Friday, January 28, 2011

Localite vs local; upliftment vs uplift

Here's an email exchange that all Commitscions, for sure, and others interested in the usage of words will find illuminating:
from  Bonny Mathew
to Ramesh Prabhu
date Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 7:50 PM
subject The word "localite"


I had a doubt with the word localite...I know you said that there is no such word as localite, but I happened to find this word being used at many places.

The oxford dictionary does not consist this word but there are other dictionaries that have it.


from Ramesh Prabhu
to Bonny Mathew
date Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM
subject Re: The word "localite"

You know what, Bonny? You're right — and you have caught me on the back foot here. :-)

You see, for me "local" says it all. So I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would add "-ite" to it.

Well, I am wrong. After I received your email I did a search and what do you know — there's a reference to "localite" on the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I am stunned. Obviously.

But I see no need to use "localite" when "local" is good enough. So I am going to ban the use of "localite" in Your Opinion, our college newspaper, and in my assignments. :-)

(When you type "localite" in Gmail or in Word, you'll notice that red squiggly underline turning up as soon as you press the space bar. That tells you something, doesn't it?)

Anyway, you got me thinking, Bonny. I have another pet peeve: "upliftment". So I thought I should check out this one too. And, again, I was flabbergasted to learn that, according to some online dictionaries, it's a variant of "uplift".

Again, I see no need to use "upliftment" when "uplift" is good enough. So I am going to ban the use of "upliftment" in Your Opinion and in my assignments. :-)

(Also, when you type "upliftment" in Gmail or in Word, you'll notice that red squiggly underline turning up as soon as you press the space bar. That tells you something, doesn't it?)

Who's in charge of these so-called dictionaries, anyway? As far as I know, the dictionaries that are considered the final authority on the English language do not include these "variants". Some of you may argue that Merriam-Webster is a well-known name in the world of dictionaries, but, suddenly, I am not so sure about its status anymore.

No, no — I am kidding. Merriam-Webster has been owned by  Encyclopaedia Brittanica since 1964, so the editors know what they're doing. And, apparently, "localite" and "upliftment" do exist. So their usage will depend on house style. And that's final.

I am copying this to your classmates. All feedback is welcome.




My 1,953-page Chambers Dictionary does not have either "localite" or "upliftment". Both "local" and "uplift" are given as the noun forms.

The New York Times, which I consider one of the world's great newspapers, does not use "localite" going by the search I performed this morning on its website (see below).

As for "upliftment", a search on the NYT website threw up three references. First, a direct quote with the word (in an obituary for a reggae singer who died last year):

In a 2001 interview, Mr. Isaacs reflected on his legacy. “Look at me as a man who performed works musically,” he said. “Who uplift people who need upliftment, mentally, physically, economically — all forms. Who told the people to live with love ’cause only love can conquer war, and to understand themselves so that they can understand others.”

Second, in an answer by a hip-hop musician, Jorge Pabon, to a question asked by readers in April last year:

The outcome of these efforts often brings about a strong conscious generation of individuals who have found peaceful ways to settle differences and who stand for the upliftment of their community.

This also appears to be a direct quote.

Third, in a reader's letter:

All these features make USA a dynamic and growing society like no other society in the world. Therefore, a mere statistical comparison with some of the so called banana republics is rather misleading, as these countries usually do not offer the same or even similar avenues and opportunities for individual growth and economic upliftment.

Any guesses where this reader hails from? New Delhi. Niranjan Raj sent in this letter to the NYT last November.

There seem to be no instances of NYT journalists using "upliftment" in their articles.

But search for "uplift" on the NYT website, and more than 8,000 results will turn up, including this sentence from an article in a November 2010 issue of The New York Times Magazine:

This fusion of confinement and uplift may seem like an empowering veneer on the reality of oppression.

To me, this is a good enough argument for banning the use of "upliftment" (and "localite") in our written and spoken English.

How many magazines in India will let reporters work on a story for six months?

I can't think of any. Except perhaps for Tehelka, whose editor Tarun Tejpal in 2007 asked his reporter Ashish Khetan to conduct a months-long undercover investigation into the Godhra killings. But among Indian publications Tehelka is unique, as we all know, and it is the exception to many rules.

In the West, on the other hand, many magazines specialise in long-form stories that can take the writers weeks, if not months, to put together.

