Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Etiquette: Words, Phrases, and Pronunciation pt 2

To continue:

Slang: an "evil" fact of language. Coarse of profane language should never be excused, but other slang is so commonplace that it has become part of our language. But as with many things, it is all about how you say it. Basically, according to Mrs. Post, slang, in order to be acceptable, should be "fresh and applicable"

Little fact I am sure you didn't know: Emily Post was learned in diction. Not just diction, but accents. Her section on the accent is really an interesting read, and her depiction of territorial accents was pretty spot. Her best advice regarding accents can be boiled down to 2 rules: #1: if you are going to mimic the London/English accent, you should not do so with single words, but with your entire speech patterns. #2: One should not adopt french words into one's speech, but in the case of a french word becoming adopted into Americanized speech (like bouquet, chauffeur, garage, menu, etc), the very least we need to do is pronouce it correctly. My favorite example is vaudeville - which is properly pronounced as voad-veal. Who knew?? She also has the very opinionated belief that if we can not spell the word with our alphabet, we should not use it. So, anything with a little accent over the top, or something like that, is out. Granted, this effects more words than you know, but it makes sense. However, where would we be without words like bouillon, bon-bon, lingerie, and ensemble?

Overall, advice from Emily Post: in order be a charming speaker is having a pleasing voice. Not sure you have one? Her suggestion: singing lessons, even if you can't sing, there is nothing better than singing to teach you how to breath, etc. She is also of the very firm opinion that we, as a nation, do not talk too fast as much as we talk too loud. Which wonderfully is our stereotype. The harshest bit of truth about speech is that a person who has to search for words is not interesting. So, those of us who have problems with vocal expression, need to work on that.


*Read; read quality works - there is nothing better to help a person improve thier speech and vocabulary as much as reading.

*Use your dictionary! look up words that you don't know 100%.

Now that we know how to talk, next we will learn the dos and don'ts of prolonged talking with other people: conversations. This should be interesting and useful. Especially for a blunderbuss like me!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The last couple of days have been awash with nostalgia. Cleaning out the storage shed has mostly been opening boxes and boxes of memories.
That to the Sell Pile.
That to the Auction pile.
That is goes back in storage.
And all of that was just the family storage. Now I am digging into my boxes and boxes of my memorbilia. I've always been a bit of a pack rat - but for reasons. These boxes contain my life. I know I need to get rid of some things; condense a little. But that is so much easier said than done.
I need to keep the photos, of course; my visual guide to my life.
Then there are the items. Random things - every kind of thing you can think of; from a teddy bear, to a shoe, to etched martini glasses. Each thing is not just the thing itself - but a representation of something more. A momento of a particular time in my life.
Of course, there is the endless piles of cards, programs, awards, and newspaper articles. Hard copy records of all the things I have done, or seen. Proof on paper that I existed; that people cared.
But there are other things too. Things that no one else would ever imagine I would keep. But I do. I hold on to them too - because I hold on to everything.
Example: papers from my Creative Non-Fiction classes. Not my papers - but the others'. I know, it is ridiculous - why would I keep those? I keep them because everytime I read their works, I am reminded of one of the most special classes I have ever taken. For an hour and a half on Tuesdays and Thursdays a group of relative strangers got together and beared our souls on papers. We wrote, we read, we shared. I knew the inner struggles, hopes, pains, and plans of these fellow students without usually remembering their names. It was the best experience I had in a classroom situation.
Then there is the unexplained. A pair of rusted keys my friends and I found in our hideout in the trees. We went there during recess and discovered them hidden beneath the shrubs. Being the romantics we are, we conjured up stories of how those keys came to be there, what they were to, and who hid them. I don't know anything about these keys - but I can't get rid of them.
So I don't get rid of them, and I reorganize everything to shrink three boxes into one. My parents shake their heads and laugh at me - and all I do is fret over all of the missing links that I do not have. What about the review in the Northern Student for that show? What happened to the program from my senior project? Where is that picture of you and me my freshman year?
What if I forget about it?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Etiquette: Words, Phrases, and Pronunciation

So now that we have learned how to greet people and what to call them, we move on to what to say to them and how to say it.
As always, the number one rule is always politeness. Beyond that, it gets tricky. Nothing can give away a person's so-called "breeding" than how they speak. However, it goes both ways. You can appear snobby by trying to be too sophisticated, and of course, you can show yourself to be quite the idiot by saying the wrong thing. Keeping that in mind, the "old-fashioned" way of saying things may be more formal and out of date, but it certainly more colorful and interesting.
Here are some dos & don't from both sides (keep in mind that these are examples to get the general idea across, not limited rules):

Don't say: Say Instead:
Will you accord me permission? Will you let me? or May I?
Permit me to assist you. Let me help you.
Converse Talk
I recall I remember
Mortician Funeral director
Pardon me! I beg your pardon, excuse me, or I'm sorry
Keeping company with or walking with no equilalent
Drapes curtains
abbreviated words (ex: photo, auto) full words (ex photograph, automobile)

I get most of these rules, but I also included some that I was entertained by. Like Mortician and Drapes - why not use these words? Some of the flowerly language is beautiful to use, but apparently so out of date that people somehow assume that you are being pretentious when using it. Why is that?
Strangely enough the Home vs House debate showed up. As most would agree Home is the sentiment, the feeling, the atmosphere, etc. House is the physical place. What I did not realize is that it is bad taste to call a house a home unless it is your home. Home also can refer to a charitable institution like a Retirement Home, or something like that.
Words to avoid: elegant, refined, dainty, culture. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) Basically, it has to do with pretentiousness; again.
This gets me: Apparently, the term that I so admired, and so wanted to be deemed, "Lady" is also one of those words that even back in 1947, lost its original connotation. The words seems to have deteriorated down to no meaning. It once meant elegance and cultivation, then it meant respectability, and to what we mean now.
Keep in mind: Formal is a synonym for ceremonial. Basically something that is formal follows a set of ritualistic type rules. For example, a formal dinner has a very specific way of progressing - a set of manners that is expected, etc.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

review: The Bride Came C.O.D.

That was cute. I love screwball comedies. They take the edge off a day and are just fun entertainment.
This one is about an heiress (Bette Davis) who makes a rather rash decision fly to Las Vegas to elope with a man she has only known for 4 days. Much to the detriment of her father (Eugene Pallette). The pilot for the couple (James Cagney) convinces her father to hire him to bring the girl to Amirillo, unmarried, for the price of $10/lb - which will about cover the overdue amount left on the plane he owns. So he kidnaps her - but because of her wild antics, they crash by a ghost town with only one occupant (Harry Davenport).
It is quite delightful. Screwball comedies are not Cagney or Davis' strong points, but they are both delightful in this. Best part of the movie is a rather difficult car ride, and watching Cagney react to it.
It's nothing amazing, but a whole lot of fun :D
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars