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I am an Indian, so the English I speak is more closer to British English than American English. And this particular way I phrase questions seems to confuse Americans more than Britishers from what I noticed.

So I wanted to get some feedback on how I should phrase these differently.

Normally when I need to correct someone and I am not entire sure of what I am saying, I usually end the sentence with a "right?"

For example: "We need to copy this file to that server as well right?"

What I mean here is that: "I think we need to copy this file to that server as well. But I am not entirely sure. Can you confirm if this file needs to go there?"

And the usual response I get is: "Huh?", "What?".

I usually make sure to change my tone around that word "right" to convey that I am asking a question. I usually keep dropping my tone throughout that sentence and when I hit "right", I raise my voice a bit to signal to the listener that I am asking a question. But from what I noticed, to native English speakers raising tone signals that you are stressing something. So when I raise my voice when I say "right", they think I am stressing that word? And they get confused by that?

All of this is confusing me a lot.

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    I suspect it may have more to do with your pronunciation and intonation patterns throughout the sentence than with the phrases themselves, since there's nothing in what you've written that would stymie a speaker of American English. Oct 2, 2023 at 20:36
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    Also, impossible to tell how quickly you speak, but you might try slowing down to see if that improves communication. Oct 2, 2023 at 20:41
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    I’m voting to close this question because it isn't a question about learning English.
    – Astralbee
    Oct 2, 2023 at 21:47
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    Try it in two sentences: "We need to copy this file to that server, as well. Right?" Oct 2, 2023 at 22:31
  • "We need to copy this file to that server as well, don't we?" Oct 3, 2023 at 7:55

1 Answer 1

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Hard to tell without hearing, but based on the common Indian accent, I would guess that you are most likely a) rolling the words together too quickly without gaps and b) flicking your tongue too hard on the "R" of "right".

So to a native speaker they are hearing more like "copy this file to that server Azwelhtite" and in this case not understanding what an "Azwelhtite" server is. :)

The phrasing is fine, but there would be at least a comma before "right". Try to a) add a hard pause after "well" and b) don't let your tongue touch the roof of your mouth until the final "t" of "right".

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    I think you're talking about the retroflex r. If so, that could indeed be confusing for an untrained American. Oct 3, 2023 at 11:25
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    Timing and stress is definitely very different in Indian English. It's important that "right?" is seen as a separate question, because even if you can make it out, there's a lot of difference between "Can you do this right?" (Do it correctly) and "Can you do this, right?" (Can you do this? Is that OK?)
    – Stuart F
    Oct 3, 2023 at 11:33
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    I agree that adding a bigger pause before the question would likely help. Personally, as an American who works at an international company, I've also noticed that my Indian colleagues tend to ask for confirmation more often than I expect. In my subculture (northeast US, coastal, middle-ish class in tech), I usually only add a question like "right?" or "am I understanding?" if I'm trying to defer to someone else's larger amount of knowledge/leadership or genuinely confused. Some of my Indian colleagues seem to ask it more rhetorically, and even when they are the expert, which can surprise me. Oct 3, 2023 at 12:40

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