Archive for the ‘Words and communications’ Category

My last post was about a word “intexticated” that not only was a clever take on intoxication but also was understandable in the message it tried to get across to the reader. Not all “created” words, clever though they may seem, clearly communicate their message. Here are excerpts from an article that appeared in Biz Bash, (Alesandra Dubin, Reader’s Forum, 2013 p52) a magazine that writes about the meeting and event industry, where you might chuckle at the speaker’s phrasing but wind up scratching your head as to what he meant.

In the article In Conversation Rohit Talwary the C.E.O. of United Kingdom based Fast Future Research, (where he applies his skills as a futurist to understand and project what’s ahead for the meeting and event industry) was interviewed about upcoming trends. Here are some of his head scratching gems:

“The consumerization of technology is turning us all into technology sophisticates and datasexuals.”  Datasexuals? When did data have the ability to be sexual? Don’t think I want to transgender myself into that!

“We have to stop thinking of our events as one-offs and start to see them as platforms for year-round engagement – the focal point of an ongoing experience.” Hmmm, meetings and events, in most people’s opinion, already take up too much of our time, so now they should be an “ongoing experience?” Yikes, count me out.

“Good business events…also connect industry investors with local innovators and help in attracting inward investment.” Is this like meditation? Or stock trading? He does go on to explain but it takes two long convoluted sentences to clarify this one point.

“Inevitably, those who fail to innovate and create new business models will go to the wall.” He never elaborates on what this “wall” means or what will happen when one goes to it.

“The best [event planners] have an excellent ecosystem of support mechanisms in place to help them stay abreast of developments…” A system, yes, but an “eco”system connotes something entirely different. Usually something green and alive!

As you can see, people who write or talk like this can be very entertaining without even trying. But if you are in a business communication situation, avoiding cleverness is usually the better path to take. To give him credit, he did elaborate on most of his unique statements. However, it is always better when writing a piece with the intent of imparting information to your reader to be concise and to the point, thus not wasting your reader’s time by making them wade through a mountain of confusing words to figure out what you meant.

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Being that I am studying law, I follow a number of lawyer blogs. This week I surfed on over to the Associate’s Mind, where the lawyer Keith Lee has a blog, and started catching up on his postings. I was amazed to come across his post from April 9, 2018 that mirrors what I wrote in my post last week on “The ‘i’ Effect”. His is so well written that I have taken the liberty of reposting it here almost in its entirety.

“I’m sitting in another airport. They blur together after a while. Glass and steel and advertisements. Windswept arcologies of a future that never was. Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta. I’m currently somewhere over East Coast on my way to Boston. Sitting outside a gate, a glance around shows everyone next to each other, but face down, stroking a small rectangle of glass. [isn’t this a great description of what we do with our tablets and smartphones?]

It’s easy to notice how isolated people are in airports. The rushed weary business traveler is a cliché. Mind slung across the Internet seeking stimulation, body on the way to somewhere else. Their present location an inconvenience.

But even when not isolated by travel, we’re alone. Gen X, Millennials, the whatevers – it should all be balled up and called the lonely generation. It’s a constant refrain. Technology, the great disruptor and connector, is actually making us long for something more.

Sitting in a coffeehouse alone, yet surrounded by strangers. At the office, nose down in work. In the car listening to podcasts. On the train, thumbing through social media. It provides some thin thread of connection but often ultimately dissatisfying.

. . .what social media companies want, what they crave, is not for you to connect. What they want is your attention so they can profit from it. To create engagement. To further interaction with the system. Ad dollars pushing this product or the next in front of your eyes.

Their desire for our attention is insidious. When people respond with ad blockers and anti-tracking plugins, companies respond with Sponsored content, native content, and product placement. Something mildly enticing, striving to capture our attention for a moment.”

[Keith Lee, Are You Lonely?, (April 9, 2018), https://associatesmind.com/2018/04/09/are-you-lonely/  ]

Though we are “connected” 24/7 with our electronic devices, loneliness seems to be a topic everyone is discussing. Click on my Quote of the Week that came from an article in Vogue (June issue which is produced months prior) where Lena Dunham, actress and comedian, wrote after breaking up with her boyfriend, about experiencing and coping with “alone time”. One can only wonder how much loneliness is at the root of our increase in violence, suicides, and bullying events. So put down your iPhone and hug a human today.

