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Improve your writing & speaking skills to be competitive

By Professor Manzoor Ahmed
Sep 03 - 09, 2001

My first book, an authoritative work on banking — An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Banking, Business and Management Terms successfully launched a year ago, received great critical acclaim in the banking and financial circles as well as business schools.

My present venture — Improve Your Writing and Speaking Skills to be Competitive being a purposeful project is intended in the short-term to enable our professional managers and business people etc. to achieve through their writing and speaking prowess a competitive edge in the national and international markets and in the long-run to provide necessary incentive and infrastructure to create a knowledge-based society in the country without which no progress is imaginable.

The ability to communicate in writing is the most important skill one may possess. There is probably more virtue in your verbal ability, brevity and clarity than in any other thing in life. The book unfolds the secret of how our high-tech professionals and business managers can outperform; how they can write winning proposals to outwit competitors in the global market. Besides its sample letters etc. reveal how fiercely competitive language our companies can use in designing products or initiating business communication to capture market share, maximizing profit.

A common failing among our politicians and foreign diplomats has been their incapacity to interact with the Western media, the scholarly centers and the academics; our politicians still clinging to the outmoded shibboleths of rejected party doctrine. This diplomatic passivity and inaction owing mainty to their language difficulties has in part, alienated the West. The widening communication gap, a tendency to remain in a fixed condition without change and our behavior of inertial ignorance having retarded our progress, have alienated our friends. Hence education is the major critical factor which has failed our country. India on the contrary has always excelled in reaching out to western scholarly and cultural centers, Indian scholars and scientists having generally a welcome excess to their conferences and seminars etc.

In view of the above and our learning and language difficulties, this book has been meticulously designed to help our people fulfil themselves through writing and speaking skills.

Education in the face of a new socio-economic millieu, must be directed toward preparing students to enter complex decision-making envement. But no definite answers for our today's economic or political problems etc. are found in our classrooms. The task of education is to raise relevant questions and to stimulate students' creative solutions. The students who raise more complex questions than they can answer may probably be leader's of tomorrow.

The book in view of a new global socio-economic outlook underscores the importance of American English as the language of international computers, global business and finance as well as of international forums. It is according to many analysts the language of the future. The recent "Plain English movement" seems to be enjoying a sudden resurgence of interest in corporate America, boosting popularity of American Language worldwide. Plain English can also help corporate managers explain their company's strategy to employees, increasing workplace efficiency. Market experts find an opportunity to rise above the cacophony conveying their messages more effectively to their customers. This push is also favored by new economic trends of deregulation and globalization of the financial markets and today's people-oriented political debate. Besides the surging trend is a recognition that new sources of information technology have overwhelmed the people. These and besides some other key factors have prompted the author to write this book in American English.

The book begins by defining three forms of British English—Standard, Colloquial and Slang. The author then makes a switch from British to American Standard English. The comprehensive chapter on modern American English also goes on to define the three basic forms of American English—Standard English, common English and Vulgar English along with their comprehensive usage.

Two chapters in the book describe modern usage problems. The writer here explains giving numerous instances how and when are needed remedies for usage abusage (misuse or abuse of English ) In the chapter Idioms and Americanisms, delineating his plans on the subject, the writer defines modern idiom as a phrase construction, or expression that is recognized as a unit in the usage of a given language and either differs from the usually syntactic pattern or has a meaning that differs from the literal meaning of its parts taken together as in — Not a word did she say, she heard it straight from the horses's mouth.

However if you have always wanted to get a fix on most interesting and widely used vocabulary, phrases and idioms my book may set you straight.

Before working up this short- and long-term project into a purposeful dissertation and consequent upon my interaction with the media, the academics and business people, I could see how young business leaders were clamoring for a book that could produce secret of modern business correspondence in a wide variety of situations. If you are totally bewildered at the idea of writing a business correspondence or dashing off a letter to your mother, this book will set you straight. 51 set of model business correspondence have been listed which may serve as a quick reference for busy business executives.

This book gives a succinct guidance to grammar; to avoid outmoded expressions, it takes the reader to a new world of modern usage. This book is designed to make your work easy and effective. Every thing you need is inside. Here is a quick concise approach of letter writing and its paraphernalia. How to formulate and address your letters, how to get your ideas across effectively and successfully, how to avoid grammatical errors as well as outmoded expressions and how to get better business results. Simply tailor your letter out of these patterns to cater for many different needs. Our model correspondence covers almost every topic imaginable—sales, marketing, management, public relations, banking, commercial, social activities and the like.

The Second Part of the Book — Improve Your Verbal Edge tells us how speeches and presentations could be vitally important for our public leaders, professors, management consultants and public relations practitioners etc. Speaking or presentation ability adds glamor to a professor's erudite lecture. Such skill shows erudition, beauty and originality in the carefully prepared presentation by a public leader, management consultant or a public relations manager.

The public relations man must learn the hard way that speeches and more precisely presentations are the key skills in the success of public relations. Public relations may sometime present its tragic pitfalls when a public relations practitioner not having come fully prepared for his presentation tries to bluff by force of his personality and astute PR moves, his way through a lack of knowledge—which won't work before a learned audience. Someone better prepared more appropriately and successfully would ask himself who the audience is and what they want from his presentation?

Before giving his presentation to his client a careful public relations man would generally look at the company's strategy and research the audience. In his difficult presentation task he would not like to try like petty politicians to please, pursue and promise his audience but elicit management information and opinions and inform sufficiently to achieve sound decisions.

How to Punctuate and Pronounce to Write and Speak with a Difference

This is really a challenge to our businessmen's competitive exuberance. Punctuation being an important tool of business communication, can professional managers master this technique to hone their skills to perfection in business correspondence? This strategy may open up a better perspective of progress and success.

Spelling and Pronunciation

In order to become a good speller, you should make a habit of consulting a good dictionary when having even a lingering doubt as to the correctness of a word's spelling as well as of mastering both the exceptions and the spelling rules. You should also master the grammatical rules how compound adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs are hyphenated (See Compound Chapter). Some people believe that with the electronic spelling checkers available on word processors, spelling errors may be easily rooted out completely by this means and spelling errors in our writing will be no more. But what about homophones like Knight and night that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning and origin etc. and some other kind of words which will not yield quite so easily? This unfair practice of electronic use of spelling being a shibboleth—is really a practice that betrays one as an outsider. One must therefore adopt the right approach mentioned in the book.

Learning to become a better speller

First one must be a careful and good listener before one could become a good speller. Careless listeners are often poor spellers and because they do not pronounce the words carefully, they cannot spell them correctly. Having suffered from their typical speech impediment, they are at a loss how to improve their speaking ability. They often pronounce govarnor instead of guverner; govarnance instead of governens; governament for guvernment; Modren for Modurn; Modrenity for Modurnete and so on.

A few of the most important rules are listed below to help you become a good speller.

Differences between British and American spellings and Pronunciations

With regard to British and American differences in spelling, most probably it is spelling that indicates whether a text is British or American in origin. Examples—Words ending in our or or:

British Spelling

American Spelling











However many such words do not differ in spelling—Emperor, error, minor.

Words ending in—re or er.









However not all such words differ in spelling—Acre, Mediocre.

Words ending in—ise or ize.







When all is said and done, there are really no short cuts to knowledge. This also holds goods in case of learning of spelling. Almost none of us is without blemishes in matter of spelling, but poor spelling is a reflection of one's bad work habits. A person whose spelling is terrible cannot possibly write better.

British and American Differences in Pronunciation

Generally speaking pronunciation error, carelessness, and affectation are highly undesirable. The process of making your pronunciation conform as nearly as you can to the current standard of educated speech, may turn you into a skilful speaker. Here one has to be on one's guard, against pronunciation blemishes, as bad pronunciation habits may slip easily into every one's speech. Careless pronunciation, affectation and over meticulous pronunciation may mar your natural speech. However speech impediments like stammering can be cured by speech therapy.

Let us now take a hard look at careless pronunciation:





E1 em

Elm (one syllable)


Fil em

Film (one syllable)


Mis chee vee es

Mis che ves (three syllables)


In tirk et

in tri kit (three syllables)


Mod ren

Mod urn

(British) Madn (one syllable)


Mod renity

Mo dur ne te

(British) Ma daineti


E sept

Ek sept


Drown ded

Drowned (one syllable)



Ha ri zen (three syllables)

(British) Ha raizn (two syllables)

Correct Pronunciation

Correct pronunciation is crucial to help you improve your speech. Word power is another name of pronunciation power and skill. Is it the pronunciation used by the BBC newscasters? Is it what the English professors at elite universities use? Is it what the actors and actresses an the Broadway stage use? Is it what the educated people use in Boston or in the Middle West? Is it what the dictionaries recommend? Correct pronunciation is combination in part, of all of them. Correct pronunciation in short is current pronunciation.

However there cannot be any final arbiter on the legality of a pronunciation. Careful speakers should avoid these types of pronunciations: Careless Pronunciation; Affected or ostentatious Pronunciation and Overmeticulous Pronunciation.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is the set of phonetic symbols used internationally to represent the sounds human beings use in speech. Each symbol represents one sound and every speech sound, irrespective of language, is represented by only one symbol—e.g. English sinner is (sInar) Norwegian kong is (kOng) (rhymes with gong).

Grammar being the backbone of better writing and speaking, is central to the theme of this book. It has been defined by some writers as the art of writing and speaking correctly, effectively and consistently. Its various rules including the system of inflection, syntax and word formation etc. including scores of grammatical descriptions have been discussed in detail, covering about two hundred pages.

Referring in their upbeat mood to Readers Digest's — Write betters Speak better, as a model of our English language needs, some people have missed their point in undermining the usefulness of my book. They are probably not aware that, that book having been written under a Western cultural, linguistic and etymological background was probably meant for English speaking people. Our problems with English as a foreign language are mainly rooted in our cultural, linguistic and phonetic background. One such problem for example relates to the features of English pronunciations that are not phonemically distinctive in our language. A homey down-to-earth approach to these and such other problems has been attempted in my book.

A lot of effort has gone into making this venture a success. This book has been carefully designed to help our people hone their skills to perfection to write well and speak well—a quality that may really be envied. I do not pretend to be something of an exhaustive writer and suggestions for improvement in my work are welcome.

The book is priced at Rs. 1000/=. However a discount of 10% per book is given if the book directly purchased from the author: E-mail Address: manzoor-ahmed@yahoo-com. The book can also be purchased from our sole distributors M/s. Royal Book Company B.G.5 Rex Centre, Zaibunuisan Street Saddar Karachi Ph# 5684244; 5653418 E-mail address: royalbook@hotmail.com