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 evolving state of the English language; however, they may not understand informal slang and phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally our accent reduction clients will understand the meaning of an idiom, but use it in an improper context, 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 goals, here are three idioms that have become standard shorthand in the workplace.


Accent Reduction Idiom 1 – Ace Up Your Sleeve

Definition: An idiom referring to an advantage that is hidden from other people.

Example: You don’t seem to be worried about the problem. Do you have an ace up your sleeve against your enemies?

Origin: The idiom is closely related to the game of poker where players are hiding their advantageous cards by employing a “poker face”. In the game, an Ace holds a high value and can be hidden dishonestly throughout the game until such a time that it becomes useful.

accent reduction The phrase dates back to the 1500’s when most people lacked pockets and instead used their sleeves to hide things. In the 1800s, the sleeves became the popular hiding place for magicians performing their tricks. In the same fashion, a dishonest card player would take advantage of the sleeves to hide a winning card such as an Ace. The card is later on pulled out without anyone noticing.


Accent Reduction Idiom 2 – Back to the Salt Mines

Definition: An idiom referring to the process of going back to hard work or doing anything laborious.

Example: I’m on vacation leave today, but tomorrow I’m back to the salt mines.

Origin: The original use of the term referred to an actual salt mine in Siberia, where prisoners were banished to the salt mines to work as manual labor. The salt mines were more prison than mine, where the slaves  accent reductionwere exposed to brutal conditions, including inadequate housing against the brutal weather, punishments such as flogging, and forced labor. During that time, political prisoners were also be thrown in salt mines with dire conditions and extreme punishments for “not working hard enough”.


Accent Reduction Idiom 3 – Above Board

Definition: An idiom referring to anything that is done openly or honestly.

Example: I trust him because all the transactions we’ve had were done above board.

accent reductionOrigin: One origin of the idiom is linked with seafaring, where pirates are hidden below deck or below board to give the victim ships the idea that they are safe. However, not enough evidence supports this claim and “above board” may have also come from gaming practices. Card players keep their hands on the table or board so that the other players can know that they are playing fairly and honestly and not hiding any tricks under the table. An opposite of the idiom comes in the form of “under hand” as opposed to the expected “under board” or “below board”. However, one record of “under board” exists courtesy of Sir Christopher Heydon in 1603. The phrase was used in “In Defence of Judiciall Astrology,” stating that “After the fashion of iugglers, to occupie the minde of the spectator, while in the meane time he plaies vnder board.”


Accent Reduction idioms series

Accent Pros has a continuing series on accent reduction tips, including common English phrases and American idioms.  Be sure to check out other accent reduction 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 with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other accent reduction tips. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter