Monthly Archives: May 2013

Massaging and Harmonizing

A friend in the business world who shares my distain of overstuffed language sent me this beauty today. Someone in his company actually wrote, “…please let me know if you find errors as you massage the data as I will be happy to harmonize that with [Jason].”

I am always impressed by the creativity evidenced in business communications, even though the writers of these goodies don’t seem particularly creative in the rest of their lives.  Do they speak like this when they leave the office?

May you find harmony in your day—and perhaps sneak in a massage while you’re at it.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Immigrate, Emigrate, Migrate

Immigrate means to come to a country:  Ricardo immigrated to the United States.

Emigrate means to leave a country:  Ricardo emigrated from Nicaragua.

Migrate means to change location:  Some species of birds migrate thousands of miles every winter.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

How Delightful!

On May 10 the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page article about the most pervasive buzzword in the corporate world these days: “delight” and other forms of this word.

The article quoted Steve Jobs as the apparent originator of this word in a business context:

We love our users, we love them. We try to surprise and delight them…and we work our asses off.

I remember the first time I came across this word while I was leading business writing seminars—it was at least 10 years ago.  I won’t embarrass the company because many employees there still get my tips. But this corporation was energetically promoting the idea of “customer delight” in its correspondence with people and other companies it dealt with.

Did I spew my coffee when I first saw this phrase?  Indeed I did. To me it sounded like a specialty concocted by Baskin-Robbins:

Try our “Customer Delight!” Luscious scoops of any FIVE flavors of ice cream of your choosing! Swimming in your favorite sauce! Topped with a mountain of snowy whipped cream! Surmounted by generous sprinklings of nuts! And capped with a glistening red cherry!  It’s our “Customer Delight” and we guarantee you will be DELIGHTED!

To me the word sounds forced, contrived and insincere. Yes, we all want our customers to be happy, satisfied, gratified, and pleased. Doesn’t one of those words do the trick?

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

It’s Just Personal

Many redundancies crop up around “personal” or “personally”:

I personally think that….”   There’s a double.

These two are triples:

I myself personally think that…”

“It’s my own personal opinion that…”

Einstein said, “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.”  (Aren’t you glad he didn’t make the theory of relativity more complicated?)

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein (Photo credit: afagen)

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May 10, 2013 · 5:07 PM

Mother’s Day Gift Suggestion

cover for ebook

Where can you get a Mother’s Day gift for under $3, one she will giggle over and love? Back in my Shameless Promotion Mode, I’m offering my e-book—Your Kid Said This!— as a nifty suggestion, a kind of “stocking stuffer” for all the great mothers you know.

Who is more honest than children? This book contains about 300 entertaining quotes from young children on topics as varied as Sex, School, Brothers and Sisters, Grownups, Love, Language, Potty Time, Food, Manners and Clothing. It also has charming illustrations, done by children, for each section.

You can read a free sample on Amazon. It’s also available on iBooks and many other e-book formats.  If you don’t have an iPad or a Kindle, you can download it and read it directly on your computer screen.  You can also send it as a gift to all those great moms you know, either to their reading devices or to their computers.

I’ve gotten wonderful feedback on the book and hope you enjoy it.  Thanks for your support!

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May 9, 2013 · 10:18 AM

The Prefix “Be-“

I’ve been thinking. We use the prefix “be-” to suggest something is being added:

Think of “befriend,” “bespatter,” “befoul,” and “befog.”

Why, then, do we say “beheaded”?  Shouldn’t it be “deheaded”?

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language


In yesterday’s post I mentioned PINs associated with vehicles.  Someone more sharp-eyed than I am called to my attention the fact that cars have VINS, and ATMs have PINs.  But then this person suggested that perhaps car companies might, in fact, have PINs because the Supreme Court decreed that “corporations are people.”  I do not agree with the Supremes in this case!

What I learned from yesterday’s mistake is that although I do proofread everything I write more than once, obviously I am reading looking for typos but don’t focus on possible errors in content. I will change my errant ways.

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language