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Communication Matters

April 2014    Issue 70         

Crossing the Linguistic Divide: How Your Speech Tones Can Help or Hinder You       
In This Issue
Culture Clash in the Airport Cafeteria
Confidence is...
TELL US YOUR STORYFeatured Article
Business  Woman Lecturing

If you are a foreign born professional, we would like to hear from you. We are very interested in the story of how you are overcoming self-doubt and learning new skills.

We would be happy to feature your story in a future issue.
trOur Mission is to help our clients transform their accents from a communication barrier to a charming cultural flavor using "listener friendly" speech. 


Order Mastering Meaning from today online.   For an autographed copy contact Judith Bergman through our web site. (Pay for autographed copies with check by mail or credit card phone order only). $19.99 + S & H and applicable sales taxes.   


We know that you can learn American English intonation, gain confidence and make the "right" impression!
Go to our Archive Home Page to read more fascinating newsletters.

  Triangle Speech Services is the private, professional practice of Judith L. Bergman, a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in foreign accent and regional dialect modification and related communication skills. I offer customized, individual tutorials to corporate-sponsored and self-enrolled individuals who speak English fluently but with moderate to severe accents that create challenges and frustrations in the workplace.

  We believe in synchrony, or the coincidental and meaningful relationship of unexpected events.  I have been observing  "uptalk" or an upward questioning inflection used by many of my clients from India when they are stating basic facts and I'm also aware that many really lack confidence when they have to call a new client or meet colleagues for the first time.  

   Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a current NPR article about missed cultural signals in speech intonation and today I just listened to a public radio interview of the authors of The Confidence Code. Here's a summary of the highlights and links to these fascinating resources.  



  The late John Gumperz, a linguist known for his research on differences in the ways cultures communicate, was called to Heathrow International Airport in the mid-1970s to try to figure out why the new employee cafeteria workers (women from India and Pakistan) and a group of baggage handlers had become very hostile to each other. The women were accused of being rude and they said the baggage handlers were discriminating against them.

  When the linguist recorded their conversations, he found that the main "culprit" was how the cafeteria workers were asking the baggage handlers if they wanted "gravy." They were not using an upward questioning tone,  "Gravy?" that would sound like the polite question, "Would you like gravy?" They were using a falling intonation, "Gravy!"  which sounded like, "This is gravy so take it or leave it." To the baggage handlers, these women sounded really rude.

  But Gumperz knew (and I have discovered by listening to my clients from India and asking them), that the reverse is true for speakers of Indian languages including Tamil, Telugu and many others.  So if, while being tested, my client responds with, "I am a software engineer?  I have two children?" I know that he thinks he is making a statement. However, if he gives a report at a team meeting and his colleagues hear him say, "Our project is going well?" or "This is my solution?"  he will sound like he isn't really sure that what he is saying is true!!  This creates a really bad impression of his competence.  No one is wrong, but in an American (or British) work environment, awareness of the negative impact of "uptalk" is critical.

  The article goes on to discuss similar cultural misunderstandings that can occur during job interviews. The  title to this section is a link to the NPR article. 


Confidence is the ability to turn thoughts into action and benefit from "reflective failure."
JB Lifting weights
  We develop muscle strength through resistance training! Yes that is a photo of Ms. Bergman  at a gym taken about 15 years ago AND I still work out regularly. Do I worry about "looking ridiculous at my age?"  Absolutely not! 
   We learn from our mistakes when we can "swat away" the NATS (a play on the word "gnats" or tiny sand fleas). NATS are  "Negative Automatic Thoughts" that undermine one's confidence.
  Our readers should check out this link to The Confidence Code a book subtitled, The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know.  The research and common sense wisdom of the authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, make this a great resource for non-native speakers, whether men or woman. In their NPR interview this morning (April 17 ), the authors specifically encouraged men to take the "confidence quiz" on this website. 
   We invite you to click on Triangle Speech Services  to visit our informative website. Our goal is always to provide information, inspiration and encouragement since these are essential components of any successful learning experience.
  If you are seriously considering enrolling yourself or an employee in an individual tutorial with us or simply want to talk to us about our programs, please contact us through the contact page of our web site


Judith L. Bergman M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer
Founder & Director of Triangle Speech Services