Some thoughts and ideas on the myriad moving parts of effective cross-cultural communication.
LAZY LANGUAGE: CORPORATE JARGON
75 years ago, George Orwell published an essay“Politics and the English Language”, Horizon: A Review of Literature and Art, 1946 about the damaging effect of lazy writing. That essay is probably even more relevant today, as writers reach for one stock phrase after another, like a pre-packaged, instant-delivery, fast food fix. Convenience outweighs time and effort. As Orwell said: “You can shirk [creative thought] by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in.”. …read more
Would an argument that is not without merit be winning and persuasive? Not quite. What about a practice that’s not unheard of? It’s probably unusual. But precisely how unusual is more difficult to pin down.
Let me introduce you to the litotes, the ‘acceptable’ double negative that divides opinion in legal writing. …read more
HOW MANY OF THESE ‘ENDANGERED’ SAYINGS DO YOU KNOW?
An article published last week about British sayings that are dying out (link to article below*) lists 50 phrases that are supposedly at risk of being lost from the English language. What hit home for me was that 68% of Brits said they had never heard or used the phrase “know your onions”, when I’d just written a piece with exactly that title… …read more
A Dutch businessman I know is fond of opening Anglo-Dutch meetings with the maxim: “While the English are too polite to be honest, the Dutch are too honest to be polite.”. Meant as an icebreaker, it invariably raises a polite chuckle. A cheerful smile and a wink tend to take the sting out of the words – but his caution is well worth heeding. …read more