English shining linens in eggshell sheen.
Posts Tagged ‘Enjoy English’
English is a complex human creation, and it is as quirky as those of us who speak it. We expect certain structural attributes: symmetry, regularity, consistency, and logical construction of words and phrases. In general, our language delivers well on these features, but occasionally, or even frequently, quirks surface. A whirlwind tour through some counterintuitive usages illustrates this point.
Poetic license is liberating for an author. But how about coupling poetic freedom with some limiting constraints? Then you get poetic engineering. Such mental gymnastics have little practical use other than puzzles and writing practice.
English uses 26 letters: 21 consonants and 5 vowels. We can create jillions of words, such as the word jillion, which is a slang word that means some indefinitely large number. Some words have a single consistent meaning; some have numerous context-specific meanings. For example, the words brain, north, golf, automobile, jury, and woman have pretty consistent meanings wherever they are used. On the other hand, try to figure out the meanings of these words without knowing the context in which they’re used: right, down, space, bridge, state, and branch.
The combination of consonants and vowels into a spoken sound is called a syllable. These are the building blocks of words. Wikipedia defines syllable as follows: (more…)
My last few blog posts have dealt rather abstractly with selling and persuading. I will close this thread with a practice-what-you-preach example and apply the 8W model to communicate the value of my new book, Eureka! Discover and enjoy the hidden power of the English language. (more…)
Communications are the foundation for humans to live together in harmony. Most of us would benefit from improving our communications skills. This should come as no surprise: Millions of teachers, parents, and supervisors emphasize this every day. Yet it seems like our communications skills are not improving. School-age children and young adults, aspiring workers, and even mature professionals seem disinterested in their communications skills. Plenty of good stuff is available to teach people who are motivated to learn. Therein lies the problem: lack of motivation. My contention is that people who really enjoy the English language are much more motivated to improve.
An anagram is a rearrangement of the letters in a word or phrase to form a different word or phrase. Corey, my dog’s name, is an anagram of Royce. Dirty room is an anagram of dormitory. Postmaster is an anagram of stamp store. And did you realize that stifle is an anagram of itself!
Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same but have subtle differences in pronunciation when used in different contexts or as different parts of speech. For example, it takes only a minute to explain the minute pronunciation differences in heteronyms. You will naturally pronounce the first instance min-it and the second instance my-noot. Imagine someone learning English as a second language trying to parse all these subtle inflections.
English is a wonderfully diverse language. If you ask fifty different people to describe an object, an event, or an idea, you will get fifty different perspectives, each articulated with distinct words and style. There are no absolutes—no best writer, best speaker, best style—and no best words. However, there are patterns and principles of English usage that are generally persuasive and misusage patterns that are generally ineffective.