Questions about spoken English.

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4
votes
5answers
12k views

What are the conventional words for characters (A-Z)?

I have just read the newest post of DOGHOUSEDIARIES, and I am wondering whether the words for characters are fixed in the USA or the UK, as I am not a native English speaker. For example: A as in ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

What's a Denver accent sound like?

I'm trying to learn to imitate the accent of someone from a slummy area of Denver (for a roleplaying game). Info on different local accents is welcome; a sound bite would be especially useful. If you ...
5
votes
10answers
2k views

Fun and enjoyable ways to practice pronunciation?

English is not my native language and I'm really proud of being able to write it quite well. I have lots of problems with pronunciation though. In Finnish most words are pronounced the same as they ...
2
votes
6answers
9k views

Which one is it? “Damn” or “damned”?

I know that commonly in America, they use "damn" or "damned" to describe things. Sometimes, more appropriately, it's even "darn" or "darned". For example, This damn/damned computer is too slow. ...
14
votes
10answers
6k views

American vs. British English: meaning of “One hundred and fifty”

I've noticed that Americans do not say "and" when speaking numbers: for example, 150 would be pronounced "one hundred fifty". I and most other British-English speakers would pronounce it "one hundred ...
-1
votes
1answer
148 views

Which use of the English language is correct? “A historic event” or “an historic event” [duplicate]

English is my second language, and I was taught that you use "a" before a vowel. Recently I have heard several TV Announcers use the letters "an" if it is used before a consonant. For example, it ...
11
votes
5answers
743 views

Intention of rising pitches

I have been wondering about the rising pitch used in almost every sentence, by especially young Americans. What is the purpose/intention of rising pitch except in questions? Is it friendly and ...
0
votes
1answer
602 views

Ending a declarative statement with a question mark? [duplicate]

Recently, there was a debate as to when one can legitimately end a declarative statement with a question mark, like writing “I don’t know?” as an answer, and what that could possibly mean. The ...
0
votes
2answers
121 views

Is this worded correctly if it was spoken in an interview? [closed]

Is this worded correctly if it was spoken in an interview? I am like a clean slate. I do not have any preconceived notions about how the company runs
4
votes
0answers
173 views

Is the usage of latinisms perceived as common in the English language or does it sound like bragging in ordinary speech? [closed]

My question here is about perception. English has a great and wonderful variety in its vocabulary, and many concepts can be associated with different words, although with slightly different meanings ...
3
votes
1answer
188 views

Meaning of the verb 'snort' in a sharp dialog

I could not figure out the meaning of the verb 'snort' implied in Sir Elton John's reply to Lily Allen during some award ceremony, after her disrespectful comment on his age. He said: I could ...
1
vote
2answers
305 views

Usage of 'on the brink of'

(Talking about a chimp): "In human age, he would have been on the brink of puberty." I was told that this sentence is odd because 'be on the brink of' is usually used for something negative: ...
-5
votes
1answer
444 views

Do people with a lisp write in the same way they pronounce?

Just curious to know whether people having a lisp (speech defect) write in the same way as they pronounce the word. For example they pronounce s as /θ/ and z as /θ/. So, do they write 's' as 'th' like ...
1
vote
6answers
1k views

Polite/professional alternative to 'It turns out'

I have been tasked with coming up with a nicer phrase to use than 'It turns out'. It is to be used in situations like the below: 'It turns out' that we cannot... 'It turns out' that we ...
0
votes
2answers
118 views

Usage of the article 'a' before bait in this particular instance

Is it acceptable to use the article 'a' before 'bait' in this sentence? Is there a difference in meaning here when you use 'a' or drop it? "You would not have sent it to me for no reason. It was a ...
-1
votes
1answer
69 views

Using 'show' with 'treatment'

Is it proper to say 'show special treatment' for example in "He showed him special treatment."? I know it sounds more natural to say, "He took a special interest in him because of his background." ...
0
votes
2answers
169 views

Is the phrase “breed of men” weird or just different?

Forgive me for asking two questions in a single post, but I think it would make more sense to post them together. So please indulge me. Sentence: He is not unique. We should be able to discover such ...
0
votes
2answers
394 views

How can you encourage native speakers to correct mistakes non-native speakers make? [closed]

My English is pretty advanced, yet I still make mistakes (not many, but some). I am constantly talking to native speakers and always tell them to correct my mistakes. My problem is that in most ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Is it necessary to begin a new paragraph after a person speaks?

When I was in school, I was taught to always begin a new paragraph after a quotation or after a speaker concludes a segment of dialogue. However, in recent years, I have seen authors abandon this ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“See you all” or “see you everyone”

When leaving from work, how to say "see you" to colleagues? Which one is appropriate, "see you all" or "see you everyone"?
1
vote
2answers
204 views

Does anybody use the elative degree in modern speech? [closed]

I read that English has the following degree of comparison: positive, comparative, superlative (with definite article) and elative (with indefinite article). I'm wondering, whether sentences like "it ...
4
votes
5answers
945 views

The word “dear” in public speech

I am a member of a Toastmaster club in the Czech republic where people work on their public speaking skills. It is a usual to open a speech by Dear fellow Toastmasters, dear guests,... It is a ...
0
votes
1answer
232 views

Is “be-gruntled” a word? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When does a word become a ‘word’? Someone in work asked about the welfare of my girlfriend, to which I replied "She's fine, a little be-gruntled but fine." People knew ...
2
votes
0answers
345 views

Appearance of “is is” in speech patterns [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “The thing is, is that…” Why do some people say “the reason is is that,” with “is” twice in a row? For the past few years I've been noticing a curious phenomenon. ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

“Do my best” vs. “my level best” [closed]

Is there any difference between these two sentences? Which one is grammatical in speech? I will do my best. I will do my level best.
3
votes
1answer
245 views

Should the abbreviation 'i.e.' be used in speech?