What does the “i” stand for in iPod, iPhone, iPad? Does anyone know? We’ve become the “i” generation, plugged in 24/7. Go to a museum and you see people walking through the galleries checking their iPhones instead of looking at the exhibits. Go into a Barns & Noble and watch the people who, while selecting CDs in the music section, are plugged into their iPods. I don’t know how many times I’ve almost run over a pedestrian who is staring at some tiny screen instead of being conscious of the traffic around him. Don’t even ask me about my opinion of the jerks who have to use these devises while driving. And it’s not just the “kids” who are immersed (here is another “i” word) in that other universe, it’s every generation! I recently took classes at college and, to my chagrin, had to deal with an 80 minute lecture that was broken up repeatedly by the professor checking her iPhone. For what reason? To get the latest score on her hockey playing son! In another class, there were numerous students who had their phones on silent mode but would then get up and leave the class to take the call. This other professor did not discourage their behavior feeling that they had family matters to check on. However, these people walking back and forth in front of me while he was giving his lecture made me want to scream.

Insensitive, isolationist, inconsiderate, interactive but in an alternate universe, does anyone ever connect with the real world anymore. Most people are more concerned with their “likes” on Facebook, the number of people viewing their Instagram pics, and responding in delayed time to Twitter words. It’s been proven that one can have relationships with humans where the only connection is in cyberspace but has anyone ever received a feel good emotion from hugging their iPad?

So why this rant today? I am trying to work through a very tough question in my life due to the deaths, last week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain: Why do people contemplate and become suicidal? I have a very good friend, who when she gets winter SAD, cuts herself off from all human contact and thinks about doing it. OK, this has nothing to do with iPhones but like I wrote a few sentences ago, it’s isolationist. We human beings are meant to connect flesh on flesh, voice to ear, touch to touch, and see each other in real time. As humans, we are genetically programmed to react to our environment, either in fear or in delight. (And studies have shown that babies who do not experience human touch don’t thrive.) Electronic devices (even the smartphone’s latest attempt at virtual reality) can’t replicate that, they put up a wall between us.

Yes, I know that people commit suicide for many different reasons but I just can’t help wondering how much all of our “i” devices are contributing to the uptick in such deaths. When social media debuted no one would have thought that it could be the reason people would commit suicide. Today we know differently.

We’ll probably never know why Spade and Bourdain took their lives. They definitely were not isolated individuals. They both had family, friends and a support system. But what about the thousands who are just like everyone else in the plugged in generations who one day discover that the world of pixels is not enough. That the light on the screen can’t show them the way out of THEIR darkness and thus they decide that the only answer is to hit the off button on their life.

(if you think someone you know is going this route don’t stay silent. Talk to them, ask them if they are contemplating suicide. And give them this number: National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255, where they can talk to people who are trained to help)

 

 

Would the United States be a better country if everyone spoke only one language, English? Would we coexist more comfortably if everyone erased their cultural differences and became “American?” These questions, in one way or another, are being answered through various behaviors and legal rulings that lack any positive merit. We have come to the point where we no longer want to be a “melting pot” of  immigrants, we have people demanding that only English should be taught in the schools, and we verbally assault people from other cultures because their differences make us feel fear.

Yes, we need a common language to communicate with each other and in the United States that is English. However, taking a page from the playbook of the Catholic Church, Masses and books are in the country’s language while Latin remains the Universal Church language. Instead of creating divisions, retaining the mother tongue of each country creates solidarity in each unique culture and helps people understand the Lord’s teachings better.

Last week Christianity celebrated Pentecost. According to the New Testament, this was the event where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (after Jesus’ resurrection) and not only strengthened them for their ensuing mission to spread the Good Word but also gave them the gift of tongues.

Addressing the issue of diversity, and using Pentecost and the early Christians as examples, here are some quotes from Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin that he made to the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey (a very culturally diverse archdiocese!) after he became the Archbishop on November 7, 2016:

“On the day of Pentecost, people from many lands heard the Good News proclaimed by the               apostles, each in his or her own language…There is no evidence that the response of faith erased             the  richness of culture. The Parthians, Medes, Elemites and all those other tongue twisting                       nationalities did not ‘melt’ into some celestial ‘pot.’ The first Christians retained their cultures, while         discovering a principle of unity. This principle is nothing less than the Holy Spirit.”

“I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood of southwest Detroit. I was a little jealous of                        classmates who went home and spoke a different language, ate different food, thought differently.          My service of the Church obliged me to live many years in cultures different from my Irish-                        American  family. So I am excited to lead an archdiocese where the Eucharist is celebrated in 20                languages.” (New Jersey Catholic Jan/Feb 2017 p5)

What we need now, in the 21st century, is not a gift of tongues but an ability to accept all the different “tongues” that are spoken by our diverse citizenship. Being different in language and culture, is after all, what the United States was and still is all about. Writing this on Memorial Day, a day when we remember that people of different colors, cultures, and languages fought and died to keep our great nation free, I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will once again descend and inspire us to accept with an open heart EVERYONE who lives in this great country. Even if they don’t speak English!

