Talking Chairs
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10 famous misattributed quotes

Some of the quotes in our most famous memes are wrong. Wrongly attributed. Wrongly stated. Wrongly shortened. Wrongly turned into sound bites. As journalists, PR specialists, or corporate communicators, we know the importance of capturing quotes from our sources correctly. The same goes for quotes made famous on the Web or in social media . . . the quotes you’ve seen again and again. Before you incorporate these into your work, confirm who said the words and what was actually said. Below are a few of these famous false quotes, along with their corrections. (Sources:...
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Holiday puns every communicator should a...

Be ready for it Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are behind us, the holiday marketing marathon begins. For the next 20 or so days, there will be no escaping the holiday slogans, puns, jingles, and word play. Some of it will be clever. Some of it . . . not so much. Below are a few that fall into the “not so clever” group. You might even call them ho, ho, horrible. Puns Yule love this Be the ghost of Christmas present Fleece Navidad Let’s get elfed up Get caroled away: give the gift of music Brace your elves You’ll love our new Santa-tizer Do you...
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Can you spell these brain teasers?

Last week on PR Daily, a subheading to a post used the word “brouhaha.” It was the first time I had seen the word written out. The word is common in spoken English, but less so in writing. These words can be colloquialisms or jargon and should be used with caution since not all readers will share the linguistic background necessary to grasp their meaning. However, they can spice up dull content and go a long way toward establishing variety in your writing. Here are some words for adventurous writers — along with their unusual spellings. (Definitions courtesy of...
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Negative posts and reviews: How to respo...

As PR and communication professionals, we’re all adept in the art of responding to negative online reviews of our companies and clients. It’s one of our many super powers. But how do you respond to online reviews when you can’t really respond? Let me explain. In certain industries — health care, financial services, legal — privacy laws dictate that a company can’t respond to online reviews because doing so would violate the reviewer’s privacy. For example, a physician cannot respond to a patient’s online review because doing so would violate the patient’s...
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Gift ideas for the co-workers in your li...

by Laura Hale Brockway The season of gift giving is here. This year, remember to think of all your co-workers, not just your fellow writers and editors. From useless gag gifts and goodies to more thoughtful presents, here are 13 ideas. It’s never too early to find the perfect gift. Scrabble Flash Shuffle five electronic tiles to create as many three-, four, – or five-letter words as possible in 60 seconds. The tiles keep time and score, and the game can be set for individual or group play. Tacocat T-shirt For fans of palindromes . . . “Nope” T-shirt To wear...
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27 words without natural opposites

The English language is full of words with uncommon properties. We have contronyms, neologisms, palindromes and portmanteau words. Another set of terms with unusual properties are those known as unpaired words. Unpaired words have no opposite equivalent. They have a prefix or suffix that suggests you could form an antonym by removing the prefix or suffix, but forming their opposites will take more work than that. You can be “disheveled, but not “sheveled.” Unpaired words occur because certain words fall out of common usage (“ruthless” and “ruthful”) or...
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How many of these banned books have you ...

For wordsmiths, the idea of banning books might seem offensive. While conducting research for his high-school English class, my son discovered that some of his favorite childhood books were on the Top 10 banned and challenged books list. His incredulous response was: “’Captain Underpants’—really?” Yes, “Captain Underpants” is on the book of banned books. The American Library Association has been tracking and raising awareness about “documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries” since 1990. The organization said that most book...
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11 definitions for lengthy words

This week, I set out to answer a simple question: What are the longest words in the English language? That led to a not-so-simple question: What do the longest words in the English language mean? Because many of these words are technical and have little practical use, their definitions do not appear in standard dictionaries. After a little digging, though, I now know what “pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism” means—and so can you. Below is a list of the longest words in English, along with their definitions. If you can pronounce any of these, treat yourself to a new pair...