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Verbal skills:


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Comment on Importance of verbal communication skills: oral and written:

Business schools:   Business schools should place greater emphasis on verbal skills (oral and written) in business school curriculum. On the importance of writing skills in business, see, e.g., Melissa Korn, As World Turns, Wharton Adapts, The Wall Street J., Feb. 3, 2011, at B9, available at***.html  (increased focus by Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in preparing their students on writing skills; business community want students who can write reports);  E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy 5 (1987) (top executives of some large U.S. companies noted that "mid-level executives could no longer communicate their ideas effectively in speech or writing."). The importance of verbal skills is confirmed by, e.g., the following search results. For the importance of communication/verbal skills, click here (Google™ results); here (Bing™ results).  For the importance of communication/verbal skills in business, click here. For the importance of communication/verbal skills course in business schools, click here.


For a review of the Hirsch book, click here.  For more on the importance of verbal communication skills in business see, e.g. letter/comskills.html.  For the importance of oral and written communication skills, click here (showing Google search results that strongly confirm the importance of verbal skills).

To emphasize the importance of communication skills, a Style Manual was privately distributed in my classes to my students.  It contained excerpts from W. Strunk and E. B White, The Elements of Style (3rd ed. 1979), Henry W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (2d ed.1965), Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage (1966), and William Safire, I Stand Corrected: More On Language. Each of these authorities cover alphabetically some of the following commonly used words and expressions, such as: actually, address, amount, as to, basically, basis, comprise, comprised of, could care less, different than, err, editor in chief v. editor-in-chief, exact same, feel badly, fewer/less, grow, hopefully, incidentally, in terms of, just, lend/loan, listen, look, only, on the one hand/but, on the one hand/but on the other hand,, on the other hand, otherwise, process, really, reticent, situation, so, there, this, trigger, unique, verbal, well, when it comes to, which/that, and you know.  See, e.g., more recent editions: W. Strunk and E.B. White, Elements of Style illustrated (illustrated by Maira Kalman; forward by Roger Angell (2005)) and their Elements of Style (4th ed. 2000); H.W. Fowler, Modern English Usage  (3rd ed. 1996 (edited by R.W. Burchfield); and Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage (1998 (edited by ErikWensberg)). Cf., e.g., H.W. Fowler & F.G. Fowler, The King's English (1936, Oxford paperback 1987). See also "curriculum vitae" at "Teaching Practices/Examinations" on Navigation Bar.

Generally:   Educational institutions from grade school to universities should emphasize the importance of verbal skills. See, e.g., Thomas Bartlett, Why Johnny Can't Write, Even Though He Went to Princeton, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 3, 2003, available at or that "Writing is the edifice on which . . . education rests," says Penn's Mr. Schneider. "If we don't do that well, you have to wonder what we do do well."); Sue Shellenbarger, This Embarrasses You and I, The Wall St. J., June 20, 2012, at D1 ("In a survey conducted earlier this year, about 45% of 430 employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees' grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP.").

See also, e.g., Bryan A. Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage (3d ed. 2009; click here for information on the 3rd edition. For another useful book, see Bill Bryson, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors (First Anchor Books Edition (May 2009)); click here for other books by Mr. Bryson and here for more information on this author. For additional commentary, click "Gallery:Safire letter" on Navigation Bar. Consider use of, e.g., already, literally, right, so, there. Cf., e.g., use of such expressions as: holy cr-p, p----ed, sc--w, and variations, in the public media.  See also, e.g., Post to Adam Sherk, The Most Overused Buzzwords and Marketing Speak in Press Releases, June 29, 2010,, by reginald imonteverdi, November 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm ("In speech “actual” and “actually” probably outnumber all the others combined. I’d be interested in a similar table for speakers, but it would be difficult to assemble. R.").


Query: in sentences with a compound predicate, which take the form of a subject with a first predicate and a second predicate -- or more simply: S P1 and P2 -- is clarity furthered with a comma placed between the predicates as in: S P1[,] and P2? An example: John goes to the store [,] and buys something. Compare: John goes to the store, and John buys something. See, e.g.,; For more on compound predicates, click here.


Click here for a post to,October 19, 2012 ("Excellent explanations. They warm my heart. The shame is that more clear, in my view, correct explanations (or more to the point, better “compliance” by writers generally) are rare. I may lean toward the “precriptivist” school, but I’m probably more accurately characterized as someone who falls within what is perhaps the school of “preferred” usage. The so-called “descriptivists” probably would be well-advised to be at least knowledgeable of the main conventions of usage. . . . . Best wishes, RDG").

For the usage of a "dummy subject" such as "there" and "it" at the beginning of a sentence, e.g., click here, where the magnitude of the search results confirms the importance of this issue.


Click here for a re-issuance by Oxford Press of the classic first edition of Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage(2009), with a new introduction and notes by David Crystal [ (edited comment): no book had more influence on twentieth-century writers of English; it rapidly became the standard work of reference for the correct use of English; in the concluding section of the book, Crystal examines nearly 300 entries in detail, offers a modern perspective on them, and shows how English has changed since the 1920s.].

Additional Comment:   More generally, a controversy has been raging for many years between the so-called prescriptivist and the descriptivist.  See, e.g., Joan Acocella, The English Wars, The New Yorker, May 14, 2012, at 85.  Granting, for sake of argument, that the controversy involves a legitimate position on both sides, would an educator be justified in reaching an inference that writers and speakers on the descriptivists' side are unaware of the prescriptivist's view. To the extent that this inference were true, would one be justified in inferring that this general unawareness was the result of a deficiency in teaching English American schools and colleges?

Could this inference be extended to other disciplines, such as, history, economics, geography, mathematics, science and engineering, or civics, to name a few -- where our students on average have not indicated in tests taken by students worldwide to be in the highest rankings?


Click here and here, e.g., for more information on science and math comparisons. Click here, e.g., for more information on history and geography comparisons. Though perhaps not within the comparisons among students from different countries because the following subjects would have many unique parameters for students from each of the world's countries, the study of economics, civics, and a foreign language, e.g., warrant more attention in American schools, if for no other reason than that these subjects are important for most Americans as informed citizens.



To the extent that these educational problems exist in America, they need to be solved.  Education is a crucial component of a nation's infrastructure.  For information on this issue, Click here.  Nevertheless, with respect to English usage in particular, may an interested observer reach a fair conclusion that the country could improve its education efforts -- whether you are a presciptivist or a descriptivist?  See "Gallery: Safire letter" on Navigation bar.


  * The phrase "The importance of business law" or the "importance of verbal skills" perhaps brings to mind the partial title "The Importance of Being Earnest," by Oscar Wilde, both phrases emphasizing the importance of something.  The full title of the play is "The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" is a farce/satire/comedy portraying  serious (trivial?) treatment of a trivial (serious?) subject.  In contrast, "The importance of business law" relates to a serious treatment of a serious subject. 

For  SparkNotes' comments, e.g., on this play on words in the play, click here (describing that when the characters inn the play use the word "serious", they tend to mean “trivial,” and vice versa.  For example, Algernon thinks it “shallow” for people not to be “serious” about meals, and Gwendolen believes, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.” (available at  For more information on the play, click here.