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Questions tagged [speech]

Questions about spoken English.

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66
votes
8answers
21k views

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, “tseasy” etc. What are these?

In linguistics, is there a term describing this phenomenon, i.e., when the syllables of two words are slurred together in the spoken language? They are not contractions. While contractions are ...
43
votes
4answers
34k views

What term can be used to describe Yoda's speech?

What is Yoda's speech called? Is there a particular name for it (such as "dangling...")?
32
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
31
votes
12answers
7k 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 ...
28
votes
13answers
59k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the sentence that is said before the real statement, to let the other person know what is coming, called?

Example: Don't be angry at me for asking this question, but are you rich? Is there a term for the sentence in bold?
23
votes
3answers
179k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
78k views

How should one say times aloud in 24-hour notation?

A couple years ago, I switched all my personal clocks 24-hour notation. I live in the US, and 24-hour time is used very, very rarely. So, I haven't been able to listen to anyone say times aloud. Here'...
18
votes
20answers
162k views

Hardest tongue twister seen

What is the hardest tongue twister you have ever seen? Humorous ones are also welcome.
18
votes
13answers
38k views

Why are movies so hard to understand (and what can you do about it)?

I have been learning English for many, many years now and think I have acquired quite some mastery. Yesterday I saw just another English (American) flick and thought it was a different language, but ...
17
votes
12answers
507k views

Which is correct: “drive safe” or “drive safely”?

When someone is going to drive their car somewhere, I always used to say "drive safely" to them. Recently I was told I should say "drive safe." (From: Would you ask someone to drive safe or to ...
16
votes
5answers
26k views

What is the appropriate phrase to say if two people are on the same track?

I am sharing my understanding regarding a particular matter with a colleague just to make sure that both of we have same understanding. This is just to avoid any conflict or confusion among us. ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Equivalent for “née” in spoken English

Née is a word borrowed from French that means "born as" and is used to denote someone's former name, such as the maiden name of a married woman. It is usually seen as a parenthetical aside: "Jane ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the best way of conveying respect to elders in English? [duplicate]

In Afrikaans, it is considered very disrespectful to use "you" ( "jy") when referring to someone who is above the level of a peer. Instead, it is expected that you use "u", which is a very respectful ...
15
votes
4answers
533 views

“They had whatted the car?”

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language says this: Echo what is syntactically very different from the interrogative pronoun what. It can replace words of more or less any category, and can ...
12
votes
6answers
12k views

Do native speakers understand all the words in songs? [closed]

I'm wondering if native speakers understand all the words in songs. For me it is very very difficult, as I can usually understand only 30% of words and phrases in songs. While listening to people's ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the origin of the second-person 'we'?

I've often heard the phrase what do we have here to mean what do you have. And also, recently, I've heard a teacher ask one of his students struggling with an assignment: do we have a problem?, as in ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Correct usage of SIC to express verbatim statements expressed vocally?

Taken literally, sic erat scriptum would imply that "[SIC]" is to be used only when expressing a written statement. Can it also be safely applied to express that which has been expressed vocally? i....
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Your Mileage May Vary [closed]

In the United States we have a saying, "your mileage may vary", which means "your experience may be different". In English-speaking countries that don't use Imperial miles, is there an equivalent ...
10
votes
6answers
29k views

Difference between would and will

Thank you for your time reading this. I am from China and have learned British English for years from my middle school to undergraduate time. I normally take 'would' as the past form of 'will', ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Did people actually talk like they do in Pride and Prejudice?

The characters in Pride and Prejudice seem to speak in a way that is very distinct from most contemporary anglophones. Among the major unique features are: Richer vocabulary Readiness to use obscure ...
8
votes
6answers
8k 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?
8
votes
11answers
3k views

Fun and enjoyable ways to practice pronunciation? [closed]

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

How to read “and/or” aloud

Is this read as and or or? Because it doesn't sound right while speaking aloud. Or is there some other way you can say it?
8
votes
1answer
955 views

Is there a phrase, word or saying when one 'has the thought or feeling of causing hurt of mischief" despite never dreaming of acting on it?

For example I was assisting my sister in photographing a wedding. We were taking pictures as the bride was getting ready and I noticed a ketchup bottle on the kitchen table and the following popped in ...
8
votes
2answers
320 views

Pronunciation problem with “park” and “walk”. Is there a name for this “phenomenon”?

