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Speaking better English - Merisms

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Dictionaries define a merism as a reference to something by its polar extremes, as in "we searched high and low" For example  I searched high and low for the key.  A  Merism  is a figure of speech by which something is referred to by a phrase that described the whole something by counting all its parts. Here are just a few Merisms He fell for the plot hook, line and sinker. This is from fishing. All the parts of a fishing setup. He sold the business lock, stock and barrel. This merism comes from the anatomy of a gun, the lock the bit that did the firing, the stock the part held, and the barrel. So, the phrase is about the whole being the sum of its parts. Other phrases include: nook and cranny day and night male and female better or for worse richer for poorer ladies and gentlemen young and old flesh and bone sun sea and sand life and soul Two items are often compared to represent the whole The last will and testament - 2 documents in two different courts that applied to the

Speaking better English - Cliches

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A  Cliché is what you write or say when you can't think of a new way to express an old idea. A  Cliché is a tired phrase or an old way of saying something. A Cliché is used in spoken English much more than in written English. Many people consider a Cliché used in a book to be dull and unimaginative.      There are hundreds if not thousands of Clichés in Modern English, so many are used in the written word; it is just that people don't realise that fact. Let us have a look at some commonly used Clichés. Most of these Clichés are used by my Mother when she talks to me. These Clichés are in use in everyday spoken English. ·          a chip off the old block ·          a far cry ·          a foregone conclusion ·          a lick and a promise ·          all fingers and thumbs ·          a picture's worth a thousand words ·          a safe pair of hands ·          a sight for sore eyes ·          after my own heart ·          all talk and no action   These are just some of the

Speaking better English - how to cope with words you haven't met before

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How to cope with words you haven't met before is a big problem in English because the ways that words are spoken do not always reflect how they are written. I suppose these words are divided into two categories, those words you can look up in a dictionary and there it will tell you how to pronounce them - the Articulate app will tell you how to say many words. Just add the word you wish to learn to the app in the List of My Words part and the app will teach you to say these words, clearly , easily and precisely. This is true when we meet a few names. A couple of examples are the girls names Hermione and Siobhan and the boys name Sean. If you have never met the names before then you may have no idea how to say them. Reading the names can cause confusion of how to pronounce them. The name Hermione was used in JK Rowling's novels about Harry Potter. Many people from around the world read and enjoyed the books but only when they watched the film did they learn how to say the name c

Speaking Better English - Paying Attention to the Stressed Sounds

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When you listen to people speaking English , you start to notice that they stress certain sounds in words. Sometimes in different sentences or in different contexts the same word is stressed differently. The English language uses  stress  in words and in sentences. What this means is that when you speak English you will also need to stress, or emphasize, certain words and syllables (sounds) to give words and sentences different meanings. Sometimes, placing the stress on the wrong syllable completely changes the word and perhaps its meaning. Written to spoken English AL-ways has this problem. In many cases the stress is achieved by changing the pitch of a word. Here are some examples Let us look at the word - record  - changing from a noun to a verb As you can see in the short video you can stress any sound in a sentence. Stressed words are used in the spoken language and are not see very often in the written word. When I read a book to my students each time I read a passage I can stres

Speaking better English - Synecdoches

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What is a synecdoche? It is a figure of speech in which, most often, a part of something is used to refer to its whole. Let's have a look at some of these "The captain commands one hundred sails" Obviously the Captain doesn't actually command one hundred sails, but the sails are part of a ship, so it is a way of saying that the captain commands one hundred ships, the  ships being the thing of which a sail is a part of. Using synecdoche's is a way of making what you are saying more interesting. If you said "check out my new wheels," "wheels" is another example of synecdoche, used here to refer to a "car." A part of a car, in this example, represents the whole of the car. So we are saying check out my new car. Synecdoche's are often  used in speech my people to draw attention to an object. Mostly people use a synecdoche  to spice up everyday language. We can use this example of a car perhaps in a different way As we saw, "wheel

Speaking better English - Idioms

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What makes English different to many languages is in how thoughts and feelings are expressed. In English the use of idioms is widespread and more so than other languages. An idiom is a phrase which means something, that may not be apparent by the words. These phrases have appeared over time and have been adopted to mean something else. Although idioms are used in most languages, there are more of them in English. The use of idioms often shows the difference between someone who has used the language all their life and those that have just learnt it. An example of an idiom might be for example, if someone is asked about preparing to do a charity parachute jump. Person One. "How is the preparation going?" Person Two "I am getting cold feet." The second person doesn't mean that their feet are getting cold preparing for the jump, but that they are getting nervous about the prospect of doing the parachute jump. The cold feet idea leaves someone who doesn'

Mastering the tongue-twister

Have you tried tongue-twisters? A tongue-twister is a phrase that is deliberately designed to be difficult to say. Especially, at speed!  These can be a lot of fun in small groups or even when practicing them alone. Some tongue-twisters are designed to produce results that are amusing when mispronounced. Others simply rely on creating confusion when mistakes are made. The idea of the tongue twister may have originated from the art of alliteration. An 'alliteration' as wikipedia puts it, is the conspicuous repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words. For example, Black bug bit a big black bear. Over the years, tongue-twisters seem to have been offered up for everything from curing hiccoughs to testing the fit of dentures. More recently researchers into neuroscience have also used them to monitor brain functions. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/tongue-twisters-reveal-quirky-