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This has been a week of interviews…with USA Today, followed by CBS-Radio National News, followed by Lucy Ann Lance Talk Radio. Wow!

From the boardroom to the locker room, most everyone knows that language barriers are the norm in today’s multinational settings. This is one challenge of globalization. But many people don’t know there are solutions to eliminate these communication disconnects. As such, we’re always grateful when the media gives us an opportunity to spread the word.

Reporters often ask me about typical mispronunciations, usually around consonant sounds that exist in English but don’t exist in other languages; “r” for example. Today, Lucy Ann Lance brought up an area of pronunciation that’s not often considered but, nonetheless, creates a lot of disconnects: syllable stress. This refers to the part of the word that’s pronounced louder, stronger, and harder. Syllable stress refers to emphasis.

There are many words in English that, when the syllable stress changes, so too does the meaning. Take, for example, the words

inVALid vs. INvalid     or…

obJECT vs. OBject     or…

conDUCT vs. CONduct     or…

death by comMITtee vs. death by COMmittee

The list goes on and on. If you find yourself having difficulty understanding the pronunciation of a colleague or friend, try switching around the syllable stress. The meaning just might click!