Monday, November 8, 2010

Around the Word

Monday, schmonday! Allison Wood turns personal weaknesses into public speaking strengths, Mark Peters celebrates the joy of Yiddish, and the Oxford University Press wants YOU! (to save endangered words)
  • Nobody's perfect—but you can spin those character flaws into speechwriting gold, advises executive communications expert Allison Wood. In Vital Speeches of the Day, Wood shares her own sad story: she's too sensitive, is nosy and a worry wart, and can't make up her mind. Enter Rumpelstiltskin: Wood's thin skin helps her empathize with the audience and internalize their responses. Her busybody curiosity picks up tiny details about her client that strengthen their partnership. "What-iffing" and flip-flopping allow her to anticipate weaknesses and counterarguments. Have any of your quirks served you well on the dais?
  • "Keep your schnozz away from schmucks and spare me the spiel." Even if your bubbe never gave you an earful of Yinglish, you probably get the picture. The Yiddish "schm" has been schmeared all over English, to the delight of Good language columnist Mark Peters. The acidic, lip-puckering sound raises vivid pictures of unsavory schmucks and schmos and shmutz. The sound is so closely linked to insults that it has become "a Swiss army knife-like, one-size-fits all diminisher," Peters remarks.
  • Even as new words tumble into the OED with astounding celerity, the senescence of older, obscure words has alarmed linguistic conservationists. But fear not! Now, through savethewords.org, you can rescue old, superannuated words. The Guardian explains how to "adopt a word" on the site, which is run by a Malaysian subsidiary of the Oxford University Press. Register for free, choose from among 450 endangered words, and use it in casual conversation. You, too, can save English from spoliation!

1 comment:

Aliceg said...

I can't understand why the word "weesquashing" has gone out of common use. I was just out on the boat with a flashlight spearfishing for eels the other night. Honest. Would I roblet you?