Had a guy last night offer up an English nugget to me. He was a very interesting guy — a true Renaissance man who was also a Toastmaster DTM (highest level possible). As we connected and talked, I used an incorrect word and he paused and said, “I’m going to correct you and you’re never going to forget this.“He then explained the etymology of the words I confused. I used podium (something you stand on, from the Greek word podion for pod/foot) for lectern (something you put papers on and stand behind, from the Latin lectum, to read). He was right — I’ll never forget it.The general populous speaks, writes, and understands poorly, and few if any will ever correct your grammar (I had an I/me problem the night before that my dad — who was hearing me speak for the first time — caught). But if we speak incorrectly and some select people do catch it, our credibility takes a hit, even if it’s just with a few. Someone who is a member of the self-proclaimed grammar police doesn’t overlook such transgressions easily. And just one audience member lost unnecessarily is a shame, and should be a personal challenge for improvement.Required reading for writers and speakers: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.I’ll be thinking of this tonight as I stand at the podium, er, lecturn.

Use correct language in speaking and writing.

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