Your English 61 Language Snobbism

In this episode, I suggest we all become "language snobs" to help each other learn foreign languages. The idea amounts to pronouncing "borrowed" words as they are spoken in their language of origin. That is the case in Sweden where using foreign words correctly does not make you a snob. It is more a way of showing respect for other languages besides our own. I hope you agree with me.

I provide some exercises to practice English words that are often used in other tongues. The script is found in the PDF download and also given below.

Marianne Raynaud

Recording mp3

MP3 - 21.3 Mb
Your English 61 Language Snobbism


PDF - 206.7 kb
Your English 61 Language Snobbism

To get the scripts of the all the recordings or go to our store.

For advice about using the scripts for pairwork in class, see Your English No. 1 and sample script.

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Script: Your English No. 61 Language Snobbism

Hi. I’m Marianne Raynaud. My goal is to help you perfect your spoken English.

There are multiple solutions to improving language learning, but I would like to suggest just one way to help students to better their English. It would help tremendously if people in the media used English words with the correct English pronunciation instead of adapting them to the phonetics of their native language. With this habit of making English words sound French, Italian or Spanish for instance, a native speaker like myself often cannot understand what is being said even though the word or words are in English.

We want young people to learn other languages. Why then do we continue to make things difficult for them by using foreign words incorrectly in the media and then requiring students to “relearn” the proper pronunciation later on. What a waste of time and energy!

So what is the solution? In brief, I suggest we adopt "linguistic snobbism", in other words whenever we employ a foreign word, we should try to give its correct pronunciation in the language it comes from. This may seem arduous at first, but you’ll soon get used to it. People may react thinking you’re a bit of a “snob”, but this is a way of acknowledging where the word comes from. In a country like Sweden, this is the general tendency and everyone excepts it. No one ever considers you a snob for pronouncing a word correctly in the language of its origin.

Let me give you a few examples of English words frequently used in other languages. In this first group, the meanings have not been changed, only the pronunciation is often modified. This group concerns English nouns or adjectives created by adding the “ING” ending to verbs. Usually, by simply respecting the stressed syllable and saying it correctly, you will obtain the US accepted pronunciation. The rule that can help you is “never stress the ING syllable”. That is what learners tend to do and why they sound foreign. Listen and repeat as I say these words. All have the stress on the first syllable except “computing”, “recording” and “reporting”.

(The stressed syllable is the first one, but there are exceptions*.)


coming out

making of

speed dating

Let’s do an exercise. I’ll give the first syllable, and you’ll give the entire word stressing, of course, the first or second syllable. Listen to the examples.

I say: bowl
You say: bowling

I say: brain
You say: brainstorming

I say: brand
You say: branding

Now you go on in the same way. Be sure to speak before I give the answer. (See the words above.)

Next, let’s work on some of these words. Listen and repeat.

I recently went out jogging because I needed to do the planning for the next brainstorming meet up of our marketing division. The timing has to be perfect from the briefing and reporting to the recording of ideas and the final debriefing at the end. We will be trying to invent some branding for companies doing private coaching, personalized shopping or speed dating. I have a feeling that by zapping among different possibilities and monitoring our progression we will find concepts that our sponsoring partners will accept. At the end I see us uploading a clip with a young man bowling, shooting for a strike, who starts dancing joyfully as he knocks down all 10 pins!

Finally, on to some compound words you probably know already. Notice the stress is always on the first syllable of the first word. Listen and repeat emphasizing the stressed syllable as I do.





Let’s do one last exercise. This time I’ll give the first word or syllable, and you’ll give the entire compound word emphasizing the correct stress. Listen to the examples.

I say: best
You say: best-seller

I say: big
You say: big-bang

I say: box
You say: box-office

Now you go on in the same way. Be sure to speak before I give the answer. (See the words above.)

That’s the end of our podcast. Now when you use in your own language one of the words we worked on in this episode you will hopefully smile and pronounce it the English way. Who knows we could start a trend of “linguistic snobbism” to give credit to the language that created a word. Go to our website to get the script of this episode. For more oral practice try our other series “QualityTime-ESL” for oral grammar practice and “5-Minute TOPs” to have fun with quotes and song lyrics. Bye for now, and don’t forget to keep smiling.

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