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Student Question

My personal language

Cite a word or phrase that you resist saying even though it was or is commonly used in your past or current environment. Why has it left your personal language?

 What is your job, academic major, profession, hobby or recreation? Cite a word or phrase that is specific to that activity, i.e., a word that would be used only by others engaged in the same activity. What does it mean?

We have a better chance of improving our verbal skills if we focus on one or a few skills at a time. Which of the skill improvement would benefit you the most and in what arena of your life: personal, work, academia or otherwise? Explain

Expert Answers

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Looking at the first question - I have tried to rid myself of using the term "pretty" to mean "almost" or "somewhat" as in the phrase "that was a pretty good movie". I feel that the term is just too slipshod, too awkward to use regularly. 

I know that this is a silly example because there are many other terms that have been corrupted in exactly this way (taken up as a generalized superlative/modifier). Choosing to mount a one-man battle against this usage of "pretty" is not going to have any impact on the language beyond my own personal vocabulary. 

I also try to use the phrase "would you like some help" instead of "do you need some help" and use "would you like..." instead of "want some..." because one mode of phrasing feels rough and final while the other feels softer and more empathetic. 

Also I do not use the names of any gods in my speech at all unless I am speaking directly about a deity. Hearing people name their own gods in fits of frustration (as if the name were a curse) is mildly appalling, though rampant. 

Looking at your last question - I would suggest that verbal restraint and fostering awareness of terminology is difficult to quantify in terms of usefulness. As the 5th post points out, the care of a speaker in crafting a bit of language can be quickly undone by a listener...

It's my opinion and surmise that people who are careful with their speech will develop skills which will allow for greater accuracy of expression than those who are not careful with their speech. Will this translate into faster promotions in the work place, more friends, increased facility in writing or speed in communication?

My guess is that the answer is no.

That doesn't mean there are not benefits to deveping a sensitivity to word choice, but it might mean that the benefits will be personal more than public, for you and not for anyone else. 

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I am a teacher, and I hate the buzz words which seem to pervade education - so much so I have been guilty of playing 'buzz word bingo' to get through apparent training sessions which actually offer nothing but a salary for the trainer. 'Pedagogy' is a pompous term that seems to be used mostly by those who can't teach.

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While not a specific word or quote, I heard Dr. Phil (I know...horrible) say that a listener's understanding of what has been said to them becomes their reality, as twisted or truthful as it may be. I guess that one's personal ideas upon language does not matter as much as the listener's.

Outside of that, I have learned not to say "I told you." It really does not matter what I told anyone. If they did not understand what I told them, my rephrasing does not matter.

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I'm a high school English teacher. Here's are two terms that I'd bet only people in education know:

Formative Assessment: a test of some type that measures progress toward a learning goal. It might not be graded or counted as a grade. The purpose is to figure out how well the student is progressing.

Summative Assessment: a test of some type that measures mastery of a goal at the end of a learning unit. It will be graded and counted as part of the student's overall grade for the course.

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Altering the part of speech of words seems to be "trendy" nowadays, but it is offensive to traditionalists. 

  1. "We are going to transition you now to another task." The suffix -ion denotes a noun and it means the "act of."
  2. "It's really a fun activity. Here the noun fun is used as an adjective. It means "enjoyment."
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I resist saying "try and..."  People often say this when they are going to try to do something.  They will say something like "I'm going to try and get my mom to let me go to the movies."  I don't like that because I think it should really be "try to" as opposed to "try and."  Why do I care?  I guess I'm just fussy in some ways.

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