Close

Speaking better English

Fred :
Gordon Barlow :

Fred. Oh dear! A true gentleman holds the door open for any woman, not just a lady...

All women are ladies until proven otherwise.

Quite right. Sorry! My snap judgments often get me into trouble.

Stick your tongue out
Wave it from side to side whilst making a silly noise
Now waggle it up and down, but keep making silly noises.
Now put it to your top teeth and blow out a little over your tongue.

Same action, but say, "TH, Th, TH, TH".

Thursday.
Thank you

The sounded TH can be difficult for many as they don;t have that sound in their home language, and this simple play learning can assist.
I've used it many times to teach how to make the sound and it works a treat.

@ Gordon Barlow > On the first post, you wished that this thread to be useful to Non-english speakers. Do you have anything to add please? ;)

@ All > If you have some information to share to make this thread useful for non-english speakers, please feel free. :)

Gordon Barlow :

I'd like this new thread to be useful to non-English-speakers from all corners of the world. Common idioms and slang are difficult to pick up in every language, yet they're essential for everyday conversation. Common greetings are:  "How are you?" "How's it going?" "What's new?" and "Hello", and each of them might have a different response. They all have their equivalents in other languages, of course, but "equivalents" doesn't always mean the same as "literal translations".

Does any reader here have problems with greetings?

Thanks all

Priscilla  :cheers:

Gordon Barlow :
Fred :
Gordon Barlow :

Fred. Oh dear! A true gentleman holds the door open for any woman, not just a lady...

All women are ladies until proven otherwise.

Quite right. Sorry! My snap judgments often get me into trouble.

Not really, it's a point in British English.
A gentleman always refers to a woman as a lady as anything else would be considered rude.

Fred :

A gentleman always refers to a woman as a lady as anything else would be considered rude.

I have heard many English gentlemen (I'm not sure about British: are there any British gentlemen?) refer to women as women. But then I remember that one of the defining points of a gentleman is that he is never rude by accident.

Priscilla. I think that all this faffing around between Fred and me - and indeed any commentary that looks to be marginally off-topic - is in fact useful to readers whose native language is not English. Foreigners who wish to speak better English can learn a lot by following others' conversation. My Norwegian granddaughters and their friends learn - and improve - their spoken English by watching English-language cartoons and movies. They pick up colloquialisms and nuances of meaning. Truly, I assure you.

Perhaps it's time to 'call it a day' because we might be 'flogging a dead horse' here.

Call what a day and why would anyone hit a deceased animal?

Fred :

Perhaps it's time to 'call it a day' because we might be 'flogging a dead horse' here.

Call what a day and why would anyone hit a deceased animal?

I heard about day trading ("I offer two weekdays for one weekend or holiday. Any takers?") and horse trading ("Yeah, really - you get two and give me just one - great deal!"). Am I off-topic here?

Not at all off topic.
Weird use of English is the hardest for non native speakers to grasp, especially idioms.
We say what we don't mean to clarify points.

For a non native speaker to understand idioms, they must have a deep understanding of how the language developed, the King James bible, most of Shakespeare and a good few nautical terms.

I left England for many reasons, one being the winter weather that was commonly cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey.
Is that rude? Not even slightly, but only if you understand the the idea of thermal contraction properties of dissimilar metals and how canon balls were delivered to the guns on British ships many years ago, even though it's unlikely to be true.

Still, some will always fall on stony ground (Matt. 13:5).

Priscilla :

@ Gordon Barlow > On the first post, you wished that this thread to be useful to Non-english speakers. Do you have anything to add please? ;)

Ah, the problem all wrapped up in a post from a non native speaker.

Priscilla, the posts that seem to have drawn your attention use English that is very difficult for non native speakers to understand, so is very likely to sound like gibberish to many.

The note about a woman always being a lady is a fine example of how English is used by native speakers, but can be difficult to understand for many non native speakers.

French natives will be more than happy to learn that whilst the word stems from Latin, it appeared in the English language from the old French, chevalerie.
Chivalry comes from medieval religious, moral, and social code used by knights, that now translating into opening a door for a lady and assuming all women are ladies.

