Wuz Up with Texting?

Trying to familiarize yourself with the thousands of text message and chat abbreviations can be overwhelming. I often find myself consulting with my teenage acquaintances and family members to stay on top of the most important ones. A client recently commented that she received a message from a colleague, but didn’t know what LOL meant. 

IMHO, I thought an intervention might be in order.

This conversation actually reminded me of a funny story that my daughter once told me.

A mother was trying to be “hip,” and decided to send her daughter a text message to inform her that a beloved relative had passed away.  Mom wrote, “Aunt Susie passed away in her sleep last night. LOL. Mom.”

The daughter called her mother (gasp; she actually opted for a live conversation) and said, “Mom, what is funny about Aunt Susie dying? Why did you say, Laughing out Loud?”

Mom sheepishly said, “Oh. I thought it meant, Lots of Love.”

If you can relate to the mom more than the daughter in this story, it is time to brush up on some abbreviations that you may find on your own cell phone!

LOL: Laughing out loud

BRB: Be right back

IMHO: In my humble opinion

TMI: Too much information

K: Okay

2MOR: Tomorrow

2NTE: tonight

AAK: Asleep at the keyboard

TTYL: Talk to you later

GTG: Got to go

OFC: Of course

If you need more help, you can check out Text Messaging Survival Guide by Jack Shoeman, or “Google it!” The abbreviations are constantly evolving! 


Improving Communication Skills in Healthcare

esl rulesLynda Katz Wilner and Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker, co-founders of ESL RULES  (, recently wrote an article published by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in the December 2013 issue of Perspectives on Communication Disorders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations. The following is an overview with excerpts from the article. Click the link at the end to read the article in its entirely.


Hospital reimbursements are linked to patient satisfaction surveys, which are directly related to interpersonal communication between provider and patient. In today’s healthcare environment, interactions are challenged by diversity-Limited English proficient (LEP) patients, medical interpreters, International Medical Graduate (IMG) physicians, nurses, and support staff. Accent modification training for health care professionals can improve patient satisfaction and reduce adverse events. Surveys were conducted with medical interpreters and trainers of medical interpreting programs to determine the existence and support for communication skills training, particularly accent modification, for interpreters and non-native English speaking medical professionals. Results of preliminary surveys suggest the need for these comprehensive services. 60.8% believed a heavy accent, poor diction, or a different dialect contributed to medical errors or miscommunication by a moderate to significant degree. Communication programs should also include cultural competency training to optimize patient care outcomes. Examples of strategies for training are included.

Key Points

  • Hospitals and medical centers in the United States are rich with diverse providers, ancillary staff, and patient populations. Each culture has its own value system, communication style, and beliefs about health and illness.
  • These diverse providers and patient populations provide a growing niche for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other communication consultants to provide communication training in the workplace. 
  • A comprehensive accent modification program should address skills for efficiency, adaptability, clarity, credibility, active listening, and empathy.
  • Assessment of the health care provider’s ability to pronounce medically related vocabulary and scenarios should be included. RULES  and materials for improving communication in healthcare are discussed.
  • Health care providers need to understand and know how to appropriately respond to the unique social, cultural, and economic influences affecting their patients (Gray, 2013).


Improved health care and cultural communication impacts the overall experience for both the English speaking  and LEP patient, IMGs or United States Medical Graduate physicians, and the diverse nursing and support staff. Consequently, patient satisfaction, delivery of positive outcomes, the facility’s reputation, and decreased risk exposure of the hospital are the end product of effective language and cultural communication. In the new health care model, this will ultimately improve the sustainability of medical systems in the United States. As SLPs, (speech-language pathologists) we can have a substantial and positive impact facilitating clear, understandable, and compassionate communication amongst all of the parties involved.

Perspectives article ASHA 2013

Contact us about any curriculum or materials needs. We also conduct workshops to medical professionals.


Is it "ate" or "it"?

