
profit last year. I have already submitted an approved End of the Year 2015 report
to my Head Office and they will never know of this Excess.I have since then, placed
this amount of $25.5 Million (Twenty Five Million,Five Hundred Thousand United state
Dollars) on a SUSPENSE SECURITY without a beneficiary.

As a senior Manager of the bank,I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I
am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money as the beneficiary
of the funds. If we could do this together,we shall share this funds 50/50 between
us accordingly and this transaction is 100% risk free,as no-risk involved in this
and this is going to be a direct transaction. All I need from you is to stand as the
original depositor of this fund.

If interested,please write back for more information,while I shall explain more in
details as soon as I got a response from you if you are interested.

Thanks for your kind understanding,awaiting your response!
Best Regards,
Mr. Nafiz Karadere

Problems:

  1. I know of no such Information Exchange (or Information Exchange On).
  2. If you read this carefully, you will see that “Mr. Nafiz Karadere” is embezzling the $25.5 million. Also, I’m pretty sure that what he’s asking you to do is a crime.
  3. Get the name of the country right, dummy. It’s United States.
  4. What is a “suspense security?”
  5. Too many spacing mistakes, among many other obvious errors.
  6. If he submitted an end of year 2015 report, why did he wait so long before writing this? It smacks of criminal action, if you ask me.

As I have said many times, your credibility is at stake when you write and send such sloppiness. I’m not saying anyone should send a scam like this, but it illustrates my point that in business, you have to communicate clearly, concisely and professionally to have any chance of success.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

March 17, 2022 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Did a Ball Become a Rock?


Ah, sports. It has a vernacular all its own. The late, great, Lakers announcer Chick Hearn coined an entire basketball-related language. Terms such as “slam dunk,” “air ball,” “charity stripe,” “dribble drive,” “Matador defense,” “The mustard’s off the hot dog,” “nervous time,” “no harm, no foul” (and sometimes he added “no blood”), “triple-double” (sorry, In-N-Out), “ticky-tack” and “yo-yo-ing up and down” didn’t exist until ol’ Chickie uttered them. I thought many of them were in the rule book.

But I have heard some that I find as cringe-worthy as “charity stripe.” I blame ESPN.

Take the rock to the hole — This refers to a basketball player dribble-driving to the basket. But when did a basketball become a rock? When did a basket become a hole? Yes, I know there’s a big hole in the hoop, so I can understand it. I just don’t know when it changed.

Take it to the house — This refers to a football player (American version) returning an interception for a touchdown. When did the end zone become a house? Why isn’t it take it into the zone? Then they could get in the zone.

Pick Six — Once, this referred to a bettor choosing winners in six consecutive horse races. But since horse racing is a dying sport except for three Saturdays a year starting on the first Saturday of May, I guess football people think they can commandeer it and make it mean an interception returned for a touchdown.

Yes, I know an interception can be can be called a “pick,” for “picking off a pass.” And I know that a touchdown is worth six points. Horse racing had it first. How about INTD? INT for interception and TD for touchdown.

Maybe people worry that it sounds too much like IMDB, the Internet Movie Database.

I’m just glad I don’t hear BOO-YAH! anymore.

I miss Chick Hearn.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 16, 2022 Posted by | Communication, informal speech, langauge, slang, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comics on Carnival, COVID and Claustrophobia


Jason Love originally started “Live Comedy in Your Living Room” to give himself and his vast network of stand-up comedians a place and opportunity to hone their craft and make a few bucks while the pandemic swept through and closed the venues these comedians normally frequented.

Now that the pandemic restrictions are lifting, Love is still doing the shows, but the comics’ material is becoming less about COVID and more about anything else they want to discuss. But the writing is still top-notch.

Joel Bryant wondered if people were watching in their kitchen and not their living room, would they not get all the jokes?

Many comics talked about Carnival Cruise Line, or as Brad Tassell called it, “the Walmart of cruising.”

Love works those ships and asked the audience if they knew Carnival had a 15-drink-a-day maximum. He imagined what that conversation was like: “What would be a reasonable amount? One for every hour you’re awake? Social drinking? Very social!”

Bryant later said he had taken a Carnival cruise and hit the drink limit. “That was prepandemic,” he said. “Imagine what I did during the shutdown. That wasn’t a limit. That was a challenge. I broke Carnival!”

