Category Archives: Fun with Words

“Waying” In on the Use of “Way”

HUNT’S HEADLINES comes from my buddy Todd Hunt who’s dedicated to wrapping communication lessons in laughter. He’s a guy who notices the humor in the little things, then sends his commentary out into the world (or at least to his subscriber list). (Sign up at

This recent entry tickled my funny bone:

I’ve been on a word kick, I know…but wrong is wrong.

 The latest offender?

 Way. As a replacement for “much.”

 You hear it in casual conversation…“He’s way heavier since he got divorced.”

 That’s not correct, of course. It should be “much heavier.”

 Now we’re seeing it in respected national publications, such as this front-page article in an advertising trade journal:

 “Pampers’ breakthrough new Dry Max is 20% thinner and way more absorbent that its predecessor.”

 Can’t we say “much more?” Or “far more?” Or even just “more?” It’s way cooler.

 Did Todd get your attention? Please share your thoughts below.

Differentiating “Barbarous” and “Barbaric”

It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone in helping writers improve their craft and taking that extra step in making correct word choices.

In particular, I appreciate the unyielding effort of Maeve Maddox, whose Daily Writing Tips faithfully shows up in my inbox every day. She digs into the background and contemporary use of English-language verbiage with gusto.

Here’s what Maeve wrote to distinguish barbarous and barbaric, included here with her permission.

Both words derive from a Greek word meaning “foreign.” The original word was coined as a nonsense word to indicate the sound of a language other than Greek. For the ancient Greeks, the only civilized language was Greek. Anything else was gibberish.

At first a “barbarian” was simply a non-Greek, a foreigner. After the Persian wars, the word took on a pejorative sense. A barbarian was not just foreign; he was uncivilized and brutal.

As far as the Greeks were concerned, the Romans were barbarians, but the Romans adopted the word to refer to any nation outside the sphere of Greek or Roman civilization.

Both barbaric and barbarous were in English by the 16th century. Barbaric was used with the meaning “foreign, strange, outlandish,” Barbarous first meant what the Romans meant by it, “not Greek or Latin,” but it soon came to mean “uncultured, savage,” and by the 1580s had taken on the sense of “savagely cruel.”

In modern usage barbarous and barbaric are used interchangeably to mean “uncivilized.” (Click here for examples and Maddox’s complete post.)

The conclusion? Use barbaric to denote uncivilized behavior with violence ; use barbarous for matters of language and manners.

When to Use “Quote” versus “Quotation”

Several writers weighed in on a recent Word Tripper differentiating “quote” and “quotation.” Here’s what the Word Tripper from July 30th said:

Quotation, quote – A “quotation” is a set of words that is copied or repeated, such as a passage from a book, speech, etc.; in commerce, it is also a statement of market price of a commodity or security. A “quote” is a cost estimate from a vendor or service provider. Thus, you wouldn’t write, “Here is a quote from Shakespeare…”; it should read “Here is a quotation from Shakespeare…” instead.

However, some dictionaries and language experts state that “quote” as a noun is interchangeable with the first “quotation” definition above. Personal preferences plays a part in this one. I prefer the stricter usage that differentiates them. Which one would you choose and why?

And here’s a potpourri of comments received. Do you agree? Disagree? Please weigh in yourself!

“Quote” has a verbal flavor to it. When you tell me “here’s a quote by Winston Churchill,” I feel like I’m getting in touch with his actual speaking the words. A hint of the kinesthetic. “Quotation,” on the other hand, feels like it’s a done deal. It’s the words he said, like here is an interesting statement of Winnie’s that is so right on! It’s an elite sentence that’s perhaps been around for a while.
– Max Dixon

I’m strongly in favor of more precise language. The more refined our use and meaning of every word we choose, in writing or aloud, the greater clarity we are able to achieve!
– Laura Key

I am becoming more and more dismayed at excuses for incorrect grammar used by such supposedly educated people as journalists and advertisers. Every time I hear “it’s at,” I am rankled. I find blurring the line between “quote” and “quotation” another example of self-serving rationalization for improper use of the English language. As writers, let’s raise the bar rather than agreeing to keep lowering it.
– Sarah Mohr

I think that common usage has blurred the strict differentiation of the two words. The change in some of the dictionaries indicates that to me. So, I will likely not be so definite when I write.
– Elaine Ness

The terms in any dictionary only reflect the current usage of a word, not its original meaning only. So even when we disagree with the new interpretation, we are “obligated” to follow the lead of the dictionaries and accept the new meaning of the word.
– Ginger Sawatzki

I’m certainly guilty of using the two interchangeably, but my preference is for using the stricter definition of quotation for a grouping of words spoken or written by another person.
– Paulette Livers

