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Friday, April 30, 2021

Language Abuse, Grammar Addiction

     "I'm silently correcting your grammar."

     That's what it says on my new coffee cup, and that’s what I do. Can’t help it. I'm commenting (to myself) about the stylistic quality of what I'm hearing in this conversation we're having. I'm commenting in detail, all in my head.

     An obsession with the rules of language arose in me early, and has sent down deep roots over the ensuing decades.

     I'm the son of an editor. I wrote well from an early age. I was successively an English major, a newspaper editor and a management/writing instructor. I designed and delivered a three-day course in Business Writing and a daylong training session for working professionals called “A Grammar Refresher.”

     You don’t easily get over such a history.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Holding My Chin and Shutting My Mouth

     Holding my chin while I’m trying to think deeply may not be necessary, but it seems to help. 

     When I’m trying to listen, on the other hand, shutting my mouth is more than helpful. It’s absolutely essential. So is clearing my mind, and so is focusing my attention – sort of like deep thinking. All that is a lot of work, so we don’t experience a great deal of it around us.

     Here is how it works: When I am in conversation and, shutting my mouth, put my hand to my chin, I am signaling my partner in that situation that I am thinking (maybe deeply) and focusing my attention.

     If, at the same time, I continue looking at the other person, they will tend to conclude that I am taking them seriously and paying attention to what they’re saying.