Which is your hot button?


Play a while

President Obama is known for using proverbs and creating pseudo-proverbs too. It is quite intriguing that Indians are wary of using clich`E9s or well-worn expressions but Americans like the US President freely pepper their speech with them. Obama, in particular, is fond of the expression ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’. Wolfgang Meider in his book, Yes We Can: Barack Obama’s Proverbial Rhetoric (Peter Lang, USA, 2009) traces the use of this expression in at least seven of Obama’s speeches on different occasions! The title of the book (Yes we can) has also been taken from Obama’s speeches and is a favoured structure in at least 12 speeches.

Learn a little

Little kids look and sound very cute when they ‘baby talk’ and grown ups love to use baby talk while communicating with them. But, adults and parents must remember that it is fine to kootchi-coo babies sometimes; one should not make it a habit. The reason for this is that children pick up language through imitation and reinforcement and too much of non-standard language can lead to their acquiring structures that may be difficult to discard later. So, do restrict the "cho chweet yabba daba goo" to those few special occasions.

Intriguing words

A ‘hot button’ is a major concern or central issue that acts as motivation towards a selection. It is formed from the words ‘hot’ meaning ‘fashionable, popular’ and ‘button’ from the expression ‘panic button’. Used extensively in advertising earlier as in ‘education is the hot button of the middle class,’ it originated in the US in the early 1970s and became very popular after several politicians used it in their campaigns.

Precise usage

As a pronoun, the word ‘none’ means ‘not one’ as in ‘none of the cases reported so far relate to this region’ or ‘not any’ as in ‘none of the information proved helpful’. It can be used as both singular and plural; the former in sentences such as ‘none of the candidates is suitable’ and the latter in sentences such as ‘none of the old group were present at the reunion’.