Speak to express, not impress

Play a while

Next time a friend complains, take your cue from New Zealand slang and call the person a ‘moaning Minnie’. This slang comes from the noise made by a projectile in flight, somewhat like a Diwali rocket!

Learn a little

One query that learners always have is about the variety of pronunciation they should learn. It is true that once upon a time, if people complimented a person for ‘speaking like an Angrez’, it was flattering. In today’s e-world, it is difficult to hold on to the value of the term ‘native speaker’. For instance, if you live in India and chat with your friend in the US everyday, who is the native speaker? There are scores of such instances and similarly, the globe is full of many varieties of ‘Englishes’ so, how do we communicate successfully? The answer: use a simple, standard form of English that can be easily comprehended. In other words: communicate to express, not impress!

Intriguing words

The prefix ‘re-’ is here to stay; and why not, when evolution forces man to recreate knowledge at every stage? ‘Reboot’ refers to restarting a computer by reloading its operating system. The ‘boot’ in reboot comes from the 18th century expression, ‘pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps’ that meant ‘improve one’s position through one’s efforts’. ‘Boot up’ or ‘initiating a fixed set of instructions’ is the shortened form of that expression and ‘reboot’ is a further connotation. ‘Re-engineering’ is another prefixed word that means ‘designing again from scratch’. ‘Reskill’ is the latest addition to this bandwagon and it means ‘retrain people in the skills required by changed forms of work’.

Precise usage

‘Verbal’ is one word that has sprouted meaning in wide areas. Originating in the Latin ‘verbum’ or word, up to the 15th century, it referred to ‘a person who deals with words rather than things’ but it went on to mean anything spoken rather than written. Today, it is used freely to refer to a person’s proficiency in using words as in ‘verbal reasoning’. In terms of precision, the word ‘oral’ is more precise when used as opposed to written but ‘verbal’ remains firmly entrenched.