Learning British UK Accent (RP): 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011

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OMG, the Oxford English Dictionary Added New Words! We ‘Heart’ It! LOL!

Social Media | Mashable | The Social Media Guide

Before you take to the comments to ream us out about the above headline: “OMG,” “LOL” and the symbol for “heart” have all been added to the Oxford English Dictionary Online.

According to the OED‘s site, the newest edition of the dictionary (which comes out online today) revises more than 1,900 entries and includes a ton of new words — including the neologisms above.

So what do OMG and LOL mean to the OED? In the electronic realm, they’re merely shorthand for surprise and mirth. In the real-world space — according to the OED’s blog post — “The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”

So, we’re going with irony rather than pre-teen sincerity here, huh, OED? Fair enough.

The OED also reveals that these neologisms aren’t as neo as we might think: The first quotation the dictionary uses for the definition of OMG is from a letter dating back to 1917, and LOL meant “little old lady” back in 1960.

The heart sign, however, is perhaps the most interesting addition. As the post says, “This update may be the first English usage to develop via the medium of T-shirts and bumper-stickers.”

All this is fine and good, but I’m holding out for the next edition, which will hopefully include some of those symbols all those witch house bands have been throwing around of late. OMG, I would <3 that! LOL!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jonas B

More About: OED, pop culture

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Sarkozy sparks row with plan to teach nursery children English

TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

Nicolas Sarkozy has announced a plan to teach English to French three-year olds, sparking howls of protest among linguistic purists.

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Research: Bilingualism Significantly Delays Alzheimer's Disease

Accent Reduction for Healthcare Providers: Medical Healthcare ...
Those who speak two languages, or more, and become stricken with Alzheimer&apos;s Disease have cognitive impairment lessened and cope better with Alzheimer&apos;s.
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BBC News - Will Cheryl Cole's Newcastle accent work in America?

How to Speak English with a Good Pace

American English Pronunciation blog

Many of my accent reduction clients tell me that they try to speak English quickly. When I ask them why they say, “if I speak quickly no one will notice my accent”.

Oh, oh!

If you speak English too quickly it could be contributing to your accent.

Native speakers do say some words quickly, but not all words. The most important words are lengthened and said with emphasis. We call these content and focus words.

Here are some ways to pace your speech in ways that will help your accent.

  1. Pause between phrases (thought groups) and sentences. This will  help your listeners  “catch up”  to what you are saying.
  2. Highlight the content and focus words by lengthening them and raising your pitch. You can say the less important words quickly.
  3. Use non final and series intonation in longer sentences. When you use a rising pitch at the end of initial thought groups and when presenting a series of choices you will naturally slow down.

Using the strategies described here will also add vocal variety to your speech and create a better melody.

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Global Trends: Focusing the Lens of Communication Training

Accent Reduction Blog | Accent Neutralization Blog

If I were ‘fluent’ in a foreign language, most people would take it to mean that I’d mastered the  grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and pronunciation rules of that language.   I’d like to suggest another aspect of language proficiency that isn’t typically included, one that deals with the relationship between language and culture.  Linguists call this often neglected, but absolutely essential, part of speech, ‘phatic’ communication.  This is the area of discourse that has nothing to do with requesting information (interrogatives), or telling someone what to do (imperatives), or giving new information (declaratives).  ‘Phatic’ communication falls into a more elusive category…the realm of using language to build, maintain, and negotiate relationships.  Expressions like “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” “you’re welcome,” and “please” are all examples of ‘phatic’ communication.

In our multicultural workforce, sometimes the intent of our message gets lost in translation.  For example, when we use idiomatic expressions that mean, “you’re welcome,” we may lose the sense of gratitude.  “You’re welcome” sounds sincere and appreciative.  Can’t you just feel the sincerity in the phrase?  Yet other phatic expressions – “don’t worry about it,” “not a problem,” “no big deal,” “just trying to be helpful,” “it was nothing” –hardly do justice to a good ol’ fashioned “you’re welcome.”

The American workforce, with its international supply chain, is becoming more and more diverse. Corporate training now reflects an unprecedented focus on communication training programs.  And language skills are now rightly viewed as being either “enablers” or “disablers.”  Language can facilitate collaboration and innovation, or isolation and stagnation.  

We know that the top Fortune 100 companies are also the organizations with the strongest diversity and inclusion programs.  My goal is to help companies leverage the connection between language and culture to increase productivity, mind-share, and the bottom line.  One way we do this is to provide communication training programs that get people thinking about word choice.  When we speak, what do we convey in addition to basic information?  What is the message behind the message?  Is it ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem’?  To a non-native English speaker, the phrases may suggest two very different sentiments.  Practice English, whether it’s your first language or second, using ‘phatic’ speech that conveys the very best of your intentions.  Use language to create bridges of communication. 

corporate training programs

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