The latest issue (February 7) of Fortune has one such article  an investigation into the BP oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico last April. The magazine's managing editor, Andy Serwer, writes in this issue that two reporters and a researcher "spent six months interviewing scores of interested parties and travelling across the U.S. and to London to interview, among others, three BP CEOs, current and former, including an unrepentant Tony Hayward and his predecessor, the architect of the modern BP, John Browne".

Serwer also explains why Fortune took up this mammoth investigation:

To do the biggest business stories right requires a significant investment of time and effort. It's an investment that frankly is becoming rare these days, but to me and the rest of us at Fortune it's a risk well worth taking if executed properly. The payoff — a long-form magazine story that provides understanding well beyond the daily ticktock — has almost unquantifiable value. As in, "Ah, I finally get what happened." How much is that worth?

And what do readers actually get? Back to Serwer:

The result is a rich, highly engaging tale told here in this issue — all 10,500-odd words of it — that gives a holistic picture of BP and what led up to the disaster in an analytical and cinematic fashion.

Six months. 10,500-odd words. Again my question: Which Indian magazine will permit its reporters to spend six months for a 10,500-word story?
  • PS: The BP story is not up yet on the Fortune website because this issue is still on the stands. Check back later and read "BP: 'An accident waiting to happen'."
  • Commitscion Noyon Jyoti Parasara (Class of 2007) has sent me the link to another fascinating example of long-form investigative journalism on the ProPublica website: "Pakistan and the Mumbai attacks: The untold story". (For the uninitiated, ProPublica is probably the most well-known media outlet for public interest journalism.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How e-readers will make life easy for us readers

Sure, you can store a few thousand books in an e-reader but what will the "reading" experience be like? That is the question haunting book-lovers such as myself. And that is why I devoured every word of Altaf Tyrewala's article on his e-reading experience in a recent Tehelka.

In "My electric nights with Vikram Chandra", Tyrewala first takes us back to 2006 and the launch of Vikram Chandra's epic bestseller, Sacred Games. "At nearly a thousand pages," writes Tyrewala, "Chandra's was the fattest novel by an Indian-origin writer in recent years."

The book was a critical and commercial success, but Tyrewala says he persisted in his refusal to read the novel. He explains:

As a writer living and working in Mumbai, I’d established a rule: if a book couldn’t be carried into the city’s overcrowded suburban trains during rush hour, it did not merit my readership. It was a self-defeating middle-class snootiness, precluding my enjoyment of hundreds of masterpieces, but anyone who has endured the horror of those daily train rides will know that you cannot shrink yourself enough on a 6.08 pm Virar fast. A thousand-page book like Sacred Games belonged elsewhere, in a world of wide roads and spacious homes and peaceful rides in climate-controlled modes of public transport.

Later in the article, we learn about Tyrewala's e-reader:

I've been using one of these gizmos for a month, and can already see how it has begun renegotiating my assimilation of written material. This is the first month of my adult life that I haven’t purchased physical books. Where usually there would be a pile of volumes comprising my current (non)reading list strewn around the house, there now sits a single slim paperback-sized plastic device containing 10 downloaded e-books, and the capacity to hold hundreds more.

Tyrewala then discusses some of the problems with the technology:

Many of the books that I’ve been seeking to dive into for years aren’t available in the digital format as yet.... The e-book technology is still new and the reservoir awaiting digitisation is staggeringly vast. ... The search is no longer for books, but for digitally downloadable titles capable of being read on my e-reader. Given the limited choices, there is still joy in the hunt and relish in one’s find.

And he also looks into the crystal ball:

A more reliable understanding of e-reading habits and their effects will emerge a few months or years later. Can e-book stores remain immune to chain-store profusion? Will the e-reader surmount our growing inability to concentrate? It is inevitable that the ease of downloading titles will eventually devalue books, the way digitisation has made music and films pedestrian. ... There’s no telling how things might pan out in the long run. E-readers could prove critics wrong and not be the death of reading.

But Tyrewala is happy about one aspect:

For now, at any rate, the e-reader is accomplishing its task satisfactorily: it has got jaded writers like me reading again — and not just any old book, but the elephantine and intimidating Sacred Games.

Can there be a better argument in favour of e-readers?

