Your Wordplay Weapons

For writers (and flacks and hacks), there are many weapons at your disposal to ensure the written word is lively and engaging. Here are but a few.

  • Malapropism – a comic misuse of language
  • Neologism – a made-up word
  • Anagram – a word formed by transposing letters
  • Acronym – a word formed by combining first letters or syllables of other words
  • Antonym – a word that means the opposite of another word
  • Paraphrase – to state something differently
  • Double Entendre – a word or phrase with an extra, often racy meaning
  • Metaphor – a figure of speech suggesting a likeness, but offering a description that is not literally applicable
  • Homophones – words with the same pronunciation
  • Cipher – secret writing, such as diplomatic writing
  • Palindrome – a text that reads the same in reverse
  • Spoonerism – transposing first letters of two or more words (i.e. right lane / light rain)
  • Pangram – a phrase using all 26 letters of the alphabet
  • Portmanteau – a word blend of two other words (i.e. breakfast and lunch becomes brunch)
  • Retronym – a modified name for an old item
  • Sesquipedalian – having many syllables
  • Paronomasia – a pun or play of words

(ed. – We dug this helpful piece out of the By George archives. Through the next few weeks By George will post lists of these “wordplay weapons.”)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The art of listening

Listening is not the same as hearing. It is comprehending what is being said to you, and what is being communicated, and internalizing what is said so that you might provide thoughtful comment.

There is an art to listening and many people do not do it well as they are too busy trying to figure out what to say next, rather than fully understanding the other person’s comments.

Here are 6 great pointers on how to become a better listener.

  • Take the time to converse… permit yourself to “be lost” in a conversation
  • Look into the eyes, give your undivided attention (put away that cell phone)
  • Think to yourself: I will listen to understand, not to respond
  • Watch for any non-verbal communications signs
  • Ask questions to clarify anything not understood; and ask open end questions to obtain more details of what is being discussed
  • Be patient; do not interrupt but allow the speaker finish her thoughts

The best conversationalists are great listeners (is this not true?!). So, let the other(s) speak and learn from them how you can thoughtfully contribute to the exchange. In making an impact with your communications, it is quality not quantity that will create a lasting impression.

Think about the pointers provided in this post to become a better listener. If you wish to improve your listening skills over the next month, take Psychology Today’s “Listening Skills Test” and mark down your score. Print off the pointers and consciously think about them in your work and social exchanges. Then retest yourself in a month’s time and measure your improvement.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Rules for Writing Plain English

From How You Can Write Plain Language by Just Following These 39 Steps
By William D. Lutz, author of Doublespeak Defined and The New Doublespeak

 

The Writing Process

1. Know your reader, and write with your reader’s viewpoint in mind.

2. Organize your text: in a logical sequence, with informative headings, and with a table of contents for long documents

3. Use short sentences

4. Say only what you have to say, avoiding too many messages in a single sentence, and omitting surplus words.

5. Keep equivalent items parallel.

6. Avoid unnecessary formality.

7. Give an overview of the main idea of the text.

8. List conditions separately.

9. Arrange your words with care.

10. Punctuate carefully.

11. Use an average of 25 words per sentence.

12. Put most of your messages at the subject-predicate position.

13. For variety or emphasis, invert your sentences.

14. Use the art of subordination to smooth out choppiness.

15. Avoid disrupting your sentences with thought-stopping gaps.

16. Tabulate particularly complex information.

17. Get rid of compound prepositions.

18. Rewrite the adjective, adverb, and noun clauses to other structures satisfying the same functions.

19. Use phrases to smooth out the choppy noun-noun modifier.

20. Be fair and nonsexist, but don’t be stupid.

 

Usage

21. Prefer the active voice.

22. Use simple, “everyday” words.

23. Use words consistently.

24. Use familiar, concrete words.

25. Avoid multiple negatives.

26. Avoid nouns created from verbs.

27. Use action verbs; avoid the verb “to be.”

28. Use personal pronouns.

29. Avoid noun strings.

30. Avoid deleting words such as “which is,” “who was,” “that are,” etc. – that link a subordinate clause.

31. Avoid language quirks.

 

