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Twitter is Top Word of 2009

Every year the Global Language Monitor – an Austin, Texas-based academic organization that documents, analyzes and tracks trends in the English language – selects top English words and phrases used the world over. To do this, it uses a special proprietary algorithm called Predictive Quantities Indicator, or PQI for short. PQI tracks words and phrases throughout the media and the internet in relation to usage, frequency, and appearance in the global media.  Yesterday, the Global Language Monitor announced the top words and phrases for the year 2009.

The top fifteen English words:

1. Twitter

2. Obama

3. H1N1

4. Stimulus

5. Vampire

6. 2.0

7. Deficit

8. Hadron

9. Healthcare

10. Transparency

11. Outrage

12. Bonus

13. Unemployed

14. Foreclosure

15. Cartel

The top ten English phrases:

1. King of Pop

2. Obama mania

3. Climate change

4. Swine flu

5. Too large to fail

6. Cloud computing

7. Public option

8. Jai Ho!

9. Mayan Calendar

10. God particle

If you were to vote for the top ten words and the top ten phrases, which ones would you choose? Do share your views here with us.

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Writing Prompts of the Week – 6

Create stories, articles, or poems from the following prompts:

1. If you could invent something, what would it be?

2. You open an old chest in the attic and come across a strange looking object. What do you do?

3. Write a story revolving around these words – shell, rubber, wire, paper, and funny.

4. Open your window and look out. Write about the first thing that you see.

5. Write about whatever comes to your mind on seeing this picture:


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Resume versus Curriculum Vitae

There is often confusion between the words resume and curriculum vitae or CV in short. What exactly is the difference, or similarity, between a resume and a curriculum vitae?

The main difference is in the use of the English language. In American English, used mainly in the U.S., Canada, and the Latin countries, a resume (from French meaning “summary”) is a document containing a summary of your job experience and education, usually for the purpose of obtaining an interview for a job. A resume is usually short – no more than one or two pages; and since it is directed to a particular position, it is precise and only relevant information is given. (There are different views regarding the length of a resume.)

Curriculum Vitae (from Latin meaning “course of life”) or CV, on the other hand, is used in two different forms:

1. In British English, a Curriculum Vitae (or CV) is the exact same thing as a resume is in American English. This form is used mainly in the U.K., the Commonwealth countries, and Europe.

2. In American English, a Curriculum Vitae (or CV) has a different connotation. It is a longer document than a resume, and includes a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. It is used for applying to graduate or professional programs, or when promoting oneself within professional and academic fields. These may be several pages in length, sometimes up to 20 or more.

Have you, or any one you know, been confused by these terms?

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Quotes on Grammar

Some interesting quotes on grammar:

*  I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.  ~ Carl Sandburg

*   Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.  ~ William Safire

*  English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgement, and education — Sometimes it’s sheer luck, like getting across the street.  ~ E. B. White

*  American grammar doesn’t have the sturdiness of British grammar, but it has its own scruffy charm.  ~ Stephen King

*  When I split an infinitive, god damn it, I split it so it stays split.  ~ Raymond Chandler

*  Do not be surprised when those who ignore the rules of grammar also ignore the law.  After all, the law is just so much grammar.  ~ Robert Brault

*  Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.  ~ Joan Didion

*  It is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated.  ~ William Somerset Maugham

*  I will not go down to posterity talking bad grammar.  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

* Grammar: n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.  ~ Ambrose Bierce

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Business Letter Writing

True, electronic mails are slowly taking over hand-written letters (ref: video below). This is indeed sad, because letters written by hand, especially the personal ones, have (or is it had?) their own charm… a personal touch, the touch of hands, both of the writer and the reader. But I don’t think e-mails can completely take over letter writing. Letters will remain, especially formal or business letters. These still are, and will, remain important; though, of course, they are not written by hand anymore, but are typed on the computer and then printed out. Still, they are letters, and are written and used daily in all offices and homes.

Writing business letters is an art in itself. Business letters have to be written effectively in order to convey the right message. And in order to be effective, they have to be well written in the proper format. And for that, certain guidelines have to be followed  —

A business letter should be aimed at the reader’s needs. What are the reader’s needs? They are relevant information presented in an easy-to-understand style. So make your letter clear, helpful, and as friendly as the topic allows. The key principles of business letter writing are:

  • Keep it short: Cut useless words, needless information, and stale phrases.
  • Keep it simple: Use familiar words, short sentences and paragraphs, and a simple conversational style.
  • Keep it strong: Start subject matter in the first paragraph, use concrete words and examples, and do not stray from the subject.
  • Keep it sincere: Write as if you were talking to the reader, and be as friendly as possible.

Use active verbs rather than passive verbs. Passive verbs are long-winded, ambiguous and impersonal. Active verbs are simpler, less formal, and more precise.

The start:

Dear Sir or Madam (if you don’t know who you are writing to)

Dear Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms (use if you know who you are writing to, and have a formal relationship with)

The finish:

Yours faithfully (if you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Yours sincerely or Yours truly (if you know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Best wishes or Best regards, (if the person is a close business contact or friend)

A business letter may be written in different formats, depending on the situation.

Look at the different formats of business letters here.

Samples of written business letters may be seen here.

So, what do you think? Is letter writing a dying art?

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Lakshmi Pratury on Letter Writing

A touching talk on the lost art of letter writing.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Lakshmi Pratury on Letter Writing “, posted with vodpod


Poetry Terms

Today I’ll put together some poetry terms for those of you looking for them or their meanings. There are lots more but it’s not possible to put them all together in one post, so I’ll just give the most important. I hope this will prove to be useful to those of you interested in poetry… but even you’re not interested in poetry, it’s always good to improve your vocabulary, isn’t it?

First off, what are poetry terms? These are the terms used to describe content or structure of a poem.  The terms:

Alliteration: Repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. Seven scientists saw some stars – all the words begin with the same sound, s.

Assonance:  Repetition of the same vowel sound. Suppose Rose goes to Moe’s – all the words have to o sound.

Caesura: A pause or break within a line of poetry.  To err is human,|| to forgive divine (Alexander Pope) – the break is between human and to.

Enjambment: Continuation of a sentence from one line to the next in a verse.

Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now….
(Robert Browning)

Foot: Two or more stressed and/or unstressed syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem.

Meter: An arrangement in which the stresses occur at equal intervals.

Metrical foot: Two or more syllables with stresses occurring at equal intervals. There are four basic types of metrical feet.

(i) iambic (noun = iamb): an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one – to SWELL the GOURD, and PLUMP the HAzel shells (John Keats)

(ii) trochaic (noun = trochee): a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one – SHOULD you ASK me, WHENCE these STORies (Henry W. Longfellow)

(iii) anapestic (noun = anapest): two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one – Unless SOMEone like YOU cares a WHOLE awful LOT (Dr. Seuss)

(iv) dactylic (noun = dactyl): a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones – THIS is the FORest primEVal, the MURmering PINES and the HEMlocks (Henry W. Longfellow)

Rhyme: Same or similar sounds in two or more words. Town and crown have the same sounds.

Rhythm: Repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of poetry. I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused, or following…
(Walt Whitman)

Scansion: The process of describing the meter of a poem by marking the stresses in a poem (with a u on an unstressed syllable and a / on a stressed syllable).

Stanza: A division or a unit of a poem formed of two or more lines.

Versification: The system of rhyme and meter in poetry.

Not found the term you’re looking for? Do write in and ask.

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