Tag Archives: communication

Boggled by Language Abuse

language, words, meaningBeing a writer, I take language: the meanings and flow of words, seriously.  Words have power and precise meanings.  Effective communication means using words properly.  Throwing together a mish-mash of terms or making words up by splicing improper suffixes onto a good word breeds confusion.  Even newscasters are trying to sound hyper-intelligent by tossing out big words spliced together using parts of two legitimate words.

But common terms are abused as well.  Just now I was asked if my truck runs on diesel gasoline.  This was not an either-or question, it was a yes-no question.  Diesel fuel and gasoline are two different things.  Using them together caused a train crash in the switch yard of my brain and boggled me for a moment.

An acquaintance often used the word “empowerized”, a melding of empowered and energized to convey vitality and excitement.  But it sent a little shiver up my neck every time I heard it.

A few other language laughables I can think of include:

  • I’ll go convertsate with him
  • I’m so flustrated!
  • That’s supposably a great new product.
  • A CEO philanthropist was referred to as a philanthropreneur by a news anchor.
  • Sorry, I’m not sure where I am.  I need to get orientated.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  And this doesn’t even get into words like irregardless.  Regardless means without regard.  Sticking the “ir” on the front makes it mean “not without regard” which is the opposite of what they’re trying to say.  There are SO many of these in common use today that I could go on all day.  But I’ll spare you that.

Now to be fair, the English language that we have today was made up by sticking bits of words from many other languages together.  And it evolves as each generation rises up and squishes it into their own mold of preferred expression.  So I may have no right at all to complain about younger people making up or twisting words into new meanings.  Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.  Maybe I should just suckupicate and deal with it.

The Importance
of Word Order

There is a meme going around that illustrates the power of word placement very well: place the word “only” anywhere in the sentence and see how the meaning changes, yet it remains a proper sentence.  I won’t go through all of them, but let’s look at a few.

Only she told him that she loved him.
No one but her has told him of their love.

She only told him that she loved him.
Her profession of love for him was not sincere.

She told only him that she loved him.
She admitted her feelings to him but no one else.

Go ahead and work the rest out in your head and you’ll see that this sentence has many diverse meanings depending on where you place “only”.

And then there is this “rule” for descriptive words put out by the BBC: Continue reading The Importance
of Word Order

Fine, Just Fine

I inwardly cringe as I walk up the steps to the door.  Just inside I am met by a large fellow with a round, ruddy face.  He smiles broadly, “Well hey there, Doug, how you doing?” and sticks his hand out.  I wonder for a moment what would happen if I told him how I’m doing – but immediately dismiss that.  I’ve seen it before. I’d tell him about my concern and that would open the door to a rebuttal involving a litany of atrocities that make my ailments seem penny-ante indeed. So I shake his hand and say, “Fine, just fine.”  I deliberately leave off the expected, “and you?”  We will just leave that door closed.   We smile at one another and move in divergent directions.

This exchange is repeated a half-dozen times before I locate a spot that is the slack-water of the room where I can be present, but out of the way.  Not hiding, but not easily accessible either. Continue reading Fine, Just Fine

Speak! Do Dogs Talk? Understanding Dog-speak

Will you help save us? dogs talkWhen us dogs talk, most of what we say is not said vocally. Some of what we say comes through body language: the position of our head and body, how we hold our ears, the shape of our eyes, things like that. But some of us are quite expressive vocally as well, even when it comes to communicating with peoples. Many peoples don’t understand the unvocalized parts of our communications, so we have to use what they do understand to convey our desires and affections.

Buster is a funny little guy. While he was here, he didn’t bark much, but if he was lonely he’d do whale song to get our attention. When he was joyful, he’d get happy feet. He is just full of personality.

Others were not so conversational, but had their own distinctive style of verbal expression. King among these had to be Malachi. He had a unique bark that led HairyFace to poke fun at him with this video: Continue reading Speak! Do Dogs Talk? Understanding Dog-speak

Your Dog’s Tail Tells a Tale

People are used to reading the body language of other Peoples as part of their interaction with one another. They often do it without even thinking. Some people assume that dogs are just animals and so are simplistic. But they are not. They too use a lot of body language: the shape of their eyes; position of their mouth, ears, and head; their stance; even a dog’s tail speaks of how they are feeling and what they are thinking.

dog's tail Different breeds of dogs have different natural positions for their tails, so allowances have to be made for breeds. For instance, breeds like Malamute, Husky, American Eskimo, and Chow all hold their tails curled up over their backs. Determining if their tail is higher than normal, lower than normal or about average is different than for most dogs who will hold their tails angled up from the spine, in line with the spine or lower, maybe even tucked under their butt, to indicate levels of anxiety.