Presentation of Material

32. Make the document attractive and designed for easy reading.

33. Use white space in margins and between sections.

34. Use ragged right margins.

35. Do not use all caps.

36. Use highlighting techniques, but don’t overuse them.

37. Use 8 to 10 point type for text.

38. Avoid lines of type that are too long or too short.

39. Avoid strings of symbols.

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Text Message Abbreviations

There are few who will argue against the fact that modern language has degenerated with the advance of on-line communications – particularly our use of strings of abbreviations when we send text messages. For your reference to this new world of abbreviations, we have compiled some of the most commonly used:

AFK – away from the keyboard
ASL? – Age? Sex? Location?
B4 – before
BAK – back at the keyboard
BBL – be back later
BCNU – be seeing you
BRB – be right back
BTW – by the way
FAQs – frequently asked questions
IMHO – in my humble opinion
L8R – later
LOL – laughs out loud
MOF? – male or female?
NM – never mind
N/M – not much
NP – no problem
OMG – oh may god!
ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
TTFN – ta ta for now
UR – your or you’re
W/ – with

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Peter Munk’s 34 Golden Rules

In author Donald Rumball’s 1996 biography of Canadian business legend Peter Munk, “The Making of a Modern Tycoon,” Rumball enlists Peter Munk’s 34 Golden Rules about business success and a rewarding approach to life.

As we launch into implementing our Fall business plans, By George Journal offers these rules of Munk’s to not only guide you, but inspire you onward to a prosperous season.

  1. Never raise money when you need it. Raise it when financial markets are buoyant; invest it when markets are depressed.
  2. Always give away some of the upside to protect the downside.
  3. Work with people whom you respect and who have characteristics you don’t have.
  4. Time is short. If you want to achieve much, you’ve got to run.
  5. Don’t give away your destiny. Don’t put control into the hands of a body that doesn’t have interests aligned with yours. Governments are a good example.
  6. Play with the hand you’re dealt. It’s very frustrating to apply your mind to a different hand.
  7. You don’t need to know the industry you’re going into. If you apply yourself, you can always find the experts.
  8. Take your company public when its value is rising in order to raise more money on the stock market for diversification.
  9. Always leave something on the table in a public issue. If you push for the last penny, it may hurt you the next time around.
  10. If an acquisition is strategically right don’t worry about the price.
  11. Look for partners who will argue with you, because it disciplines your thinking and enables you to pick up negatives that you yourself may overlook.
  12. Life is about meeting objectives. Sometimes your objectives cross other people’s. Then you have to fight — and you fight to win. What’s the point of fighting if you don’t win?
  13. If you focus, you win.
  14. Don’t give up.
  15. Leaders should compensate for other people’s weaknesses, and draw on their strengths.
  16. People are motivated by much more than money. You just cannot be humdrum. There has to be a joy in achieving objectives, a joy in creating wealth, a joy in making properties better.
  17. If the market discounts your shares, you can’t use the market to raise capital — so buy back your shares.
  18. A successful partnership always has someone who ultimately can make a decision and take the responsibility.
  19. Be prepared for trouble when bankers are optimistic about your industry — especially when the bankers are Swiss.
  20. Never buy high, hoping it will go higher. Buy low and hope it will go higher.
  21. When you’re young or when you’re old, failure should not be an impediment to trying again.
  22. Don’t stop dreaming — and don’t stop dreaming big if you want to succeed.
  23. It’s management’s job to do what’s right, not what’s easy or convenient.
  24. Trust is the foundation. You cannot substitute for trust. Trust means you say the truth.
  25. Always deal from a strong equity base. Dilute every time you can get equity for more than book value.
  26. Be very aggressive operationally and very conservative financially.
  27. Don’t ever confuse gambling with business. You take your chances but you hedge your bets.
  28. Do deals only if they help your strategic objectives.
  29. Listen to smart people.
  30. If you want to dream big, expect big problems. Big dreams challenge the fates.
  31. Don’t expect to buy at the best price. Expect to sell at the right price.
  32. You cannot build a team without mutual confidence, mutual trust, mutual reliability. And there’s no team if you don’t have the strength. You need the strength when you go into battle. Whatever you tackle — and in business you’re always tackling things — the other party has to feel that there is total cohesiveness, there’s total awareness of the objectives, and there’s total support of each other.
  33. If you have to worry about the consultants pay, you shouldn’t retain any.
  34. Share the wealth.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.