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English Speaking Skills: Understanding Gets You to Pronunciation Mastery- Important Reasons for Some Strange Spellings

English Speaking Skills: Understanding Gets You to Pronunciation Mastery- Important Reasons for Some Strange Spellings

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Here are two sets of words which give you a sample of words in English that do not follow the rules of pronunciation or spelling of English.

Corpse and corps

Horse and worse

About 70% of the words in English follow the rules for pronunciation (and spelling).  However, 30% do not.  How did that happen?

The story is fascinating. Here are some of the reasons that go all the way back to the beginning of English as a language.

English uses an alphabet which uses letters that come from Latin.  Unfortunately, English does not share exactly the same set of sounds as Latin.

The other sources of problems with English spellings comes from its invasions, thefts from other languages, sloth or laziness (people like to do things in the simplest way), caprice or chance, mistakes, pride and the simple fact that all things change.

Invasion and theft

First, the Romans invaded Britain in the 1st Century AD and brought their Latin alphabet.

Then in the 7th Century, The Angles and Saxons took over Britain, along with their language.

Beginning in the 9th Century, Vikings occupied parts of England and brought their language (including “they,” replacing the Old English “hie”),

Then Norman French conquered in 1066 – and replaced much of the vocabulary with French, including words which over time became beef, pork, invade, tongue, and person.

The English pushed out the French (but kept their words).

A few centuries later, Britain began to acquire territories around the world – America, Australia, Africa, India.  With each new colony, Britain acquired words: hickory, budgerigar, zebra, bungalow.

The British did trade with everyone and took words as they traded.  We call that  “borrowing.”  When we “borrow” words, for some words we adopted the pronunciation but changed the spelling: galosh (from French galoche), strange (from French estrange).

For other words, we didn’t change the spelling, but we changed the pronunciation: ratio (originally like “ra-tsee-o” in Latin), sauna (the Finnish au is like “ow”), ski (in Norse, said more like ‘she”).  Or we kept the spelling and to a good extent, the original foreign language pronunciation: corps, ballet, pizza, tortilla.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

Rerun from Feb 17, 2016

All Speakers Think They Speak Louder than They Do

All Speakers Think They Speak Louder than They Do

That’s because they are hearing themselves through the bone structure of their head as well as through their ears.

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Rerun from March 7, 2016

Accent Reduction: One of Hottest Job Skills is Fluency in English and Another Language

Accent Reduction: One of Hottest Job Skills is Fluency in English and Another Language

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Are you working to get accurate, fluent English?

Fluency in English and another language is one of the hottest job skills in the U.S.

As early as 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor noted that translators and interpreters  would be one of the 15 fastest growing occupations in the nation.  Growth rate of 42% in the ten years between 2010 and 2020 is expected.

Interpreters focus on spoken language, and translators focus on written language.

Which languages offer the highest salaries?  In government jobs, it’s middle eastern languages like Arabic, Farsi and Pashto (Afghani).  In private sector jobs, it’s Scandinavian and Asian languages that pay the most.

The Army, big city police departments, and State department cannot get enough workers with fluency in a foreign language. Neither can the top companies like the Fortune 500, hospitals, local courts, and schools.

Spanish is the second most common language in the United States, after English. Being bilingual in Spanish-English may make being hired more likely in regions with large numbers of Latino persons.

According to Dorothea Racette, a German-English translator and former president of the American Translators Association, most translators work as independent contractors.  Compensation for work varies a lot on language combination, years of experience, type of specialization, and country or region where customers are based.  Speed for 2,500 to 3,000 words a day are compensated $325 to $390 a day.

Interpreters typically get paid by hour, half-day or day, with a range of $300 to $1,000 per day.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

 

Rerun from Feb 10, 2016

Impact of Low Volume Voice During Presentations

Impact of Low Volume Voice During Presentations

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Audiences interpret low volume as the speakers having low conviction or low interest on their topic.  Audiences say to themselves, “If the speaker isn’t interested, I’m not either.”  Then the audience stops paying attention to you.

 

 

Rerun from Feb 29, 2016

Accent Reduction: Why did English Become a Dominant World-Language?

Accent Reduction: Why did English Become a Dominant World-Language?

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Have you ever wondered why English became a dominant world-language?  Have you ever wondered whether Mandarin (China’s official language) would take the place of English as the globe’s most important language?

The answer to English becoming a dominant language lies in history.  The British Empire spread English to many parts of the world, first through colonization in the 17th and 18th centuries, then through its leadership in the Industrial Revolution.  After that, the U.S.’s subsequent economic superiority and political leadership established English as the first or second language of many countries.

Mandarin Chinese has the greatest number of native-born speakers – at 1.3 billion compared to US at 300 million —virtually all are in China.  China historically did not colonize.  Thus, there are no distant former Chinese colonies speaking Mandarin today.  That is in contrast to those former colonies of England, France, and Spain who still speak the languages of those countries.

What probably stops Mandarin from displacing English as the world’s most important language?  According to Lee Kuan Yew, writer for Forbes, several important features of Mandarin make it a very difficult language for the rest of the world to learn and master.  Even if you put Chinese words into pinyin form (roman characters), there are four tones to each character (often one syllable) that designate meaning.  He does not predict China converting its Mandarin characters for pinyin because of pride in their language, which has survived more than 5,000 years.  He points out that Chinese differs totally from most other languages used today because it uses pictographs and ideographs, with no spelling symbols to  indicate which of the four tones for each character is intended.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

 

Rerun from Feb 3, 2016