Like anything else involving stringent rules and regulations, grammar harbors a hefty share of obsessive fanboys and fangirls who enjoy debating its ins, outs, and other various quirks. So of course controversies break out in academia, the media, and even intimate conversations between friends. Here are a few of the ones that churn stomachs and angry up the blood, in no particular order.
The Oxford Comma
Debates regarding whether the Oxford comma should keep on being used are comparable to those about the death penalty and/or abortion. Seriously. Most grammarians have an opinion on the subject, and their opinion is always right and never wrong ever and also they will use and insistent voice when relaying it.
The pronunciation of “controversial”
Go figure. Americans stand divided over whether to pronounce it “con-truh-VUR-see-yul” or “con-truh-VUR-shal.” You don’t even have to hop a plane across the pond to take part in the battle. Funny enough, Merriam-Webster‘s and The American Heritage Dictionary acknowledge both pronunciations. So now that a definitive answer exists, it’s time to get back to arguing about whether to call it soda, pop, or coke.
Although grammatically correct, debates regarding the permissibility of double negatives keep flaring up from time to time. Talks apparently originated when linguists pondered acceptance of the often controversial African-American Vernacular English, within which the grammar tweak is quite common. Unsurprisingly, these debates inherently come saddled with some rather unfortunate overtones.
(Hit the link above to see the original blog post and examples for each. I am just re-posting this as per their request. Enjoy!)
Last week I was honoured to have a client fly in to Toronto all the way from Paris, France to do a week of intensive communication coaching with me. It was her first time in Toronto and so I was more than happy to recommend some places to see, some restaurants to go and a few great hotels near my office.
I’m not going to mention the name of the hotel she chose in this post, simply because this story is technically ‘hearsay’ as I did not witness the conversations myself. Needless to say it is a very recognizable name and in a very popular area. I want to share with you her story to use as a learning lesson for those of you who are managers, customer service trainers, or leaders in your company, especially if you work in the hotel or guest services industry.
Quick Background: My client is a calm, mature, friendly and polite woman. She is very optimistic and enjoys her work and world travel. Her job frequently takes her to Washington 3 times a year, as well as to other US cities.
She came in to our session on the second morning and said “Okay – today I can feel that I’m in Canada and not the US”.
“Why is that?” I inquired.
“Because I called the front desk to tell them that my internet access that I paid for is not working properly, and she (the young lady at the front desk) said “well all of our other guest rooms are working properly. Maybe it’s your computer!”
“So I said it is not my computer. I do international business travel all the time and there is nothing wrong with my computer. I’ll even bring it down to you and show you.”
“So I brought my computer down to the front lobby to show them that the internet works perfectly there. They had no choice but to agree.”
“Finally they upgraded my room to a much bigger room now, for 2 people, and the internet works fine. I couldn’t believe it. In the US, you would never have had that conversation. Right from the beginning it would have been an apology and an attempt to fix the problem immediately or a move to a new room without the 30-minute discussion that wasted my time.”
In the end she was overall very happy with her first time in Toronto, and with her coaching as well. 🙂 But this short story is a reminder to those in customer service to be careful how you challenge guests, even accidentally, and to watch your word choice and tone of voice.
Here is a good description of what is involved in a typical English pronunciation (or accent reduction) class or coaching program. Things are usually tailored to the particular English level, industry or work etc. but the main idea is explained clearly here:
English language pronunciation includes all the mechanical functions and skills of language sound production and the specific word pronunciation patterns of the English language in context.
The mechanical functions and skills include placement of the lips, tongue, use of teeth, glottis, expanding or contracting the mouth cavity, use of nasal passages and soft palate, vocal folds, controlling the intake and outflow of air, devoicing, breathing and timing.
English language pronunciation class skills and exercises include initial consonant and vowel pronunciation, syllable pronunciation, individual syllable stress patterns, diphthongs and consonant clusters, initial word pronunciation, syllable stress patterns in words, intonation and timing for words, phrases, clauses, complete sentences, expressions and interjections.
English language pronunciation class can take the form of individual drills or group drills by listening and repeating the correct English language pronunciation exercises.
English language pronunciation class can take the form of reading and speaking. Students are expected to read and speak aloud correctly pronouncing each of the words or passages.
Advanced English language pronunciation classes can include accent reduction. Accent reduction can be ‘un-learning’ incorrect pronunciation and re-learning correct English pronunciation. Accent reduction can also be the initial establishment or correction of pronunciation patterns, speed, timing, stress and intonation.
From the original site http://www.eslincanada.com