Tassell said when he cruised on Carnival, he got mistaken for a famous person. “She said, ‘Oh my god, you’re Bill Gates!’ On a Carnival cruise? No,” he said.

Tassell also saw a little girl say to her younger brother, “Let’s go to the candy store.” They went, but the store was closed. “That’s OK,” the little brother said, “let’s look in the window and dream.”

“I got nostalgic for when I’m in Amsterdam,” Tassell said.

Love talked about showering at a friends house and being made to use the towel already hanging over the shower. “You mean the crusty Wuhan Petri dish towel? That CSI germ magnet?”

Love got an MRI, which he defined as “a machine that checks to see if you have claustrophobia. There’s no space to breathe. Can we put some snakes in there, too? Let’s get all my fears in there.”

Tassell said he and his wife recently dropped their daughter off at the dorms. “It was hard — on our daughter. She’s 9,” he said.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few COVID jokes. Bryant said we haven’t beaten COVID, “We just don’t know what Greek letter comes after Omicron.”

Bryant also said he misses not being able to mute everyone in public. And he remembers that a year ago, if you were drunk by noon and watched Netflix, everyone was proud of you. “Now, you’re a lazy alcoholic, and you’d be accurate,” he said.

Caleb Synan said he lived with his parents for a month “because I thought I loved them.”

Jann Karam said after two years of COVID, “My baggy jeans are my skinny jeans. Even my earrings don’t fit.” And during the pandemic, her family had low-cost aroma therapy: Glade plug-ins. “I had to crawl around sniffing the wall sockets,” she said.

Finally, I end with a series of one-lines from Brian Kiley.

“I spent the day converting my son’s room into an office. That ought to get him to move out.”

“I saw a guy sunbathing naked. I shouted at him, “Hey, buddy! Put a mask on!”

“The guy who was supposed to show up to fix my doorbell didn’t show up. Or did he?”

A cop pulled him over and said, “You were going 70 in a 50.” He replied, “Seventy is the new 50.”

“My best friend told me he was imaginary. I didn’t see that coming.”

“We got a yellow cat we named Butter. It died, and we got another yellow cat we named I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”

“I met my wife while on jury duty. Thanks to me, she got acquitted.”

“My teenage daughter thinks she knows everything. We’re regretting naming her Alexa.”

I’m super Irish. My blood type is O-apostrophe.”

They’re all on YouTube. Check them out.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 15, 2022 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Only Heard What They Never Said


There are probably thousands of incidences where we know something was said, but the original plays/books/stories/accounts/quotes prove otherwise, as the following examples show.

Elementary, my dear Watson — Nowhere in any of Arthur Conan Doyle’s four novels and 56 short stories about Sherlock Holmes does Holmes ever say this phrase. In “The Case of the Crooked Man,” Holmes explains his reasoning and says “my dear Watson” during it. When Holmes finishes, Watson says, “Excellent!” Holmes replies, “Elementary.”

In fact, according to Simon Whistler, host of the Today I Found Out” YouTube channel, Holmes only says “elementary” eight times in all Doyle’s works.

The phrase comes from a 1915 serial “Psmith Journalist” by P.C. Wodehouse. In it, Psmith (pronounced “Smith”) uses logical deduction much like Holmes. Once, when he finishes explaining, he utters, “Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary,” even though he was talking to a character named Billy Windsor.

Houston, we have a problem — When an Apollo 13 oxygen tank in the service module exploded, ruining a planned moon landing and almost killing the three astronauts on board, astronaut Jack Swigert calmly reported to Mission Control, “OK, Houston we’ve had a problem here.”

When flight controller Jack Lousma requested the message be repeated, Commander Jim Lovell said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all — This is the line from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the queen asks, “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

Money is the root of all evil — The original text comes from 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Very different than just saying money is evil. Whistler suggests coveting money is what the Bible warns of.

Music has charms to soothe the savage beast — In 1697, British playwright William Congreve wrote “The Mourning Bride” about Zara, a queen held captive by Manuel, King of Granada. Through deception, Manuel is murdered while in disguise, which so affects Zara that she commits suicide.

But the actual line is “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast” (italics added).