Read Tyrewala's intelligent, witty, and visionary piece in its entirety here: "My electric nights with Vikram Chandra".
  • Illustration courtesy: Tehelka/Sudeep Chaudhuri
  • UPDATE (December 25, 2011): I bought a Kindle Fire last week. And now I think, for book-lovers, it's the best thing since sliced bread. Read my post here.
  • UPDATE (October 10, 2013): I finally have my own e-version of Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games, bought on for Rs.99. :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Could a best-selling Finnish novel change your life?

Pico Iyer is one classy writer. A former Time journalist, he has numerous travel books to his name Video Night in Kathmandu is probably the most popular in this part of the world.

Pico Iyer is also a renowned essayist. Mint Lounge last week devoted a whole page to his ruminations, reproduced from the Wall Street Journal, on a book by a Finnish author that extols the virtues of quitting the rat race and slipping away, at least for a while, from "everything that sounds so important".

Don't you love the way Iyer's opening lines seduce you into reading on?

Which of us has not entertained that deliciously seditious notion: to do a Gauguin? To slip away for a while from everything that sounds so important — a steady job, a settled home, a regular salary — and go off in search of adventure, restoration, fun? There is, after all, more and more to escape these days....

The book in question is The Year of the Hare, by Arto Paasilinna ("To me [at first] he simply looked like a name with too many vowels," writes Iyer.)

The plot of "The Year of the Hare" could not be simpler. A journalist, Vatanen, is sleepwalking through his everyday life, blind to the beauties of the wild, when a hare, "tipsy with summer," runs across the road in front of the car he is traveling in. In the wake of the resulting collision, Vatanen wanders off into the forest to care for the wounded creature. Soon he is drifting farther and farther away from what is commonly known as civilization, till finally he is living in a Nature Reserve in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. Free of the daily grind, he finds that his senses are newly sharp, his food has a taste it never had before and he is alive as he has never been in his regular life (besides which, his wife seems hardly to miss him).

After discussing the plot in some more detail, Iyer explains why this story resonated with him:

I, too, was working for a weekly magazine, once upon a time, sequestered in a small office in midtown Manhattan, and it was just a single autumn morning, on a layover in Tokyo, that acted on me like a fast-running hare: I was killing the hours before my flight back to New York by wandering through the little town of Narita, and something in the quiet stillness of the streets, the mildness of the late October light, told me of everything I was missing in my daily life at home. Why was I living according to someone else's idea of happiness, I thought, and not according to my own? I decided to move to Japan.

Many of us might have harboured similar thoughts Why are we living according to someone else's idea of happiness and not according to our own? — but few of us set out to change the way we live and work. Perhaps Pico Iyer's concluding paragraph may prove to be the inspiration we need:

"The Year of the Hare" reminds us that what seems so important in our daily lives may not be all that permanent or sustaining. The best resolution to make this New Year's Day might be to open your eyes to everything around you — while also recalling that most of our lofty resolutions will ultimately come to naught.

Read the essay in full here: "The Road Into the Open".
  • On the same page, Pico Iyer also provides a list of other books that can "set you free". Included among the five on the list are, unsurprisingly, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and surprise, surprise, Shakespeare's As You Like It.
  • Illustration courtesy: The Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good writing does not come easy

No One Killed Jessica is the movie many people are talking about now and director Raj Kumar Gupta, who gave us the successful Aamir a few years ago, is the man basking in the limelight.

We know what NOKJ is about; what we don't know is how the movie came to be.

Now, thanks to an enlightening article by Rahul Bhatia in the latest Open (January 17), in which we first learn about the long discussions between the director and Sabrina Lall, Jessica's sister, we know what a struggle it was for Raj Kumar Gupta (pictured above) to put his script together:

After a month away from the story [after the meetings with Sabrina], Gupta sat down to write in his modest Versova [a Mumbai suburb] apartment. Looking at the material he had, he was frightened by its scope and scale. His last movie focused primarily on one character, while this one had several. “Then I thought, ‘If I do a bad job, no one will know about it because it won’t get made.’ But if I did a good job, this could be my best script. And if I could write this, I could write anything.” Before he began to write, he pulled down a poster of Aamir, and put it out of sight. (“You don’t want to think about what you did earlier.”)

After four starts, he found his pacing, tone and rhythm with his fifth attempt at the first scene. This is important, he says, because it gives him momentum when he launches himself into the foggy blank pages of a potential script. “I still didn’t have a story in mind.”

Still, he wrote. Words amounted to paragraphs. Paragraphs became pages. After writing ten pages, he decided he was going to make this movie. Propelled by the force of a steady beginning, he gradually had a story. And then it became a script.

But that's not the end. The shoot cannot start yet because Gupta is a perfectionist who believes everything begins with the script. So, over seven months, he writes 15 drafts. For all those who think good writing comes easy, the next paragraph is instructive: 

“Writing is a very painful process,” he says. “Very tiresome. Very lonely. I have no one to guide me. So it takes me time to figure things out.” To move on with an incomplete script, or even one that’s less than perfect, is unthinkable.

It isn’t just about the story in itself. The story is what will wake him up in excitement for months during gruelling schedules. The story is what will keep him strong when it’s  cloudy on an outdoor shoot. The story, essentially, is where hope lives.

“I think what’s important is that the script is the inspiration,says Gupta. Whatever I make, the story should be inspiring enough for me to keep going. And as a director, you know, there are 200 people working towards one person’s vision. Out of them, 70 per cent will be doing a job. There’s no art to it. But the other 30 per cent are creatively adding to the product, whether it’s the director of photography, or assistant directors who are highly neglected and underestimated. But everything begins with the script.”

If you're interested in film-making or scriptwriting, or if you simply want to understand the creative process, read "His Own Way" for a fascinating insight into the mind of an unassuming-looking young man of whom we're sure to hear a lot in the future.
  • Photo courtesy: Open
Still on scriptwriting, the same issue of Open coincidentally features film critic Anupama Chopra's fervent plea to Bollywood to put an end to plagiarism and generate some original scripts. She writes:

In the last decade, the Hindi film industry has gone from strength to strength. Profits have boomed; viewers have  multiplied; Brand Bollywood has amplified. Hindi cinema is everywhere — from the Sundance film festival to theatres in Poland and Germany.  However, despite the success, the rising global profile and the  increasing chances of getting caught, Bollywood filmmakers continue to  happily plagiarise. So Aakrosh is Mississippi Burning, Knock Out is Phone Booth, Guzaarish has shades of The Sea Inside and Tees Maar Khan is After the Fox, which is written by Neil Simon.

Read the column in its entirety here: "Original Scripts, Please?"

PS: One of the sub-headings in this piece reads "Less stars, more script". It should read "Few (or "Fewer") stars, less script". Know why?

  • Back to NOKJ. If you've watched the movie, you will know that Tehelka is only acknowledged in the end-credits as an afterthought. Well, the country's No. 1 (only?) public interest magazine had a big role to play in getting the case heard again, as Nisha Susan explains in the January 22 issue: "The film attributes the Tehelka investigation that convicted Manu Sharma to an imaginary television journalist," writes Susan. "Cinema, of course, has its own imperatives but before history is entirely rewritten Tehelka would like to take a moment to remember its three-month long undercover investigation without which Jessica Lall’s murderer may still be free." Read the article in its entirety here: "The investigation we did. And the movie they made".

(8) Facebook rants to make you think about bad English vs good English (31-35)

Rant No. 31: Why don't we know how to distinguish a declarative sentence from an interrogative one? DNA published a story today with this headline: "Why keeping New Year resolutions is difficult?" That question mark at the end reduced the headline to "babu" English and ruined the story for me. 
January 5 at 3:25pm

    • Tania Sarkar sir, could you please elaborate on this? i didn't quite get it! :(
      January 5 at 8:47pm 
      Asif Ullah Khan ramesh, my son arsalan says there is no such thing as two persons. it is either one person or two people. can you help me

      January 5 at 8:48pm 

    • Aravind Baliga Ramesh, good one. Without the question mark at the end, it would be a statement, hopefully followed up by the article explaining exactly why this is difficult. On the other hand, the header "Why IS keeping New Year resolutions difficult? " (note uppercase IS) would be grammatically correct as well, followed by an article explaining why its difficult.
      January 6 at 6:52am

    • Ramesh Prabhu Tania: Read Aravind's comment. Got it now? Let me know.
      January 6 at 10:48am

    • Tania Sarkar Thanks, sir... got it now... :)
      January 6 at 10:51am

    • Ramesh Prabhu Asif: It is correct, but perhaps rare, to write "two persons". Ask Arsalan to just Google the phrase "two persons" -- there are plenty of entries. (Though I must add that there are one or two websites that say "two persons" is wrong.) Read the second para here:
      January 6 at 2:19pm

    • Menka Sony Thanks a ton
      January 6 at 3:52pm
      Rant No. 32: A "dais" is a raised platform, as at the front of a room, for a lectern, throne, seats of honour, etc. Why do so many of us say or write "dias" when we mean "dais"?

    • Vibha Ghai Another prospective rant ... if you have not listed it already ... why 'momento' instead of 'memento' ? The Italian connection somewhere? :-)
      January 6 at 1:48pm

    • Sudhir Prabhu Blame all the Dias' from Mangalore such as Priscilla Dias and Edwin Dias :)
      January 6 at 2:31pm

    • Tania Sarkar this one we did in class, sir! :) thanks... i miss your phrase of the day! :( couldn't it be on fb?
      January 7 at 1:18pm
    •  *** 
      Rant No. 33: Why is it necessary to use the word "dusty" to describe libraries or encyclopaedias?
      Unacceptable: "Wikipedia [has] replaced libraries stocked with heavy, dusty encyclopaedias." -- Mint, Dec. 31, 2010

      For one, it is a cliché. Second, I have never seen a dusty library or encyclopaedia. Have you?
      January 7 at 3:43pm

    • Padmini Nandy Mazumder Uh... Yes I have! The District Library at Guwahati is full of dust! :P
      January 7 at 3:51pm

    • Padmini Nandy Mazumder And full of dusty volumes of encyclopaedias!
      January 7 at 3:52pm

    • Ramesh Prabhu Clearly, I have to go to Guwahati and give the librarian a piece of my mind.
      January 7 at 3:55pm

    • Tania Sarkar well, sir... but so have I! :(
      January 7 at 4:13pm

    • Debmalya Pablo Dutta Me too... The famous National Library in Calcutta... The old periodicals department... Besides having the choicest collection of magazines and dailies,it has some of the oldest dust in the country... :P
      January 7 at 6:54pm

    • Tania Sarkar i belong to the same place!
      January 7 at 7:27pm

    • Ramesh Prabhu Calcutta, Guwahati: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust?
      January 8 at 10:49am

    • Debmalya Pablo Dutta Ha ha ha ha ha...
      January 8 at 10:50am

    • Ramesh Prabhu Do our other cities have dusty libraries and encyclopaedias? I haven't seen any in Mumbai or Bangalore.
      January 8 at 10:50am

    • Saffana Michael I dont know about libraries but my bookshelf at home often collects dust.... maybe books just naturally collect dust?
      Sunday at 9:02am

    • Patrick Michael
      You have dust mites, dust storms, dusty roads and dusty libraries. Try the public library in Panjim, or the Asiatic, or the the one that used to be opposite the Jehangir Art Gallery in amchi Mumbai. If you sneezed, you'd trigger a dust storm! Sorry Ramesh, guess you've not been to places I have!!!!

      Sunday at 7:00pm

    • Ramesh Prabhu
      Pat: The situations you describe may have existed 20-30 years ago. Do you think the scene will be different today? Also, these libraries are all public libraries -- does anyone still visit public libraries? I am curious.

      I am a member of the Just Books chain of libraries -- the branch I visit is air-conditioned; I use radio frequency ID, or RFID, technology to return and issue books at a touch-screen kiosk, and I have access to some 4,000 new books every month. I just can't imagine "dusty" being used to describe any Just Books branch or the books on their shelves.

      Monday at 10:22am
    •  ***
      Rant No. 34: India Today (Jan. 10) has no problems with the F-word, spelling it out in full in one article. But in another piece in the same issue it uses asterisks to camouflage a Hindi obscenity (ch*****). What gives?
      Monday at 11:09am


      Rant No. 35: What is this "ya" one finds so often in Facebook status updates? Here's one: "He's a friend ya...." And here's another: "i ll come tomo ya... m ok hw u?" I understand all the shorthand used on FB but for "ya". Is it supposed to be "yeah"? Or "yaar"? Or is it just another crutch word like "basically"?
      Yesterday at 10:48am 

    • Sudhir Prabhu ya i 2 need 2 know
      Yesterday at 10:52am

    • Samarpita Samaddar I use it as a shorthand of "yaar" :)
      Yesterday at 10:52am

    • Kirti Bhotika Garg it's a shorthand for "yaar" Sir... :D lol, I could imagine you speaking out your rant :P
      Yesterday at 10:54am

    • Sharon George mostly short for yaar i imagine
      Yesterday at 10:57am

    • Nandini Hegde sirji txt language ko baksh do!! nahi to Rant No. 555 tak pohach jaaoge! :P
      Yesterday at 11:05am 

    • Vibha Ghai I think once you reach 100, it will be time to look for a publisher ... The Rants You Always Wanted To Air But Could Not !
      Yesterday at 11:09am

    • Tania Sarkar sir, although I never use it... but normally people use it as a short form of "yaar"... and this is not just a form of shorthand but they also use it in spoken language too!
      Yesterday at 11:24am

    • Ramesh Prabhu Tania: In spoken language, it's ALWAYS "yaar", isn't it?
      Yesterday at 11:30am

    • Ramesh Prabhu Nandini: My "Bambaiya" Hindi vocabulary does not include the word "baksh". Please translate your comment for me. :-)
      Yesterday at 11:46am 

    • Preeti Suman hmmm...point to be noted My Lord !!
      Yesterday at 12:02pm

      Yesterday at 12:10pm

    • Tania Sarkar Sir, that's what I said... that in spoken language too people have started using this word! :(
      Yesterday at 1:03pm

    • Ramesh Prabhu Koyel and other young people: You will notice that in the examples quoted in my status message there's an ellipsis after each "ya". That's three presses of a key, right? Why not press "a" and "r" instead and complete the word in the same amount of time taken to key in the ellipsis? (Assuming that "ya" stands for "yaar", of course.)
      Yesterday at 2:13pm

    • Nandini Hegde sir ji baksh do means spare it!
      Yesterday at 3:12pm

    • Ramesh Prabhu Ah, I get it now. No, Nandu, I am not going to be taking on our texters but I was really curious abut this "ya" business. I have my answer now. Thanks.
      Yesterday at 3:26pm

    • Harshada Neem i salute thee for all the rants u can think of !!!!! sirjee tussi great ho !!!
      20 hours ago

    • Mini Kolluri
      Growing up in Bangalore, it was a part of the slang. Almost like "da" in Tamil or "o" in Kannada. Not sure what the origins are, but "ya" would translate to "man". So, "What ya?" or "Tell me ya". "Ya" by the way is gender neutral.

      Before you get mad at me, I haven't used it since childhood when we'd jokingly use "poriki" English.

      16 hours ago

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is the need to turn the air blue?

I don't use abusive language in my personal or professional life. The F-word does pop up in my mind on rare occasions but I make sure it doesn't pop out of my mouth. I don't think that makes me a puritan or especially noble far from it; this is a personal choice, nothing more.

Having said that, I have to say I am not sure I understand the need to turn the air blue. For many people, young and old, men and women, using swear words is perhaps like breathing. It is so natural that they are possibly not aware they're doing it. Some young people I know, both men and women, seem to be comfortable using the F-word even on Facebook. This is probably okay given that you're doing this within your circle of friends but have you thought about what happens when you use obscenities in the workplace?

Let me quote from How To Sell Yourself, by Ray Grose (Mint published excerpts from the book yesterday):

Some people can be offended by cursing or foul language, even if they don’t show it. Even people who use such language with their peers may find your use of such language to be disrespectful to them if you are their team member or their superior.

Others may be offended because your use of such language shows that you may expect them not to be offended. Even if they might not find the actual language offensive they might find your expectation about their response presumptuous. Since such language can damage your image, and because there is no need for an articulate person to use it, avoid it.

So while you may consider it "natural" and "fun" to use foul language, you should also consider the damage it can do to your reputation at work. And, as Ray Grose points out, if you are an articulate person, you can easily express yourself well without resorting to pyrotechnics, if you know what I mean. So cut it out. Please.

How To Sell Yourself also has useful advice on other examples of inappropriate workplace behaviour. Read up to know what's wrong with correcting a subordinate at work; while gossiping how much is too much; and why power matters when it comes to flirting.

Go to "Mind your language, get your image right".