Category Archives: English Points

How to Be Recognised by the Boss

Are you struggling along in your job; it’s mediocre at best and it looks like you will never get a promotion?  Although there several ways to get recognised by the boss, or better still, become the boss, one way is by producing quality well-written reports and other documentation.

Effective business communication should be grammatically correct, well organised and it should use appropriate vocabulary.  Documents that meet these requirements speak loudly about you as it reflects:

  • A level of professional competency and proficiency that others do not have
  • Strong values of carefulness and integrity so necessary in a competitive business world
  • Strong commitment to the company and its corporate image
  • A pride in a job well done; the best results and product matters to you

Good communication, whether oral or written is noticed by superiors and clients.

Of course, not all of us are proficient writers so if you have a report, a business letter or any other business communication that you need to produce, you may want to consider the services of a reputable editing service that will ensure that your document meets international English standards and that it is top-notch, a cut above the rest.

AREC Editing1

A Word in Time Saves Nine

AREC Editing ServicesGood communication is essential to business for many reasons; one of them being that it saves valuable time.

What do I mean by good communication?  There are three components to communicating your message well; correct grammar, suitable and well placed vocabulary, proper organisation and sufficient content.  If your documents and messages have this, your business will upturn.

Good Communication will:

Save time – A well delivered message means that what was intended to be said has been delivered and relayed correctly, thus reducing confusion whereby the message must be either resent or translated by someone in the organisation as to what should have been communicated.

Reduce Errors – if the document, such as a how-to manual is not correctly worded, then errors in production can occur

Increase Productivity – Whatever the document used to communicate information; if it is grammatically correct and appropriate, if well-placed vocabulary has been used, then production is up.  Your employees understand what they need to do and clients understand the high quality of the product or service you are providing.

If English is not your strong suit, then you will want to solicit the services of a good editing firm to provide you with their expertise in editing your documents and letters.  Alberta Rose Education Centre has editing services that will cover all your editing needs.

Writing Papers can be a Bummer!

WritingThe economics prof has just asked for a 10 page paper to be done on the Energy Crisis in Pakistan.  Ten pages!   Who does he think he is?  And you have a hundred other things to do for your other professors.  Where are you going to find the time?  But you have to find the time, and so you do the research and write the paper.

But what kind of a paper have you written?  Will the prof like it?  Is it even legible?  Does it meet all the requirements of an English language academic paper?  Will you get an A or a C?  You know and I know that a lot depends on the way you have written the paper.

Don’t fret any longer.  Contact Alberta Rose Education and make use of their editing/proofreading staff that has the academic English language know-how to edit your paper so you can turn in a savvy paper that could only have been written by a genius.  That’s you!

Games ESL Students Play in Class

AREC English class mimePlaying games is not just child’s play, it’s for adults too, especially if you are learning English as a second language.  Everyone gets bored with the same old routine of phonics, dictations and learning the rules of English grammar.  So it is always good to break the monotony of learning with fun learning.  That’s what we have been doing in our English language classes – we have been playing games.   Even the quietest and shyest person comes out of their shell to play a game.  The other great thing about this is that everyone is having so much fun, they don’t even realise they are participating and improving their English language skills.

Some of the games that we have played recently in our English class are:

Run on sentence – this game improves your memory, your listening ability, your vocabulary knowledge and your ability to make sentences.  It is a great way to review vocabulary while having fun.

Pictionnaire – this game improves your ability to spell and to helps you to review your previously learned vocabulary.  The great actors and actresses in the class also show up because this is a mime acting game.

Telling lies and truths – this one gets everyone speaking.  So this improves speaking skills in a relaxed and fun way.  Everyone tells two lies and three truths and everyone in the class guesses which sentences are true and which ones are lies.  Then each person shares in more detail one of the true sentences.  Of course the best liars win the day.

So if you want to enjoy learning English and not just get the dry bones version of English language learning, then you will want to join one of the English language classes at Alberta Rose Education Centre.  There is one class both morning and evening, so call Alberta Rose Education Centre today join; we are conveniently located in DHA Lahore.

How Important is Speaking When Learning English?

So you want to learn or improve your English language skills?  There are four main skill areas that you will have to consider when choosing a competent English language training centre; Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.  Ideally you will want to find an English language school that will take you through all four components of the language.

