Watch Your Language

Are You Speaking a Foreign Language?

Do you know that you speak a foreign language, even if  you only speak English? 

For example, when I was growing up in Colorado, a carbonated beverage was called ‘pop’ and a soda was a fountain concoction with ice cream, flavored syrup and carbonated (soda) water.

When I moved to Missouri, ‘pop’ became ‘soda’.  I say it all the time, and nowadays I would never think of asking for a pop.  If I move south, it’s my understanding that I will have to learn to refer to all carbonated beverages as ‘coke’.

Are They Understanding .. or Just Hearing?

We all use language that is familiar to us, but it might be foreign to those who are hearing us.  Listeners might not ask for a translation because they are afraid of appearing ignorant, in which case most of your message has been lost.

As a teacher of those who want to want to start working from home, I struggle with this.  I constantly need to remind to make myself to bring my communications to the level of my listener.  This isn’t because they are too stupid to understand.  It just means that they need to be educated in the vocabulary,  just as you would if you stepped into someone else’s area of expertise.

Parlez Vous IM Speak?

Do you throw around words like ‘attraction marketing’ or ‘lead nurturing’ or ‘autoresponder’ and assume that people know what you are talking about?  If so, you may lose potential leads because your language sounds too confusing and beyond their comprehension.

I know a wonderful woman in Australia who is very good at translating network marketing language.  Her name is Julianne van Zyl, and she is a master teacher.  This article she has written can help you to communicate more effectively as you bring people into your online business.  Thanks, Julianne, for Network Marketers Internet Marketing Terms.

What words do you use that are common in your region?  Please leave a comment!

All the best,

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Leave A Reply (24 comments so far)

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  1. Marty Diamond
    5 months ago

    So right Leslie – One of the biggest No No’s in conversion is jargon – if your visitors are not all experts in your field – you’ve got to simplify your language – make sure that it can be understood by everyone. It’s amazing how quickly our language becomes specialized – and therefore unintelligible to our website’s visitors.


    • Leslie Denning
      5 months ago

      The funny thing is, I don’t even consider myself any kind of guru when it comes to technical things, but I’ve managed to talk over people’s heads. It’s easy to assume that other people know what you know. Thanks for your comment, Marty.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  2. Ross Joyner
    6 months ago

    Leslie, I also live in Missouri, and understand exactly what you are saying above. I was laughing all the way through it, as I myself speak East Coast, Middle US, Southern, Some Spanish, and am learning Venezuelan Spanish which is a little different. I also have an understanding of German and Italian. I love languages as you can see. Language is very much like body language, you can offend some folks from other countries with gestures that we as Americans take as natural. Great Post!
    Ross


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Hey, Ross, I must have forgotten you live in Springfield. We’re practically next-door neighbors!

      I’ve lived in many the states west of the Mississippi, so my language and accent is Heinz 57. I envy you your language ability. I’d love to learn to speak Spanish fluently. It’s on the bucket list. We oughta have a meet-up in the middle one of these days.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  3. Karen Peltier
    6 months ago

    These are definitely great points, Leslie. I find it amazing how so many people forget that the lingo they use may not be understood by everyone. I’ve often encountered this when on the phone with some customer service reps, who not only use lingo specific to their industry, but even use company terms for internal processes no one outside the company may be familiar with! So, it can happen on several levels and is definitely something to keep in mind.

    By the way, I had to train myself to use the word “soda” instead of “pop” when moving from the East to the West Coast.


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Ha-ha, Karen, after living 34 years in Missouri, ‘pop’ just wouldn’t cross my mind or my lips! I guess part of the problem is that we are getting to be such a small world of many languages and also an evolving English language. Twenty years ago, tweet was something a bird did, a friend was someone you had actually met in the flesh, spam came in a can, etc. Plus, I think that people sometimes take pride in their language – makes them look smarter than you – as well as just not thinking about what comes out of their mouth. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  4. Rebekah Radice
    6 months ago

    Great points Leslie and I completely agree. While we may throw industry terms around all day, our clients don’t. We have to be able to speak their language and communicate in a way that makes sense to them and for them.