I often hear people use the abbreviation 'i.e.' while speaking. It does not seem right to me. Similarly with 'e.g.' — I would always say 'for example' rather than 'e.g.'. So is it appropriate to ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is most North American speech rhotic?

Most North American speech is rhotic—why is that? Does it come from the early English settlers or perhaps from the Irish settlers?
0
votes
3answers
3k views

“Unconscious” versus “nonconscious” in everyday dialogue

These words have subtle distinctions in related research fields, but even there are often considered interchangeable or just an matter of tradition/trendiness in a particular field. Since I am a bit ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Usage of “to be done” [closed]

The following is a transcript of the well-known recorded lecture by Prof. Michael Sandel of Harvard University (the cited portion starts at 43:36): The only argument this painter makes is that the ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Punctuation of direct speech, edge cases

I recently learned that I have developed a consistent, but entirely wrong approach to punctuating direct speech in fiction. I am in the unenviable position of trying to relearn. Previously I wrote ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

“You know” in spoken English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to use “you know” Why is "you know" most commonly used in spoken English. Or to phrase it differently, why do native speakers use this expression a lot ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it bad behavior to add filler words such as “so”, “um” in business speak?

Sometimes when I speak with my fellows at work, I start my sentences with "so" or "um". I don't know if this a bad behavior in business speak or not? If so, how can I get rid of those filler words?
26
votes
7answers
3k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
1
vote
1answer
335 views

Usage of “ain't” in formal conversation

Is it okay to use ain't in formal conversation? I know ain't can be used for am not, is not, are not, have not, has not. So if I can use it in day-to-day life, it will be easier for me I guess.
7
votes
1answer
779 views

What do people usually mean when they ask “Do you have a family?”

When American people ask you, "Do you have a family?" does that mean "Do you have any children?" or just "Are you married?"
5
votes
1answer
534 views

Relative pronouns after prepositions: is it okay to use them in speech?

Consider the following usages of relative pronouns: The lecturer introduces a study in which participants were asked to choose one attractive picture. At the university I met famous professors, many ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
1
vote
3answers
168 views

How should the first “o” in “operator” be pronounced?

I've always been taught that a vowel before a double consonant following another vowel should have a short sound. Conversely, there are many situations where a vowel preceding a single consonant and ...
2
votes
2answers
418 views

What does “I fort” stand for?

In Terry Pratchett's The Truth, Mr Tulip says "I fort" 5 times. "I fort that at the start" "I fort so!" (twice) "I fort you said this city was a -ing pushover?" "I fort we wanted to find.." Is ...
1
vote
1answer
108 views

Is there a Public Library that lends English Audiobooks? [closed]

In germany there are now a plethora of public libraries where I can borrow Audiobooks. I can search and download DRM protected files and can use them for a couple of days or weeks before they get ...
2
votes
0answers
582 views

How to place pauses in a sentence when speaking? [closed]

I would like to know how to place pauses in a sentence when speaking (besides pauses on comma and semicolon) to deliver a better message to audiences. I researched this for a while but I don't find ...
4
votes
2answers
797 views

Simple present vs. present continuous

What is the difference between saying: Are you still working there? Do you still work there? Which is more common in spoken vs written English? Google books returned results for both of ...
12
votes
3answers
26k views

Difference between “asleep” and “sleeping”

I know asleep and sleeping are interchangeable in many cases. But in these situations, I am not sure. I read stories to my son after he went to bed. After reading the stories, I stayed for some time ...
-2
votes
3answers
348 views

Why “who is” sounds “whiz”?

Please elaborate, when we say "who is", why does it sound "whiz"? Also one more example I would like to include: why "visit us" sounds "visi-tas"?
3
votes
1answer
523 views

What are some effective ways a foreign speaker can improve pronunciation in English? [closed]

How can a foreign speaker (where a "foreign speaker" speaks English as a second language) effectively improve their spoken English by improving their pronunciation and reducing their foreign accent. ...
20
votes
12answers
3k views

Just how offensive are the terms “retarded” and “gay”?

My college-age son and his friends use the terms "retarded" and "gay" pretty much interchangeably to mean substandard, bad, lame (in the sense of ineffectual or weak) or just plain wrong. I've ...
-1
votes
1answer
232 views

Indirect speech, past tense use

A member's post on another site has the structure: This a post I put on [site] and [member] suggested I posted here too. (emphasis mine) It appears that being reported speech, post is required to ...
-2
votes
3answers
485 views

What is the deeper meaning of the phrase “as I was just saying to X”? [closed]

This is the scenario I'm thinking of. Person A talks to person B about something. Then person C joins them. For some reason Person A says something to Person C that they were just talking about with ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Are there rules of pronunciation for words in English? [closed]

I know that there is at least one language we can pronounce based on the word's form (Vietnamese) which means that once you know how to write it, you will also know how to pronounce it. But in ...
1
vote
2answers
648 views

Why/When need some kind of short spelling or pronunciation?

In regular usage, nowadays we use short spellings of words in speaking or writing. For example: They are in the cinema. => They're in the cinema. We have been waiting for me. => We've been waiting ...