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 – A shot across the bows
Description: A shot across bows is a warning shot. This can be literal or metamorphic. When you fire a shot across a person’s bows, you make a move or do something to warn him or her that you’re to take serious action if he or she doesn’t change their attitude.
Origin: In 1865, the earliest reference of the expression was made my Admiral William Smyth in a word book he authored containing alphabetized nautical terms. “A shot across the bows” originates from the naval action of firing cannon shots over the bows of an adversary’s ship to engage them in battle . The first use of the idiom in publication was a Wisconsin Democrat piece in December 1939. The more common use of the phrase (as a warning) developed in the 20th century. The general figurative meaning of the idiom was first documented in The Fresno Bee Republican published in August 1937.
Accent Reduction Idiom 2– All at sea
Description: If someone is “all at sea,” they are completely confused.
Example: I love math but with this trigonometry equation, I’m all at sea.
Origin: Originating in the 18th century, this nautical phrase was an extension of the expression “at sea.” It goes back to the time of sail when precise navigational assistance wasn’t accessible. Therefore any vessel that couldn’t be viewed on land was in an uncertain location and at risk of becoming lost. The phrase “at sea” was first documented in 1768 by Sir William Blackstone. “All at sea” was first printed in 1893. It was used by Frederick C. Selous.
Accent Reduction Idiom 3 – Batten down the hatches
Description: When used nautically, this idiom refers to securing a boat’s tarpaulins in anticipation of a bad weather. Figuratively, it means preparing for difficult times or anticipating trouble.
Example: Batten down the hatches, Christina. We’re paying the children’s multiple academic fees this year.
Origin: The first mention of “batten down the hatches” in naval practice was in 1769 by William Falconer. He included the term when he wrote An Universal Dictionary of the Marine. In the maritime world, ship’s hatches were technically referred to as the hatchways. These were prevalent on sailing ships and were usually either open or covered with wood framework to accommodate air flow on the lower decks. When there was an impending bad weather, the hatches were protected with tarpaulin and the covering was bordered with strips of wood called battens. These prevented the hatches from blowing off. Over the years, the naval expression turned into a figurative phrase for preparation when anticipating troubling times.
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