Friday, August 29, 2008

Please....Enunciate and Articulate

Enunciate when you use "enunciation" and "articulation" correctly. Here's how to do it:

Enunciation is that articulation of sounds with the organs of speech and may be clear or careless. Articulation is a distinct utterance. A mumbled or clouded annunciation indicates lack of poise, not a high level of "game."

Many persons fail to speak distinctly because they have acquired the habit of careless enunciation, not articulation.

Command your sloppily spoken children to enunciate, not articulate their words. If they have trouble with articulation, please take them to a speech pathologist.

Use the words correctly, and remember that proper enunciation of words is as important as proper use of them.

With the exception of a gentle application to President George W. Bush, here's an old quote that still rings true today:

If you are not sure of the value of clear enunciation and distinct speech make this experiment. Watch the most successful man you know and see how seldom he utters any of those embarrassed half sounds that characterize the speech of many persons." -- The Sun, New York, August 17, 1921.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you Prominent, Eminent or Either or Neither?

Let's remember that eminent differs from prominent in meaning in an important way that is often ignored, or unknown these days. The first word characterizes one who ranks high in his profession or office; the second, one who stands out from others. Prominent men are not all eminent, but eminent men may be prominent.

Now, either, means "one of two," "one or the other," and "the one and the other." The word, as defined, is an adjective or pronoun, as in "Either one of them might go to the convention." When it is employed as a disjunctive conjunction either is always used as a correlative to and proceeding or (the other), that is "either the one or the other."

Neither, on the other hand, means "not either" or "also not" as in, "It benefited neither you nor me to go to the convention," certainly not "It benefited neither you nor I to go to the convention."

Let's keep it grammatically clean. Misuse of either of these groups of words costs one dollar per misuse and can be mailed directly to me. Email me at for my address.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Prominant Edifice

I sincerely hope you understand that the word edifice designates a large, important public building and is often associated with houses of worship, therefore should not be used indiscriminately for any ole' building.

It is not to be used as a fancy word for any building, and certainly is not to be used to describe the front of a building. An evening news reporter recently misused it to say " the edifice of the building was damaged by graffiti and vandalism," and it took me extra time to fall asleep that night. I spent a good two hours tossing and turning, creating an ugly letter to the station manager of the so-called "news station" in my mind before realizing that it wouldn't do any good anyway.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should figure out a way to start fining people.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Explicit and Implicit

Explicit and implicit are not synonymous, but are sometimes used as if they were.

Explicit expresses all that is meant, leaving nothing to implication or suggestion.

Implicit signifies that which is not plainly expressed but implied and can be inferred from something else.

It is not terribly common to misuse explicit because we have media-related catch phrases to help us infer meaning, such as "explicit lyrics warning label," the creation of which likely gives Tipper Gore a reason to wake up on the morning (well done, Mrs. Gore -- this may make up for the giant carbon footprint that is your husband).

Implicit, a slightly loftier term, as it implies the nature or essence of something, is often misused as "explicit" and I would like to suggest that people stop this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Each Other, One Another

Please memorize this immediately and begin putting it to daily use:

The distinction between each other and one another lies in the fact that "each other" should always be applied to two only, whereas "one another" should be used where more than two are concerned. For example, "The two friends congratulated each other," that is each one congratulated the other.

And, spoken to a large group, "This commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another," that is, all should love one another.

Teach this to your young children so they will pass correct language on to their progeny and all will not be lost.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Each and Every Duty and Obligation

Duty and obligation --there is a difference in the meaning of these words. Duty is that which one performs as a moral obligation; and obligation is that which one is bound, as by bond, or is compelled to do.

One has a duty to perform as a citizen; another is under obligation to pay a debt. Moved by a sense of duty a man, traduced by those nearest him, may work for them, but in view of their actions, is not under obligation to do so.

Each is an adjective defined as "being one of two or more distinct individuals or things having a similar relations and forming an aggregate; every." It is used when the same thing to be said of individuals or things considered distributively or one by one. To emphasize individuality it is often followed by one; as "each sailor received a reward, for each one had earned it."

As a pronoun each denotes every one of any number or aggregation considered individually, or as having characteristics common with others yet holding a position peculiarly its own; as, "each of the officers of an army."

Each is distributive when only two individuals are considered and is synonymous with both as every is synonymous with all.

Not to get all biblical on you, but these two different biblical translations offer an excellent example of the subtleties of each and every:

The Authorized version of Revelation chapter iv, verse 8 reads, "and the four beasts had each of them six wings" but in the Revised version the rendering is "having each one of them six wings."

The first is correct, and the second is incorrect. Each means "every one of a number separately considered." Every must be followed by one or its equivalent; as, "every one knows that"; "every man knows it," but each does not require after it. One may say of persons "each is found to excel in some particular walk in life"; "each made it his duty to retire in course" ; "each has his own place marked for him"; "each did much to purify the spiritual self-respect of mankind."

I hope this helps each and every one of you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lowest Common Denominator of Language

Honoring, for a moment, the fact that most of America has reduced their daily use of language to the lowest common denominator of English that could be understood by the stars and viewers of today's television shows, such as America's Got Talent, Nanny 911, Reno 911, and Grey's Anatomy ( seriously!), I am going to talk about a common slip of speech that occurs when messing with the words don't and doesn't.

The first is a contraction of "do not" and the second is a contraction of "does not." Both are so frequently misused that people, even teachers, are letting this regular misuse slip by.

"I don't know why she don't cut her hair." Said without the contractions: I do not know why she do not cut her hair. Does this sound correct? No.

"I don't know why she doesn't cut her hair." "I do not know why she does not cut her hair."

It suddenly makes perfect sense.

If you get confused, stop using contractions and say out the whole word.
I promise, there will be enough time in the day to do that.