Accent Reduction Tips

Many of our clients at Accent Pros who come in for accent reduction sessions have advanced degrees and have excellent command of the English language. Given the constantly evolving state of the English language; however, they may not understand informal slang and the phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, conversations with friends, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally our clients will understand an idioms meaning but use it in an improper context or the wrong situation, which could potentially have embarrassing consequences. In our continuing efforts to  feature only the most relevant and practical terms when helping you on your accent reduction journey, here are two euphemisms you might hear around the office and a common insult.

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Jump the Gun

Definition: This idiom refers to completing  a task in advance of the time alotted, thereby freeing up the individual to perform other tasks. Within a business setting the phrase refers to trading stocks prior to their release to the public based on insider information.

Example: Pharmaceutical companies should not jump the gun by releasing prescription drugs before all the results of product testing are finalized.

Origin: Jump the gun is believed to have originated in the military by the Royal Artillery to describe the poor timing of the infantry or armor division in terms of attacking an enemy. To prevent the loss of guns, the infantry was located behind the batteries or canons. During an attack, some of the infantry would literally jump the guns to get to the enemy. The term jump the gun also has its origins in sports, specifically track and field. It refers to athletes who run before the starting gun is fired.

Dumb Blonde

Definition: A derogatory term for a woman who is thought to be less intelligent and who coincidentally has blonde hair. This idiom operates under the stereotype that all blondes are dumber than people with other natural colors and are thus more prone to foolish mistakes.

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Example sentence : Frank quickly regretted giving Luke his e-mail address after realizing he sent nothing but inspirational rhetoric and dumb blonde jokes to his inbox.

Origin: The practice of calling someone dumb became popular in the 1920’s around college campuses,  as  did the term “dumb belle”, playing on the image of a naive Southern girl who innocently walks into trouble. “Dumb bell blonde” was the first incarnation of “dumb blonde” and was seen in Iowa newspapers as early as 1926. The idea that blondes were more desirable or superior to other women in some way  was expressed in the title of Anita Loos’ novel Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Hollywood reinforced this idea by referring to actress Jean Harlow as a Blonde Bomshell, while megastar Mailyn Monroe ultimately decided to dye her hair blonde to increase her profile. Currently blondes are still seen as the ideal  form of beauty and a status symbol in Hollywood.

Rank and File

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Definition: Rank and file refers to the non-managerial and non-executive employees of a company

Example: A review of the rank and file’s company records is done by the human resource department regularly.

Origin: This idiom dates as far back as the 16th century. In the military, soldiers standing side by side are said to be of the same rank, and the line of troops located at the back were referred to as “files”. Officers were excluded in the formation. It was in the 19th century that “rank and file” was used to refer to other groups outside the military, with political groupings being the first.

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Accent Pros has a continuing series on accent reduction tips, including common English phrases and American Idioms.  Be sure to check out other blog posts to find your favorites.  Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening?  Check out our on-line accent reduction courses available to students all over the world.  To stay in touch and acquire instant access to additional accent reduction tips, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.