What do the words contact, interview, donate, electrocution, balance, and endorse, all have in common? They were once, back in the day, buzzwords, or management speak terms, of the kind you’ll find in a latter day workplace if you touch base at the end of the day, and leverage those deliverables.
Tim Lomas is a London based lecturer in positive psychology – a field that possibly we all need to study more – who has compiled a list of non-English words, that cannot be directly translated into English, that pertain to mindsets and feelings that are somehow positive .
I’m happy to say that there’s a lot to like about this list. “Lagom” a Swedish word, caught my eye, and means to do something to just the right degree. English speakers might use the word “moderation”, but “lagom” hits the nail on the head far more effectively.
Are you shore the word you’re thinking of placing in a sentence is the correct choice? With so many English language words that almost look and sound the same, you could be forgiven making an error, except you might not.
Canadian-American psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, points out close to sixty words and phrases that are often misused, that include intern, hung, hone, ironic, and irregardless, being a word – though Pinker says it is a portmanteau – I cannot bring myself to utter, even though this is the third time I’ve used it on disassociated.
Since there is no definitive body governing the rules of the English language like there is for the French language, for example, matters of style and grammar have always remained relatively debatable. Pinker’s rules and preferences are no different, but the majority of the words and phrases he identifies are agreed upon and can help your writing and speaking.
The part that always struck me is this weird kind of language that Leia is speaking. She basically says several of the same things twice, and they mean different things each time. The first time, she’s saying, “Yaté, yaté, yotó.” And that means something like, she’s coming to sell the Wookiee. Then the next time, she says, “Yotó. Yotó.” It’s exactly the same word as the last one from the previous one, but now it means that she’s demanding 50,000, no less, after Jabba’s offered her 25,000 – which is a really bizarre way for a language to work.
It’s difficult making headway in today’s workplace. Walking the walk is one thing, but it’s not enough. You have to talk the talk as well. But you cannot talk this talk using any old words. You must utter the right ones, and adopt a vocabulary that will make you sound smarter than you already are.
These should help no end:
I’ve been using idiosyncrasy, didactic, innocuous, and aplomb, for years, and look where I ended up… CEO of this website. What more need be said?
While the Oxford English Dictionary contains a quarter of a million entries, and even Koko the gorilla communicates with over 1,000 gestures in American Sign Language, the total vocabulary of Toki Pona is a mere 123 words. Yet, as the creator Sonja Lang and many other Toki Pona speakers insist, it is enough to express almost any idea. This economy of form is accomplished by reducing symbolic thought to its most basic elements, merging related concepts, and having single words perform multiple functions of speech.
A single word can have multiple meanings, or contexts. For a literal definition we can turn to say Dictionary.com, while the Urban Dictionary offers more… figurative interpretations.
The Silicon Valley Dictionary may then round out the trifecta, with descriptions of the more technical, information technology, related words and terms that are bandied about. Such as Linux Minters, a new one on me:
Engineers whose preference in OS is the Linux Mint operating system. They are irrationally smart and work so fast that they are said to literally mint code like machines.
A 61-year-old architect from the Nisga’a First Nation, Stewart explains that he “wanted to make a point” about aboriginal culture, colonialism, and “the blind acceptance of English language conventions in academia.”