No hyperbole talk here!

What is the difference in meaning between ‘valuable’ and ‘invaluable’? (Anmol Mahajan, Buduan)

The two words can be used with both people and objects. When you say that a particular painting on the wall is ‘valuable’, what you are suggesting is that it is worth a lot of money —which probably explains why you are often advised to keep all your ‘valuables’ in a safe. A ‘valuable’ piece of advice is an excellent piece of advice — one that is helpful. The prefix ‘in’ has several different meanings. It is sometimes used to mean ‘not’ or ‘no’. For example, ‘incomplete’ is the opposite of ‘complete’ —it means ‘not complete’. Similarly, ‘inadvisable’ means ‘not advisable’. This, however, is not the case with ‘invaluable’ —it does not mean ‘not valuable’. When you say that something is ‘invaluable’, what you are suggesting is that it is priceless. It is of greater value than something that is ‘valuable’. A ‘valuable’ member of a cricket team is someone who is important. An ‘invaluable’ member, on the other hand, is someone who is irreplaceable —he is indispensable. The team is unlikely to do well without him. There was a time when Srinath was considered a ‘valuable’ member of the Indian cricket team; Tendulkar, on the other hand, was always considered ‘invaluable’.

How is the word ‘hyperbole’ pronounced? (R Malini, Hyderabad)

This word of Greek origin consists of four syllables, not three. The first syllable rhymes with ‘tie’, ‘die’ and ‘pie’, while the second rhymes with ‘sir’, ‘purr’, and ‘fur’. The ‘o’ in ‘bo’ is pronounced like the ‘a’ in ‘china’, while the final ‘e’ sounds like the ‘i’ in ‘hit’, ‘bit’ and ‘kit’. The word is pronounced ‘hy-PER-be-li’ with the stress on the second syllable. It is normally used to refer to the type of language one uses to describe things or people. Sometimes, people tend to exaggerate when describing someone or something —it could be either to make the individual seem better or worse than he/she actually is. Just think of advertisements; the write up for any product makes it sound that it is the best in the world. The language that is used to describe the product is full of hyperboles because the company wishes to exaggerate the importance or the uniqueness of the product. One can also use hyperboles when one is talking about something or someone one does not like.

As a journalist, you need to be objective. Avoid hyperboles.

The party is promoting the Chief Minister’s daughter with the usual hyperbole.

Which is correct: data is or data are? (K Vignesh, Vellore)

It depends on whom you ask. In the past, people used to argue that since ‘data’ is the plural form of the Latin ‘datum’, it should always be followed by a plural verb. Nowadays, there is a tendency, even among native speakers of English, to use both —some people use a singular verb, while others use a plural verb after ‘data’. It is possible to say, ‘The data is’ or ‘The data are’. Of the two, the singular verb is used much more frequently than the plural.

“The thing that shocks people is that I mean what I say. I don’t use hyperbole.”

-Newt Gingrich

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 9:03:30 am |