This free lesson in the finer points of English was brought to you by Fred and Gordon.
Likes are perfectly acceptable :D

One of the major problems for non native speakers is mastering slang and words that are abbreviated.
As a naughty young man I liked to date nurses because they had a tendency to be away from home for the first time and get a little wild.
My favourite was a lady by the name of Karen who had a thing for benders and fishnets.
Without going into detail, a non native speaker might very well have trouble understanding what I was talking about.
The trick is to google the words you don't understand, taking special note of slang dictionaries.
Try it with italicised words above and see if the sentence makes sense.
If you get it right, you'll know by the sudden urge to take a cold shower.

Fred, there are some that would argue that slang, idioms, and colloquialisms actually deteriorate a language, and can serve as an impediment to being understood, as you pointed out with your own comments that may come across as "gibberish".  With no offense at all intended, some of the things you say indeed sound like gibberish to me also, a native (American) English speaker.  The internet also I think contributes to what some call a deterioration of language, and ironically creates a barrier to communication and understanding at times.

Since the topic is "Speaking better English", maybe going forward a topic specifically for idioms, slang and so on (British or otherwise) would also be useful and avoid confusion?  To me, speaking better English means being able to make yourself understood amongst at least the majority of native speakers of English :) Idioms and colloquialisms don't always serve that purpose. 

Then again, I'm certainly no expert in natural language, nor do I desire to be.  So I might be off the mark here.

Romaniac

Somebody once said "The English speaking world is divided by a xommon language."
I thing dialects, slangs and even pidgin idioms enrich rather than damage a language. The day it stops developing further is the death of a language!

Fred :

Weird use of English is the hardest for non native speakers to grasp, especially idioms.
I left England for many reasons, one being the winter weather that was commonly cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey.

As good a diversion as any. The English language contains several colloquialisms for cold weather, usually understating the conditions. "A bit nippy" covers anything down to zero Fahrenheit, "a bit parky" down to about ten F above - in my observation. Fred may have others. (Here in the Caribbean, we follow the US custom of ignoring the trendy Celsius measures. Make your own conversions.)  "Nice for the ducks" indicates drizzling rain after at least four hours of it; before that it doesn't even warrant a comment. At the other end of the weather-temperature spectrum, "Warm enough for you?" is hot, "bloody hell!" is hotter, and "stinking hot!" is about as bad as it could be without actually frying.

I mention all those for the benefit of foreigners. This thread has attracted over a thousand visits, yet only three or four outside comments, and no questions. I wonder why that is.

romaniac :

Fred, there are some that would argue that slang, idioms, and colloquialisms actually deteriorate a language, and can serve as an impediment to being understood,

I must respectfully disagree.
Language changes, and slang often becomes mainstream.
Imagine a static English language and we'd all understand Beowolf.

No one would table a motion, nor would they chair a meeting, or even get zonked out after a hard day at work.

The English language is used around the globe in a thousand ways, and all require knowledge of local slang, idioms and all the little quirks to understand them properly.

Fred :

I must respectfully disagree.
Language changes, and slang often becomes mainstream.

That was exactly the point, the language changes! Language purists or at least some that have studied language extensively, say these changes are a deterioration of the language.  Who is to say which side is right? Maybe some of us just don't adapt along with the language as quickly, which I suppose is more likely :) When I see some of the words that get admitted to the Oxford dictionary, or when someone uses the term "inbox" as a verb for example, it irks me.  When a 80 year old can't understand a teenager, or a American can't understand a Englishman, or even a city dweller and a countryman....because of slang or idioms, has there not been a barrier formed?  The language might be mainstream amongst a certain demographic, but not necessarily amongst the majority.

I inboxed someone last week and it didn't annoy me at all.
I tabled a motion at a meeting about how shop signs should't be allowed to say, "Three items or less" because the English is rubbish (It should be fewer).
I didn't really, mostly because I'm not a purist.
Language changes and you can google it to prove I'm right.
I google a lot of verbs, including the verb, to google.
Purists always cock up, because it's an ideal, and idealism never works.

PS - Wobbling Willy popped around 1,800 words and phrases into the English language -Would you recommend avoiding his works because he wasn't a purist?

New topic

Expatriate health insurance

Free advice and quotation service to choose your expat health insurance

Save on your moving costs

Get free quotes from international moving companies. Compare prices and services.

Find useful info to succeed in your expat project

OR