Über Uns

Montag, 03. September 2012


I can’t understand a word you are saying...


My day was off to a great start. It was my first day back to work after my vacation only to discover that my trip home was apparently not only relaxing and restive, but it had also sped up the cadence of my speech.


The increase in speed was really unbeknownst to me as my dialect would have been quite common amongst my native peers. Yet in my day-to-day life here in Germany, the language I use is typically more complete, clear, and well, it is spoken slower. In English, this is otherwise actually known as ‘proper English’, and I had apparently stopped using it.


So what happened to me then? How did I suddenly go from a clear, easily understood speaker to speeding through sentences as if I was a fast-food-drive-thru employee taking orders?




Slang contracts words, introduces colloquialisms and idioms, and adds a natural slur as we hurry in our own native language which causes elision – the omission of sounds and syllables as we run words together. It’s a death knoll for those who are trying to learn the foreign language, and sadly, most of us are ignorant of the fact that we even do it. It is also the reason I didn’t think I had actually sped up.


Now for most people, any language you don’t speak probably sounds as though it is spoken at an impossible tempo. Yet if you break it down, the average word per minute count in English is really only about 150 words per minute, with variances for things such as gender, age, and emotion. Most other languages are similar.


Instead, listeners get confused by all of the other signals given off while someone is speaking. Tone, inflection, syllables, and of course, the way you say what you are saying all affect how we hear things. Some languages require more filler words, and others are completely full of syllables. They really aren’t any faster, they just sound that way.


Still don’t believe me? Then consider this: Why are movies and TV shows still the same length in any language?


The difficulty will always be the slang. So remember, if you really want someone to understand you in your own native language, speak clearly, don’t use contractions, and avoid slang. They may still ask you to slow things down from time to time. However, if they always seem to complain, share this link with them, and after watching it, ask them again if they really think you are speaking too fast.


Rob Beaudoin

Sonntag, 15. Juli 2012

5.7.2012 in Ehrenfeld 

Pecha Kucha


Pecha Kucha, strange name so what does it mean? Originating in Japan, Pecha Kucha translates into something like “chit chat”. It is a presentation method in which the presenter has 6 minutes and 40 seconds to show twenty slides, each slide being shown for only twenty seconds each. It is designed to be fast, to the point and, hopefully, informative.


Pecha Kucha Nights, originally created as a marketing event by two architects in Tokyo, have now spread around the world with over 500 cities having regular events. Happily enough Cologne is one of those cities, with the last Pecha Kucha Night on the 5th of July being well attended.


The presentations covered a wide range of themes, from the much criticized GEMA to not so subtle pitches for crowd funding of artistic “post-porn” movies. While some presenters used the format to its maximum advantage, inevitably there were some that were…. well… not so in tune with the format! That, though is where the beauty of Pecha Kucha lies… you know you only have to get through 400 seconds before the presentation is over.


In summary, it was an informative and entertaining evening watching different people present on diverse topics. It was also an excellent way to look at presentations at a visual or design level and see what really works to get a message across effectively and what doesn’t. For those of you who would like to go along to the next Pecha Kucha Night, have a look at the PechaKucha.de website.


Mike Hicks

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