A helpful resource to help you choose the right words: adverse/averse and many more

Do you sometimes get a bit confused between similar words – adverse/averse and pandemic/epidemic/endemic and discrete/discreet?

I sometimes have to check – and I’m a word nerd and I  teach this stuff!

This resource will help you. I am not associated with this resource in any way – apart from being a big fan and a follower of twitter.

YUNiversity of rghteous grammar

I recommend this  entertaining and educational resource when I am training serious business writing – even to experienced business writers.

word nerd CU

I like and recommend the resource because it:

1. Reminds us of how many confusing words there are in English that look or sound similar

2  Gives easy-to-remember memory prompts for how to choose the right word.

For example: this  common mistake

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 10.18.30 AM

If you want to remember how to correctly choose between Averse and aDverse – here are memory prompts I use.

Averse – without the D –  just think of versus or vs. – one team versus or opposes the other OR one party in a legal action opposes the other.

I am not opposed to this – I am not averse to this.

aDverse – with the D – is when you face something Difficult or harD – aDverse conditions – aDversity (hardship)

I love helping people with simple memory devices.  The Yuniversity had plenty of great examples.

I liked this Yuniversity  explanation – how to tell the difference between – epidemic, endemic and pandemic.

.    Grammar YUNiversity ‏‪@The_YUNiversity 1h 

For diseases, “endemic” = in a small area; “epidemic” = widespread; “pandemic” = universal. (They get worse in alphabetic order.) ‪#grammar

Expand

As the Yuniversity advises: The spread of the problem increases in alphabetical order:

endemic

epidemic

Pandemic

Thanks – now I will remember!

If you are interested in getting quick hits of random righteous grammar – you can follow on twitter OR check out the website.

Here’s a link:

http://www.theyuniversity.net

And here’s how to choose correctly between discrete and discreet:

http://efangelist.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/do-you-and-your-work-colleagues-all-know-the-difference-between-discreet-and-discrete-phil-dunphy-style-fun-learning-can-help/

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When you teach language to others – these words are the hardest to explain

If you are trying to teach words to people – certain words are harder to explain than others.

oar

(Nouns – names of things you can see –  like an OAR are easier to explain than words that are less “concrete”)

My friend Melissa Karydas knows from her real-life experience – having to help her daughter understand the meanings of different words.

In a previous post I shared how I was helping Melissa with some videos that explain how she created a visual learning resource Looking Learning.

If you’d like more context, the link is at the end of this post.

If you are a regular follower of this blog – and you know he background – you can go straight to the video.

Here’s an example of how Melissa uses her talents as an artist and photographer to capture visually what different words mean.

awe

Here’s how she describes a “non-concrete” word like AWE and an adjective like VILE.

She has to show things you can see like an erupting volcano to help explain AWE – and something you can see and imagine feeling (as you step in it) and even smelling – elephant poo!

vile

lookinglearning

Here’s a link to Looking Learning:

http://www.lookinglearning.com

And here’s the link if you need more context and an earlier video.

https://choosetherightwords.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/learning-word-meanings-how-seeing-is-better-than-just-hearing/

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Learning a language? Don’t be a meatball – beware of “false friends” like these>

albondigas

Have you heard of false friends when you are learning a different language?

Words that look or sound familiar and similar to words in your own language.

But be careful – these false friends DO NOT mean the same as the words you think they are.

Here are real-life examples a lawyer from the US shared with me!

A Spanish-speaking friend of his kept telling everybody she was CONSTIPATED.

Yeah, that’s usually something you keep to yourself!

She actually meant she was feeling CONGESTED in the head and the Spanish word for congested is CONSTIPADO.

Hence, you can understand her thinking the similar word in English was CONSTIPATED – and her telling everyone how CONSTIPATED she was!

English speakers often joke about people who are learning English using the wrong words.

It’s often the subject of humour – as in the jokes about Spanish-speaking Gloria from Modern Family.

Sometimes the confusion results from speakers trying to repeat expressions they have heard and getting it close but wrong.

Other times the confusion is due to the false friends!

But, false friends can embarrass English speakers too who are trying to speak in other languages.

The same lawyer above shared how he was trying to explain in Spanish that he was a lawyer:  ABOGADO

Instead, he used a similar word he was familIar with and proudly told everyone that he was an ALBONDIGA – which is a kind of MEATBALL!

(In English, meatball can be another expression for a fool or stupid person. Meatball has lots of other slang meanings too – most of them unflattering.)

albondigas

Then there’s the infamous story about a pen company  launching a pen in Mexico and trying to say in Spanish that the  pen would not EMBARRASS you with ink stains.

ink stain

They used the Spanish word that looks likes EMBARRASS –  EMBARAZAR –    yet in Spanish that means to MAKE PREGNANT.

You can imagine the Spanish-speaking readers laughing when they read those words!