Incidentally, this same play has the line, “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d,” which has been shortened to “Hall hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Nice guys finish last — Leo Durocher managed four Major League Baseball teams from 1939-55 and from 1966-73. While managing the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946, Durocher referred to the New York Giants, “The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.” There were eight teams in the National League at the time, so the Giants were not in last, although they ended there (the Dodgers finished second). 

The Sporting News shortened Durocher’s quote to “Nice guys wind up in last place,” which later evolved to its present form.

Theirs but to do or die — In his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote about the British light cavalry brigade’s charge at the 1854 Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. But he actually wrote, “theirs to do and die” (italics added), which is quite different. Tennyson wrote that the soldiers knew it was a suicide mission. The phrase as we know it suggests there is a chance to survive. In reality, 118 men died, 127 were wounded, and about 60 were taken prisoner. Only 195 men survived.

Of course, there are so many more: “Play it again, Sam,” “Luke, I am your father.” “Beam me up, Scotty.” But those are so well known. Maybe these aren’t as famous.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 10, 2022 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Second-Guess as Second-Guessers Do


MEMO TO ALL READERS

From:  the one-word-is-a-verb-but-two-words-is-a-noun department

Re: Use of second guess/second-guess

I realize many of you missed my previous poem about how often you use one word for a verb and two words for a noun or adjective or adverb. That is completely unacceptable. But your word snob of a boss is compassionate and benevolent, so I will give you a second chance.

The rule applies here: second-guess is a verb, and second guess is a noun (with second also acting as an adjective to modify guess).

That should cover it. But understand this: There will be no second-guessers — second-guesser being an exception to the rule.

Thank you. You now may return to your regularly scheduled liking and joining of these posts.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 9, 2022 Posted by | Communication, informal speech, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Only Knew How to Pronounce It


Today, I venture into pronunciation. Our language is always changing and ever-evolving, and so are pronunciations. I found a YouTube video from the channel “Today I Found Out” that mentions examples of words we now pronounce differently than their creators originally intended.

Here they are, alphabetically:

Dr. Seuss — Theodore Geisel got tired of correcting people on how to pronounce his middle name, “Zoyse.” I can relate, as my name can be pronounced “BAR-nuh-thun” or “Bar-NATHAN.” Different branches of the family tree pronounce it differently.

UFO — We know this as “unidentified flying object,” so coined by Edward J. Ruppelt in his 1956 book “The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.” But according to video channel host Simon Whistler, Ruppelt intended the initialism to be pronounced “YOU-foe.”

Wikipedia — Howard Cunningham (not the guy played by Tom Bosley on “Happy Days”) used the Hawaiian word wiki, which is pronounced “WEE-KEE,” so the online encyclopedia should be pronounced “WEE-KEE-Pedia.”

Ye — Growing up, I knew of a pizza chain called Shakey’s. Inside were signs that used the term “Ye Olde Pizza Parlour” to connote nostalgia for a fictional past time. We pronounce it “YEE,” but according to Whistler, it should be pronounced “the” because the Y is left over from the Old English, Old Norse, Old Swedish and modern Icelandic alphabets’ letter Þ, called thorn. It was pronounced th-. Whistler said the printing press didn’t have this letter, so printers used a Y instead.

In the Bible, however, the ye in “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) is an older form of the modern word “you” and is pronounced “YEE.”

I’m not saying we’re mispronouncing the words now, not should we all go back to pronouncing the words/names as originally intended. I just find it fascinating.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 8, 2022 Posted by | Communication, informal speech, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Funny Side of English, With a Dash of Humor


From Paul Anthony Jones, in the Huffington Post (although my wife found it on Facebook):

Fun with English, first the fact and then my attempt at humor:

1. The part of your back that you can’t quite reach to scratch is called the acnestis. It’s derived from the Greek word for “cheese-grater.” (The part of your teenaged face you don’t like is called “acne.” It’s from the Greek word for “can’t get a date.”)

2. A growlery is a place you like to retire to when you’re unwell or in a bad mood. It was coined by Charles Dickens in Bleak House (1853). And a growl is what you like to do when you’re unwell or in a bad mood — or if you’re a wild animal. Come to think of it, some of the characters in Bleak House are pretty wild.)

