usingtherightwords

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Shakespeare Would Not Be Proud


My daughter currently performs as Hortensio in William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” I believe that if you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything on stage.

Unfortunately, that does not extend to the actor bios in the program, which had the following typos in it:

“She would like to thank William Shupespeare…” Who? You mean Will Shupe, the director? Oh.

“(name of performer) is excited to be apart of this production! I’d rather be part of it.

“She loves Shakespeare and the character Katrina …” Both the original text and this program list the character name as “Katharina,” although it is pronounced “Katrina.”

“She would like to thank Will Shupe and the other co-assistant directors…” Will Shupe is the director.

Perhaps I should not nitpick. This is a student performance, and the students wrote their own bios. But still, someone should have edited it.

And no, my daughter’s bio does not contain any typos, even though she didn’t let me see it until it was in the program.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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May 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Words Get in the Way of Networking


When it comes to networking, I find it funny that a person who needs to use the right words to sell himself or herself often says things that make me wonder. Following are actual words I heard networkers utter.

funny hanky panky — I don’t usually find anything funny about hanky panky, unless it’s like something from the “American Pie” movies.

cleaning maids — Is there any other kind? (NOTE: I know a maid is “a young unmarried woman,” but that is a shortening of the original word, maiden.)

protect against free radicals — as opposed to paid radicals?

We’re holding a Shakespearean meeting: on the Ides of March — First of all, the Ides of March (March 15) predates Shakespeare’s play. S0 does Julius Caesar’s assassination — by about 1,600 years .

I got married to my wife — No, you got married to a woman who then became your wife.

It costs just $8,000 a month, $100,000 a year — No, it costs $96,000 a year.

I have a prosthetic shoulder, which some of you know about and some of you don’t — That about covers it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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

Ham and Eggs Green, a Tempest and a Dream


Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare, but…

And to think I heard it at a networking meeting!

A construction worker spoke about flipping houses. I wondered how strong one has to be to physically do that.

The man continued, talking about how he can build a home “from the ground up.”

As opposed to, “from the sky down?”

Oh, the words I have heard!

At a different networking meeting, a printer started speaking about what be does for his clients. The guy next to me whispered, “He’s not flat, so he must be a 3D printer.”

I rolled my eyes.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

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 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

English is Funny — And My Attempts to Confirm That


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.)

I’m here all week. Tip your wait staff on your way out.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

June 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell is a “Natch” and a “Nigh?”


While reading the current issue of Time magazine, I came across two words I can’t believe someone wrote. One was very old and the other was very slangy.

I’ll address them in order I read them. The article, detailing a Japanese clothier’s strategies, had this: “He dresses casually in a plaid shirt and brown pants — his own label, natch — and underlines his brand loyalty …”

This wasn’t the first time I had come across natch. When I have, I pause because I don’t know what that means. Then I continue reading as if I had never read it.

But this time, I looked it up. Natch, my dictionary revealed, is a slang term from about 1945 that is a shortened form of the word naturally. It also means “of course.”

Why do we need to shorten naturally? It’s a perfectly decent word. I can’t remember ever hearing anyone use it. I’ve only read it.

Later in the same article, on the same page, I read this: “[M]anagement experts have been preaching it to Japanese firms … for nigh on two decades.”

I remember reading nigh in Shakespeare, perhaps in a sonnet or in a poetic passage in one of his plays. My dictionary shows the word does go back to the 12th century (or hundreds of years before Shakespeare) and means “near” as a preposition and “to come near” as a verb.

So, is the article’s author, Michael Schuman, in the 12th or 20th century? He’s using the words correctly, but both stuck out when I came across them, and I remember my journalism instructors teaching that any pause might cause a reader to stop reading.

In my case, it caused me to blog about it.

A nigh for a nigh, a natch for a natch.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Must all Poets’ “Verses” Come Down to Us “Versus” Them?


As a former full-time (and still occasional) sportswriter, I’m quite familiar with versus. As an English speaker, I also know verses. Yet sometimes I see them misused.

The most common mangling is when someone wants to pit something verses something else, which to me is like pitting poet against poet, Shakespeare against Frost: To be or not to be on the road less traveled…

The writer, of course, means versus. Sports enthusiasts will recognize the abbreviation vs., which is always correct. Less correct is Vs., a hard-to-find cable sports channel.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment