The prospect of changing your speech to speak with a reduced accent may seem like a daunting task, one that leaves you open to self doubt about whether you are betraying a part of your identity by making such changes. You can counter any fears you may have by reminding yourself that you are in control of the accent reduction process. You can proceed at your own pace while monitoring when and how you incorporate learned techniques. You must be able to “paddle your own canoe” with regard to accent reduction and make a conscious effort to avoid slipping back into bad habits when speaking in both formal and informal situations.

How often have you come across the idiom below in conversation and/or print?

Idiom-Paddle Your Own Canoe

Definition: “Paddle your own canoe” is a phrase used to describe someone who is strong enough to be independent, and someone who can decide his own fate. It is more associated with mental and emotional strength, rather than physical. The term is also often used to describe self-reliance, independence, and resourcefulness.

Paddle your own canoeExample sentence: “No one said you can’t start your own business at a young age. Paddle your own canoe, we believe in your entrepreneurial skills.”

The figurative origin of the idiom “paddle your own canoe” started to be used in the 19th century. It was first noted in 1807 in the manuscript The Selangor Journal: Jottings Past and Present, which talked about the absence of community spirit surrounding the Malaysian coffee planters. A poem was printed in The Crawford County Courier, a Wisconsin newspaper, in 1852, entitled “Paddle Your Own Canoe.” The term gained popularity in 1938 as a metaphor of independence and self-reliance when it was used by Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouts Movement, as the title of his book.

Accent Reduction idioms series

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