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Dress up your thoughts! ‘Mind your speech a little, lest you should mar your fortunes’ said the greatest bard of all times William Shakespeare and how right he was. In every field, it is the way we speak and communicate that often shapes our lives. Verbal communication plays an important role in creating the right first impression. The power of words and language can never be emphasised enough as they form the cornerstone of communication. Great orators are those who use words as their brushes to conjure up visuals that stir your emotions and have the power to move mountains. Speeches that use figurative language such as metaphors, similes, alliterations, idioms and proverbs create greater imagery and form a greater connect with the audience. Both literal and figurative language play a major role in communication. While for a few speakers using figurative language is a piece of cake and a breeze, for many it is an uphill task that has them at their wit’s end! Often the right words or phrases seem elusive resulting in leaving one tongue-tied. One of the most commonly used forms of figurative language is the idiomatic expression. What is an idiom? An idiom is an expression with a figurative meaning that differs from the literal meaning. Idioms are prevalent in all languages and are used to express thoughts with clarity and efficacy. Idioms are used extensively as they add charm, character and colour to our speech. Frequent, spontaneous usage of idioms are the mark of a good communicator who has understood the nuances of the language. English has thousands of idioms and it’s never too late to get started; to add a few more to our vocabulary. Now without beating around the bush, let’s cut to the chase and get rolling. Let’s look at how simple sentences could be made more interesting with idioms. Take for instance the sentence: ‘When I go up on stage for Table Topics I just blank out and can’t say a word.’ We can rephrase by saying, ‘When I go up on stage for Table Topics I get tongue-tied. Some more examples:-


1. In my nervousness at the interview I made a small mistake, I addressed Mrs. Sinha as Mr. Sinha. In my nervousness at the interview, I addressed Mrs. Sinha as Mr. Sinha, it was a slip of the tongue. 2. Don’t discuss the surprise party plans in front of Rita, she just can’t keep a secret. Don’t discuss the surprise party plans in front of Rita, she is a big mouth. 3. The surprise party was a flop as Rita let out the secret. The surprise party was a flop as Rita let the cat out of the bag. 4. Reports of Mr. Irani leaving the company are true, I heard it directly from him. Reports of Mr. Irani leaving the company are true, I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. 5. Mrs. Rao spoilt her son by ignoring and not reprimanding him whenever he lied. Mrs. Rao spoilt her son by turning a blind eye whenever he lied. 6. Sana’s constant complaining and whining really irritates me. Sana’s constant complaining and whining drives me up the wall. 7. Before leaving Mira explained how to perform all her duties to her replacement. Before leaving Mira showed the ropes to her replacement. 8. It would be better if you spoke to the point and stopped repeating yourself. It would be better if you stopped talking in circles. 9. While doing an evaluation be frank but at the same time do ensure that what you say doesn’t leave the speaker with a bad experience. While doing an evaluation speak your mind, but at the same time do ensure that you don’t leave a bad taste in the mouth for the speaker. As can be seen, idioms hit the nail on the head and have a powerful impact. Once you venture into using figurative language you may seem to be out of your depth but if you pull out all the stops, you will find your feet and make headway, for in language truly sky’s the limit! Samuel Johnson said, “Language is the dress of thought,” and we have myriad ways of dressing up our thoughts with the fabric of words and rhetorical devices! The idioms listed above are but a drop in the ocean,


yet hopefully it would kindle an interest to delve into the enticing and engrossing world of figurative language. Vijaya Sukumar

Single voice contest  

Dress up your thoughts by Vijaya Sukumar

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