All posts by Aigerim Kazymbek

Analysis of the video “Voice-Recognition Elevator in Scotland”

We often hear people say that someone has “such a strong accent”, or complain that his or her accent is “difficult to understand”, or, vice- versa, compliment highlighting how it is “lovely”. Having an accent means uttering the words in a specific way, which is usually influenced by the geographic location or social features of the speaker (Crystal, 2008). It shouldn’t be confused with a dialect since accent doesn’t imply distinguishing features in grammar and vocabulary. In some cases, the same language speakers from different parts of the world may misunderstand each other because of those pronunciation peculiarities. Therefore, people appear to ascribe a particular way of speaking to this or that country or city. Such stereotype is reflected in the video which was selected for interpretation that shows the attempts of English speakers with a Scottish accent to imitate American and British accents.

The purpose of this analysis is to explore the beliefs that the manners of American and British accents imitations imply in the Youtube video “Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland”. Therefore, I used a qualitative approach. To achieve my goal, I examined how the speakers pronounced the word “eleven” when trying to say it in American and British style. That would explain the way they perceive American and British accents. Along with that, I decided to pay attention to the phrases they used in their conversation in order to understand their beliefs. I couldn’t leave out the comments since there were some which added up evidence to the pattern that I found from the video. So, I analyzed them too.

Aforementioned video is a sketch from a comedy sketch-show called “Burnistoun”. The incidence takes place in the elevator with an installed voice-recognition system. Two Scottish men are stuck in it because the system doesn’t recognize their accent. In order to get to the floor they were heading for, one by one they try to imitate American and British accents. However, their attempts fail (VideoFunStation, 2011).

I noticed several techniques that they used. When trying to imitate American and British accents for the word “eleven”, the men changed the way they pronounced the vowel sounds. In the beginning, they used their own, Scottish, accent and I heard it as [әlevn]. However, when their manner of speaking wasn’t identified, they decided to try American accent and pronounced the word as [ilәvn]. After seeing that it wasn’t working they used British accent and said [әlәvәn]. Along with that, every time when changing their accent, they had to repeat the word several times. While repeating the word, they tended to break it down into syllables, presumably, in order to be intelligible. Moreover, use of the body movements was spotted. The second speaker moved his shoulders forward when he was imitating British accent which, I think, was intended to support his British sounding. One of the commenters noticed it too, he/she pointed out that it is an imitation of not only pronunciation but also of the Londoners’ habit while speaking:

“I’m from London, and it cracks me up when he does the english accent…puts a bit of cockney shoulder into it lol. Classic sketch “(VideoFunStation, 2011).

In this way, the vowel sounds’ change, thorough pronunciation, and body language support were observed in the process of attempting to sound like an American or Englishman.

The manner of “speaking” with American or British accent reveals the perceptions of those characters regarding how they think American or English people sound like. Those beliefs are usually constructed by the society (Giles, 1970). However, in this case, there appears controversy between two Scottish men about how American and British English should sound. The attempt of the first one made the another to oppose him saying it didn’t sound like American at all. In his turn, the second gentleman tried to imitate British accent but ended up being criticized the same way. This might indicate that the representatives of the same community don’t necessarily share identical beliefs about this or that language variation.

Another thing that caught my attention is that American accent was used in the first instance. I believe starting from British accent would be more logical for Scottish people since England and Scotland are the parts of the same kingdom. So, in the end, I came up with two possible explanations. American accent might be considered to be more popular, therefore, more likely to be recognized by the voice-activated elevator. My second interpretation of this is that the voice itself spoke American English which was noticeable not only by its pronunciation but by the word “elevator”, which the voice used. According to the Oxford Dictionaries’ website (n.d.), “elevator” is the US variant for the UK’s “lift”. Thus, their choice of American English could be the attempt to comply with their “interlocutor”.

The video also presents the stance on Glaswegian accent as well:

– Voice-recognition technology? In a lift? In Scotland? You ever tried voice-recognition technology?

– No.

– They don’t do Scottish accents (VideoFunStation, 2011).

This fragment is taken from the beginning when they haven’t tried anything yet. The first speaker predicted that their voices wouldn’t be recognized. In my opinion, that was based not on his experience, in case of which, I believe, they wouldn’t even try Scottish accent, but on the awareness of the hierarchy of British and American accents, even in their own hometown.

Another message, which I got from this video, is that Scottish accent is difficult to understand. One of the commenters wrote:

“I don’t get it. When he says “eleven”, it sounds more like the way I say it than any other accent he tried. (I’m from Minnesota, US.) Half the things they said I had a hard time understanding, but “eleven” sounded exactly like how I say it. Or is that somehow the joke, that it can’t understand “eleven” because it’s a Scottish accent, even though it in truth sounds pretty much the same in almost every accent? I’m probably missing something basic here” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

This commenter assumes that the machine refuses to accept the command “because it’s a Scottish accent”, which I would interpret as something different, unintelligible to be specific, compared with American and British accents. Actually, Scottish commenters confirm it on the comment section:

“This is literally what would go on if this were real xD” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“Seen it and its so true” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“OMG, I can’t stop watching and crying with laughter at this clip. It’s so true! Bloody voice recognition technology never understands a Scottish accent. I have so many friends who would react in the same way these guys would if they were stuck in this lift, PMSL” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“I’m living in Edinburgh and… yes, it may happen :D” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“Haha this is so funny I’m from Scotland myself and it’s dead true tbh” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

Overall, the video shows the struggles of Scottish people when their accents are not understood by others. Unfortunately, technologies with such voice-recognition system are put to use for real. But the more disappointing thing is that people tend not to take into consideration language variations. In my opinion, such practices limit the rights and opportunities of the people who don’t speak the standard language. Therefore, referring to this sketch I would recommend addressing the requirements of all the speech community representatives in the society when creating the technologies which “facilitate people’s lives”. In case of impossibility to install all the varieties of the certain language, it would be eligible to leave the option of using the previous technique of utilizing that technology, that is, buttons in the situation with this elevator.

The analysis of the Youtube video “Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland” revealed that the stereotypes regarding the accents are not always formed by society as a whole, in some cases representatives of the same speech community perceive the other variations of their language differently; possible explanations for giving an advantage to the specific accent could be adaptation to the accent of the dialogue partner or hierarchy of the language variations. The scriptwriters and actors excellently showed the difficulties which the speakers of less “popular” language variations face in reality. Ignoring the existence of that diversity may lead to the reoccurrence of such unpleasant situation, however, this time, it might be not rehearsed and experienced by ordinary people.




Accent. (2008). In D. Crystal, Language library: A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Retrieved from

British and American terms. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Giles, H. (1970). Evaluative reactions to accents. Educational Review, 22 (3), 211-227. DOI: 10.1080/0013191700220301

VideoFunStation. (2011, September 7). Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland [Video File]. Retrieved from

“YES” or “NO”?

More people fail from a gluttony of good activities than from being starved of them.

– Dharmesh Shah


HubSpot’s founder and angel investor* Dharmesh Shah writes blog articles on Despite most articles on this website are far from my field of interest, the article “Do Fewer Things, Better” written by Dharmesh Shah made me rethink my life rules and habits. Now, I feel I have to share it with you, guys.

Dharmesh Shah assures we have to learn to say “No” to things that have nothing to do with our life/ career goals. Saying “No”, as he claims, saves time and energy which can be used to improve ourselves in the way that will be beneficial for us. Hence, focusing leads to success. He didn’t invent something totally new. However, he experienced the aftermath of saying “Yes” to everyone and everything, he concluded he had to change something in his life, and he ascertained that this strategy works on his personal experience. He didn’t just share his story but gave tips accrued during many years of practice.

The tips are well-constructed and explained in simple words. More importantly, they are presented so interestingly that I followed suggested links to get a deeper understanding. Also, I liked how he used bold and italics to emphasize the keywords. Usually, when I read an article/ blog post I just look through it. But, here, his bold and italicized words and phrases were “screaming” and this helped me to focus on small but essential details of the main idea (for example, “But a few years ago, I decided to dramatically limit the time I spend directly helping entrepreneurs and the Boston ecosystem”).

