English at work: social media. Five mistakes you make!

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I guess all of us use social media at work or after work. And most of us keep making the same mistakes in English when talking about them! Well, not any longer! Starting from today, you’ll be able to communicate easily and correctly with native speakers of English! I will tell you about the five mistakes most Poles keep making when talking about social media.

The first mistake is about the very word “media,” and its pronunciation ( = wymowa). Many of us say “media,” just like in Polish, but in fact it’s /ˈmiːdiə/ – with an “i,” not “e.” So, social media /ˈmiːdiə/.

Now, the second mistake. One of the social media sites you often use is LinkedIn. When it comes to LinkedIn, a lot of us have problems with the pronunciation. Lots of Poles read it as it’s written, adding Polish rules of pronunciation, so “linketin.” Some, on the contrary, engage in hypercorrection ( = hiperpoprawność). They’ve heard that <-ed> is sometimes pronounced /d/, and not /t/, so they say /lɪŋkd ɪn/, which is also incorrect ( = niepoprawne).

So, how to do it right? Well, the word “link” is pronounced /lɪŋk/, so nothing tricky here. When we add <-ed>, it will sound /t/, not /d/ – because the last sound of “link,”, /k/, is also voiceless ( = bezdźwięczne). I know, lots of sophisticated ( = wyrafinowana) terminology, but you don’t have to remember it. And lastly, we remember that we have linking in English pronunciation, so it won’t be /lɪŋkt ɪn/, but rather /lɪŋk tɪn/, with /t/ attached to the beginning of “in,” and not to the end of “link”. So, /lɪŋk tɪn/!

Yeah, I know, that’s super confusing! ( = zagmatwane)

The third problem we often have is a calque ( = kalka) from Polish. In Polish, we say “napisz na priv,” or “napiszę ci na priv.” I have no idea where that came from, but definitely not from English! In English you would say “PM me,” or “I’ll PM you,” where PM stands for “Private Message” or “Personal Message,” depending on the website you use. So we don’t say “I’ll write you on priv”! No, no, no! “I’ll PM you”, or “I’ll send you a PM.” 

The fourth problem is connected with the word “messenger.” I often witness ( = jestem świadkiem) such conversations between native speakers and Poles:

“Which messenger do you use?”

“I don’t use Messenger.”

“Really? Then how do I contact you? Email?”

“No, email is too slow.”

“So maybe a messenger?”

“No, no Messenger. Maybe skype?”

But skype IS a messenger!

A messenger, or – the full name – instant messenger, is a type of app used for fast communication. Examples of messenger apps include WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Telegram, Skype. And yes, another example of a messenger app IS Facebook’s Messenger! And no, they are not “communicators”! A communicator is a person who communicates, not a piece of software! 

The fifth and last mistake is connected with Skype. Be careful with pronunciation. Lots of Poles say “skejp,” like “escape,” but in fact the pronunciation is /skaɪp/. Like “hype” ( = rozgłos medialny) and “wipe” ( = przetrzeć).

So, that’s it! No more mistakes when talking about social media! Have fun using them!


 See you next week! 🙂


Kasia Sielicka, doktor filologii angielskiej. Konsultant kariery: rozmowa o pracę po angielsku.

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