Category — Communication
It’s probably true of languages other than English: the sudden popularity of some ordinary conversational phrase. Not long ago, it was the phrase “know what I mean?” One heard it everywhere. Now the phrase you hear every day is “to be honest with you…”. It seems to occur in the response to any question, especially when any of us are out shopping. What will it be next? I fancy “Am I making sense?” to round off any sentence spoken ‘out there’. It will come and it will go, to be honest with you.
August 15, 2013 No Comments
It’s always fascinating to hear a language evolve right in front of you. It’s usually a generational thing. I notice, for example, that when ordering food and drink in a restaurant, D and I usually say, “Can I please have…” where our thirty-something daughter and son-in-law say “Can I get…”. This is altogether deeper and more permanent a change compared to using fashionable slang words.
Goodness, how the latter die! I well remember my embarrassment when my father told a joke which depended for its punchline on a pre-1940s slang word for a part of the female anatomy. In time, ‘can I get…’ will be succeeded by some other formulation proving once again how resilient English is.
November 19, 2012 No Comments
Planning a speech that persuades people to do something? Watch and listen to the master-class that Bill Clinton gave to the Democratic convention last week, and learn. Forget the content or who wrote it, just see how he unpacks a whole toolkit of useful techniques: the way he varies the pace and ‘temperature’ of what he has to say; the building of climaxes, then killing the applause; the tiny pauses to indicate thought; the preachers’ urgency in phrases such as “Listen to this!”; the faux intimacy hinted by the confiding asides, contrasted with the just-short-of-jeering in his attacks; the use of sorrowful regret; the granularity of his just-enough detail. The list goes on: marvel at it.
September 12, 2012 No Comments