Posts Tagged ‘Communication’
They flouted their disregard for the laws concerning proper disposal of hazardous waste.
Oh, he’s just playing politics. He’s flaunting the state’s constitution to push a political agenda, but what he’s trying to do won’t hold up under legal scrutiny.
In the examples shown above, flouted should be flaunted, and flaunting should be flouting.
Recently I’ve run across these and many similar misuses of the words “flout” and “flaunt” in print, online and on the radio. It seems as though a lot of people have only a fuzzy idea of the difference between flout and flaunt, so I think it’s worth taking a moment to talk about them.
To flout is to ignore or defy authority, or to treat laws with contemptuous disregard and scorn. It can also mean to mock or insult someone, or treat someone with contempt.
Brazen defiance and deliberate offense are contained in the notion of flout. If someone chooses to flout a rule or law or social convention, for example, their act shows a certain brash arrogance toward others. Why? Because to flout is to challenge and to affront, all while in the act of making one’s disdain plainly evident.
You can see, then, that the sentence beginning with “they flouted their disregard …” makes no sense, because it means the people in question ignored their disregard or treated it with contempt. By contrast, the correct word, flaunted, means they proudly or ostentatiously displayed their disregard in front of others in a way that indicated they mocked the laws.
To flaunt means to ostentatiously display oneself or something, or to parade in a showy and public way, often with the intent to inspire envy in others.
Flaunt contains an element of strut and swagger, of grandstanding and shameless spectacle. Those who flaunt engage in a theatrical, flashy exhibition that is intended to impress others in some dramatic way.
Consider the sentence that opens with “he’s flaunting the state’s constitution ….” In that case, the rest of the sentence indicates that the politician in question is not trying to show off or pretentiously parade any part of the constitution to his advantage. Rather, by attempting to defy or ignore it in order to further his agenda, he is flouting the state’s constitution.
Writers, readers and listeners, are you among those who have been flouting when you should flaunt, and vice versa? If so, maybe now is the time to draw a clear distinction between the two in your own mind, and then do your part to stop the epidemic of misuse of flaunt and flout.
Talkback: Have you found examples of misuses of flout and flaunt? Do you have any favorites? Now is your chance to weigh in on this topic and share your insights, anecdotes and stories by leaving comments. Thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh lexpower The Write Ideas
Lately I’ve been spotting many misuses of nauseous and nauseated, which is unsettling, to say the least. And also kind of humorous.
While the two words both stem from the Latin nausea, meaning seasickness, they have different meanings.
The careful writer makes a distinction between them.
Something that is nauseous causes nausea.
For example, if you smell a nauseous odor, it makes you feel sick to your stomach.
You can also use the word figuratively to mean sickening, disgusting, or loathsome. For example, a nauseous idea or statement is one that disgusts you.
A perfectly fine synonym for nauseous is nauseating.
If something makes you feel sick to your stomach, you are nauseated.
Figuratively, the word can also be used to mean you feel sickened or disgusted.
The most common misuse seems to be something similar to this: “I feel nauseous,” which actually means: “I feel I make other people sick to their stomachs.”
Hey, could be. But probably the speaker means to say: “I feel nauseated,” meaning: “I feel sick to my stomach.”
Now it’s your turn: Has the misuse of these two words caught your eye? Do you have any examples to share with us? Thanks for leaving a comment! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
All is connected, all is real, and all is metaphor.
Do you think this statement is true?
Recently I ran across a website of metaphor examples. According to its author, the site is based on the idea that metaphorical relationships can be considered to be “universal” in scope: a sort of Rosetta Stone between disciplines, if you will.
A related view is that metaphors provide a set of tools to compare two (seemingly) unlike things that are alike in at least one important way. Pick the tool of your choice – simile, analogy, personification, and others – and use it to explore and better understand the unknowns.
Then there’s this definition: “A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea … Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance.”
If you follow some of the links in this post, you will see that metaphors of all kinds appear to be an indispensable key to understanding as well as creating our reality. They also allow us to connect to other forms of reality and to live beyond the boundaries of our own space.
Could we write, or communicate in any way, without metaphors?
Can you think of any aspect of your life that is metaphor-free?
If you were deprived of all metaphors, could you exist?
Do you think humans are responsible for creating metaphors, or do we just notice all the connections around us and attempt to describe their interfaces and correspondences?
In a recent post titled Language: The Government Wants Your Metaphors, I discussed IARPA’s Metaphor Program, which seeks to “exploit the fact that metaphors are pervasive in everyday talk and reveal the underlying beliefs and worldviews of members of a culture” in order to “characterize differing cultural perspectives associated with case studies of the types of interest to the Intelligence Community.”
Although analytically and intellectually admirable, at least as a mathematical construct, such a project may ultimately prove too daunting to be practicable, because what metaphors say is so complex, interlocking and interrelated that it seems quite a challenge to untangle all the possible meanings and connections. And never mind that all of those qualities are dynamic.
If, as some suggest, metaphors are the foundation of our conceptual systems, then apparently we require them in order to think and act.
And if we can only understand or experience one thing in terms of another, that is, by using metaphors, then what don’t metaphors say?
Now it’s your turn: Do you think metaphors are the engine of communication? Could language itself be construed as a form of metaphor for life? Without communication of all kinds would life exist? Thanks for leaving your comments! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas
Meet two of my pet peeves in word usage: trooper and trouper
I am currently on a linguistic rampage about how to distinguish one from the other, because lately I’ve noticed an outbreak of misuse and misunderstanding involving these two words. Whenever I come across such an unfortunate lapse, it causes me to raise one eyebrow in dismay while staring at the offending noun through gimlet eyes.
The guilty know who they are (or, worse, maybe not).
Troop refers to a throng, crowd, herd or group. For example:
- a troop of State Police officers
- a troop (group) of friends
- a troop (flock) of birds
Trooper typically designates a member of a military unit or a police force, or a member of a Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop.
Webster’s Third New International Unabridged Dictionary lists the following as examples of troopers:
- enlisted cavalryman
- paratrooper or soldier
- mounted policeman
- one of a body of State police, usually using motorized vehicles
- Girl Scout or Boy Scout
By extension, “to be a real trooper” has come to mean “to show bravery and courage, especially in the face of adversity while on duty.”
Troupe refers to a company or group of performers on the stage: a company of actors and actresses; a theatrical troupe.
Trouper typically designates someone who is a member of a troupe, that is, an actor or an actress who belongs to a particular acting company.
By extension, “to be a real trouper” has come to mean knowing “the show must go on,” whatever it takes. Thus, a “real trouper” is a professional you can count on to help achieve the group’s goal, especially when the going gets rough. “Real troupers” will come through for you, no matter what, because they are committed, reliable and tenacious.
Once more then: Are you a trooper or a trouper?
Now it’s your turn: What are your pet “word pair” peeves? What sorts of homonymic misusage get under your skin, prompting you to think that civilization is irreversibly in decline? What confusions of meaning goad you into reaching for your red pen? What sorts of linguistic pratfalls provoke your inner editor to sally forth? Tell all in your comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas