Something You Should Know About Language

Our English Alphabet

February 12, 2015


Interview with David Sacks, author of the book Language Visible: Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z




Mike Carruthers:
Where DO the twenty-six letters in our alphabet come from?


David Sacks:
Our twenty-six come down to us from twenty-three letters that the ancient Romans used.

David Sacks

Why We Have a QWERT Keyboard

December 5, 2014


Interview with Torbjorn Lundmark, author of the book Quirky Qwerty: The Story of the Keyboard @ Your Fingertips




Mike Carruthers:
It's called the QWERTY keyboard. It's the layout of the letters and other characters on a computer or typewriter. Where did it come from?


Torbjorn Lundmark:
It's the creation of an American inventor called Christopher Latham Sholes. His first design had an alphabetical layout keyboard.

Torbjorn Lundmark

Interesting Word Origins

December 3, 2014


Interview with Evan Morris, author of the book The Word Detective: Solving the Mysteries Behind Those Pesky Words and Phrases




Mike Carruthers:
The phrase "Happy as a clam" is used to describe someone who is extremely happy. But where did that phrase come from?


Evan Morris:
The phrase actually makes a lot more sense if you know what the whole phrase originally was, which was "Happy as a clam at high tide.

Evan Morris

How To Listen Better Than You Have Before

November 11, 2014


Interview with Dr. Marcia Reynolds, author of the book The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs (BK Business)




Mike Carruthers:
In any important conversation you have it’s important to remember that…


Dr. Marcia Reynolds:
Listening is the most important piece of a conversation. So many people like rehearse what it is I’m going to say and it never turns out the way you think it is anyway.

Dr. Marcia Reynolds

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

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