Most people would not hesitate to classify legal writing as dull. Encountered probably only through a contract, a lease, a will, or some lawyer spouting jargon on a tv show, legal writing is hardly part of your everyday reading. I, on the other hand, am taking legal courses and reading write-ups of court cases is part of my daily life. I find every case can be an exciting story, however, some are so poorly written (by judges non-the-less) that it becomes a torturous exercise in just trying to uncover the most basic facts of the case. And it’s not so much that they use special vocabulary, “legalese”, to tell the story (I can always go to a law dictionary to resolve that), but the dry, uninteresting sentence structure definitely would not make the Times best seller list!

Then a gem of writing pops up unexpectedly amongst all the dullness. Not only did this judge write clearly, but he also wrote about the case with a sense of humor! A sense of humor, you say? Yes, with puns included. You see, the case was about the sale of a house and whether the buyer should be allowed to back out of the transaction (and get his down payment refunded) because he was not told that the house was “haunted”. The jist of the case is that the seller promoted her house (in Nyack, NY) for a house tour as a “haunted house”. She also had a write up in Reader’s Digest, and local press. However, both she and the real estate agent never mentioned to the buyer, who was from NYC that, allegedly poltergeists had been seen in the house. When the buyer found out, he was horrified and did not want the house.

Was the house really haunted? Well, nothing legal can prove that, but here are some of the phrases and puns that Justice Rubin used, when writing his opinion on the case ruling, that had me rolling with laughter:

“…no divination is required to conclude that it is defendant’s [seller’s] efforts in publicizing her close encounters with these spirits which fostered the home’s reputation in the community.”

“…in his pursuit of a legal remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation against the seller, plaintiff [buyer] hasn’t a ghost of a chance, I am nevertheless moved by the spirit of equity to allow the buyer to seek rescission [canceling] of the contract of sale and recovery of his down payment.”

He now even quotes William Shakespeare “ ‘Pity me not but lend they serious hearing to what I shall unfold’ (Hamlet, Act I, Scene V [Ghost]”

“…a very practical problem arises with respect to the discovery of a paranormal phenomenon: ‘Who you gonna call?’ as a title song to the movie Ghostbusters asks. Applying the strict rule of caveat emptor [buyer beware] to a contract involving a house possessed by poltergeists conjures up visions of a psychic or medium routinely accompanying the structural engineer and Terminix man on an inspection of every home subject to a contract of sale. It portends that the prudent attorney will establish an escrow account lest the subject of the transaction come back to haunt him and his client – or pray that his malpractice insurance coverage extends to supernatural disasters.”

“…it cannot be said that she [seller] has delivered the premises ‘vacant’ in accordance with her obligation under the provisions of the contract rider.”

The judge ruled in favor of the buyer.

You can find out more about this case, which by the way has become known as the “Ghostbusters” case, by doing a Google search on “Stambovsky v. Ackley”

 

 

Did you hear the one about the pregnant woman who went into labor and started shouting, “Couldn’t! Wouldn’t! Shouldn’t! Didn’t! Can’t!”? She was having contractions!

When I was a kid, my teacher looked my way and said, “Name two pronouns.” I said, “Who, me?”

What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?
One has claws at the end of its paws, and the other is pause at the end of a clause.

Never leave alphabet soup on the stove and then go out. It could spell disaster.

Taken from Reader’s Digest “Laughter is the Best Medicine” 9/2017

One of our shining attributes, as human beings, is our ability to give words to our joys and our sorrows. Think of all the great literature that revolves around a loved one’s death. There are too numerous to count, poems written from the human soul crying out its horrendous loss to the world. But have you ever had to meet death head on in the sudden loss of a loved one? As I sit here and write this it is only days after 17 more innocent individuals’ lives where snuffed out in an instant.

Sudden loss, whether in a tragedy such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, or in the massive heart attack that took the husband you thought was stronger than nails, shocks one to the core. You stand there, the proverbial wind knocked out of your sails. Time stands still, things fall from your hands, and all you want to do is give out a primal scream. You want to scream so loud and so long until the world around you shatters just as you did. Instead, you swallow that scream whole, put one foot in front of the other, and walk through the next hours and days like a zombie. Life, as you know it, is on hold. Mute, you go through the motion of your tasks, words no longer have meaning.

On Valentine’s Day we are conditioned to speak to our loved ones words of affection, words of joy. Thousands of words, written on thousands of cards tell the world our positive feelings. But now, after this horrible tragedy that occurred on that day of joyous words, we are tossed into the desert of silence. Ironically, this year that day was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. A season in the Christian religion that leads up to death, suffering, and yet hope through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the “Word made flesh” and as he died on the cross, he let out a wordless cry just before his life ended. It was a scream to his Father as he went into the abyss of death’s darkness.

When sadness and grief overcome us and words fail us, let us turn to the pure emotion of remembering our loved ones. As time passes and words return to our lips, let us keep their memory alive by recounting who they were, what they stood for, the good they brought to our lives. And never forget the power of prayer, for even wordless grief can be a prayer sent up to God, however you conceive him/her to be.