My preference is to use the stricter usage, especially in writing so the message doesn’t get garbled. It might be OK to get away with “quote” when using Twitter since they only allow 140 characters.
– Bill Short

I prefer to use quote as the verb and quotation as the noun. “To quote Shakespeare” sounds so much better on the ear than “Here’s a quote from Shakespeare.” I realize that language is always in a state of fluidity, but its nice to have a little structure to rely upon.
– Jude Johnson

Quote is a verb, meaning to repeat the words of another (ideally with acknowledgement), and quotation is a noun. But what’s a part of speech these days, with everything else we have to deal with.
– Ruth Mullens

How to brand your business and launch your brand

Kelly loves telling people how the idea that launched her business came to her. It awoke her at 2:00 a.m. It was so compelling that she jumped out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, and began outlining her business plan.

Kelly is quick to add that a great idea is just the launching pad. How she launched her business could be the material for a book on business success, but she is happy to share the 7 steps she employed to launch her website presence and even happier to talk about the designer who gave her the system and helped her bring it to life.

Karen Saunders, owner of MacGraphics Services, had been helping solopreneurs for more than 15 years when Kelly met her. Karen explained the 7-step system she and her team of associates had designed to bring clarity to the process of taking a business or business idea to a website presence that gets results.

Kelly was ahead of many solopreneurs because she understood that without a clear focus on business objectives and the message she wanted to convey, she could spend a great deal of time and money without accomplishing much. She also knew her website would be her most powerful marketing and sales tool. She needed a clear roadmap to avoid finding herself wandering in circles. Here is how she did it . . . and how you can do it, too. 

Step 1: Strategize

Have a strategic discussion with your website designer to clarify how your business goals and objectives translate to a website. No effective website design can be created if you don’t know what you want the website to do for you.

Step 2: Define Your Target Market and Niche

Your target market is the overall customer base you serve. Who are they? Are you serving a particular field or industry? Do your customers have particular characteristics, interests, or needs in common? Within that customer base, there is likely a smaller group that is a more specific fit for your product or service, may not be served by your competitors, or both. That is your niche. If your target market is people in job search, for instance, your niche might be people in job search who are over the age of fifty who don’t just want to change jobs, they want to change careers.

Why do you need to define your target market and niche? Because: (1) You cannot be all things to all people; (2) You and your customer base need to find one another, and; (3) The more specific you get, the more your niche will feel you understand them and can serve their specific needs.

Step 3: Position Yourself

If you have done your homework, then you have researched the competition. Who are they? What differentiates you in terms of customer base, quality and makeup of offerings, service methodology, and other aspects of business? What makes you unique? You may determine that there are gaps in how the market is being served. If so, those gaps will help you position yourself and will also help you further define your niche. It will also help you hone your offerings, allowing you to become the expert who is sought out for your know-how.

Step 4: Describe “What” and “How”

Whether you are selling a product or a service, what you are offering must solve a problem or provide a solution for your customers. How it does that key to making your product or service the one of choice for customers. If you cannot describe the “what” element, your customers will not know you have a product or service that might benefit them. If you cannot describe the “how” element, your customers will not be clear that it is doable, usable, and of value. The “how” element also gives, in precise terms, the ways in which the product or service will provide the results customers want. It is a descriptive roadmap from Point A (their need or want) to Point B (the results or benefits).

Step 5: Brand Yourself 

You have already named your business. Now you need images, words, and feelings to be associated with it that make it distinctive. Branding involves several elements:

  • Perception—How do you want your customers/clients to think about your business? How would your customers describe you and your business? What value do your products/services provide and how do you want the world to perceive that value?
  • Logo—Clarify your message based the perception you want your customers to have about your business, your niche, and how you want to position yourself. Distill that into an image that will be the visual representation of your company: your logo.
  • Tagline—Then translate that into a powerful, compelling tagline. Keep it brief (3-7 words). Make it memorable. Be sure it fits your business. The best taglines are evocative, meaning they conjure images, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Now look at the visual elements that best express and integrate with your logo and tagline. Choose colors, typeface, styles, and other visual representations that graphically support your message.

Step 6: Create Your Website

Develop the key marketing strategies and messaging that will drive the direction, content, features, and functionality of your website. Then start writing your copy and be sure its tone fits the website design. State the key benefits clients will receive based on the key value you and your business deliver.

Make a list of all the topics your website needs to cover and use that to create your website pages. For example, a speaker may need a:

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Who We Serve page
  • Presentations/Keynotes page
  • Workshops, Classes, and/or Retreats page
  • Products (books, CDs, DVDs) page; Shopping Cart
  • Meeting Planners page; Contact page
  • Blog page; Resources page; Ezine; Special Reports 
  • Media page/Press room

Then design and develop your site using your visual brand elements (logo, color). Review and test it before going live to ensure accuracy and functionality. Offer a free report or ezine, not only as a way to provide value to website visitors, but also to build your list. Subscribe to an auto-responder program to make it easy to follow up with prospects and send out broadcasts to your clients. Then go live and do a final testing to ensure accuracy on all platforms.          

