Minggu, 12 Oktober 2008

Whether you are in a boardroom, at a job interview or a school meeting, the words you use—and misuse—create a powerful and lasting impression. Here are some common usage blunders that could rob you of the Verbal Edge.

WRONG: “He banged his fist on the podium to stress his point.” RIGHT:” He banged his fist on the lectern to stress his point”.

Teachers, preachers, politicians and pontificators speak from a stand called a lectern. More often than not, this fictional piece of furniture is mistakenly called a podium.

The derivation of the words should help you distinguish between them. Lectern is derived from the Latin word legere (past participle lectus), which means “to read”. Podium, on the other hand, comes from the Greek root pod-, for “foot.” It is the platform on which a speaker or musical conductor stands.

THE EDGE: A lecturer leans on a lectern but puts his foot on the podium.

WRONG: “I feel nauseous. RIGHT:”I feel nauseated.”

When you say that you feel nauseous, don’t be surprised if people shy away from you. Nauseous refers to something that is loathsome or sickening. Nauseated has means being sickened or disgusted.

THE EDGE: A person can quickly become nauseated by something that is nauseous.

WRONG: “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

RIGHT: “You look as though you’ve seen a ghost

Like is often incorrectly used as a conjunction to connect two phrases or clauses within a sentence. Many armchair grammarians blame the 1950s and slogan “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” for popularizing this misusage. Whatever the origin, it is colloquial and should be avoided, especially in writing.

Besides seeing like used as a verb to state a preference (“He likes liver”), you are most likely (here, it’s an adverb) to see the word used as a preposition that sets up a comparison between two nouns (“Jim looks like his father”). When the two nouns are followed by a verb phrase, however, (“Jim looks like his father did 30 years ago”), it is better to use “as if,” “as though or “the way (“He looks the way his father did 30 years ago”).

THE EDGE: She may eat like a bird, but she acts as though (not like) she starving.

WRONG:” His rambling testimony was torturous.”

RIGHT: “His rambling testimony was torturous.”

Although having to sit through drawn-out courtroom interrogations might be considered torture of sorts, it probably is more aptly described as torturous. People often use the adjective torturous to describe experiences or things that are torturous: “full of twists and turns, ““crooked” or “not straightforward”. This could apply to a road, the plot of a book or an interminable lecture.

Torturous describes sensations or situations that are painful or that have to do with or cause torture.

Remember that the base word of torturous is torture. There is also a subtle difference in pronunciation: the word that connotes pain is pronounced “torch-ER-ous,”while the word describing twists and turns is pronounced “tor-CHOO-ous.”

THE EDGE: Torturous has one r. the extra r in torturous is for that extra painful experience.

WRONG: “Everybody does their job”.

RIGHT: “Everybody does his job”.

The spokesman for a major U.S. airline was just doing his job when he made this claim on TV. So was a high-profile defense attorney when he said, “Everyone has their own style.”

What is the problem? That is agreement. Everybody is singular. So are its pronoun peers anybody, each, every, everyone, either, neither, nobody, somebody and someone. (Break the word into its component parts “every” and “body,” and its single status is apparent.) The rules of agreement demand that any further reference to this particular individual also should be singular.

THE EDGE: Rely on this old saw to remember the rule of agreement: “Everybody and his brother attended the party.”

ON THE EDGE: “Math has never been my forte.” (Pronounced” foray.”)

“Nothing makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up more than the mispronunciation of forte,” writes Sheila C.Oakes. in fact, many readers have listed this as a pet grammar peeve. The noun forte—meaning a strong point—comes from the French word fort (“strong”) and, like that term, has just one syllable. Forte is pronounced with two syllable and Italian accent only in a musical context—as an adverb meaning to play loudly. Unfortunately, some dictionaries now allow the letter pronunciation to apply to both definitions, but this seems an unnecessary relaxing of standards. Don’t surrender!

THE EDGE: Remember the Alamo! Keep forte short and to the (Strong) point..

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