Thursday, December 6, 2012

(to) speak out

Two common two-word verbs using "speak" as the main verb are speak up and speak out. What's the difference between them?

As I see it, the difference is in the number of people who are listening to you.  In a private situation where one person is shy or quiet and others cannot hear him or hear him well, he might be asked to "speak up".  Often it is used to refer to not being afraid to express your opinion.

Speak out has a more sociological reference: A person will "speak out" in favor of one project, or "speak out" against another. 

Let's see a few situations where the verb "speak out" is used on the world wide web.

We begin with the title of a book:

Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write about Bullies, Cliques, Popularity, and Jealousy


Can you explain why the verb "speak out" and not just the word "speak" is used here? What social forces would be upon her to keep her from expressing her viewpoints?

Here's another headline:



The website continues: Medal of Honor Recipients Speak Out About PTS. Why are they using the verb "speak out" and not just "speak up"? Who does the organization want to listen to what the Medal of Honor recipients are saying? What changes does the organization want to be made? Why?


It doesn't have to be a national or international issue for somebody to speak out. Here is a local issue:



Tiverton residents speak out on bridge tolls


Have you ever spoken out on an important social issue? If so, how? To whom?  Are there any issues that you would like to speak out about, but haven't found the time, the proper means, or "your voice"?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

it doesn't add up


We all know that when we add one to one, we get two.  We call this mathematical process addition.  But the verb "(to) add up" has an informal meaning: it signifies that the result makes sense.


We will often hear it doesn't add up", meaning that the results don'tmake sense. This can be used when referring to numbers or when referring to facts.


Let's begin with this: Many people are puzzled or irate as to why General Petraeus was forced to resign.  They say that the facts don't add up to such a great American general being forced to resign. It doesn't make sense that the general would be forced to resign.  They wonder what's the story behind the story. Read, for example, this news story:

From Kelley to Petraeus, It Doesn't Add Up


When you read that article, Here we look at a news story that uses the term add up with reference to numbers.

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Curbing tax breaks: Does the math add up?

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Notice that the issue makes the news more often when the numbers don't add up. Why do you think that is?



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House Democratic women's numbers don't yet add up to power

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Here we switch to the use of the term both arithmetically and also emotionally and socially:



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Now for your own analysis:  What facts would you add up in an effort to compute the real cost of drug abuse? What is the real cost of drug abuse? 

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

a look back

We are writing this post on election day, November 6, 2012.  People are at the polls. Nobody knows the outcome of this election. But the campaigning is over and thus we see internet articles such as this one:




Pretty soon it will be the end of 2012 and we will see headlines, "A LOOK BACK AT 2012".  We will find this just like at the end of 2011 we found this:




and at the end of 2010, before that,


and in December of 2009 we found -




The interesting thing about this is that it is being used as a noun in all these headlines, a look back, and derives from the verb, (to) look back.
So now in the last months of 2012, when you look back at this year, what stands out? What stands out in the area of politics? Science? Art? Your life?

Take a look back and tell us (or write for your own use) what you see!

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Friday, August 31, 2012

undecided

It's time for another presidential election and as usual some people have already decided who they are going to vote for, and others have not.  Those who have not yet decided whom they are going to vote for have a special name: THE UNDECIDED.


As the New York Times has written,

Meet the Undecided,


a reference to those who have not yet decided whether to vote for President Barak Obama or for Mitt Romney.

Where does this adjective come from? We have "the poor" or "the hungry" or "the early risers" or other nouns that derive from adjectives. But from "the hungry" we don't say "the hungries" or from "the confused" we don't say"the confuseds" and yet these and other headlines were written:


Deciding the undecideds: Tough for Obama, Romney


The Undecideds


This article above has the following quote:  They have already made up their minds, leaving the outcome to a slim margin of those identified as either “undecideds” or “independents.”


Here we see the article straight out using the past participle adjective form of the verb "(to) decide" as a plural noun: (to be) independent --> (an) independent --> the independent --> now a plural count noun: (the) independents.

Another strange nots is that I have never heard the positive version: "the decided".


Searching for the Undecided Voter


In the next few months we shall see what happens to "the undecided." Will they make a choice? Or will they remain undecided, and not vote for a candidate for President?

Read the following article,


Poll finds swath of voters undecided, unexcited



and then let's discuss this again in November, comparing data.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

(to) bear down on (something or someone)

Here's important news for many people:

Isaac Gains Hurricane Strength, Bears Down on Gulf Coast


Anybody who is in the hurricane's path had better beware, and prepare.  Most of the time when this term is used, it's in reference to a hurricane or severe storm.

Isaac grows stronger as it bears down on Florida Keys, hurricane watch extended to New Orleans
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Here's another example:

Typhoon Tembin Bears Down On Taiwan 

But not always.

Currency crisis, economic weakness bear down on Europe's car industry


But the effect is the same:  Watch out, European car industry, because it's going to be feeling the full weight of the currency crisis and the weak economy for a while.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(to) hold up under pressure

The 2012 Olympics are here, and the excitement is on, and so is the pressure. Some athletes say they don't feel the pressure; they're just having fun. But not all athletes react the same on the big stage.  Here's a headline about the U.S.A.'s female gymnasts:

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Olympics 2012: U.S. women hold up under the pressure and  win team gymnastics gold for first time since ‘96 in Atlanta

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Here we see this phrase again:

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In this article, notice the word "adversity".

If you were being interviewed for a job, how would you answer the following question:



This expression, of course, applies not only to holding up mentally and psychologically.  See the following website:


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Bridge Construction Set
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If you have difficulty holding up under pressure, read this piece of advice:

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5 Tips for Holding Up Under Pressure
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How do you rate holding up under pressure?  Do you have any special tricks or strategies for holding up under pressure?


Friday, July 20, 2012

(to) have it all

Here's a nice expression that was popularized by the women's liberation movement of the 1960's and 1970's. 

Today's headline is this:

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If Marissa Mayer can 'have it all,' can you?

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Here's another headline with a slightly different take on the matter:


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Women (and Men) Can Have It All
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And this:

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Women Can't Have It All Because
Nobody Can Have It All


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But the expression doesn't only refer to women (and men).  See our next headline:

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Why America Can't Have It All
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Reading these articles, what do you think that "having it all" means? 

With reference to women, can a woman "have it all"?

Can a man "have it all"? 

Can America "have it all"?

And who defines what "having it all" means?