The lesson – beware of False friends – or else you can look like a big  meatball!

Here’s a link to more false friends and more about that Pen story!

http://www.quiz-buddy.com/Spanish-info/Spanish_false_cognates.html

TB training group

From my experience, false friends cause problems because you can think you are smart because you’ve worked out by your logic what a word means.

I remember when I was working in Austria and trying to operate equipment with instructions written in German. I thought I was so clever!

I thought I was smart in using my logic that the AUF switch MUST mean OFF because it sounded like OFF (with a German accent!)

Plus Auf Weidersehen –  because it means GOODBYE surely means “I’m off!”

As you may know – and as I well know now – AUF means ON!

I’m sure there are hundred of stories like this about word confusion. Please feel free to share in the comments if YOU have a story or example!

I often help executives who are from different language backgrounds.

If the executives have an important presentation, I get them to practice their presentation out loud to catch any mistakes. Part of the process is being aware of false friends. It’s better to look like a meatball in a practice rather in the actual presentation.

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Learning word meanings – how seeing is better than just hearing

If you are trying to learn new words or if you are trying to teach someone else – here is how:

seeing is better than just hearing

and

showing is better than just telling

Mel + G

In earlier posts I wrote about my friend  “Motivated Mum” Melissa Karydas who created her own visual  vocabulary teaching tool to help her daughter Georgie who had language learning difficulties.

In you’re interested in finding out more I’ll link to the earlier posts at the end of this post.

Melissa cares deeply about helping other people who have kids with learning challenges and yet she wants to be clear that she is not claiming to be an expert  speech therapist.

She was a physiotherapist by training with a passion for art and a deep need to help her daughter.

So, I’m helping Melissa with some simple, casual VIDEOS where we’ll chat about her experience and how she has had success in teaching her daughter.

Melissa created a visual learning resource –  Looking Learning

awe

This is our first video.

It’s funny, you may notice Melissa’s husband and my mate Terry in the reflection in the photos behind her.

I didn’t notice the reflection when I shot the video – but I’ll keep this in mind for future videos.

I joked that I did this deliberately  to  create a real-life,  non-slick, non-corporate product flavour of the videos!

You can see our video “production” is very down-to-earth and home-y – but as I mentioned to Melissa the people she can help will be also be everyday people in home environments trying to help their families.

oar

 

Anyway, here’s our first video venture.

(I disclose my bias – I think what she has created in pretty awesome. I have  son with a different learning challenge (very minor in comparison – but still a challenge)

I spend lots of time helping my son learn and remember – so Melissa and I have lots to chat about. She really does know a lot from practical experience about helping kids learn. I’m always getting advice from her!)

Future videos will not have as much wordy context setting!

The main message for this first video:

– If you are teaching language or if your are learning language:

Showing is better than just telling

and

Seeing what words represent is better than just hearing what  word means.

Here are  links to earlier posts and the Looking Learning site:

https://choosetherightwords.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/how-my-friends-learning-resource-can-really-help-you-choose-the-right-words/

http://www.lookinglearning.com

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Great tip for French (and other) speakers on how to make that difficult English TH sound

If you are from a French background here is a great tip on how to make that difficult TH sound.

French Flag

The tip also applies to people from many other language backgrounds who are not used to pronouncing the TH sound.

In an earlier post I wrote about how not being able to make the TH sound caused lots of embarrassment with a man alarming a young woman by telling her she had NICE TEETS! Of course he meant teeth – but he had trouble with the TH sound.

https://choosetherightwords.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/warning-do-not-make-this-embarrassing-mistake-with-this-challenging-sound/

Anyway, I got this great tip from an experienced French teacher – who up until she was 20 didn’t speak English.

I wanted to know how she mastered the TH sound.

I have several wonderful French friends and I listen carefully to them when they speak English.

Zey are highly educated and yet Zey find it hard to say Zis Th sound – because Ze H is silent in French.

Many other languages (Hindi, Turkish and German to name a few) have trouble with the TH sound.

The French teacher I spoke of – seems to have mastered the TH sound – or so I thought.

I asked her how she learned to make the TH sound.

She said she “did something else” to sound like the TH sound!

She says she was aware of how many French people are obvious in making the Z or S sound as in Zem (them), Zere (there), Sinking (Thinking)

The teacher says she substitutes the D sound – but makes it subtle and says it quickly so it sounds more like a TH.

She says she really says Dis, Dis and Dat – but the way she says it – quickly and subtly  -it sounds more like a TH than the usual French Z sound.

Great tip – Thanks!

So, if you have challenges with the TH sound – try saying a D instead.

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Why you need to be careful with shades of meaning – don’t make this mistake

How would YOU react?

What would YOU think if you got this message:

I WANT TO BE INTIMATE WITH YOU.

My friend Melissa Karydas* told me this interesting story about someone who used “the right word in the wrong context”.

melissa

By that expression – I mean a word that is technically correct as s synonym– yet inappropriate in the wrong context.

