You Gotta Talk the Talk
The editors of Promo Marketing often conduct roundtable discussions on life's little inanities. These whimsical side conversations typically occur when the coffee's been flowing like wine, or when the 3 p.m. slump hits and we're all waiting for our second (or third) wind to kick in.
So we chat for a little while. (Matt Barnes, if you're reading this, let me assure you our prattle is always workplace-appropriate, held at a reasonable volume and is carefully orchestrated so we don't go over the allotted break time as outlined in our employee handbook. Most of the time. OK, a solid 25 percent of the time, give or take.)
In any case, one of the things we've discussed in the past came to me recently as I was researching stories for this week's riveting edition of Threads. Yes, I called it riveting. This is in no way an exaggeration.
This conundrum has been brought up numerous times, and to date, none of us have come up with a solution. Here goes: Is it ever OK, or at the very least not completely pretentious and jerky-sounding, to correct someone's pronunciation/phrasing in a public forum?
Our online editor Charles Plyter brought up a situation he was once in where a waitress told him and his dining companions that the vegetable being served that night was broccoli "robbie" (as opposed to the rabe, or "rob," that we all know and love).
I was told the other day that I should "play it by year" instead of "play it by ear."
Now, not a single one of us will claim to be an expert on the spoken word. I say things incorrectly all the time. But personally, and my esteemed colleagues agree, I'd rather be corrected in one fell swoop of embarrassment, in order to avoid further potential humiliation down the road. And though we reached a rather quick consensus (I definitely used to say "co-sensus"), the fact still remained: Not a single one of us would actually do the correcting. It just reeks of jerk.
The fashion industry must encounter this every day—between the collection of random French phrases and designer names with way too many consonants, umlauts and cedillas involved, the rules of phonics get completely throw out the window. This reigning confusion has certainly trickled down to the rest of us peasants. I mean, for the last time, is Hermes said "Her-mayz" or "Er-mess"?
Not that we're getting any promotional Hermes anytime soon. But in my Internet travels for this week's news, etc., I came across an early June blog post from The New York Times' fashion blog, The Moment. It points to a collection of YouTube videos created by Vancouver-based Imperial Hotel Management College on this very thing. Yes, it's got that whole evil robot/Speak N' Spell thing going for it, but it works. I will no longer be afraid to compliment someone's Christian Lacroix! That is, if I knew someone who wore anything by Christian Lacroix.
And the industry tie-in: Have you done your homework for your next sales pitch? Do you know what you're talking about when it comes to pique vs. jacquard or even chambray vs. ramies?
One little slip-up (a mispronunciation here, a minor pricing error there) can ruin a first impression for good. Study up. Take no chances in this fickle, fair-weather economy.
'Til next week!