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Old 11-29-2013, 08:32 PM   #31
k3lt01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
I do know people who pronounce poor "poo-er"* but they also pronounce door "doo-er"* and it's the same with with "floor" also. I think it's a Lancashire thing though I seem to recall there's somewhere else that does the same.

*Or thereabouts, I think those who've heard it will know what I mean and those who haven't will get the idea.
My Nana, originally from Glasgow and could also speak Scottish Gaelic, used to call people "Soo-wer doo-ks" which was of course "sour ducks" but her pronunciation was due to her Glaswegian (the gorbels district) accent. English was not her mother tongue nor was it her 1st language although she never spoke Gaelic with me. Her pronunciation regardless of what word was said always followed correct pronunciation for her "ear". Many people from NESB backgrounds cannot hear differences in sounds in English (likewise English speakers don't hear differences in sounds in other languages) so they do not learn to pronounce things as a native speaker would but that does not mean their pronunciation is incorrect. Studies have been done with regards to a persons "ear" (or how they hear sounds and then repeat them) and the older a person is when they start to learn sounds from various languages the harder it is for them to mirror them even though they "hear" them the same way.

Just as an aside, I had a speech to text message on my phone the other day. It was really quite difficult to understand what was written until I realised the number in the message was wrong (the conversion was just way off) and I called them back. The message had a segment that said "dis is darla gee unit" which was actually "this is the allergy unit". I could understand the individual when she spoke up, very quiet voice didn't help much, but the speech to text conversion screwed it up totally. People who have little or no interaction with speakers will always have difficulty understanding them even if they do know the language. I often had to "translate" what my father said to people who had never dealt with him before because they just couldn't get past the accent yet he spoke in English.
 
Old 11-29-2013, 08:44 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k3lt01 View Post
Many people from NESB backgrounds cannot hear differences in sounds in English (likewise English speakers don't hear differences in sounds in other languages) so they do not learn to pronounce things as a native speaker would but that does not mean their pronunciation is incorrect.
I would disagree with this. As a native you can "get away with" being incorrect (take my "butter" example or my contrasting ways of saying the 'a' in "master" and "faster") but it doesn't make it correct. I'd also like to add that native speakers get used to native accents and can adapt accordingly, but if you inconsistently make mispronunciations you won't be understood. I give myself as an example: I've tried to learn Norwegian and despite taking classes and learning some vocabulary and how to pronounce the letters my sentences were so inconsistently German/Danish/English sounding that nobody could understand me.
I also recall a Canadian friend who moved in with a guy from where I am "up North" and how disconcerting her pronouncing "mum" and "loft" with a Northern English dialect was -- as somebody with that dialect it still caused me problems due to "code switching" in the middle of her sentences.
 
Old 11-29-2013, 09:25 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
I would disagree with this. As a native you can "get away with" being incorrect (take my "butter" example or my contrasting ways of saying the 'a' in "master" and "faster") but it doesn't make it correct. I'd also like to add that native speakers get used to native accents and can adapt accordingly, but if you inconsistently make mispronunciations you won't be understood. I give myself as an example: I've tried to learn Norwegian and despite taking classes and learning some vocabulary and how to pronounce the letters my sentences were so inconsistently German/Danish/English sounding that nobody could understand me.
You disagree yet your example of your own learning backs up what I say! If I understood you correctly then what you are saying with your Norwegian sounds correct to you but not to native speakers. In other words your accent is the problem and your "ear" compared to a native Norwegain's "ear" is totally different. If, on the other hand, youa re saying it even sounds wrong to you then you haven't learned to say it.

Languages evolve with the people using them, as an example Ebonics (Afro-American English) is a valid dialect of English yet I bet you wouldn't understand a word of it nor could you even pronounce words as a native Ebonics speaker would but as a version of English it is not incorrect. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4558


Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
I also recall a Canadian friend who moved in with a guy from where I am "up North" and how disconcerting her pronouncing "mum" and "loft" with a Northern English dialect was -- as somebody with that dialect it still caused me problems due to "code switching" in the middle of her sentences.
Again your comment actually backs up what I said. You had problems because your "ear" couldn't grasp what was being said yet what was being said was not incorrect, the words were still valid they just didn't sound as you would expect them to sound.
 
Old 11-29-2013, 09:48 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k3lt01 View Post
Many people from NESB backgrounds cannot hear differences in sounds in English (likewise English speakers don't hear differences in sounds in other languages) so they do not learn to pronounce things as a native speaker would but that does not mean their pronunciation is incorrect.
I disagree in that I think it does make their pronunciation incorrect.
I agree about how we hear and interpret. I know I must "turn down" my very mild accent in order to be understood by English speakers with different accents than mine or those for whom English is a second language. However, were I to speak "received pronunciation" there would be no need to modulate my accent. Thus I conclude that, whilst I disagree with RP on logical and other grounds, it is correct English.
Edit: I'm probably going of topic and sharing too much but I was about 13 before people in the town of my birth didn't take me for an outsider due to my "posh" accent.

