Saturday, July 30, 2011

Some Great Links!

Hi everyone! Here are some great links to some of my other ESL sites--

The first is my twitter feed: Dave Berlin's American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed.

And Like my page on facebook: David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training.

And remember that I offer a free phone consult and a free, no obligation trial lesson. So call me today at (732) 618-4135! Call today!

A Good Way To Open A Conversation

I know that some of you have trouble making what Americans call "small talk"--the talk that Americans make in social situations that helps move a situation along--talk to our co-workers, the people we do business with, and so on.

A good way to open a basic conversation in America is to make a remark about the weather. This may seem obvious, but culturally it's a good way to breach conversation with someone you don't know very well or don't know at all. It's considered a "safe" topic, and if you need to progress further you can.

Remarking on the weather will not make you an excellent conversationalist, but it'll get you started--it also depends on how you do it. "It's very hot outside." is a pedestrian thing to say, but if you walk into work and say, "Hoooooooweeee, it's hot. My goodness." in a loud voice, someone will take up the thread of conversation.

Americans tend to be very loud and expressive of emotion. We aren't reserved at all; we are informal speakers and we have no problem showing others how we feel--we are not subtle or delicate about our emotions, we express them everywhere and anywhere, with anyone.

This can be a hard thing to learn if you are not a native speaker of American English or if your culture is not as openly expressive of emotion. Some people perceive Americans as aggressive because we are so loud. That's one way to look at it. Another way is that Americans feel things very primally and very deeply.

Americans, by the way, tend to express their emotions in their speech via the use of intonation--the up, the down, the stretching of vowels, the stressing of and emphasis on certain words and syllables in speech, the changes in musical pitch when we speak, so on and so forth. If you are interested in learning how that works, I give accent reduction lessons and lessons in American speech. Give me a call at (732) 618-4135 to get your free phone consultation and remember that I offer a free no-obligation trial lesson. Call me today!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The difference between "put out" and "put off"...

There are two expressions in American English, two idioms, that have different meanings in American English than they do in British English. They are "put out" and "put off".

In British English, to be "put out" means to be angry.

Example: "I was put out with Ian for running around in the garden."

Another way the British say it is to be "cross".

Example: "I was cross with Ian for running around in the garden."

In American English, "put out" means something VERY DIFFERENT. You'll want to know the difference. "Put out" in American English is a verb--an action word--and it's very vulgar slang used to describe offering sexual favors. It really isn't used even in gatherings of men only. It's very, very vulgar.

In American English, there is another expression: "Put off". To be "put off" is *similar* to the British "put out" but to be "put off" is to be made uncomfortable or somewhat upset but NOT angry.

Example: "I was put off by his constant use of slang."

There is another meaning to "put off"--to "procrastinate". To procrastinate means to avoid doing something you have to do by saying you'll do it later. Someone who procrastinates rarely has everything together when they go to meetings, and is rarely prepared when they need to be. This is because they don't do what they need to do before the meeting.

Another way to say "put off" or "procrastinate" is to "put off for tomorrow."

This leads us to two English proverbs or words of advice (a proverb is a word of advice commonly offered): "Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today."

Okay? Okay. And as always, if you have any questions about this or any other issue in American culture, or about American language, or if you just want to get your free phone consult and book your free no-obligation trial lesson, give me a call at (732) 618-4135. My name is David Berlin. Call today!