Write Like You Talk Only Better. Six-part ULEARN Series

Get results and respect by leveraging the best of talking and thinking

Write Like You Talk Only Better

Apply talking, your first and favorite way to communicate, to all the writing you do at work. Even better, add the planning and other thinking that comes with writing. Learn how in this fun book. Preview

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Crave: a word I’m watching in 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 @ 10:01 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

If you live in Canada, you’re probably hearing the word crave more often these days. If it’s not the new President’s Choice slogan Crave more, it’s Bell’s Crave TV.

These examples show how the word is evolving in divergent directions: as a reasoned choice that covers healthy food with the President’s Choice or as an uncontrollable response with Bell.

Gut reaction

Crave has been typically used to describe an urgent, visceral desire, such as a pregnant woman’s craving for pickles or my recent craving for shortbread cookies. People also say they crave, or deeply desire, attention from a loved one, a hot beach in frigid winter or steamy sex. Increasingly, they use crave to describe the incessant pull of addictions, such as a craving for sugar, cigarettes or cocaine.

That’s what I found when I looked up crave in the Corpus of Contemporary American English. However, this compilation of how and how often words are used in media, academia and other places goes up to only 2012. So allow me to speculate on the short-term linguistic evolution of crave based on these two campaigns.

While the President’s Choice campaign embraces the food tie-in, it goes further to suggest that craving applies to “the new, the next, and the never been done.”

logo-pc-crave-more_enToo much elasticity?

That’s stretching it. Even though I want them, I wouldn’t say that I crave new shoes, a spring vacation or cars that fly above clogged expressways.

Springier still, the web copy continues: “We crave exotic tastes and local sources. More yum and less sodium.”

No. Although I regularly enjoy kimchi and kale, which I grow in my backyard, I don’t crave them the same way I do Reese’s peanut butter cups.

What’s more, I don’t crave less sodium, even though I try to consume less salt. Nutritionists encourage us to fight our cravings for salty and sweet. Opting for less is a rational choice, not a craving.

President’s Choice is not the only company trying to extend the definition of craving from visceral reactions to wise choices. A web search revealed many health food producers and restaurants that use crave in their name or slogan. It’s a trend.

Shut up, I get it

Because they were twisting the meaning of crave, the President’s Choice marketing strategists had to use words to explain. In contrast, the folks at CraveTV assume we know. They let images from their most popular programming demonstrate the urgent, visceral interpretation of the word.

crave tv logoTheir web copy is based primarily on program lists and price, with the kicker: Get ready to say “Just one more episode.” Just like beer or cookies.

Although I was not at their analytic-bejewelled table, I’ll bet they were inspired by all the talk about Internet addiction and Netflix’ use of bingeing, which demonstrates how television viewing behaviour has evolved from one show at one fixed time, to watch when you want, to keep watching till you pass out.

Language evolves

Although the definition of crave may be hip hopping this year, it has never stood still.  Almost nobody uses the Germanic-rooted, Middle English sense of “This problem craves (has a right to demand) a solution.” In recent years, more people have described addictions and other gut-driven behaviour as cravings.

Both President’s Choice and Bell have the budgets to research and test every word they use. They did not choose crave lightly.

But by bouncing a word off growing usage rather than trying to stretch the meaning themselves, I predict the binge-watching sense of crave will flourish, while the healthy foodie stretch will wane. Then again, language can evolve in unexpected ways.

Crave: a word to watch this year.

Any others that have caught your attention?

Top 14 of 14: 1. Alternatives to calling everything awesome

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 @ 08:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

fireworksThis has been my top post for four years running. Most days, it gets the most page views. It’s been on Reddit. Someone wrote a song about it. That’s as close as I expect to come to viral.

None of the suggestions listed here, by me and my readers, is earth-shattering. But they are an improvement to the tedium of hearing the same, often-inappropriate word over and over.

Although awesome may still be one of the most overused words in the English language, this interest assures me that many people are trying to express themselves originally. Let’s try harder  in 2015. Pretty please.

Happy new year.

Image credit

Top 14 of 14: 2. Me, myself and I

Monday, December 29, 2014 @ 06:12 PM
posted by Barbsawyers

I shiver every time I hear someone say: “Jane and myself are going to Mars for new year’s eve,” or “The cake was baked by Jane and myself.” Let’s ignore the rare other cases where it’s fine to use “myself.” To be on the safe side, limit yourself to when you did something on your own, as “I spent new year’s eve by myself” or I baked the cake myself.”

Misusing “myself” is common grammar mistake, often made by people who are trying to hard to sound proper. Take it easy: make it correct.

Image creditsnob

Top 14 of 14: 3. Don’t pick the low-hanging fruit first

Sunday, December 28, 2014 @ 01:12 PM
posted by Barbsawyers

Fruit ripens where the sun first kisses, at the top of the tree. What’s more, many marketers are sick of admonitions to pick the low-hanging fruit. Still, we keep hearing this over-worked term, low-hanging fruit.

Please help me come up with a juicy replacement.


Top 14 of 14: 4. Aim for the biggest, easiest grammar targets

Saturday, December 27, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

If you’re resolving to do one thing better in your writing next year, I recommend you try to avoid the biggest, fattest mistake. You’ll be easier to understand. And you’ll stand out.

Image credittarget

Top 14 of 14: 5. 2015 will not be a paradigm shift

Friday, December 26, 2014 @ 10:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

A paradigm shift requires you to throw away what you thought before, like Copernicus’s discovery that the planets revolved around the sun meaning he could no longer claim they danced to the earth.

A paradigm shift is not a transition, as some thinkers and business leaders have suggested.

We are in a transition from a manufacturing to an information era. Although information technology has changed manufacturing, it has not replaced it.  Your CEO’s talk of a paradigm shift is probably more about transition too.

Don’t be fooled. Look smart.download (5)



Top 14 of 14: 6. Let’s throw this expression under the bus

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

Although my rant against “throw under the bus” is more than a year old, it doesn’t seem to have made a dent in the over-use of this expression. Let me again appeal to your higher linguistic instincts to come up with a more original phrase.

bus2Photo credit 

Top 14 of 14: 7. What to write when an employee dies

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

Work groups can be like families, so it’s important to honor co-workers who pass away. Whether you’re writing about a respected leader otombstoner a cheerful cleaner, you need to be more heartfelt than a formal obituary. Here’s how.

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Top 14 of 14: 8. How to keep your newsletter rolling

Monday, December 22, 2014 @ 12:12 PM
posted by Barbsawyers

Think you don’t have time for a regular newsletter? Try this.rolling

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Top 14 of 14: 9. 5 ways to hook your reader

Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 09:12 AM
posted by Barbsawyers

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure you hook your reader with these simple techniques. Quickly.

Photo creditfirst impression guy

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