Something You Should Know About Language

How To Improve Your Writing

October 8, 2014


Interview with Steven Pinker, author of the book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century




Mike Carruthers:
When you factor in texting and emailing we all write a lot so what makes writing good?


Steven Pinker:
A key ingredient is that writing has to be concrete. It has to give the reader something that they can see, or hear, or touch.


Steven Pinker

The Power Of Questions

July 1, 2014


Interview with Dorothy Leeds, author of the book The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work




Mike Carruthers:
If you know how to use them questions can be very powerful tool for success.


Dorothy Leeds:
One of the powers of questions is that questions get people to convince themselves, and people believe more of what they say than what you say.

Dorothy Leeds

Fascinating Word Facts

May 23, 2014


Interview with Steven Pinker, author of the book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature




Mike Carruthers:
Do you know why we call junk email Spam? Well we owe it all to Monty Python…


Steven Pinker:
A Python skit from the early 70's in which a couple asks a waitress what's on the menu and she says, "Well we have eggs and Spam, eggs, bacon, and Spam, eggs, sausage, bacon, and Spam, eggs, Spam, sausage, Spam, Spam, bacon, Spam, eggs and Spam, Spam, spinach and Spam."

Steven Pinker

Lost Art Of Conversation

September 2, 2013


Interview with Eileen McDargh, author of the book Gifts from the Mountain: Simple Truths for Life's Complexities (BK Life (Hardcover))




Mike Carruthers:
Something's missing in the workplace and it's called conversation.


Eileen McDargh:
I know that when I hear people tell me, "I've never seen my boss, all I see are emails" - and you don't get emotionally connected to an email.

Eileen McDargh

Grammar Myths

August 21, 2013


Interview with Patricia O’Conner, author of the book Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition




Mike Carruthers:
Back in school you were probably taught by your English teacher to never end a sentence with a preposition. 


Patricia O'Conner:
Well the truth is that people were ending sentences with prepositions for seven or eight hundred years, including Shakespeare and writers of the King James Version of the Bible.

Patricia O'Conner

Origins Of Body Part Names

August 2, 2013


Interview with Charles Hodgson, author of the book Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer's Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology, and Trivia




Mike Carruthers:
What do you call the back of your hand? The back of your hand - but it actually has a name, it's called your… 


Charles Hodgson:
Opisthenar and that is the real word that means the back of your hand. It's strange that we use a multi-word expression to refer to the back of our hands when there's a real word.

Charles Hodgson

Etiquette For The Modern Workplace

August 1, 2013


Interview with Valerie Sokolosky, author of the book Do It Right! The New Book of Business Etiquette




Mike Carruthers: 
If you remember no other etiquette rule, particularly workplace etiquette, remember this… 


Valerie Sokolosky:
When in doubt, don't. And that goes to, "Oh dear, should I wear this today?" Well if you're in doubt, don't. It goes to behaviors, "Oh dear, should I say this, should I do this?"

Valerie Sokolosky

Difficult Conversations - Part 2

June 5, 2013


Interview with John Stoker, author of the book Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results




Mike Carruthers:
You know those really difficult conversations you have to have with your spouse, your child or your boss? What makes them so difficult is the potential for conflict.


John Stoker:
My research has indicated that most people avoid conflict like the plague. So if they think there will be a conflict they won’t’ talk about what the issue is - so it’s just easier to just kind of withdraw altogether.

John Stoker

Difficult Conversations

June 4, 2013


Interview with John Stoker, author of the book Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results




Mike Carruthers:
Ever dread having one of those difficult conversations?


John Stoker:
I would think that a difficult conversation is any conversation that you would toss and turn about - the ones that great angst, frustration and maybe a high degree of emotion.

John Stoker

Stealth Communication

February 18, 2013


Interview with Ronnie Moore, author of the book Why Did I Say That? Communicating to keep your credibility, your cool, and your cash!




Mike Carruthers:
Have you ever been the recipient of what’s called stealth communication? It happens a lot at work.


