usingtherightwords

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Happy Labor Day! Are You Working?


We celebrate Labor Day in the United States today. It’s a national holiday to celebrate the labor movement and achievements of the American worker.

Yet most of us don’t work on Labor Day. This reminds me of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the four ministries are named for the exact opposite of what they stand for. The Ministry of Peace supports war. The Ministry of Plenty concerns itself with rationing and often dwindling supplies. The Ministry of Love is all about arrests and torture, and the Ministry of Truth spews propaganda.

Labor Day should be a day in which we work. After all, one of the many definitions of labor is “human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy.” I don’t think sitting on our butts watching television or relaxing by the pool or camping is really helping the economy or is even laboring.

At least I worked today, if only for the length of time it took to research and write this.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

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September 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notice The Absence of “Stewardess” in the Skies


I read an obituary of Edith Lauterbach. I did not know this woman and when she was alive I had never heard of her. But her death gives me a reason to write about a no-longer-used airplane term: stewardess.

When I was a child, the women who walked the aisles serving coffee, tea or milk, got us headphones, pillows, magazines and blankets, and demonstrated the proper way to use an oxygen mask were stewardesses. Before I was born, according to the obituary, they were called “coeds” and “sky girls.” Lauterbach was one of the many who flew those  often unfriendly skies, and it was she who helped form the Airline Stewardesses Association, which I like to call a “mile-high union.”

Today, the union is known as Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. This I consider important, because stewardesses don’t exist anymore. Neither do the male equivalent, stewards. The last time I can recall hearing stewardess used was in the early 1980s, an example here of Barbara Billingsley in “Airplane!”

Now, and for a while, people use the PC term flight attendant, as in “Flight Attendants, prepare for departure.”

Do you miss the stewardess days? I’m pretty sure Edith Lauterbach didn’t.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Obama Really Say That?


As I listened to the news on the radio last week, the local CBS station promoted that weekend’s “60 Minutes” in which President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Clinton sat down together for an interview. The station played a clip, and I thought I heard the president say,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

Wait a minute, I thought, did I really hear that correctly?

The day the segment aired, I heard the same promo. Again, the president said,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

The next day, I found the clip online, and once again the president said,  “I think that Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”

Wikipedia also has made this mistake. I can understand that, but Obama? I couldn’t believe it, and still don’t. Here we have an incredibly bright, thoughtful and articulate man making a common mistake: Secretary of States.

The correct term is Secretaries of State.

It appeared that Obama forgot that you pluralize the subject. Just like with passers-by.

Clearly, the president thought of “Secretary of State” as one complete entity. But there are so many other secretaries in his cabinet (Defense, Interior, Treasury, Agriculture, Energy, Justice, Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Education, etc.). Also, of  is a preposition or adverb, and those parts of speech are not sentence subjects.

Obviously, there needs to be an additional cabinet position: Secretary of Using the Right Words.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

January 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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