3. There was no word for the color orange in English until about 450 years ago. (Shakespeare trying to write a sonnet: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s orange?/Thou art more lovely and more … uh, never mind.)

4. Funk was originally a Tudor word for the stale smell of tobacco smoke. (Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls — you’ve got to be a certain age to get the reference.)

5.  In written English, only one letter in every 510 is a Q. (So why isn’t it worth as much in Scrabble?)

6.  Flabellation is a fan to cool something down. (And flagellation is a whip to heat you up!)

7. To jirble means “to spill a liquid while pouring it because your hands are shaking.” (To “gerbil” is to spill a furry rodent up some unintended orifice because your hands are shaking — perhaps because of flagellation?)

8. Aquabob is an old name for an icicle. (And aquaboob is either dumb water or a flotation device.)

9. Whipper-tooties are pointless misgivings or groundless excuses for not trying to do something. (And whipper-snappers are pointless noises made with two fingers for many pointless or groundless reasons.)

10. Porpoise literally means “pork-fish.” (As a verb, that’s kind of disgusting.)

Goodnight, everyone! Tip your wait staff on your way out.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 3, 2022 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Did Yoga Instructors Always Get This Wrong?


When I practiced yoga, I did it twice a week. I was never certain if it was doing any good. I never sensed I got more limber or flexible.But I did notice that the pinched nerve in my back didn’t bother me as much, so there was that.

But my ears didn’t deceive me: All of the instructors I had over the years incorrectly used vertebrae.

They all misused it the same way: We’re in a forward bend, and the yogi told us to slowly rise “one vertebrae at a time.”

Except the singular form is vertebra, and it refers to “any of the bones or segments composing the spinal column.”

I don’t think rising up two vertebrae at a time is what the instructors had in mind, especially when they next said, “Head is the last to come up.” Head is singular, thereby inferring that the bones in the spine rise one at a time, too, starting with the closest to the waist (the sacrum) and continuing through the lumbar and up to the neck and head.

I wish my “downward facing dog” could be fixed as easily.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 2, 2022 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, Those Repetitive Song Lyrics!


When I had a gym membership, in those pre-COVID days, I took yoga classes to lengthen my spine and help with a pinched nerve in my back. I remember the class instructor treated us to a song with just six words: “Bountiful am I/Blissful am I/Beautiful am I.” She’d say it over and over again at least 30 times.

It got so that I started adding, “Repetitive am I.”

But that got me thinking. This was a song with repetitive lyrics. Songwriters get away with such repetition all the time. Paul McCartney and Sting immediately come to my mind as songwriters who make copious uses of repetition. McCartney sings “Band on the Run” 20 times and “Let It Be” 36 times. Sting sings “Roxanne” 27 times and “Sending out an SOS” from “Message in a Bottle” 25 times.

Other repetitive masters include Eminem singing “My Name Is” 48 times, the Black Eyed Peas singing “My Hump” 55 times and the Trashmen saying “Bird” from “Surfin’ Bird” 85 times.

Repetitive simply means “repeating,” but it makes me wonder how many times one must repeat before it becomes repetitive.

Online, the answers range from “more than two” to “thousands.” To me, it’s the point that I get sick of or annoyed at hearing them.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ll Take Confusing A-Words, Alex/Ken/Mayim


This is NOT Jeopardy! But this is a place to learn about using the right words (duh! It’s the name of my blog!)

Here are 10 a-letter words that throw people off their game, make them pause and check a dictionary to see if they’ve spelled them correctly.

able-bodied — it’s an adjective

aboveboard — it means “in a straightforward manner.” Above board means you are positioned higher than a piece of wood.

absent-minded –– it’s an adjective that often describes professors played by Fred MacMurray, Robin Williams (film versions) and Harry Anderson (TV version)

accommodate — double-c and double-m

acknowledgment — I never forget this one because when I participated in a spelling bee in sixth grade, the word given me was “acknowledged.” I heard “acknowledge” and spelled that word correctly, only to be disqualified and finish seventh.

ad-lib — it’s hyphenated whether you use it as a noun, verb or adjective

admissible — not admissable

aka — “also known as” takes no punctuation

a la carte — it’s three words in all uses

amok — not amuck, no matter if a 1953 Warner Brothers cartoon was titled “Duck Amuck.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 24, 2022 Posted by | Communication, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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