Step 7: Optimize, Market, and Network

First, identify your search engine optimization (SEO) goals and your return on investment targets. Hire a specialist to do foundational search engine optimization with meta-tags and images. With your specialist, set up monthly, robust search engine optimization strategies, driven by the your specific goals.

Next, establish search engine marketing (SEM). Set up pages on and participate in social networking sites. Post comments on blogs that relate to your business, customer base, and overall market. Write and publish articles offline and online for inbound links.

What about Kelly? Who is she, anyway? Kelly could be you. And this year, you just might watch your business take off because you followed these 7 steps to create a powerful brand and website that delivers.

 Are YOU ready to create a powerful brand and produce a website that delivers? Karen Saunders leads an outstanding team of professionals who can lead you through her integrated 7-step branding and website launch system. Visit her website to receive a FREE 60-minute audio “Put the Bling Into Your Brand” and to learn more about her extraordinary branding, graphics and website design services:

Speak Strong Words to Live By; I Mean It!

Meryl Runion’s love of language rocks with a purpose. In her weekly ezine and in her new book, Speak Strong: Say what you MEAN. MEAN what you say. Don’t be MEAN when you say it, she coaches people on what to say in dicey situations. More than that, she attempts to “rock the boat” of those 90% of people who stay silent when speaking out is required.
Her book, organized in four steps with 51 succinct, example-laden skills in total, guides readers on “what to say when” without being mean-or ineffectual! By following her seasoned advice, you can change negative exchanges into positive ones and reap the relationship rewards afterward.
For writers, I especially love Meryl’s four-page list of emotional words that can enliven your writing as well as make a verbal impression.
I also love her book’s subtitle “Say what you MEAN. MEAN what you say. Don’t be MEAN when you say it,” which employs the chiasmic writing technique. I suggest employing it as your mantra for living.

Tips on How to Keep Writing a Blog

By Quinn McDonald
Writing for a blog isn’t hard. Ahhh, writing good articles for a blog is hard. And so is writing good stuff consistently. I’ve read a lot of blogs (and so have you) that start out wonderfully-interesting articles every day. Then it slips to three times a week, then once a week, or once a month, and one time when you open the blog, it’s about what the blogger had for breakfast, then lunch. . . and a sad decline continues.
Once you’ve written about the ideas at the front of your mind, how do you continue? Here are 8 ways.
1. Pick something you know a lot about.
2. Write down your ideas.
3. Find books, music on the theme.
4. Create a tutorial.
5. Illustrate your idea or story.
6. Interview a friend/expert.
7. Have a guest write for you.
8. Create a list of links.

For this complete article, go to QuinnCreative
(c) 2008 by speaker/trainer/coach Quinn McDonald

Can You Identify These Slogans?

“Dullness will not sell your product; neither will irrelevant brilliance.” – Bill Bernbach

By Sam Horn (used with permission from Sam’s newsletter, Isn’t That Intriguing?)

Every year, Advertising Week selects the top slogans. By definition, these taglines are relevant AND brilliant. Of the tens of thousands of commercials we see and hear every year, these are the “sticky” ones – the ones we can repeat word for word years after we first heard them.

Why is that important? Intriguing slogans make their sponsoring companies millions in extra revenue because people tend to buy products and services from likable, “known” brands.

Here are a few candidates for this year’s contest plus some past winners. Can you guess them? (Look for answers in a future blog.)

“What happens here, stays here” ______________
“Think outside the bun” _______________________
“Just do it” ________________________________
“When you care enough to send the very best” _______
“Imagination at work” ________________________
“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”_____________
“When you care enough to send the very best” _________
“Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin'” ____________

Note: You’ll find more great articles on her blog

Sam Horn helps people POP!, What does that mean? She helps individuals and organizations develop intriguing ideas, identities, niches and pitches that help their business or brand break out. She does this through her books (POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd, which Seth Godin calls “revolutionary”), one-on-one consulting, weekend camps, media interviews (NPR, Investors Business Daily, Chicago Tribune) and presentations (the top-rated speaker at two International Platform Association conventions).

Sam’s Upcoming Retreats and Workshops:
2-Day Intriguing Speaker Camp – Houston, TX – Nov 1-2
2-Day Intriguing Book Camp – Orlando, Fl – Nov 15-16

For more information, contact Sam’s staff at (703) 232-9757.