...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Monday, January 03, 2005

Remedial English for TV Reporters And Anchors -- Session #1-05

...Heard on TV today: a CNN field reporter in Thailand (or somewhere), reporting that distribution of relief goods to tsunami victims is "painstakingly slow."

Wrong. When you "take pains," you intend to go slow, in order to perform more precisely.

Correct usage example
: The master carpenter's painstaking work paid dividends in beauty for the owner of the house.

Correction: What the reporter was reporting was the clogged supply lines in the disaster area. What she should have said was, "painfully slow."

Lesson drawn: Stop trying for the more intelligent-sounding word (additional syllables). Try for accuracy of meaning. Go back to school and take basic English course.

Lesson bonus: New word of the day. Cataclysmic (kat-uh-KLIZ-mick) This is a maximum word. That is, it needs no adjectives -- e.g., "very cataclysmic" would be wrong.

Usage note: Please don't take this word to the extremes you've taken "devasating". You may use "cataclysmic" only to describe extreme disasters. It is not for everyday use; e.g., don't apply to auto accidents or divorces.

No, I'm not linking the word to a dictionary site. I want you to learn to look up meanings for yourself.

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