Notwithstanding, the thing I was eager to know is how you know whether you should or shouldn’t say “Yes”. Shah writes: “Don’t favor what feels the most good.  Favor what does the most good“. It, actually, makes sense. But sometimes our emotions take control over our minds making it hard to think constructively. That’s why I find it extremely challenging but, surely, worth the effort. The thing I don’t fully agree with is that when you spend more time on something you prioritized and decided to say “Yes”, “you’re going to get better at it”. I know practice makes you perfect, but I believe the outcome depends on how well or effective that practice is done. So, I doubt this statement will be true every time.

Shah admits: “Everytime you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else“. I think this might have two negative consequences. First, you say “No” to other possible opportunities, that is, you might limit yourself. Second, you say “No” and leave others struggling, shatter their dreams, aggravate their condition, that is, you might become heartless and selfish… Or I am just thinking too much and in the first case you learn from your mistakes, in the second one other people say “Yes” to what you rejected and everyone will be happy. Who knows?!

This strategy is applicable not for startups only. We can adhere to it whenever making a decision. As I said, understanding of what you really need might be challenging, but I want to give it a try.


Angel investor*- an individual who invests his or her own money in an entrepreneurial company (Entrepreneur Staff, n.d.)



Entrepreneur Staff. (n.d.). Angel Investor. Retrieved from

Why is it difficult to make a choice?

“Have you already chosen your thesis topic?” Every time I am asked this question I feel anxious, angry, broken, excited, uncertain, regretful, curious, annoyed. All at the same time. There are so many topics to explore and I am interested in each of them. How am I supposed to choose only one?! Once I decide to focus on one topic, I suddenly realize I find another topic as attractive as the first one. When I, eventually, make my “final” decision, my mind remembers another topic I could study. So, everything starts all over again. At the end of the day, I find myself standing in front of dozen topics not being able to decide. In order to overcome it, I tried to get to the root of the problem. As a result, a wish to fit the “expectations”, fear to miss something, the idea that “I can make a mistake” seem to be possible reasons for my procrastination.

The fact that my work will be assessed might influence on my topic choice. I might be desperately trying to find the topic which will “satisfy” examination committee or my supervisor. Since I don’t know much about any of them, my brain unconsciously goes over all the possible topics which could fit their expectations, which, in its turn, makes me change my mind several times a day.

Unhealthy hunger to cover all the topics also has all the possibility to be controlling me. As I said before, there are so many topics to explore and choosing only one of them means to lose the opportunity to study other ones. I refuse to make a decision convincing myself I am interested in all the topics, which is, in reality, nothing but the fear of missing something.

Along with that, the pressure to choose the right topic may cause the difficulty when making a decision. Ending up with the topic which doesn’t fully satisfy me, doesn’t correlate with my initial purpose, or turns out to be not interesting enough might be frustrating, so I unintentionally delay decision-making. Even the possible consequences of picking the wrong topic make me thinking up lame excuses. “How am I supposed to choose when I am interested in everything?” Isn’t it convenient to evade the responsibility?

Analyzing the reasons actually helps when solving the problem. Now I have a clear view. So, I am going to try to choose my thesis topic once again without thinking and worrying about others’ expectations, missing other opportunities and making a wrong choice. I have no idea where it will bring me, but I think this time choosing thesis topic will be more fruitful and less stressing.

What about you? Have you already chosen your thesis topic?

7 Ways to Make a Conversation with Anyone (deconstruction)

Malavika Varadan, a radio presenter, claims it is easy to start a conversation with strangers in her TEDx Talks speech “7 Ways to Make a Conversation with Almost Anyone”. In general, I liked the way she presented, explained and engaged the audience. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will watch it again. Here is why. The intro is too long which might discourage the viewers from continuing to watch it. When she gets almost to the point, Ms. Varadan gives her background saying she’s been working as a radio presenter for nine years and every single show she talks with the broadcast listeners for 20 minutes. That is a good strategy to gain trust from the audience since this makes her seem to be experienced in making a conversation with strangers. The presenter encourages people to take a risk and talk to strangers, she assures there isn’t anything to be afraid of, there is nothing they are going to lose. “What’s the worst that can happen?”. Well, anything could happen! Everything might end up with kidnapping or even worse… So, I think she should be careful when claiming everything is going to be fine.

