usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

What American Airlines Taught Me


Originally, I was going to write about a commercial I saw for American Airlines. Instead, I’m writing about how that commercial taught me a word I never knew existed (but probably should have.

The commercial in question dealt with American’s new “Premium Economy” seats, which is an oxymoron, but that’s not my point today.

One of the features is increased legroom. When I saw the commercial, I rewound my DVR to ensure I saw that right. Sure enough, there it was again: legroom.

I scoffed. It’s leg room. Two words. I decided this would be my next post’s subject. I even had a headline idea: “What is American Airlines Trying to Teach Us?” I also had a joke ready: Airlines are so cheap with space that they’re even eliminating space between words.

Then I checked the dictionary. It’s one word.

I still don’t know how I never realized this word existed. It goes back to 1926, so it’s not new.

So, good for you, American Airlines. Now, about those expensive seats…

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

Advertisements

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ever Visited a “Dry Rainforest?”


In his book The Miracle of Language, Richard Lederer wrote, “English has never rejected a word because of its race, creed, or national origin.”

Sometimes I think English should have been more picky in what words it welcomed.

Today, I speak of a new oxymoron I recently heard. Somebody was telling me about a trip to Costa Rica and a “dry rainforest.”

I thought that by definition, a rain forest was two words and meant, “a tropical woodland with an annual rainfall of at least 100 inches and marked by lofty broad-leaved evergreen trees forming a continuous canopy.”

I must live in a dry rainforest. We’re not getting any rain where I live.

A Costa Rica information web page (http://costarica-information.com/) calls it a “dry forest,” but it turns out that there are many such dry rainforests in Australia, and I found a page on The Royal Botanical Gardens & Domain Trust website (http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au) that lists characteristics.

These include:

–small to large number of tree species forming the low to medium canopy layer,
–scattered larger trees or emergents rising above the canopy including semi-deciduous species or conifers
–small average leaf size of canopy trees. Leaves are often hard and blunt-tipped
–palms absent
–large vines common and diverse
–vascular epiphytes rare or common, but with few species
–mosses and ferns scarce

I don’t pretend to know what all of these mean. But I do know that what these don’t include is:

correct use of English

logical sense

In fact, we already have a perfectly good synonym for dry rainforest.

It’s called a desert. 

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

July 13, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

He Was a Loser in More Ways than One


I head on the radio today a feature on “The Heidi & Frank Show” in which they read three stories and asked viewers to call in and pick which one was “Loser of the Week.”

The three stories:

1) A guy tried to kiss his pet poisonous cottonmouth snake near its mouth, and it bit him.

2) A guy in Buffalo, N.Y., was cited for Driving While Intoxicated — right after he left the courthouse in which he had pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated.

3) A guy advertised on Craigslist that he had “legitimate counterfeit money” for sale. He ended up selling said money to an undercover cop and was arrested.

I actually thought the drunk driver was the biggest loser of the three, but I want to point out the moron who used an oxymoron.

Oxymoron is defined as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” Jumbo shrimp, original copy, definite maybe, pretty ugly and working vacation are good examples.

So is legitimate counterfeit.

So is my brother. He attended Occidental College, which makes him an Oxy moron.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Many Fewer Perks?” Hmmm…


Today, I re-introduce the word oxymoron. I like to say that my brother went to Occidental College, whose nickname is Oxy, thus making him an oxymoron.

But I digress.

An oxymoron is “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” Common examples include jumbo shrimp, new classic, recorded live, definite maybe, original copy, open secret, pretty ugly, random order and working vacation.

Today, a networker introduced me to this one: many fewer perks.

He was discussing long-term health insurance and how important it was to sign up fast before some benefits disappear. But he said, “many fewer perks.”

I don’t believe what I heard.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: