Tapping the Verbal Motherlode

Dictionaries, Glossaries, Rhetorical Devices,
Word Play and More

by Patricia Kutza

Promoting your business is a continual exercise—expressed in spontaneous gestures like sharing business cards with another customer at the supermarket checkout counter, as well as in more planned gestures like book signings and scripted speeches.

Sharing your business card sounds painless enough. Speaking in public? "Not in a lifetime!" you say? While you may associate public speaking with pure terror (as some well-known professional speakers still do), it may be more useful to focus on what kind of wonderful boost an entertaining speech can give you and your business.

You say you don't have the marketing dollars to hire a speechwriter? Not to worry. . . the Internet is a veritable treasure chest of nuggets you can pluck to turn a few choice words into gold. Here's a brief tour of this verbal motherlode:

Word Detective. What's in a Word? Let your audience in on some little-known word origins . . . even give a quiz! Get all your answers at Ewan Morris' Word Detective site, where you will find the history of "pixilated," "gumshoe, "pushing the envelope," "pleased as punch," "bat out of hell," and a whole lot more!

The Straightdope. "Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 . . . (It's taking longer than we thought)." With such a slogan, even if you don't find what you want here, the sheer fun of the visit will loosen you up for some serious speechwriting!

Cliché Finder. This clever cliché retrieval service dishes out a heap of clichés . . . great for stoking the imagination when your creative-juices-tank is on empty.

A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices. So you think Catachresis and Synecdoche are prescription medications? Well think again, and so will your audience, when you lay some of these rhetorical devices on their unwitting ears. They're actually fun to read about and even more fun to use.

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Copyright 2004 by Patricia Kutza. Patricia Kutza is a San Francisco Bay Area-based travel and technology writer. She writes about the compelling ways the technology and hospitality sectors are converging to enhance the traveler's experience. A search on Google will turn up many of her articles on the Web, and you can follow her on Twitter.

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