I would like to comment each tip given by Malavika Varadan.

  1. The first word flood gates

“Just start the conversation”. According to the presenter, starting the conversation might be a bit scary and difficult, but then everything will go smoothly. However, I am sure the hardest part of making a conversation is keeping that conversation going. Just imagine, you come up to someone and say “Hi!”, he/she: “Hi!”… The first step is taken so what? How is the conversation with someone who you don’t know anything about supposed to flow after the first word? It would be more helpful to advise on how the conversation could be continued.

  1. Skip the small talk

Instead of wasting time on How Are Yous and What’s Ups, Malavika Varadan suggests asking personal questions like “Where do your parents live?”. It would work with people whom you are familiar with but don’t talk too much or don’t know much about. However, in case of strangers things might go wrong. Personally, if someone came up and asked a personal question I would run away as fast as I could. Along with that, this tip may not work in some countries (for instance, in the UK) where asking personal questions is considered impolite.

  1. Find the me-toos

Ms. Varadan starts well when explaining her third point. I agree that common things bring people together and make the conversation interesting. But after listing out several examples of questions that could be used when trying to find those common topics to talk about, she says: “I don’t know, you’ll find something”. Intentionally or unintentionally the speaker makes everything look easy. However, I assume people who search for and watch such TEDx Talks are mostly those ones who are actually looking for more practical advice because they don’t find it as easy as it seems to the speaker. That’s why I would rather omit that statement or give more concrete advice.

  1. Pay a unique compliment

Here is the part I liked the most: “People will forget what you do, they’ll forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. I feel she did well when supporting her claim with the story about the model with the immunity to the word “beautiful”. I saw her message clearly.

  1. Ask for an opinion and 6. Be present

She makes the eye contact with one of the audience members in order to prove that it helps to keep people present in the conversation. To my mind, it worked better than if she didn’t show it in practice. Next, Ms. Varadan imitates a person who pretends to listen when, actually, he does not. She acted it out perfectly; her tone, movements, everything represented that type of people accurately. Then, she adds: “I know you’ve been through this, I know I have”. It seems to me she is generalizing people and their relationships based on her own experience. There might be people who haven’t been through such situation. And she doesn’t take them into account.

7.Name, place, animal, thing

Lastly, Malavika Varadan advises to remember all the details about your partner and mention them in your conversation. “Be genuinely interested and automatically you kind of become an investor in their well-being; so they feel responsible to you to keep that conversation going”. These words make me feel like I’m being taught how to manipulate people. She could be more specific or cautious about the word choice.

The presenter sums everything up with an analogy. By comparing people to books she suggests to read the whole story instead of looking through the titles. That was a really proper closing. She gave the main point in that sentence, which was more convincing to me rather than the whole speech. In the end, she emphasizes she doesn’t enforce a choice and everything is up to the listeners. Frankly speaking, there were too many “trust mes” which make me think she tries to convince that she is totally right and everything will work for anyone.

Ms. Varadan held herself confidently, spoke clearly and used simple vocabulary, consequently, nothing caused any misunderstanding. However, sometimes, her laugh sounded artificial. I assume those times were when she tried to cover awkward silence after the jokes which nobody laughed at.

Overall, the speaker looks at the making conversation from her own perspective where everything is easy. She is a public and very attractive person. She is open and self-confident which is noticeable from the way she speaks. It might be easy for her. But she forgets about people who are shy or not confident enough to take those “simple” steps. What should they do? Moreover, she doesn’t take into account the second partner of the conversation. Conversation is a two-way process, isn’t it? What if that person is shy or simply doesn’t want to talk to us? Although she tried to depict possible life situations in order to demonstrate her tips in practice, she didn’t consider all the possible situations some of which might lead to embarrassing results that will probably discourage already shy people from speaking to strangers even more.