Our clients who speak English as a Second Language (ESL) and are enrolled in accent modification training are often are perplexed by pronunciation RULES. How do we pronounce “-ate” when it appears at the end of a word?  We've covered this in our RULES student workbook, but let’s look at more examples. The World Dictionary defines the “-ate” suffix in the following manner: For adjectives, it is used to denote the appearance or characteristics of the noun, e.g., fortunate. For nouns, it denotes an office, rank, or group with certain functions, e.g., senate, electorate. These words can also become verbs, e.g., separate, graduate, liberate.

The pronunciation changes according to the part of speech. The same word that can be used as a noun/adjective or a verb, but is stressed or pronounced differently and has a different  meaning, is called a heteronym. Check our video on two and three syllable heteronyms.

For all of the three and four syllable words ending in “-ate,” place the primary stress on the first syllable, regardless of the part of speech. However, for nouns or adjectives, the last syllable is not stressed and it is pronounced as “it.” For verbs, the last syllable has secondary stress and  is pronounced as “ate.”

Some of the words below are heteronyms and will be indicated with an asterisk.*

VERBS – pronounce the last syllable as “ate”

liberate                               equivocate                        corroborate                        integrate

indicate                              interrogate                        appreciate                          hesitate

segregate                           alleviate                              ameliorate                         hibernate

meditate                             terminate                          germinate                         elongate

aggravate                           participate                         concentrate                       communicate

translate                            anticipate                           hyphenate                         relegate

depreciate                         discriminate                       proliferate                        disseminate

dominate*                         conjugate*                         laminate*                          coordinate*

subordinate*                    graduate*                           estimate*                           syndicate*

separate*                           moderate*                         delegate*                            elaborate*


ADJECTIVES OR NOUNS- pronounce the last syllable as “it”

intimate                             fortunate                            inordinate                         electorate

consulate                           passionate                          separate*                           moderate*

indiscriminate                  elaborate*                          coordinate*                       graduate*

estimate*                           syndicate*                          delegate*                           duplicate*

Let us know of some more examples that you found. Check out more RULES in RULES Student Workbook.rules

Contact us to learn how to master the RULES.

What About Spell Check?

spell check
spell check

English spelling is a challenge, even for computers! Here is a reprint of a recently re-circulated poem on LinkedIn that highlights the "dangers" of putting too much trust into your computer's spell-check feature. This can lead us down the wrong path of communication. For those speaking English as a Second Language, who have less familiarity with English, the results can be somewhat amusing, if not embarrassing. Look at the passage below and see if you can make the necessary corrections. We'd love to hear from you to see if you know of any other similar passages:  

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

Check out our communication products for non-native English speakers. Effective communication entails proper language, pronunciation, and writing skills.

Malapropisms and Verbal Missteps

  We have all done it! Regardless of whether or not English is our first language, sometimes what comes out of our mouths isn't what we intended.

malapropisms  - noun  /ˈmæl ə prɒpˌɪz əm/

Definition: an amusing error that occurs when a person mistakenly uses a word that sounds like another word but that has a very different meaning.

We are collecting examples of this entertaining verbal missteps. Please add any ones that you encounter.

"Obama Steaks" (Omaha Steaks)

"I heard her over-talking about..."  (I overheard her talking.)

"It was straight from the mouth of the horse." (It was straight from the horse's mouth.)

Gloria, in Modern Family, is a master of mispronunciation and malapropisms. This clip captures both the humor and the frustrations of non-native English communication.

Here are some more malapropisms:

"For all intensive purposes" (for all intents and purposes)

"I will take a look at your website and get back to you when a need rises." (a need arises)

"I’ll meet you at the Christian Silence Reading Room (Christian Science Reading Room)


Often, idioms are misused. The substitution of a single word may change the meaning entirely. For example, if you told someone to "break an arm," it would not convey the expression for good luck, which is "break a leg." For more idioms, check our Medically Speaking Idioms in our webstore at

We'd love to hear from you.