Posted by: brandextenders | July 1, 2010

A Way With Words

When my two boys were younger, I loved reading to them once they were tucked in and ready for bed. Dr. Seuss books were my favorites, but I also looked forward to reading others like Goodnight Moon, The Panda Palace and Curious George. As we sat together at night and read, they learned how odd the English language truly is and how difficult it can be to learn. These examples of sentences might make someone just learning the language decide to take up Mandarin instead: 

  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. (No, you’re not seeing double!)
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

As for the rules that go along with our language, they are very confusing, to say the least. I found this example on a guide to grammar and writing web page:Unlike adverbs, which often seem capable of popping up almost anywhere in a sentence, adjectives nearly always appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase that they modify. Sometimes they appear in a string of adjectives, and when they do, they appear in a set order according to category. When indefinite pronouns—such as something, someone, anybody—are modified by an adjective, the adjective comes after the pronoun. 

Whew! Makes me wish I was back in school again sitting through those captivating English grammar classes with a teacher whose nasal whine made watching grass grow almost exciting. 

SPELLING WORDS THE WAY THEY SOUND: One question from my children for which I never seemed to have a suitable answer is, why aren’t words spelled the way they sound? When u think about it, it only makes sense that spelling wurds the way they sound wood make life so much eseeear. 

Take, 4 instance, the wurd “laugh.” Why is there a silent “u” in there? And the “gh?” If it truly were spelled as it sounds, it wood bee “laf.” How much eseeear wood that bee 4 someone just lerning the language—rather than having to remember that “gh” reallee sounds like “ff?” 

In fact, most “gh” words wood bee spelled differently if this were the kase. Like gost, getto and gool. And “ph” wood also haf 2 go, 2 bee replaced by an “f.” Like foto, frase and fizzics. 

Letz think about our industree 4 a moment and some of the ways it mite change. 4 xample, we would spell kalinder like it sownds, but riting instruments really wouldn’t change much at all. Of cores, the name of ower industree would become promoshawnal produks and suckcesfull praktishoners wood bee promoshawnal kunsultantz. 

I gess it wood take a while to bee able to qwiklee reed fonetikalee cents so many of the wurds r spelled differently than wee normalee see them. In the long run tho, both reedeen and riting wood bee so much simpler. I guess though if you look at any languige, you’ll find there must bee rules for using it correctly. If not, it would eventually break down into a gibberish, which would be indiscernible by anyone, even the illiterate. 

TIPS FOR USING ENGLISH: I offer a few fun tips for using the English language, taken from a website,, by Barry Erdman, LCSW, DCSW—haven’t a clue what all the acronyms represent, but they’re certainly impressive, aren’t they? 

  • One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  • Who needs rhetorical questions?
  • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  • Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  • Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!!
  • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  • Be more or less specific.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  • Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; they’re old hat.

USING LANGUAGE PROPERLY: Seriously though, in these days of e-mail and quick responses, it’s important to make sure how you present yourself in person, in e-mails or talking on the telephone so as not to leave a bad first impression. In that first encounter, you have three to 10 seconds to make an impression about who you are and why someone should want to deal with you. The proper use of the English language is imperative if you want others to look upon you as a professional with whom they would like to do business. English is difficult to learn because it’s a conglomeration of many languages. As one expert puts it, “Language is like a braided river—starting some place, wandering, branching, meandering and sometimes recombining.” English is a combination of languages spoken by people of the Angle, Saxon and Jute tribes that began migrating in the 1500s to England from Western Germany and Denmark to trade and conquer. 

ETIQUETTE TIPS: For some tips on how to be regarded as a business professional, check out these websites: 

ADDING TO OUR LANGUAGE: And our language isn’t static either—it continues to grow and adds an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 words each year. Some of the new words and phrases already added in 2010  in the most updated Oxford English Dictionary include threequel (the next up from sequel), staycation (why leave home?), facedump (bye, bye to friends on facebook), mini-me (thanks to Austin Powers) and Tweetup (planning a get together through Twitter). 

LANGUAGE RULES: Language is like the government in that the more laws you have, the bigger it grows—and to keep growing, it needs more laws. With language, the more words you have, the more rules you need—and more rules equate to more difficulty in learning how to use those words. This is a Catch-22, indeed, which is, according the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition “A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical rules or conditions.” 

Trust me, rules for the English language will be thrown out about the same time our government begins to shrink. And just in kase u r wundereen, that wil bee… never! 

With 24 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at:

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