But if you are taking your classes in a non-English speaking country, it may be difficult to find a school where spoken English is at a high enough level for you to gain a decent proficiency in speaking the language.  You may think that as long as you can get training in writing and reading you will do well.

But how well will you learn the language if you do not have opportunity to speak English in an environment where it is spoken well?  Helen Khan, who is a native English speaker and operates Busisense English, says that learning to speak is a very important aspect of learning any language and especially if you are learning a second language such as English.  She asks, “How did you learn your mother tongue?”  The answer of course is that we learned our native language before we enter school.  We are fluent in the language before we even learn to read and write.  By listening to our families we pick up the correct pronunciation, sentence structure and a vast vocabulary while we are still pre-school.  She goes on further to say that this same concept must be followed through when learning a second language such as English. It is important to join an English class where you will be able to hear someone speak the language correctly, grammatically and pronunciation-wise so you can replicate what you hear.

Furthermore when you start speaking correctly, that is when you will remember what you learn.  If you only read and write it is difficult to take ownership of the language and it doesn’t really become part of you.  But once you start speaking, you eternalise the concepts, vocabulary, grammar and etc. and that is when you start thinking in English and become fluent in the language.

Therefore finding an English language class where English is spoken well is very important to you acquiring good English language skills.  If you live in a non-English speaking country you may despair and think that it will be impossible to take English classes from a language school where you will hear and be able to speak English correctly, but there are English language training centres run by native English speakers in most major cities throughout the world.  One such place in Lahore is Alberta Rose Education Centre.  Just be persistent and you will find a quality English language school where you will be able to become proficient in all aspects of the English language.

Accents

Adjusting to a new cultural setting can be difficult, even without a language barrier to overcome. Learning both a new culture, and a new language, can seem like a daunting task. This is especially true for adults. While children have a natural capacity for absorbing information and mimicking sounds, we progressively lose this innate ability to learn as we move into adulthood.

The older we get, the more difficult it is to acquire language skills, and most notably, the correct pronunciation. This means, that the older you are when you first learn a language, the more likely you are to retain a significant accent. An accent is not necessarily a bad thing. Variability in accents can make interaction with people more interesting and entertaining. Consistently poor pronunciation, however, can make you difficult to understand, lead to embarrassing situations or worst of all; make native speakers doubt your intellectual capacity.

My family moved to the United States when I was ten years old. My two sisters were six and two years old at the time. We stayed in the US for two and a half years, but it was long enough for us to pick up English in the most natural way – by interacting with English native speakers. Although all three of us speak English fluently, I, as the oldest, have had the most difficult time with correct intonation, accents, and pronunciation. Things that came naturally as breathing to my younger siblings, I have had to actively work on.

Many of the errors that permeated my early English were difficult to correct. I still speak with a light accent, but over the years I’ve slowly eliminated the majority of my most pervasive mistakes. The most difficult part of improving your speaking skills is the fact that hearing your own errors is a lot harder than hearing the errors of others. There is good news, however. With a continued effort you can learn to minimize or eliminate your worst language errors.

The best thing to do is to ask English-speaking friends to correct you when you make severe blunders. Friends and coworkers will often stay silent for fear of causing you embarrassment, but if you make it clear that you wish to improve and welcome critique, they can help you pinpoint your worst pronunciation problems. Once you know what the problem is, correcting it is only a matter of time, practice, and consistent effort. You and I will both likely retain some of our accents, but our spoken English skills can always improve!

By Magdalena Gill

Magdalena Gill – Born in Poland; she is now an accomplished Geologist with URS Corporation in the US.  She pursued her post-graduate degrees from the University of Wyoming and Alborn College in the USA.

Pinglish vs. English

English in Pakistan has a flavour all of its own and is a strong contender to compete with Hinglish spoken just south of its border.  Having the third largest English speaking population in the world, Pakistan has a right to stand among the top contesters for recognition for its contribution to the English language

About 49% of Pakistan’s population speaks some form of English, but what do these forms look like?  Here is a small sample of this established version of the English language.

International English:  A few select elites speak English so well that you know that they have probably gone to LCAS, Lahore Grammar, and the American School or maybe even abroad.  These English medium schools are for the well-endowed and the calibre of English used and taught gives these students an international edge over other Pakistanis.

