usingtherightwords

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Simple Folk Speaking Simply … Wrong


Ah, networking people. They’re so simple. They don’t know how to use the language correctly. More examples follow.

“We’re under new management the past three years” — Actually, that’s a sign of bad management. Either that or someone doesn’t know the meaning of the word new.

The correct statement: “We’re under the same management for the past three years.”

“I was walking down the street and I could see the wind” — No, you couldn’t. You could only see the signs of the wind: the trees waving, your hair flowing, the leaves blowing, etc.

“I’m down the street” — No, you’re standing in this restaurant where the networking meeting is taking place.

“Whoever becomes president next month…” — Putting aside the incorrect whoever for the moment, I went through this last week: No one becomes president next month. Barack Obama will still be president for all of November. The new president, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, takes over Jan. 20. Between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, someone will be president-elect.

The correct statement: “Whomever is elected president next month …”

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

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October 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overheard (It Never Gets Old)


I love networking meetings. You hear some great stuff.

1. A skin-care professional planning an event said, “See me for your cell phone number.”

Don’t you already have your number?

2. Someone else said, “The holidays are coming. It makes a great gift certificate.”

The holidays make a great gift certificate?

3. The guest speaker, talking about himself, said, “I came here when I was young. I don’t remember when. I was a baby.”

None of us remember such things. We rely on our parents or relatives to tell us.

4. Somebody talking about the upcoming election said, “Whoever is president on Nov. 9, we have to get ready.”

I can easily predict who will be president on Nov. 9: Obama. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president-elect and won’t become president until taking the oath of office on Jan. 20.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking at “Native American” Differently


I was struck by something Donald Trump said on Monday. Because Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared with Hillary Clinton, Trump attacked Warren and her listing herself as a Native American minority in Association of American Law Schools (AALS) directories from 1986-95.

“She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career,” Trump said. “Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”

Now, I could write an entire blog based on everything Trump says and fact-check and correct his usage. In this case, Warren said she had self-identified as a minority in the directories to meet others with similar tribal roots. Her brothers defended her, stating that they “grew up listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family’s Cherokee and Delaware heritage.”

Whether you believe Warren or not, or whether you side with Trump or not, it makes no difference to me. The point I want to make is, if you break down the words, you’ll see that Warren, millions of others and I are, in fact, native Americans.

Native means “belonging to a particular place by birth.” Warren was born in Oklahoma City (notice Trump doesn’t question her birth as he did with President Obama in 2011). The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This makes Warren an American.

And a native American.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rant Wisely or Sound Stupid


Today’s lesson: Careful when you rant. You might just rant your way into saying something wrong.

I read a column online last week (called “I Rant, You Decide”) that attacked  Hillary Clinton’s comment about what we must do as a nation following the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium:

“We have been confronting the threat of terrorism for quite some time and with the latest terrible manifestation of it, we’ve got to tighten our security. I’ve talked about a visa system and a passenger name record system. Terrorists are not stupid, military officials have said that techniques like water boarding are not effective. We do not need to resort to torture, but the Europeans are going to need more help. We’ve got to work this through, consistent with our values.”

The columnist wrote, “Your mamby, pamby nonsense about values is going to result in this nation being brought to its knees in a sickened, horrifying way.”

OK, first things first. There’s a comma that shouldn’t be there, but that’s just the editor in me.

Second, isn’t the term actually namby-pamby?

Just to make sure, I checked online and found that, indeed, there is a mammy pamby and a  namby-pamby. The one I know is an adjective that means “weak or indecisive.”

The one I didn’t know is a noun meaning “a person who engages in acts of cowardace, shyness, or stupidity.”

The columnist is on the right track, but he’s wrong. This reminds me of the part of the movie “Porky’s” when the bigoted Tim Cavanaugh (played by Cyril O’Reilly) calls the Jewish character a “kite.”

The Jewish character, Brian Schwartz (Scott Colomby), corrects the bigot by telling him the word is “kike.” Then, after spelling the word, he adds, “You know, you’re too stupid to even be a good bigot.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is out and available on Amazon. Order now for just $14.95. Contact me on my website to reserve your copy or Order here.

leebarnathan.com

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sorry, Date, You’re Not Getting Inaugurated


I attended a Rotary meeting last week. As it was Jan. 20 and this is an election year, the speaker had fun with political-related dates, saying that it’s 139 days until the California primary, it’s 180 days until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and it’s 187 days until the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

Then he said, “And since it’s a leap year, it’s 366 days until the inauguration of Jan. 20, 2017.”

There’s just one problem: Jan. 20, 2017 isn’t getting inaugurated. A person is.

We don’t yet know who, of course. Could be Donald Trump. Could be Hillary Clinton. Could be Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. Could be Bernie Sanders. Or someone else.

But I am 100-percent certain that Jan. 20 isn’t getting inaugurated. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8: “Before he enters the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Note the italics, which I added to demonstrate that a person must be the one being inaugurated.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is out and available on Amazon. Order now for just $14.95. Contact me on my website to reserve your copy or Order here.

leebarnathan.com

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth About “Obamacare”


At the risk of getting political, I’m writing about  health-care law.

At a recent networking meeting, a member in the insurance business said something that amazed me: Ask people about “Obamacare” and they say negative things about it. But ask people about the Affordable Care Act and they’re much more positive.

There’s just one problem: They are the same.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the Affordable Care Act) is the federal statute that President Obama championed and signed into law in 2010. Originally, those who opposed it derisively called it “Obamacare.”

Who that first person was is not clear: Some believe it was Mitt Romney back in 2007, but I’ve also seen Hillary Clinton’s election campaign given credit as well as lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott writing in the trade journal Healthcare Financial Management’s March 2007 issue:

The many would-be candidates for president in 2008 are falling over themselves offering their own proposals. We will soon see a “Giuliani-care” and “Obama-care” to go along with “McCain-care,” “Edwards-care,” and a totally revamped and remodeled “Hillary-care” from the 1990s.

Unfortunately, the derogatory moniker stuck. I say unfortunate because it’s correct to call it by its name, not its nickname — and because it’s a nickname is why I put “Obamacare” into quotation marks each time.

So, whether you like the law or not, call it by its name.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Important Terms for a Not-So-Super Tuesday


Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, a day in which a large number of states hold their presidential primaries or caucuses. I say “not-so-super” because only 10 states and 410 delegates are at stake for the Republicans. Contrast that with 2008, when 23 states and 1,681 delegates were evenly distributed between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Words such as majority and plurality get thrown around elections. A majority is easy: It’s one more than half of an amount. Most of the time, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum have not received a majority of votes cast because they aren’t getting 50 percent of the vote plus one.

What they’re getting, and probably will continue to get, is a plurality. People sometimes say majority when they mean plurality. A plurality is a bit more confusing. It’s more than the next highest number but less than a majority. Pluralities usually require at least three of something because with two, you can get a majority.

Watch the returns tomorrow and see if Romney gets between 40 and 49 percent of the vote, as might Santorum. Take the difference, and that’s the plurality.

Here’s another way to look at it. If Candidate A gets 53 million votes and Candidate B gets 47 million votes, Candidate A has a plurality of six million votes.

Remember that the next time someone wins with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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