Moreover, there was nothing new in her tips. These are rather basic rules. The video is worth watching in order to remind yourself those basics; however, it would be more valuable if she came up with really working tips about avoiding those awkward moments when talking to strangers.

I support trilingualism 2

My previous post was about the trilingual policy; however, it was devoid of arguments. So, I decided I should write another post on the same topic and do my best to make it more convincing. I espouse maintenance of trilingualism because it improves brain work, broadens the worldview, and accelerates the progress of the country.
Being the subject of scientists’ interest human brain has been being tested for many decades, and the research results revealed that multilingual people are likely to suffer from Dementia disease less than monolinguals. After Chertkow et. al. (2010) affirmed that trilingual brains resisted Alzheimer’s interference longer, specifically, postponed it, than bilinguals and monolinguals, Perquin (2013) supposed that the same had to work with mild cognitive impairment. And it did. Like the muscles, a brain has to be trained in order to stay flexible and improve its outcomes. Trilingual brains work three times harder than monolingual ones since their executive function is more challenged (Diamond, 2010). Every time they engage in a linguistic activity they look for the right phoneme, lexis, sentence construction for this or that language. Experiments involving the Simon, Flanker, and Stroop tasks result in confirming that multilinguals also overperform monolinguals in non-verbal tasks, in attention control, to be exact (as cited in Dimond, 2010; Poarch, & van Hell, 2012). Moreover, the complete establishment of the language system isn’t of great importance for enhancing the executive function of the brain. It is explained by the fact that ongoing process of building linguistic repertoire still requires the brain to control three languages at the same time, which, basically, is constant brain training that protects us from Dementia.
Along with slowing down memory problems, trilingualism improves metacognitive ability. Soleimani and Rahmanian (2018), in a study which investigated monolinguals, bilinguals and trilinguals regarding their metacognition, deduced that trilinguals accomplished the required tasks more successfully than monolinguals. As a result, having three languages in the linguistic capital was recognized to be advantageous for the development of metacognition abilities.
I believe sticking to one language limits ones’ worldview, actions, and consequently, the opportunities. Simon Sinek said: “More information is always better than less. When people know the reason things are happening, even if it’s bad news, they can adjust their expectations and react accordingly. Keeping people in the dark only serves to stir negative emotions”. A language is similar to a key which unlocks a coffer. It opens up the knowledge of its speakers and makes it possible to learn from their best practices, share the information and collaborate with them. Along with that, speaking a foreign language affects the way you perceive the world (Athanasopoulos, 2015). It doesn’t necessarily mean that your identity will fully or partially change. Probably, you will look at the problem from different perspectives; take risks, and, in case of success, obtain something new or, in case of failure, learn from mistakes.
The idea of transferring to trilingualism is beneficial not only for individuals but for the well-being of the country as well. Mastering English enables gathering information from 106 countries worldwide (Philipenko E., 2016 as cited in Almetova, Tymbolova, Murzinova, Ymankulova, & Imanaliyeva, 2017). That is getting access to the most part of the studies on education, medicine, economy, and business fields; also improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As a result, development of human capital is expected to take place, which, in its turn, contributes to economic growth of the country and fastens stepping to the World Arena.
Kazakhstan’s prosperity depends not only on its external position but, also, on its internal affairs. The reciprocal understanding and interrelation of the ethnicities are crucial. In our case, the Russian language is expected to make those desired relationships possible. And promoting the Kazakh language aims to widen the range of distribution of the state language which is identified as the main factor of the national identity (Tulegenova, 2015).
On this note, my post on trilingualism comes to its end. As you see, I didn’t touch upon the language planning and implementation parts of the policy, since my initial intention was to show how trilingualism is beneficial for our society as a whole. Nevertheless, I admit that a lot of work has to be done in order to obtain mentioned benefits without aggravating our current condition.
Some people may wonder why I chose such “hackneyed subject”. However, I feel the aspiration to make a contribution to the spreading of the idea. Being trilingual I believe the advancement is possible only if we cooperate. Of course, partially the outcome depends on the steps that the government takes. Partially, but not entirely. We also can make a change. Then, why not to try?


