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The dangers of sounding clever

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“It’s fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative manoeuvres.” This is a well-known version of a much simpler saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Here’s another: “Is the remuneration of your current position commensurate with your proficiency and experience?” This means – in English – “Is the pay in your job equal to your skills and experience?”

In this dynamic new global business world most cross-border communication is done in English. Most of these communicators are using English as a second language – they are not native speakers. Don’t fall into the trap of sounding clever, but confusing your reader. Write for your reader, not for yourself.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne playing Sir Humphrey Appleby in "Yes, Prime Minister".

Sir Nigel Hawthorne playing Sir Humphrey Appleby in “Yes, Prime Minister”.

Here is another wonderful example of fancy language confusing the listener. This is from the TV series “Yes, Prime Minister”. The scene is in the Prime Minister’s office and the background is that new security measures have been taken to protect the Prime Minister. Sir Humphrey Appleby, Cabinet Secretary, enters the office through the window. He looks very upset, sweaty and untidy …

 Hacker: “Sir Humphrey! To what do we owe this pleasure?”
    Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, I must protest in the strongest possible terms my profound opposition to a newly instituted practice which imposes severe and intolerable restrictions upon the ingress and egress of senior members of the hierarchy and which will in all probability, should the current deplorable innovation be perpetuated, precipitate a constriction of the channels of communication and culminate in the condition of organisational atrophy and administrative paralysis which will render effectively impossible the coherent and coordinated discharge of the function of government within Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!”
    Hacker: “You mean you’ve lost your key?”

Need I say more?

 

Bond – James Bond

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Sean Connery

Sean Connery (Photo credit: twm1340)

Fancy a job as a British intelligence agent? Here’s a link I think you’ll love! The fictional James Bond works for the real MI6, which is properly known as the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service). The SIS was formed in 1909, but it’s existence was officially denied until 1994. They now have their own website – click HERE to enter – it’s cool 🙂

The first Bond film of the current series was Dr No (1962), with Sean Connery as Bond, and Ursula Andress as Honey Rider. Dr No was not the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming. The first book was Casino Royale, but the film made from that, a comedy starring David Niven, was in a different style to the rest, so was never accepted as part of the current family of films.

(Wikipedia) – “They form one of the longest continually-running film series in history, having been in on-going production from 1962 to the present (with a six-year hiatus between 1989 and 1995). In that time Eon Productions has produced 23 films, most of them at Pinewood Studios. As of March 2013, the series has grossed just over US$6 billion, making it the second-highest-grossing film series (behind Harry Potter)”. Six actors have portrayed Bond, from Sean Connery (6 films), through George Lazenby (1 film), Roger Moore (7 films), Timothy Dalton (2 films) and Pierce Brosnan (4 films), to Daniel Craig (3 films so far)- the latest film being Skyfall.

Wax figure of Daniel Craig at Madame Tussauds,...

Wax figure of Daniel Craig at Madame Tussauds, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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