Now and then, I struggle to say a pair of words such as "park and walk". It may come out as "park and wark" or "pork and walk". It occurs generally when the two words are close together in a ...
8
votes
4answers
81k views

Is there a standard for speaking “1500” as “one thousand five hundred” versus “fifteen hundred”?

I was asked by a French colleague, and had no clear answer, whether it's more correct to say "One thousand five hundred" or "fifteen hundred" when speaking the number 1500. Putting aside how we say ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “I have no shame when it comes to ignorance” mean? [closed]

Does it mean one chooses to be ignorant regardless of shame, or submit to shame while admitting ignorance? Interviewer: Tell me about your first felony arrest? Candidate: I have no shame when it ...
8
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
766 views

Use of “well” to signal a pseudo-awkward pause before an impending word repetition or pun

In an article titled “The Ice Age Cometh” (Fortune, May 25, 1998, reprinted in The Great Unraveling, 2003), Paul Krugman writes: Suppose that two tribes—the Clan of the Cave Bear and its neighbor, ...
8
votes
0answers
465 views

When to use passive and active voice [closed]

When is it better to use passive voice in writing and speech? When is it better to use active voice in writing and speech?
7
votes
5answers
105k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do some people say “the reason is is that,” with “is” twice in a row?

Does anybody have any conjectures as to why this quirk is so common? For an example, see this TED talk by Kevin Slavin.
7
votes
1answer
58k views

“As for me” in the beginning of the sentence

Could I use "As for me" in the beginning of the sentence? For example, when somebody asks the whole group of people what was done, and one in that group answers what he did: "As for me, I did that ...
7
votes
1answer
4k 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?"
7
votes
2answers
2k views

What happened to voiced velar fricative [ɣ] and velar approximant [ɰ] in English language?

The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. Wikipedia says that it is not found in English today, but did exist in Old English.1 Why did this sound ...
6
votes
8answers
6k views

How do you say “powers of ten”?

When you have powers of 10, e.g. 102, the base is 10, so when the exponent is 2 you should not say power of 2. I believe "power of" refer to the base not to the exponent.
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do some questions not start with an auxiliary verb?

When I learned English, my teachers told me that all questions must have an auxiliary verb at the beginning, just like Are you mad? or Is she playing? do. But when watching some movies or talking ...
6
votes
4answers
2k 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 trying ...
6
votes
5answers
18k views

In which accent does Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) speak?

I don't know if Stack Exchange is the right place to ask this question but I am very keen to find out: Which accent has Brad Pitt adopted in the movie Inglourious Basterds for the role of Lieutenant ...
6
votes
2answers
16k views

Answering your own question

I have been wondering if this particular speaking device had a specific name. My wife uses a speaking technique where, instead of just making a statement, she presents it in the form of a question, ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Changing from 1st Person to 2nd Person in the same paragraph?

I want to know if it's okay to change from 1st person (our,we) to 2nd person (you, your) in the same paragraph as follows: TV need not dictate our lives. There is a choice. We can either submit ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “Rabbit” mean on 1st of June

My english teacher told me, that is common in England to say "Rabbits" on the 1st of june. What does it mean? where does this tradition come from? Does the people say it only on the 1st of June? ...
6
votes
4answers
18k views

Is “Where do you sit?” correct for asking someone where their workspace is?

At work, if I had to ask someone where exactly they worked, as in where their workspace/cubicle is, what should I say? Is "where do you sit?" the usual thing to say? I'm from India and hear this ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Usage of “Don't remember”

In my language I can say "I don't remember I've ever watched that film" or "Never in my life have I remembered watching that film" to suggest that as far as I can remember I've never done something, ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

Reported to Direct speech conversion

This is one of the questions in an exam. According to the official answer key, correct answer is (B). But I found that the most correct answer could be (A). Can any one please point out the right ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does camping on foods mean in American English?

I saw two guys joking around, the first one had had a Cheetos bag. Here is the conversation that took place between them: First guy: Do you wanna little snack? Second guy: Yeh, actually, it's ...
5
votes
2answers
9k 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 them....
5
votes
2answers
408 views

Do you move into the fast lane?

Suppose you want to ask someone to change from slow lane to the fast lane while driving. What do you say to mean this? From the Web I see that the following two options may be used: 1) Pull into the ...