Thinking in Urdu/Punjabi, Speaking in English:  When you do a direct translation from one language to another, often something goes amiss.  What you say and what you think you are saying can be two different things.  Take for example the sentence “I am drinking a cigarette.”  The Urdu word for drinking has been transposed from Urdu to English and thus the incorrect expression.  No, you are not drinking your cigarette, at least I hope not – it could be more dangerous than the smoking!  What you want to say is “I am smoking a cigarette.”

Or how about “Please close the light” – again the word in Urdu for close has been literally translated and used instead of turn off.  What you want to say is “Please turn off the light.”

One of the most common products of this kind of English/Pinglish is the misuse or disuse of articles.  In Urdu and Punjabi articles are not used, but in English they are frequently used.  So it is not uncommon to read a sentence like this; “You must have heard lot of stories about people losing money in stock exchange. Does this mean that stock market is a total losing ground?” rather than as it should be; “You must have heard lots of stories about people losing money in the stock exhange.  Does this mean that the stock market is a total loosing ground?”

Pronouncing Pinglish not English: Here are a few of the more difficult sounds for Pakistanis to pronounce:

  • Because there is only one ‘vow’ sound in the Urdu alphabet, the v and w sounds for Pakistanis is difficult to pronounce.  The word what becomes vhat, the word were becomes vere and the word swerve is almost unpronounceable for Punjabi or Urdu speakers.  It comes out something like swerwe.
  • The diphthong th is another troublesome sound in the English language.  It usually comes out as a dh, so the becomes da or dha.

Using the Progressive for Simple Verbs:  The over use of the progressive is common in Pinglish.  Take these examples:

I am seeing the sky from here. (Pinglish)        I can see the sky from here. (Standard English)

I am having a car. (Pinglish)                           I have a car. (Standard English)

Word Order and Auxiliary Verbs:  I frequently hear these and so I will share some with you.

“What meaning?” is one I frequently hear.  Standard English would render this as “What does it mean?”

Why so many are being killed?  (Pinglish)      Why are so many being killed?  (Standard English)

Code Switching: Code switching is understood only by those that understand both Urdu and English well enough to understand what is being said.  Code switching is when both the local language and English are combined in to one thought, phrase, slogan etc.

If you only understand English, then this commercial slogan will throw you for a loop.  The first time I saw Timepey, I was sitting in the bank.  My first thought was that someone didn’t know how to spell pay and therefore it was a spelling error, but then what was Time Pay?  What did that mean?  Did it mean that the bank would make sure you got your salary on time?

So when in doubt, ask; and lo’ and behold I found out the spelling was indeed correct but the slogan had combined Urdu with English, so it means “On Time”.  Purely in Urdu it would read “Waqt pey” but this inoculation of English into the Urdu language has resulted in “Timepey”, or “On Time”.

Or take the slogan “Khamoshi ka boycott”.  Again this is only understood by a Pakistani.  Native English speakers are disqualified!  This code-switching means “Boycott silence”.

Certainly, Pinglish does have its place in the list of English language variants.  Linguists for some time have been interested in this reconstruction of the English language.  But will it ever gain international prominence in the world marketplace?  Probably not, so, if you want to make it big on the international market place, consider taking up some English language lessons from a centre where international English is spoken, or even try to find one where the English language instructor is a native English speaker.  It will be worth your while.

Acknowledgements to:  Pakistani English:  morphology and syntax by Ahmar Mahboob,  for the use of some of this material.

Hinglish, or English, What shall it be?

No language remains static, every language evolves and that goes for English too.  As much as native English speakers would like to keep the English language status quo; that may not be possible.  We talk about a Standard English, but which standard?  Whose Standard English will dominate the world?

If we ask Indians, they might prefer Hinglish to become the next Standard English spoken worldwide.  This will certainly increase the frustration level of an native English speaker who has to deal with an offshore outsourced Help Desk.  But “no botheration”, we can all take classes in the new English hybrid, Hinglish.

Like most Asian, Indians aspire to have their children learn English at school.  They spend thousands of rupees to give their children an English medium education.  But the English that these children speak is often unintelligible to the native English speaker in any part of the world.  Although India’s English classes follow the British English variety, the English spoken would be equally unrecognised on London streets.

English is the lingua franca of India as not everyone in India speaks Hindi, their official language. Hindi is a 20th century construct of the central government and there are certain regions where different groups do not speak the national language, in fact some even refuse, preferring their own vernacular language.  Even the Bollywood version of the Hindi language is spoken by no more than 40% of the population.

So what is Hinglish?  What does the Hinglish language sound like?  Here are a few examples:

Hinglish Phrases

My head is paining.