The person from an ESL background (English as  s Second Language) was trying to be friendly.

He was also trying to use other words that mean friendly.

One of those words he tries using was: intimate

Here are some standard definitions of intimate

in·ti·mate

 

adjective

1.

associated in close personal relations: an intimate friend.
2.

characterized by or involving warm friendship or a personally close or familiar association orfeeling: an intimate greeting.
3.

very private; closely personal: one’s intimate affairs.
4.

characterized by or suggesting privacy  warmly cozy: an intimate little café.
5.

(of an association, knowledge, understanding, etc.) arising from close personal connection or familiar experience.
So this writer wanted to be closer friends and wrote to a girl the message at the start of this post:
I want to be intimate with you.
Of course, in English, that expression has a deeper, often sexual connotation.
If you just substitute friendly – I was to be friendly with you – it seems innocent – but use intimate and it sounds inappropriate.
TB training group
So my recommendation to ESL students wanting to expand their vocabularies and show their extra words.
Check with some native speakers if it is acceptable to use certain words.
When I help ESL business people with Business English we often include a session were people can ask me any English or
Australian expressions that confuse them.
TBCUInternational.001
I remember some Chinese executives I was working with  being very concerned about a disease they hadn’t heard of before – a disease that seemed to strike many of their Australian colleagues.
The Chinese business people seriously wanted to know if they could take any medication to protect them from the disease.
The disease that Australians kept talking about: Mondayitis!
(Monday-itis is a joke ailment of not wanting to work on a Monday. It’s not a real sickness)
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* You may recall that Melissa is my “motivated Mum” friend who developed a visual learning system to help her daughter who had a language learning disability.
Mel + G
I use Melissa’s LookingLearning system to help my two kids with their schoolwork!
I can also see the potential of using her methodology to help ESL students understand different words.
Here’s an example of how she visually explains the word  VILE.
vile
I wonder how Melissa would visually explain intimate and Monday -itis!!

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TB gov blg

If you have any work colleagues from different language backgrounds who could benefit from my coaching, please contact me. I get great results in identifying the potential “dangers” and helping speakers avoid the problems.

I have plenty of experience in helping speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Middle Eastern). I’ve even helped Brits and Americans and Canadiansavoid embarrassment when presenting to Australian audiences.

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Warning: do NOT make THis embarrassing mistake with THis Challenging Sound

My female friend was shocked, frightened and offended by the man’s rude remark.

YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL TEETS.

When the man saw the worried expression on my friend’s face – he knew he had said something wrong.

He desperately tried to gesture to make his meaning clear – YOUR TEETS – I LIKE YOUR TEETS. YOUR BEAUTIFUL TEETS!

He moved closer to explain. She moved back in fear – then she understood.

YOUR TEETS – he said pointing to his own TEETS (his teeth)

You see, this man suffered from  what is a common problem for many people who speak English as a Second Language.

Many ESL speakers (Including Turkish and Hindi and  French and German) have trouble saying the sound TH. The sound does not exist or is not common in their language.

So I recommend that you:

1.practise until you master the TH sound or

2.add a visual clarifier – e.g. pointing to your TEETs.

Better still: avoid the word TEETS or TEETH – and say something like I LIKE YOUR SMILE

In a future post I’ll discuss how many people who speak other languages such as GERMAN – say ZE instead of THE and SINK instead of THINK.

word nerd CU

Now my experience is mainly with helping business people improve their written or spoken English.

My work is mainly confined to business matters rather than the broader English in all other parts of life.

I help executives improve their spoken presentations.

People from different language background have challenges with different sounds. Because certain sounds do not exist or are very rare in their native languages, the speakers have trouble hearing that they are saying the words incorrectly.

People from different Asian backgrounds often pronounce Rs and Ls.

People from many South American (and Spanish-speaking) background pronounce Vs as Bs.

I will often get people to practise their presentation and I listen out for problem words and then we work at finding solutions.

If there is time I will highlight the problem words and we work hard to make the correct sound.

If there is not time, we  have a quicker solution  – we will add visuals or the WRITTEN words in presentations so the audience will know what the person is trying to say.

For example, if the man in this story pointed to his TEETs as he said his words, the misunderstanding could have been avoided.

Another “problem” many non-native English speakers have is adding S for plurals when the word is already plural for example teeth not teeths and children not childrens.

These  unnecessary plurals are other problems we “catch and fix” in the presentation practise!

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TB gov blg

If you have any work colleagues from different language backgrounds who could benefit from my coaching, please contact me. I get great results in identifying the potential “dangers” and helping speakers avoid the problems.

I have plenty of experience in helping speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Middle Eastern). I’ve even helped Brits and Americans and Canadians avoid embarrassment when presenting to Australian audiences.

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If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

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Linked In – under Tony Biancotti