"That can't be the headline"
"What about brand CEO or cult CEO?"
"No... doesn't work"
"Inflated CEOs then"
"Inflatable CEOs is fine... you have inflatable girlfriends, inflatable boyfriends..."
Never mind if I thought about only inflatable toys. This is a gem of a discussion on headlines in a typical newsroom setting. And as you can see, it's a fight for English, sometimes hilariously, sometimes a little less. Well, David Crystal can go take a break.
My sister who worked in a call centre and monitored calls has some of the best stories. Graduates from all over India work here and they have their own flair for the language and skills of communication, unique to each. Sample these. Note they are all addressed to clients abroad.
"Can I talk to Linda in the accounts payable, please"
"She's not there right now"
"Is it Nancy [sometimes it's Berbera, Pummela, Breean, Gregary] in accounts payable"
"Yes, it is she"
"How is she [cutely], can I talk to she?"
"This is Dhherel (Daryle) from GE Palimer Ships"
"Yes shapes and sizes"
"Oh, you mean Polymer Shapes"
"No, you are not calling from GE Polymer Shapes, you are calling from Bangladesh"
"Hello, this is Leonerrd calling from XYZ. Please give me a call back"
Call returns. "Somebody by the name of Leopard had called"
"Can you please update me regarding PO (purchase order) number"
"AD123456 , A as in aaapple aaaaple, D for Doverman?"
OK. My sister won''t tell me no more. There is so much humour in the English language. But sometimes as a professional caretaker of the language, it can be frustrating too because English can be complicated. It thrives on confusion. So you have a debate on IN a place or AT a place, until or unless, inflated or inflatable, and so on. What bothers me is that I don't know how to deal with journalists who think they are Chaucer's first cousins. Perhaps, they know more than I do. "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word".