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Saliency or Salience

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(saliency pronounced sayl-yun-see or say-lee-un-see; salience pronounced sayl-yuns or say-lee-uns)  noun (the two words are identical in meaning and usage)


from the adjective salient.
Salient (pronounced sayl-yunt or say-lee-unt) = 1. leaping, jumping, or springing. 2. projecting or extending outward beyond a line or surface. 3. prominent; very conspicuous; easily standing out because of notable and deserved significance; most important, noteworthy, or remarkable.

Main Example

  • 2017 is witnessing national elections in almost all of the major Western European countries, including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and possibly Italy. But it was the presidential election in France, won by Emmanuel Macron in early May, which attained particular saliency. Why? Because a victory by Macron’s rival, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, would have doomed the European Union.

Workplace Examples

  • All these years, my pleas for enhancing the security of our computer network have fallen on deaf ears. It was only after last month’s virus attack, which completely shut down our online operations, that the saliency of my recommendation hit home with the management.
  • Many of you think that my plan is no different than Jamie’s, so let me begin by pointing out the three most salient differences.

Other Examples

  • a colleague saying: “I am disappointed that while praising Diane at this morning’s award ceremony, Robert missed one of her salient traits--that she is unfailingly polite!”
  • a coworker saying to you: “I had to miss the Commissioner’s presentation because of an urgent issue with one of the critical software applications my team supports. If you have a minute, can you tell me some of the salient points?”
  • the issue of distracted driving having much resonance and saliency because, after years of steady decline, traffic fatalities are rising sharply; global warming and its many destructive consequences raising the saliency of our heavy dependence on fossil fuels; because of Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, some analysts projecting that NATO’s saliency is unlikely to decline anytime soon
  • the renewed saliency of the war in Afghanistan, now that the Taliban is once again in the ascendant
  • The discovery of mad cow disease in the U.S. in December, 2003, gave a high level of saliency--at least for a while--to the source and quality of the beef we buy. Not surprisingly, some companies that produce “organic” or “grass fed” beef saw their sales take off!

© 2017 V.J. Singal
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