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The common speaking habits making us sound stupid

Many of us employ habits when we speak that we aren't aware of and according to one online English teacher, they make us sound less intelligent.


Lucy Bella Earl, 25, from Hertfordshire in southern England, runs the YouTube channel “English with Lucy”. Since creating the account in January 2016, her videos have attracted 2.5 million subscribers.

In a recent video, Earl shared two regular mistakes people make in everyday speech: upward inflection and using the word ‘like’ too often.

“They make people sound dumb and unintelligent when they speak, without them even realising it,” Earl explains in the video.

She goes on to warn that these habits could impact a person’s chances in prospective employment situations: “If you do one of these things in a job interview, it has actually been proven that it decreases your chances of getting hired.”

Mistake number one

Upward inflection is a common habit where a statement is made to sound like a question.

Rising pitch at the end of a sentence, as you employ when asking a question, suggests you’re uncertain about what you are saying.

Earl says though it is more common in American English, it’s becoming increasingly common among Brits too.

In 2014, Sharyn Collins, a voice coach and elocution expert told BBC News that: “It’s perfectly fine in Australia, New Zealand and America.

“But not here [in the UK], I believe.”

While we don’t fully recognise it, our manner of speech is constantly changing based on how people around us speak, explains Earl.

She says Brits could blame the effect of US films and TV shows, as they don’t fully realise they are mirroring what they hear.

And she highlights that using an inflection is often employed for characters as a way to portray them as unintelligent.

The speech pattern is also common for those who speak English as a second language and can signal a lack of confidence in grammar, explains Earl.

She advises it should be tackled in conjunction with learning a new language: “It shows your insecurities about your language skills”.

Upward inflection is when a sentence ends with a person raising their pitch. Photo / YouTube
Upward inflection is when a sentence ends with a person raising their pitch. Photo / YouTube

Mistake number two

Another way people instantly make themselves sound less intelligent is by repeatedly using the word ‘like’.

Earl identifies that people misuse the word as a way to fill a void when they aren’t sure of another word to use, or while thinking of what to say next.

Do you use the word
Do you use the word ‘like’ to fill voids when you speak? Photo / YouTube

She says this makes a person sound disinterested or nonchalant.

“I would highly suggest avoiding using ‘like’ as a filler because it ends up sounding really, really juvenile,” says Earl.

Source: NZ Herald


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