No Informal Words, Please. But Why?

ONE of the greatest disservice English language teachers in school can do to young minds is to taint the value of informal words. No informal words, please. Stay away from informal words. The poor students hear so much of this, they’ve all developed a kind of paranoia, a built-in lexical thermometer that makes them cringe at the sound of informal words. Take “crazy” or “junkie” for instance, or phrases like “two thumbs up.” Don’t ever dream of suggesting words of this flavor if you’re ever working on an essay with them. No, these words can’t—I mean, cannot—appear in written form. Continue reading


Word of the Week: Hoi Polloi

PART of the joy of writing—or its challenge, depending on how you look at it—is the whole process of going word shopping. That, essentially, is what diction is. Diction: choice of words. You set about choosing the right word, the best word for your sentence.

Sometimes, your mind hums with a few possibilities, then you do the taste test, or more correctly, the ear test. Sounds nice? Hmmm. Maybe not. Then you try another, and another. Continue reading

The Spirit and Personality of What We Wear

HOW we dress speaks of who we are, our personality, and even our profession.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for instance, would never sport an Issey Miyake black turtleneck, the kind that gave Steve Jobs that quintessential look of a relaxed yet stylish tech geek and entrepreneur rolled into one. As a leader of a country, whose national colors are red and white, it is natural for him to wear shirts that echo those very colors you find on the state flag. Continue reading