Ronnie Moore:
So the boss has 10 people on staff, 1 of them is always late the other 9 are always early.

Ronnie Moore

Common Grammar Mistakes

February 15, 2013


Interview with June Cassagrande, author of the book Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite




Mike Carruthers:
Grammatically speaking the sentence, "Try and get this done." is wrong.


June Casagrande:
Some grammarians make a case for "try and" but grammatically speaking it is kind of non-sequiter. It doesn't make sense.

June Cassagrande

When Conversations Go Bad

November 1, 2012


Interview with Dr. Ben Benjamin, author of the book Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communication Patterns




Mike Carruthers:
Who taught you how to communicate?


Dr. Ben Benjamin:
The most important skill a person needs to have a good marriage, to have a good job is how to communicate. And nobody ever gets classes in communication because we always assume we can do it – and most people really can’t.

Dr. Ben Benjamin

The Fonts You Use

September 11, 2012


Interview with Simon Garfield, author of the book Just My Type: A Book About Fonts




Mike Carruthers:
Go to write something on your computer and you have a ton of different type styles to choose from. There are over 100 thousand of them in the world with more on the way. Don’t we have enough?


Simon Garfield:
You could say the same argument for love songs or landscape paintings. You think oh well there surely must be enough in the world but actually we are a creative race.

Simon Garfield

Be A Better Writer

August 17, 2012


Interview with Fred Lybrand, creator of The Writing Course




Mike Carruthers:
What is good writing?


Fred Lybrand:
There are two pieces to good writing; one is just getting it correct. And when it's correct, it means people can understand what you actually said.

Fred Lybrand

Using Stories To Persuade

August 2, 2012


Interview with Lisa Cron, author of the book Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence




Mike Carruthers:
When you want to persuade, make your case or sell an idea the tendency is to present facts and figures but here’s the problem…


Lisa Cron:
We’re not wired to make sense of facts we don’t really know what to do with them and they don’t tend to penetrate.

Lisa Cron

Science Of Human Communication

June 21, 2012


Interview with Mark Robert Waldman, co-author of the book Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy




Mike Carruthers:
When you communicate with someone the words you say are not as important as you might think.


Mark Robert Waldman:
The most important element of a conversation is the person’s facial expression; the second most important element is the person’s tone of voice.

Mark Robert Waldman

How We Really Communicate In The Electronic Age

May 29, 2012


Interview with Ed Keller, author of the book The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace




Mike Carruthers:
With all the talk about Facebook and Twitter you might think that social media has become the primary way by which we communicate – not so.


Ed Keller:
The overwhelming amount of word of mouth that takes place is still in the real world, offline, face-to-face, and while online social media is getting a lot of attention now it is a small fraction of the total volume.

Ed Keller

Techniques To Be A Better Writer

September 1, 2011


Interview with Sandra Lamb, author of the book How to Write It: Complete Guide to Everything You'll Ever Write




Mike Carruthers:
Have you ever had to write something and had trouble saying what it is that you want to say? Well, here’s some help


Sandra Lamb:
Think through your message all the way from beginning to end and be able to state what you are going to write in 1 message sentence.

Sandra Lamb

Why Written & Spoken Language Is So Different

August 29, 2011


Interview with John McWhorter, author of the book What Language Is: And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be




Mike Carruthers:
Language is more about speaking than it is about writing.


John McWhorter:
Because writing came along only about 55 hundred years ago whereas speech has probably existed for about 150 thousand years – so if language had only existed for 24 hours then writing came along at about 11:07pm.

John McWhorter

Foreign Words We Mispronounce

August 24, 2011


Interview with Chris Warmash, Publishing Director of Living Language




Mike Carruthers:
Mispronouncing foreign words is hardly a crime but it is interesting to discover the correct pronunciations of words many of us have been mispronouncing when we go to a restaurant. The big one is bruschetta.


Chris Warnash:
Because it’s got that “sch” in there and that looks like the German way of spelling “sch” but it’s actually pronounced “brusketta” but you can just say “brusketta”.

Chris Warnasch

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