Last edited by 273; 11-29-2013 at 09:50 PM.
 
Old 11-29-2013, 10:28 PM   #35
k3lt01
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RP and BBC English are language constructs, meaning they were invented not evolved. Correct English is dependant on the speaker not the hearer. My Nana was never going to communicate in RP or BBC English, my father simply because of his accent was never going to communicate in RP or BBC English. Myself and 22 million Australians, 1.2 Billion Indians, a couple million New Zealanders, South Africans, 300 + million Americans, Canadians, Kenyans' etc etc etc, are never going to communicate in RP or BBC English. Just because someone cannot pronounce words in RP or BBC English does not mean they are pronouncing them incorrectly.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 10:04 AM   #36
TheIndependentAquarius
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Thankful for the constructive replies.

After thinking about all this / After giving it a thorough thought...

See the above sentences. That is the kind of problem I face when
talking in English.
I don't know which phrase suits the context when I speak. While
writing, the backspace key always comes to rescue. While writing
I have the time to think.

I was just now talking to the child, and I had to repeat the sentence
4 times to get it correct finally (to satisfy myself).

1st attempt: Do not touch what's fallen on the ground.
2nd attempt: Do not touch what you have thrown on the ground.
3rd attempt: Do you touch the food that you have thrown on the ground.
4th and somewhat correct attempt: Do not touch the food which
you have spit on the ground.
5th and actually correct attempt: Do not touch the food
which you have spit on the floor.

That's the problem exactly. I have difficulty to form the correct
sentence "on the fly".

Other problem, I have, is with the tenses. While speaking about a topic
in daily conversation, I tend to speak one sentence in present tense, and
the other in past or future tense.

For self practice and to make the child learn too, I speak English with the
child (1.5 years old).
She understands what I say.

I was thinking to buy a recording device which I could attach on a wall
and which would record my daily conversation with the child. At the end
of the day, I could rewind and listen to myself and then perhaps correct
myself on paper(?) Not sure if that's a proper way to learn.

Talking with an outsider is not a option for me. I am an introvert. Don't
have much to speak about usually. The silence will be awkward. The intention
isn't to talk to a native English speaker. Intention is to get myself fluent
enough to talk to my peers here or give a speech/presentation "on the fly".

You think any books would help? Which ones?
Which kind of recording device would you suggest?
What way do you think I correct the problems I am facing while speaking English?

Last edited by TheIndependentAquarius; 01-31-2015 at 10:10 AM.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 10:13 AM   #37
273
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I know that I, myself, have learned some of my spoken English from reading all sorts of books from authors as diverse as Oscar Wilde, William Gibson and Iain Banks.
I don't know whether you will have heard or heard of Stephen Fry but he's known for speaking well and he states that he learned to construct sentences from reading Oscar Wilde and P. G. Woodehouse.
Of course, the danger from learning from such literature is that the English can be a little "poetic" or "dated" though I am quite happy to sound a little old-fashioned at times.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 11:20 AM   #38
TheIndependentAquarius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
I know that I, myself, have learned some of my spoken English from reading all sorts of books from authors as diverse as Oscar Wilde, William Gibson and Iain Banks.
I don't know whether you will have heard or heard of Stephen Fry but he's known for speaking well and he states that he learned to construct sentences from reading Oscar Wilde and P. G. Woodehouse.
Of course, the danger from learning from such literature is that the English can be a little "poetic" or "dated" though I am quite happy to sound a little old-fashioned at times.
I am not very interested in reading poems. Could you list down some interesting books
from these authors which you have read and found to be helpful enough for the
current cause?
 
Old 01-31-2015, 11:45 AM   #39
273
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The Oscar Wilde I read is The Picture of Dorian Gray and I think it is free on the Project Gutenberg website (as are many literary classics). I think P.G. Woodehouse is most famous for the "Jeeves" book and I have a feeling they may be on the Project Gutenberg website also (of course book sellers will have them in hard copy also). William Gibson is an American "Cyber Punk" author but I love his use of English his worlks include Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive and the "steampunk" Difference Engine. Anything by Iain Banks, a Scottish author, is, in my opinion, excellent. He also writes science fiction as Iain M Banks but I can never get into those books -- all interesting language though.
I would say that reading any novels in English (apart from Dan Brown*) including those tranlated from other languages will give you more options for forming sentences. I also ought to point out that in English, unlike some other languages, sentence structure is supposed to be flexible and your examples are all "correct".

*I don't like Dan Brown, perhaps I am being harsh but he breaks a lot of "rules" I was taught in school about narrative style.