My head is paining” translated into English means “I have a headache”.

Mother serious” translated into English means “Mother is very ill”.

Please revert regarding the same “translated into English means “Please reply”.

Pronunciations

But it is the pronunciation that will throw any native English speaker.  Children are often taught by teachers that have not heard a native speaker and do not know how to pronounce English sounds.  So a zipper becomes a jipper, the becomes da and what is vhat.  It leaves the English speaker dumbfounded as to what is actually being said.

Word confusion

Thinking in Hindi or the local vernacular while speaking the English language puts Hinglish in a language class of its own kind.  For example an Indian might say to you, “He is drinking a cigarette” rather than “He is smoking a cigarette.”

Code Switching

But the best of Hinglish is mixing English and Hindi together to make meaningful messages only to those who speak both languages.  It takes someone who scored high in his English classes to manage sentences of this high calibre.  But if you speak only English or only Hindi, then you are out of luck.  You will never know what is being said.

For example:

Dial kiya gaya number abhi vyast hai.  The number you’ve dialled is currently busy.

When you consider the number of Indians who speak Hinglish vs. English, perhaps those native English speakers who want to preserve a certain “Standard English” should rethink.   Should it be Hinglish or English?  Or maybe we should consider Pinglish?

Watch next week for the place that Pinglish holds in the hybrids of the English language.

Five Commonly Misused Words

When conveying a message it is important to use the correct vocabulary words.  If you do not use the correct word from the English language’s large selection of vocabulary, then you have given the wrong message.  It is very important to convey the right message at anytime, but especially so if you have a vast readership.  If you are posting to the web, then your audience is uncountable.

Some of the most commonly misused words that I have come across while editing papers are:  plethora, repute, reputed, sack and wing.

I frequently read the phrase ‘a plethora of services’.  What the writer is referring to is the large number of services and packages available to the prospective client.  Plethora does mean lots of, or abundance, that is true; but it carries with it the meaning of overabundance, excess, glut and surplus (these are some of its synonyms).  This subtle change in meaning from abundance to surplus makes it an inappropriate word to use.  In the English language we have some better words to use which mean in our collection, or inventory, our available list of services, packages, etc.  These words are repertoire, collection, selection, gamut, range or inventory.  Some of these words would be better suited to a ‘full selection of services’.  Additionally, plethora is a seldom used word and your audience may not even know what it means; so leave it alone.

Repute or reputed are another two words that are misused.  I often read ‘a reputed company’.  My response is, “What is its repute, good or bad?”  The English word, ‘repute’, is a noun that means reputation.  One can have a good or a bad reputation.  The English word ‘reputed’ is an adjective that means ‘generally considered or reckoned’.  So, to put this in context, “A sloth is reputed to be lazy, but an ant is reputed to be industrious.”  I don’t believe that you want to use the term ‘a reputed company’.  What you do want to write is reputable, which is an English word that means a good reputation.

Another word that I often come across is ‘sack’.  It is not that the writers don’t know what the English word sack means, they do.  But what they are doing is using it in a tacky way.  I read phrases like ‘in your sack’ which seems to be used to express the idea that the services rendered to the client is added value to the client.  Using sack in this sense is not professional; it’s tacky, cheesy, just bad taste.  What you might want to try is some expression such as added value, certain, a sure thing, benefits to the client, etc and etc, but not a sack.  You are not writing about a sack full of grain, rice or flour.  The only time you might want to write sack in your content articles is when you are doing a website or promotion for an agriculture related industry, such as a flour mill or a grain elevator.

The fifth one I want to address in this article is the English word ‘wings’.  I read phrases like, ‘give wings to businesses.  In the English language, as in any other language, even though the meaning might be static, it is not always appropriate to use the word in every situation.  If you are writing for a professional, technical online company, then you don’t want to use the word wing.  Again, it’s cheesy, not professional.  Rather write phrases or words such as:  your business’s growth will soar to unprecedented heights, escalate, increase rapidly, rocket, spiral, shoot-up, mushroom, climb to the zenith; shoot to the sky, etc.

Whether it’s spoken English or the written word, make good use of your dictionaries and thesauruses.  Even Word has a decent thesaurus.  If you use the English words appropriately; your career will soar skyward.

If you still don’t know if the word is appropriate or not, write a comment on this blog and you will be sure to get an answer to your questions.