Words ARE Sticks and
Stones, Too

Research into bullying at secondary schools dispels the well-known assertion that, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

On the contrary. "Verbal-victimisation," says the study, has particular impact on the victim's feeling of self-worth; name-calling can significantly reduce self-esteem. In fact, verbal abuse can have more impact upon victims' self-worth than physical attacks, such as punching, or attacks on property, such as stealing or the destruction of belongings.

The study, conducted by Dr. Stephen Joseph, a psychologist at the University of Warwick, also suggests that verbal bullying or social manipulation can lead to feelings of helplessness and lack of control over one's own feelings and actions. Those who feel that power and control lie with the bully, rather than internally, are much more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress or lower self-worth.

All types of bullying result in lower self-esteem, adds Joseph, but social manipulation, such as excluding the victim from taking part in games, is more likely to lead to post-traumatic stress, and verbal taunts typically lead to lower self-worth.

So, if everything you know you learned in kindergarten, perhaps it's worth your while to periodically revisit those lessons--and update them.

Source: University of Warwick;
as reported by Science Daily, www.sciencedaily.com


In the Beginning Was the Word

That's what stands at the beginning of your day--every day--if you subscribe to the "Word of the Day," from Dictionary.com. Each morning in your e-mail in-box, amidst the overnight spam trash and messages from Australian friends, you can have a glimmer of mind- and vocabulary-expanding fun. Here's a sampling of recent Word of the Day offerings:

Susurrus \su-SUHR-uhs\ noun: A whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.

Stentorian \sten-TOR-ee-uhn\ adjective: Extremely loud.

Assiduous \uh-SIJ-oo-uhs\ adjective: 1. Constant in application or attention; devoted; attentive. 2. Performed with constant diligence or attention; unremitting; persistent; as, "assiduous labor."

Each Word of the Day comes with an easy to see (and say) pronunciation guide, examples of usage (as with better, bigger dictionaries) and a fascinating bit about the word's etymology.

To subscribe to Dictionary.com Word of the Day, send a blank message to: join-WordoftheDay@lists.


Take Back Your Time Day

On April 6, 1933, with unemployment at a stratospheric rate of 25 percent, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have made the standard work week 30 hours; anything more than the prescribed 30 would be "overtime."

The bill failed in the House.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed five years later, gave Americans a statutory 40-hour work-week.

Today, notes John de Graaf, co-author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, and national coordinator of Take Back Your Time Day, in an era when American productivity is several times what it was then, most Americans find it hard to get all their work done in 40 hours. (And millions more are unemployed.)

According to the International Labor Organization, Americans now work 1978 hours annually, a full 350 hours--nine weeks--more than Western Europeans. The average American worked 199 hours more in 2000 than he or she did in 1973, a period during which worker productivity per hour nearly doubled.

What happened?

In effect, says de Graaf, the United States took all of its increases in labor productivity in the form of money and what money can buy, instead of taking it in the form of time. Europeans made a different choice: to live simpler, more balanced lives--and work fewer hours.

The average Norwegian, for instance, works 29 percent less than the average American--14 weeks per year--yet the average income is only 16 percent less. Western Europeans average five to six weeks of paid vacation a year; we average two.

John de Graaf is asking Americans to reflect on those values. This coming fall, on Oct. 24, de Graaf is organizing the first annual Take Back Your Time Day, the goal of which is to encourage Americans to lead more balanced lives. The date falls nine weeks before the end of the year--nine weeks being how much more, on average, Americans work each year than Western Europeans.

Perhaps this day will help American workers realize that, in the end, there's no present like the time.

Source: The New York Times


Flubs From Folks on Madison Avenue

Every year sees a new parade of presentations of the year's nominees for the Chevy Nova Award. This prestigious (not!) award is given in honor of GM's fiasco in trying to market its Nova automobile in Central and South America--where "No va" translates literally as, "it doesn't go."

Here are some notable past nominations.

The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation read, "Are you lactating?"

Coors beer put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish--where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into Germany--only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. (Not too many people had use for the "Manure Stick.")

When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, the one with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, since many people can't read, companies typically put pictures on the labels of what's inside.

In its version for a China campaign, Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave."

You don't have to love it when the big guys mess up--but it sure is fun.