Regardig my comments on pronounciation -- I perhaps sounded harsh and, understandably, those who speak English as a first language from other countries will pronounce things differently. I apologise if I was rude but I do stil maintain that for most people who speak English there is a "correct" way to pronounce things and we all do it when in conversation with other speakers -- I have found myself modulating my speech in conversation with Czechs doing the same, for example, in order to communicate more efficiently.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 06:20 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheIndependentAquarius View Post
...
Talking with an outsider is not a option for me. I am an introvert. Don't have much to speak about usually. The silence will be awkward. The intention isn't to talk to a native English speaker. Intention is to get myself fluent enough to talk to my peers here or give a speech/presentation "on the fly".
...
I realize that you possibly do a lot of editing before posting (I do as well), but your English really doesn't seem to be the biggest problem. If you have trouble interacting with people, I can't see how any amount of talking to yourself, or a baby, is going to help. Please take this as a suggestion from a 'friend', but sometimes we all need a kick in the pants.

There is no easy way out. The quicker you want to get over this, the more you have to risk, possibly making a fool of yourself, but get out there, anywhere and mix with people whenever you can. Maybe force yourself to start a conversation with another lady in a bus (pretend you only speak English ). If you feel like you are making a fool of yourself, who cares, one of you will be getting off the bus soon, and you probably will never see that person again. Just get out there.

Another thought, but this is probably just silly on my part: if you have a way of making long distance calls for free (maybe Skype? I don't know, never used it) you could contact a call center in the UK, someone that uses voice recognition for customer service, preferably one with the worst customer reputation, and talk to it a little bit every day, while you are alone.

You can do it!

Last edited by linux_walt; 01-31-2015 at 06:24 PM.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 06:26 PM   #41
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Apologies, double post.

Last edited by linux_walt; 01-31-2015 at 09:14 PM. Reason: duplicate post
 
Old 01-31-2015, 07:46 PM   #42
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@linux-walt

Your post was quite motivating.
I think I like your idea of talking to a call center.
My colleagues in office do talk in fluent
English most of the time but I am quite afraid
to jump on the bandwagon.

Why do you think that talking with baby
and myself will not help _ even when I
plan to record my voice and keep on correcting it later the day?

Last edited by TheIndependentAquarius; 02-01-2015 at 02:05 AM.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 09:17 PM   #43
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It seems like you have two things to deal with, one is being introverted and the other is wanting to improve your English. Given that you have co-workers that speak fluent English, the first problem is making your second task much more difficult. It seems to me that if you could tackle being more comfortable, or at least less awkward feeling when around people, the second problem would take care of itself (given your work environment), and in a much shorter time.

I'm not including in this also being able to make speeches, can't give any advice on that since it would terrify me too! But you can't do everything at once, it will just feel like your are climbing a mountain. Little steps, get more comfortable talking to people. I know it can be difficult, I was the same way many years ago. Couldn't talk to a stranger, if I tried I would just say something stupid, and then the silence .

Didn't mean to put down your efforts in talking in English to yourself and the baby, just wanted to shine a light on it, to show that maybe you should not expect that to be the only solution. In a way, it's a little bit like wanting to learn how to drive, without going outside. You could learn the theory, maybe become good at a video game, but what happens when you eventually have to go outside and try it? Your fears will still be there.

On a different topic, work is a funny place. Everyone has opinions on everybody else, and you never really know what someone you have shared the same room with, maybe for years, thinks of you. I'm not sure where I'm going with this anymore, was going to suggest that maybe your coworkers are misinterpreting you being off on your own all the time. But let's forget about that.. workplace echo systems are delicate. Start on your own, with people outside of work, even strangers, just say hello, and you might be even surprised at how little time there is to exchange a few words, let alone make a fool of yourself. Buy the hot dog! Tell them how good it is, if they sound like they are from out of town ask them with a smile where they are from, or comment on what a nice hat they have, anything with a smile. You will make their day, and they will make yours. Eventually, this should help you feel less awkward around your coworkers, maybe join in a little in their conversations, and help you improve your English much faster.

But by all means continue with practicing English at home in any way. Maybe you could work the two problems in parallel: at home you could read English books on how to become a great public speaker, maybe even about how the author was terrified of it when they first started, and how they got over that particular fear, and how long it took. I suspect it never quite goes completely away though.

Last edited by linux_walt; 02-01-2015 at 10:38 AM.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 09:53 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheIndependentAquarius View Post
My colleagues in office do talk in fluent
English most of the but I am quite afraid
to jump on the bandwagon.
Having lived for one year in the UK, I know the feeling. When I arrived, I was very afraid to make mistakes while speaking. Something that helped me was to make friends with people who didn't speak my language (not necessarily native English speakers), so I was forced to speak in English.

I know for experience that office is not the most appropriate place, but maybe you can find a more relaxed setting to practice English (friends, a conversation course, a hobby shared with other people, sports, etc.).

Anyway, I'm happy I'm going back to the UK in a few months. Hope I can continue improving my spoken English.
 
Old 01-31-2015, 10:16 PM   #45
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I learned to speak Thai when I lived in Thailand. One of the exercises that I did when I was alone was to translate the thoughts that went through my mind into Thai. This helped me to reach the point where I could converse in Thai without translating back and forth to English in my mind. In other words I learned to think in Thai when I spoke Thai.

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