Re­verse take

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT - Co-or­di­nated by JANE F. RAGAVAN english@thes­ By NITHYA SIDHHU

ENGLISH is a won­der­ful lan­guage. Try al­ter­ing the se­quence of two words in a sen­tence – words, for ex­am­ple, which may have the same spell­ing but dif­fer­ent mean­ing or where one is used as a verb and the other as a noun and then re­versed. The re­sult, I as­sure you, is very in­ter­est­ing.

Here’s what I mean. Take the fol­low­ing ex­pres­sion: When the go­ing gets tough, the tough get go­ing.

The first “go­ing” refers to the jour­ney which if it is tough (dif­fi­cult), can only be sur­vived and en­dured (they “get go­ing”) by those who are them­selves “tough” in na­ture (strong or hardy). When the “tough get go­ing”, this means they will not be daunted but will rise to the chal­lenge in­stead.

Here’s an­other sen­tence: If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

In this case, the words “fail” and “plan” are both used as verbs but the mean­ing of the phrase is al­tered sim­ply by ex­chang­ing the place­ment of the words. “Fail­ing to plan” in­di­cates one who did not do any plan­ning at all. With­out any de­tailed plan­ning or thor­ough prepa­ra­tion, such a per­son is bound to fail. In other words, it is as if he planned (or had de­cided) to fail, right from the very start.

I could very well say that “ the right start is when you start right”. By do­ing the right thing at the be­gin­ning, you will en­sure your­self suc­cess.


chang­ing the or­der of words in a sen­tence can bring about a whole dif­fer­ent mean­ing.

In man­age­ment books, it is also has fur­ther queries on the mat­ter of­ten writ­ten that: or has read some­thing con­trary to

Be­ing ef­fi­cient is do­ing the thing what the teacher’s given an­swer is. right, My favourite ex­pres­sion, with its

While be­ing ef­fec­tive is do­ing the play on words and the sub­se­quent right thing. depth of thought re­quired, is this:

Yes, an ef­fi­cient per­son makes Do you see the seed in the ap­ple, or good and care­ful use of re­sources the ap­ple in the seed? – such as man­power, money, methYes, we all know that ap­ples con­ods, ma­chines and ma­te­ri­als – and tain seeds, don’t they? We throw there­fore, en­sures that what­ever these seeds away with­out a sin­gle project or pro­gramme is planned thought for their sig­nif­i­cance. But, if will be car­ried out cor­rectly with you think about it – isn’t it true that min­i­mum waste. the seed con­tains the em­bryo of the

Mean­while, the ef­fec­tive per­son ap­ple tree and if you ger­mi­nate the fo­cuses on the end re­sult, which is seed, it will de­velop into an ap­ple the “ef­fect” he wishes to pro­duce. seedling, grow into an ap­ple tree A sales­man, for in­stance, will want which will, one day, bear ap­ples? to in­crease sales rev­enue and he is There­fore, it is true that there “ef­fec­tive” when he does this – that are ap­ples in ev­ery seed! Amaz­ing, is, he has done the right thing! isn’t it?

A teacher friend of mine, who It’s like the man who said to me, con­sid­ers him­self both ef­fi­cient and when he handed me a book on ef­fec­tive, also likes the fol­low­ing phi­los­o­phy: There is a place for ev­ery ex­pres­sion: A teacher an­swers his word, and a word for ev­ery place. stu­dent’s ques­tions, but an in­tel­li­gent Even this ex­pres­sion re­minds you stu­dent will ques­tion his teacher’s not to take what you say or write an­swers. lightly, but to think care­fully about

This means that while teach­ers what word to use and when. gen­er­ally help to an­swer the quesI must also re­mind you that, if tions posed by stu­dents, the stu­dent you wish to take to the road, then you who is ca­pa­ble of in­tel­li­gent thinkmust de­cide what road to take. ing will ques­tion the teacher if he In other words, don’t leave home feels the an­swer given is not ex­act with­out know­ing where it is that or ap­pro­pri­ate, or un­suit­able. He you wish to go to ex­actly. Or, if you may even ques­tion the an­swer if he are a stu­dent and you wish to study abroad or away from home, don’t just dream of leav­ing home but do think care­fully of what course you would like to take, where it is of­fered and what it en­tails to study it.

What about this ex­pres­sion – Some peo­ple eat to live, some live to eat?

It makes you laugh, doesn’t it? I have met peo­ple who do love their food and live to savour ev­ery meal for all that it is worth while oth­ers prac­tise dis­ci­pline and eat only what they re­ally re­quire to be healthy and fit.

Mean­while, here’s yet an­other com­mon ex­pres­sion: Don’t trou­ble trou­ble, un­til trou­ble trou­bles you.

Ba­si­cally, it means that you should stay out of trou­ble as much as you can!

Here’s an in­ter­est­ing ex­pres­sion I saw on a bookmark. In times of dif- fi­culty, don’t ever say, “GOD, I have a BIG prob­lem.” Say in­stead, “Hey, prob­lem, I have a BIG GOD!” and every­thing will be all right.

I came across an­other in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ple in Aravind Adiga’s novel, The Last Man In The Tower. In it, he talks about a sign that orig­i­nally read: “Work in Progress; In­con­ve­nience is re­gret­ted.” But, the sign had been changed to read: “In­cove­nience in Progress; Work is Re­gret­ted.” I had a good laugh.

Fi­nally, an ode to Emily Dickinson, who wrote in one of her po­ems:

“Much mad­ness is di­vinest sense – to the dis­cern­ing eye.

Much sense – the stark­est mad­ness – tis the ma­jor­ity.”

The play on the words “mad­ness” and “sense” – that’s what a re­verse take is all about. English is to be en­joyed!

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