Almetova, A., Tymbolova, A., Murzinova, A., Ymankulova, S., & Imanaliyeva, G. (2017, March 10). Trilingual policy and objectives of possession of these three languages simultaneously. Current Science, 112 (5), 1334-1343.
Athanasopoulos. P. (2015, April 27). How the language you speak changes your view of the world. Retrieved from
Chertkow, H., Whitehead, V., Phillips, N., Wolfson, C., Atherton, J., & Bergman, H. (2010). Multilingualism (but not always bilingualism) delays the onset of Alzheimer disease: Evidence from a bilingual community. Alzheimer Disease Associated Disorders, 24 (2), 118-125. DOI:10.1097/WAD.0b013e3181ca1221
Diamond. J. (2010, October 15). The benefits of Multilingualism. Science, 330 (6002), 332-333. DOI:10.1126/science.1195067
Perquin, M., Vaillant, M., Schuller, A., Pastore, J., Dartigues, J., Lair, M., & Diederich, N. (2013, April 30). Lifelong exposure to multilingualism: New evidence to support cognitive reserve hypothesis. PLoS ONE, 8 (4). Retrieved from
Poarch, G.J., & van Hell, J.G. (2012, December). Executive functions and inhibitory control in multilingual children: Evidence from second-language learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113 (4), 535-551. Retrieved from
Soleimani, H., & Rahmanian, M. (2018, January 24). The effect of bilingualism and trilingualism on metacognitive processing: Detrimental or beneficial? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. Retrieved from
Tulegenova, G.E. (2015). Zakonodatelno-normativnaya baza vvedeniya triyazychiya v Kazakhstane [Legislative and regulatory framework for the introduction of trilingualism in Kazakhstan]. Vestnik Aktyubinskogo Universiteta Imeni S.Baisheva. Retrieved from

Quote credits


I support trilingual policy

   Trilingualism has recently become one of the most discussed topics in Kazakhstan. While some people support this initiative convincing how beneficial it will be, others are against referring to drawbacks. Nevertheless, the implementation has already started. Almost everything and everyone is gradually changing to be trilingual. This influenced me as well, and I support it.
Our society is alarmed by low status and acquisition level of the Kazakh language. That is quite reasonable. It is not a secret Russian is the dominant language in Kazakhstan. It is everywhere: in the streets, shopping centers, public transport, even at schools and family dinners. It would be inappropriate to deny its significance and a rather high position compared with other two languages. Still, the number of people getting interested in English is growing day by day. It seems to me that even in trilingual education the English language is more focused on. Therefore, a number of Kazakh language promoting events are being executed.
The range of measures being carried out all over Kazakhstan is quite impressive. People must have noticed the increased number of TV programmes and shows in Kazakh. As a person who is fond of listening to music, I have to point out that there are various radio stations and Gakku, the music channel, which broadcast predominantly Kazakh songs. The government organizes free Kazakh concerts in both urban and rural areas, that gather youth of all ages and ethnicities. Employers require sufficient level of the Kazakh language knowledge when hiring workers or send their employees to linguistic centers. We cannot deny the influence of all these movements on our younger generation. They see how it is beneficial to know and, especially, speak the state language. It goes without saying that the Russian language will still play important role in our community. However, its function seems to become a little bit narrower because of the increasing significance of the Kazakh and English languages in the society.
I believe being trilingual shouldn’t be regarded as just being able to speak three languages, there is so much more beyond it. It will help us to foster intellectually developed tolerant individuals. And we know how the sense of tolerance is essential to keep the peace and prosperity of the country. By raising the awareness of the languages, we transfer the knowledge about the culture of that ethnicity. Children will learn how to communicate with representatives of other cultures. That, in its turn, will elevate their social status, the manner of interaction, level of flexibility.
No one can guarantee that the transformation will always be met with open arms and, to be realistic, it will never be. However, I assume that support to be highly significant for a success of any initiative. The assistance of the society is anticipated when the change is done for its sake. It would be more helpful if society didn’t just reveal the flaws but tried to find the ways to “fix” them.