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March 27, 2017

Everyone knows it's illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin. But what about an English-speaking candidate with a foreign accent?

The answer is no. Well, maybe un poco.

Dianne Markley, a professor at the University of North Texas at Denton (UNT) whose graduate research focused on how accents affect the hiring process, says it is "almost impossib...

January 24, 2016

Sets of letters or numbers, e.g. GST, GPS, USB, CBD, USA, H2O, 021 and 111.

 

To say the set of numbers out loud, say the first letters or numbers fast and at a low pitch, then slow down and say the last letter or number with a falling pitch.

 

 

 

 

E.g.:

GSˈT (/dʒi.esˈtiː/;   _ _ ╲ )

USˈA (/jɪʊ.esˈeɪ/;   _ _ ╲ ). 

 

This is a key feature of Standard English.

It sounds foreign if you stress al...

July 16, 2015

In an interview this summer, Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator — the tech accelerator that has funded a number of successful start-ups including Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit — made a comment about how he evaluates potential companies that managed to both offend many foreign-born Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and reveal a prejudice common among venture capitalists.

“One quality that’s a really ba...

June 4, 2014

Someone I know tells a story about a very senior academic giving a speech. Students shouldn't worry too much, she says, if their plans "go oar-y" after graduation. Confused glances are exchanged across the hall. Slowly the penny drops: the professor has been pronouncing "awry" wrong all through her long, glittering career.

 

We've all been there. I still lapse into mis-CHEE-vous if I'm not conce...

May 2, 2014

Abhorrent describes something truly horrible like finding a dead rat in your soup, but something aberrant is just abnormal, like a cat in a pink fedora.

 

Abhorrent means disgusting or detestable. When you abhor something, you loathe it. Its Latin root means, "to shudder, recoil," which is what you do when faced with something abhorrent like a zombie, or or in these examples:...

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