A port(e)manteau word is an imaginative linguistic creation anyone can come up with. It fuses two different existing sounds and meanings and compounds them into a new snug expression. A wide array of portmanteaux has quietly infiltrated into our common vocabulary rut without our noticing it. Many of these words are no longer recognisable as random concoctions. Some even made it into respectable dictionaries, whereas others are so painfully adventurous that – for straight minds – their meaning becomes utterly unfathomable. A circumstance that forces the ones who coined them into a kind of zugzwang, should they want to see their congenial brain waves preserved for the next generations. But we need not worry: The universal power of social media will reliably enhance their endeavours to the fullest, don’t you think?Reading time: about 3 minutes
People – and objects – are usually given a mere few merciless seconds to let their first impression shine in a positive light; when the impact thus created is of lasting effect, even the better. Who, if not book jacket designer Chip Kidd, is predestined to endorse what’s a commonly known fact. After all, books are written to be read and sold, and their covers ideally serve as a teaser, a marketing tool and as an individual advertising platform alike. Shrouding a message in mystery may be the appropriate method when targeting one specific audience – or be utterly counterproductive when addressing another.
The whys and the wherefores in favour of clarity are readily shared in this informative yet most entertaining talk. Mesmerised listeners learn the difference between those two techniques implemented by successful designers to induce instant communication with the consumer.Reading time: about 1 minute
Gone it is and trouble it causes: email not meant to be sent. This is not talking about the half-finished ones, those with unfathomable spelling or omitted salutation. Or when a Mr. becomes a Mrs. – an involuntary sex-change that amazingly seems to be far more offensive this way round than the other. Disaster eventually strikes when confidential email or attachments are erroneously forwarded to a least-of-all-trusted person, the certified company chatterbox or – God forbid!- a detested competitor. Or a number of them. If A writes to B that C is a corrupt crook, D to Z are not supposed to be let into the secret, even though they may have long been in the know. However, once the tricky „answer all“ button for multiple recipients is pressed unintentionally, a wicked pointed weapon springs into action only to unleash its evil effect.Reading time: about 2 minutes
Practice makes perfect? Oh, really! Some of us are just not destined to ever be fluent in English honed to perfection at Oxford or Harvard. The only superior level reached is that of ultimate frustration. Even though talent may be absent, the constant effort does deserve – and at times receive – some appreciation. Native English speakers – be they residents of their respective countries or members of an expat diaspora abroad – display admirable countenance when it comes to unravelling the puzzling matter their poor language is often being minced into. A mother-tongue recognised as official world language no. 1 minimises the necessity for its speakers to conquer foreign language terrain. A linguistic metabolism in constant uproar caused by cruel outlandish gibberish is the price to be paid for being saved humiliation in class, when vocabulary and grammar just won’t surface upon demand, or when a vital exam is failed and thus a promising international future brutally ruined forever.Reading time: about 2 minutes
It does not take a daredevilish stunt person to find themselves in a precarious health situation all of a sudden. Regular people pursuing their unspectacular routine chores fall victim to unforeseen circumstances all the time: a life-threatening coronary attack may occur during a stressful business meeting or a cervical vertebra get seriously dislocated on a slippery stairwell. Should this happen on familiar terrain with trusted help around the corner, bad enough. But what, if destiny strikes far away from home?Reading time: about 3 minutes