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 – New York Minute

Description: Used to describe how something or someone moves very quickly.

accent reductionExample: He just left his bag on the table and it was gone in a New York minute. That thief sure moved quickly.

Origin: There are many explanations as to where this idiom came from. Some say that the clever man or woman that first uttered this phrase is lost to the annals of history, though other sources say that this idiom originated in, of all places, Texas. It was in the sixties and the original phrase stated how a New Yorker does in a flash what a Texan would take a whole minute to do. Some would argue that it isn’t New Yorkers who are fast but Texans who move extremely slowly. Another earlier antecedent appeared in print back in 1954, not talking about time but the size of a French poodle. The print stated that it was no bigger than a New York minute, which spoke volumes since the dog was tiny.

Accent Reduction Idiom 2 – At the Drop of a Hat

Definition: Something happens instantly, something done without hesitation and delay.

Example: I asked him for some cheeseburgers and he delivered them at the drop of a hat with no questions asked.accent reduction

Origin: The earliest reference to this saying comes from a bankruptcy law hearing in 1837. The record is found in the Register Debates of Congress, reading “They could agree in the twinkling of the eye, at the drop of a hat, at the crook of a finger, to usurp the sovereign power…”

However, the phrase could have come from as far back as the 1800s where race or fight officials would signal the start of a race or match by dropping their hats on the ground.


Accent Reduction Idiom 3 – Crunch Time

Definition: This expression is used when something must be completed in a short time frame, or to emphasize that the end of an established time frame is approaching.

accent reductionExample: The professor just posted the exam schedule on the board and that means it is crunch time for all his students if they want to pass.

Origin: The Oxford English Dictionary shows that the word “crunch” was first used to talk about a time of crisis back in the year 1939 at the very least. However, an article from 1968 talks about a “crunch” in the White House in the form of a political impasse, or to be more specific, “current governmentesse” This suggests that the idiom “crunch time” can be linked to Lyndon Johnson’s administration when the Federal Reserve restricted the banks’ access to credit.


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