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The British Self-Employment Fad

How do people cope with job insecurity and a lack of opportunities? Many Brits are choosing self-employment. The Guardian has recently published an article about this new trend: many who have recently become self-employed are satisfied with their jobs. According to financial recruitment consultancy Robert Half, 29% of HR executives in the UK mention work-life balance as the main reason employees leave. Many consider self-employment when they realise they work better on their own and they can stretch themselves, often discovering skills they didn’t know they had.

This self-employment fad is led by women. In fact, the working world has a culture essentially hostile to family life, which still is a bigger problem for women than for men. The promise of flexible working is a myth to many: now around 70% of British companies prefer not to hire a mum because of the potential for additional maternity leave or time off for sick children. The problem of getting women onto company boards or other top roles in business is well documented.

Laura Rigney turned that problem into her business model; she started Mumpreneur in 2010. It offers events, advice and support for mothers thinking of becoming self-employed. Rigney says that when a mum starts a business, nine times out of ten she will start it when she is on maternity leave. Mums tend to grow their business slowly while their children are young, and a significant growth normally doesn’t arrive before year four of the business. This slow growth can be one reason why it is impossible for them to secure bank loans.

Rigney’s business is growing, with Mumpreneur’s fourth annual conference expecting double the delegates of its launch event, a national roadshow in the pipeline and daily requests for regional events.

By | March 12th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Personal Names, Such Important Words!

The Atlantic has recently published the results of new research from the University of Melbourne which shows that employees with easier-to-pronounce names are more likely to get promoted!

Researchers led by Dr. Simon Laham analysed how the pronunciation of names can influence impression formation and decision-making in the workplace. They used field data on 500 lawyers in the U.S. and conducted a mock ballot experiment. They used a range of names from Anglo, Asian and West and East European backgrounds.

The research found that attorneys with more pronounceable names advanced their career more quickly in their companies, while political aspirants with simpler names were more likely to be elected. This effect didn’t depend on the name’s length or cultural origin, but on its ease of pronunciation.

The full study, “The Name-Pronunciation Effect: Why People Like Mr. Smith More Than Mr. Colquhoun” (PDF) was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

By | March 9th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Linguistic Achievements of Women

Today is the International Women’s Day, so let’s learn about and celebrate the linguistic achievements of women. Everything young females do verbally used to be considered a sign of vapidity, insecurity or some other flaw, but now several linguists do not quite agree. Such thinking is outdated: girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang.

Women uptalk, which means they pronounce statements as if they were questions, create slang words like “bitchin’,” a synonym of awesome, and “ridic,” an abbreviation of ridiculous, and always use “like” as a conversation filler.

These examples may have been created by women, but they are now used by both sexes. The American linguist Mark Liberman states that George W. Bush used “uptalk” all the time and men now use “like” more than women in conversation.

Why are women about half a generation ahead of males as far as vocal trends are concerned? Some linguists suggest that women are more sensitive to social interactions and hence more likely to adopt subtle vocal cues. Others say they use language to assert their power in a culture that, at least in days gone by, asked them to be calm and decorous. Whatever the answer, the idea that women’s vocal fads quickly spread to the general population is well established.

The New York Times has recently published an article about a paper on “vocal fry” written by researchers from Long Island University. “Vocal fry” is a kind of creaky voice now associated with young women and girls, which has a long history with English speakers. Dr. Crystal, the British linguist, cited it as far back as 1964, as a way for British men to denote their superior social standing. In the United States, it has been gaining popularity among women since at least 2003, when Carmen Fought, a professor of linguistics at Pitzer College in Claremont, detected it among the female speakers of a Chicano dialect in California.

A classic example of vocal fry, can be heard in the movie She Done Him Wrong (1933) when Mae West says “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me.”

By | March 7th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments
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