How to turn small talk into smart conversation

ideas.ted.com

Tips from a comedian and a journalist on the art of going from small talk to big ideas — all summer long.

Imagine almost any situation where two or more people are gathered—a wedding reception, a job interview, two off-duty cops hanging out in a Jacuzzi.

What do these situations have in common? Almost all of them involve people trying to talk with each other. But in these very moments where a conversation would enhance an encounter, we often fall short. We can’t think of a thing to say.

Or worse, we do a passable job at talking. We stagger through our romantic, professional and social worlds with the goal merely of not crashing, never considering that we might soar. We go home sweaty and puffy, and eat birthday cake in the shower.

We stagger through our romantic, professional and social worlds with the goal merely of not crashing, never considering…

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When Shakespeare committed word crimes

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Shakespeare coined new words when he needed — or merely wanted — them. Can you guess which words were invented by the Bard?

English heading into the sixteenth century was a makeshift, cobbled-together thing. No fewer than eight conquering peoples had added to our vocabulary and shaped our syntax. But the Brits were doing more than just borrowing, swiping and outright stealing words from other languages. Versifiers like Chaucer let newfangled words from the street amble onto the literary stage – newfangled and amble being two of them.

By the time Elizabethan dramatists sought expression for ever-more sophisticated sentiments, crowds cheered their linguistic daring.

A short list of verbs invented by the Bard:

arouse
besmirch
bet
drug
dwindle
hoodwink
hurry
puke
rant
swagger

Shakespeare also minted new metaphors, many now cliches, but fresh in his time:

it’s Greek to me
played fast and loose
slept not one wink
seen better days

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