    If not, we’re bound to push potential leads away.


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      You are so right, Rebekah. Some people will say, “Now, hold on. I don’t know what you’re talking about”, while others are too embarrassed to speak up and don’t get your message. Thanks so much for your comment.


  5. Marquita Herald
    6 months ago

    Well said Leslie! I go out of my way to avoid local jargon because I live in the #1 most ‘culturally diverse” state in the US. There are so many languages here somewhere along the way a separate language was created (Hawaii Pidgin) to accommodate all the ethnic groups who make the Islands their home. I’ve lived here most of my life so I can fall into “local speak” at anytime, but when it comes to my writing or work I avoid it entirely.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…The Choices You Make Everyday Are Creating Your FutureMy Profile


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Yikes – I can imagine. Plus, there is definitely a Hawaiian accent. I had a next-door neighbor in Oklahoma who was a student at the U. He was of Japanese descent, but to me he talked ‘funny’. I asked him if he spoke another language, and I found that his accent was common as ‘Okie’ is in Oklahoma. ‘Course, now I speak Ozark hillbilly and, like you, try to avoid local speak when writing. Thanks for your comment.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  6. Leanne Chesser
    6 months ago

    This is really common in any industry, actually. I was on the phone recently with tech support for an Internet issue. The tech guy was definitely speaking the foreign language of IT speak. Once I finally understood what he was asking (which was actually very simple), I thought to myself, “If you’d speak in a way that the average non-techie would understand, it would make things a lot easier.” It’s something for all of us to be aware of so we can clearly communicate with our audience.


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Yup – I hear you. My first website host was a guy in Canada. I liked the price, and the server was good, but I finally had to move to another host because I couldn’t communicate with him at all when I had a problem. I kept explaining, “I’m a music teacher …”

      Now that I know a lot more than I did back then, I find that I am sometimes throwing out words that people don’t understand like ‘autoresponder’ or ‘seo’. It’s something for us to watch for sure, because a lot of people will just slink away rather than admit they don’t know what you’re talking about. Thanks for your input. Can’t wait to go and read about your real secret to success!

      All the best,
      Leslie


  7. William Earl Amis, Jr. III
    6 months ago

    I had wondered what most people had found confusing, now I can figure it out. Leslie, you made a valid point about being watchful of what your are saying to others. Most people arrive to ask for my help. They only needed to understand a walk-through, someone confused them using jargon.

    Leslie, you made so many thing clear and thank you, for referring us to learn even more.


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Thank you for your compliment, William, but I’m sure my husband would disagree! He’s constantly accusing me of switching horses mid-stream. My mind has gone on to something else, and I haven’t supplied him with vital information. Either that, or I carry on a conversation started in my head, and he has no idea where I’m coming from. I know that you focus on simplicity. I think anyone can understand about anything if it’s explained in the right way. Thanks for stopping by.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  8. Sue Bride
    6 months ago

    There are many words and phrases that are uniquely Australian. Some of our sayings are based on Cockney slang. Apart from words like G’day, Good Onya, the greeting “How ya goin” and calling people “mate” there are probably not too many of them that are used a lot.

    We have some spellings that differ from the US that come from England such as Centre and Litre instead of Center and Liter and using s instead of z. These are easy to interpret though. The only problem I have with centre/center is when I am trying to center something in html :-)

    The main issue in audio or face to face communication is the Australian accent which can be hard to understand. With me there is the added element of strong remnants of a Yorkshire (UK) accent too.

    Short messages on social networking sites can be a problem as we often can’t get our real message across in a few words and they can be open to misinterpretation.

    When we know our own subject well we often don’t state the obvious. It is not because we are consciously assuming that the reader will know what we are talking about but because we forget to be conscious ourselves.

    Thank you for reminding me to be conscious, Lesly
    Sue Bride recently posted…Tips for Online MarketingMy Profile


    • Leslie Denning
      6 months ago

      Ha-ha, Sue. I’m probably one of the few U.S. citizens who knows all the words to Waltzing Matilda and what they mean. I’ve loved that song since I was a kid and used it extensively in my music classes.

      As you point out, communication frequently presents difficulties. My husband and I got lost in downtown Atlanta, GA one evening and hollered out the window at a gentleman we hoped would be able to get us back to the highway. We listened and asked him to repeat directions twice. After we didn’t understand his Georgia accent the third time, we just smiled, thanked him, and drove away, continuing to wander until we could find someone whom we could understand. So it’s not just across international borders. I hate talking to techies because I get so lost. It’s so easy to assume that just because you know something, the person you are talking with does, too. Thanks for your comment.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  9. Julia Reed
    2 years ago

    “Between what I think I want to say, what I believe I’m saying, what I say, what you want to hear, what you believe you understand, and what you understood, there are at least nine possibilities for misunderstanding” -Francois Garagnon. This is one of my favorite sayings. I totally agree with you, Leslie. Possibilities of misunderstanding are everywhere and we should do our best to make our communication with others as effective as possible. On the other hand, we should not be embarrassed of asking questions whenever something is unclear.


    • Leslie
      2 years ago

      Love that, Julia. I’ve heard that saying – at least part of it – and never knew the attribution. And yes, asking questions is vital. Thanks for your input.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  10. Steve Vernon
    2 years ago

    Language is, indeed, an interesting thing, and something that is constantly changing. When I was growing up in the South, a “soda” was referred to as a “cold drink” (or as we would say, a “col’drink”). English in the U.S. is full of colloquialisms, although with modern media, our language has become much more homogeneous; which is a shame in a way, because it was always fun to travel to different parts of the country and try to figure out what people were saying. I once knew an Air Force Colonel stationed at MacDill AFB here in Tampa who was in charge of taking care of the Coalition Forces families who were stationed here from around the world. Since he was from Alabama and spoke with a really thick Alabama accent, he would jokingly say that the reason the Air Force gave him that particular job was because he spoke English as a second language, too! I always thought that was hilarious!


    • Leslie
      2 years ago

      Great story, Steve. And after living in several states, I know what you are saying. When I was in Oklahoma, it was ‘y’all’ and in my area now it’s ‘you’ns’. And when we drove through Georgia last year, I just had to ask the clerk, ‘What in the heck are boiled peanuts?’ I use a lot of foreign words as a music teacher, and I have to keep asking the students if they understand. Of course most of them say ‘yes’, but I’m sure some of it flies over their heads. Thanks for your contribution.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  11. Yorinda
    2 years ago

    Hi Leslie,

    yes, you are so right, we can easily end up using ‘language’ that most people are not familiar with, even though we may be speaking english to english speaking people.

    Sometimes I can feel an aversion to a word that I am not familiar with, which usually tells me that I don’t fully understand it’s meaning.

    Thank you for bringing the attention to this subject and for providing a link to someone who can help.

    Cheers,
    Yorinda
    Yorinda recently posted…Salt versus Himalayan SaltMy Profile


    • Leslie
      2 years ago

      Hi Yorinda. I’ll bet you have lots of words in your country I wouldn’t understand. I haven’t talked to many people from New Zealand, but one of my favorite songs is ‘Waltzing Matilda’ from Australia. You practically need a dictionary of Australian slang to know what it’s about. Billabong? Swagman? I know the meanings of all the words now, but at first it was a little hard to get my head around. Thanks for stopping by.

      All the best,
      Leslie


  12. Kevin Martineau
    2 years ago

    Hi Lesley:

    I find this to be so true in many avenues of life. It seems that each industry has it’s own language that you need to learn. I really enjoyed Julianne’s post as it helped me understand a lot of terms that I hear often but had no idea of what they meant. :)

    Kevin

    P.S. In Canada a carbonated beverage in Canada is a pop not a soda. :)


    • Leslie
      2 years ago

      Yes, Julianne’s post was wonderful. I am about to embark on a marketing campaign that will get me into contact with people who are not too internet savvy. I will need to remember that this time last year I didn’t know anything and speak accordingly. Do all Canadians use ‘pop’?

      All the best,
      Leslie

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