Keeping that in mind, here are some broad generalizations about how dogs use their tail to express themselves. Continue reading Your Dog’s Tail Tells a Tale

Discussion vs Argument

Discussion vs argumentAs Christians, should we have an open mind toward opposing or alternate viewpoints or close our minds and hold steadfastly to our beliefs? Can we learn anything valuable from those who disagree with us or engage us in argument?

First, can we learn anything from our antagonists? Yes, we can learn what it is that causes them to have an opposing opinion. When we learn that, we may be able to counter the conditioning that helped them form that opinion – or find that their opinion was simply passed along by someone else, not based in any experience. Continue reading Discussion vs Argument

The Saddest Realization

Child_DefiantThe saddest words any parent can hear is their child saying, “I don’t need you.”

The saddest realization any parent can experience is that the child is right.

Where were you when they wanted a lap to sit in and be read to?  Where were you when he wanted you to attend his softball games, when she had a recital, when they had some personal crises and needed your guidance?  At work?  Or saying, “We’ll talk tomorrow, I’m too tired tonight.”

And now that you have come to the point where you want to be adviser, mentor, confidant… they have no need of you. For so long they have fended for themselves they do not need, or want, your input.

You are, after all, just the breadwinner.

The Sands of Opinion

Knowing when to trust who can be a difficult part of life. This is nothing new; Eve was deceived by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and that serpent has been spinning lies designed to misguide ever since.

Jesus addressed this issue for His followers in His sermon on the mountain.

Matthew 7:13-20 New International Version (NIV)

wolf in sheeps clothing 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Here He uses three similes to illustrate His point: a wolf, a road, and a tree. Continue reading The Sands of Opinion

Dominance

This morning, Blondie (as usual) came with me when I came out out into the yard to feed and exercise The Rowdy Boys.  They ate their kibbles then had a nice long run and were finally worn out and ready for cookies. Once they were back in their pens I asked Blondie if she wanted to come into the shop with me.  “No thanks” she said, “the weather is nice yet and I want to sit in the yard and enjoy it.”

office
Doug’s Office Workstation

Doing all my “work” in my office used to be my standard arrangement: work was done in the office; when I went home, I was “off-duty”.  But then I was mostly doing woodworking.  Since I turned more to writing, it’s harder to schedule “work” times for I am often hit by a sudden idea that needs to be put down ASAP.  And our house is a lot more pleasant and comfortable than my crowded, grungy office space in the workshop.

Two days ago our area was experiencing power blips: off-on, off-on real quick several times, followed by a 30 minute power outage.  Perhaps coincidentally (but perhaps not) when the power came back on we had no LAN access in the house. Continue reading Dominance

Social Media Advertising Can Be Spooky

I know advertisers team up with social media platforms to track users and target social media advertising to those user’s specific needs.  Many have been the times that I’ve searched for something, and for days afterward versions of what I was looking for pop up in on-site ads and in the sidebar of Facebook.

One time my buddy was telling me in an email how relieved has was that he finally backed over his weird  mailbox and destroyed it.  He sent me a link to a store page for a box that was very similar.  I agreed, I’d be relieved to be rid of it too.  In this case I did not search; I used a direct link in an e-mail.  Still these Victorian mail boxes kept popping up all over the place.  I had to do a couple of searches for things I didn’t care about just to be rid of them!

Marie puts the annoyance of social media advertising to work for her.  When she wants a new pair of shoes or a skirt for work, she does a search and checks her favorite places.  If she can’t find what she wants, she stops looking and goes into Facebook.  More often than not, there: in the side bar, is just what she wanted.

But the ad I saw today really got my neck hair up on end:

social media advertisingThat is a photograph.  Does this advertiser have some utility that stamps a name on a stock photo and serves it up on Facebook?  How do they avoid stupid stuff like “Lopez, another Celtic legend”?  Can it be that it’s hooked into a database that actually makes a good guess at a name’s origin?  I had to know…

I see a lot of sweatshirt ads.  Most are stock designs that have something to do with being a writer, or supporting pit bulls, or bear an encouraging bible verse: these things I expect to see because they are broad spectrum interests as well as being things I talk about.  A lot of people would buy those.  But “Bittinger” shirts? Continue reading Social Media Advertising Can Be Spooky