English for Engineers

Page 1

english for engineers

Anders Ulstein Sandy Tippett

English for Engineers

English for Engineers


© H. Aschehoug & Co. (W. Nygaard) AS ved Universitetsforlaget 2023

ISBN 978-82-15-06895-4

Materialet i denne publikasjonen er omfattet av åndsverklovens bestemmelser. Uten særskilt avtale med rettighetshaverne er enhver eksemplarfremstilling og tilgjengeliggjøring bare tillatt i den utstrekning det er hjemlet i lov eller tillatt gjennom avtale med Kopinor, interesseorgan for rettighetshavere til åndsverk. Utnyttelse i strid med lov eller avtale kan medføre erstatningsansvar og inndragning og kan straffes med bøter eller fengsel.

Henvendelser om denne utgivelsen kan rettes til:


Postboks 508 Sentrum

0105 Oslo


Omslag: Universitetsforlaget / Sissel Tjernstad

Sats: ottaBOK

Trykk og innbinding: Aksell AS

Boken er satt med: Adobe Garamond Pro 11/15

Papir: 90 g Arctic Matt

NO - 1470

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Speaking and Translation

Stress, intonation, pronunciation, and translation

Reading texts on Robotics and Petroleum Engineering

Chapter 2: Basic Grammar

Verb conjugations, subject-verb agreement, continuous tense, parallelism, gerunds, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, ambiguous / vague reference, typical errors

Reading texts on Civil Engineering

Chapter 3: Sentences and Paragraphs

Sentence types, compositions, and combinations; fragments, clauses, and phrases; modifiers, appositions, and linking words; connectors and conjunctions; paragraph structure and topic sentences

Reading texts on Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Chapter 4: Vocabulary and Style

Formal and informal language, academic and domain-specific vocabulary, passive voice, modal verbs, hedging, and language when referring to sources

Reading texts on Maritime Engineering and Navigation

Chapter 5: The Essay

Structure and composition, critical thinking, and the importance of the introduction

Sample essays

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 7
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page 31
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page 61
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Polite language, cross-cultural communication and work environment, health and safety, formal letters and emails, manuals and instructions, summaries and reports, presentations, and popularization

Reading texts on Mechanical Engineering

Table of Contents
6: Writing in the Workplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 127
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 165


As the subtitle indicates, this book is primarily written for students attending the Access Programme for admission to the Bachelor in Engineering Studies degree (BE). (In Norwegian: Forkurs for ingeniør- og sivilingeniørutdanningen). It may be equally useful for the admission programme known as Y-veien. These are all students who have not met standard university admission requirements.

The book has a three-pronged purpose. Firstly, it helps students demonstrate the English language proficiency required for admission to a Bachelor in Engineering. The book will therefore recap key learning objectives from secondary education. Secondly, the book puts a great deal of emphasis on essential academic skills that will give students a head start in their studies. Finally, the book prepares them for a professional career in engineering.

The book will probably do more to prepare students for bachelor studies than for their later career as an engineer. Much of the curriculum and domain-specific terminology during a bachelor programme will be in English. A vast amount of relevant material on the Internet is in English too. It is therefore likely that proficiency in English will improve a student’s performance.

Finally, no one starts studying engineering because they are particularly interested in languages. Understandably, readers are less motivated to study a foreign

language than studying microcontrollers, road construction, or fundamental mechanics. The book takes that into account.

Virtually every example and exercise is somehow related to engineering. Moreover, there are no chapters on English literature or American history. In this respect, it differs significantly from the curriculum at the secondary education level. Instead, much more attention is given to topics such as workplace communication and academic writing.

The emphasis on academic writing will not only prepare students for admittance to a bachelor programme; it may also give them an advantage over other students. Hardly any of the other bachelor students will have immersed themselves so thoroughly in academic and technical writing as students who have undertaken this course.

How to use the book

The book may be used in different ways. One obvious way would be to progress chronologically through the chapters. Chapters 3 to 5 are closely connected and suitable for use as a continuous module.

The first chapter is devoted to pronunciation, stress, and intonation. The justification is twofold: Generally, in most engineering jobs, speaking English may be equally important to writing and reading. The aim is


not to make the students sound like native speakers; it is primarily to improve their confidence in speaking English.

There is a certain prestige associated with speaking correct English, and most students will therefore both dread the prospect of sounding “wrong” and have a desire to sound “right”. Even though basic rules of intonation are relatively simple, most students have not learned much about it. Students may therefore enjoy learning a relatively prestigious skill. The first chapter also ties in with listening and comprehension skills necessary at the workplace.

Another way to use the book is to start with a five-paragraph essay assignment (Exercise 5.1) and use that assignment to introduce, test, and rehearse essential topics from Chapters 2 through 5 such as subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments, topic sentences, formal style, and essay structure.

Starting with how to write paragraphs and essays might be more motivating for students than spending weeks on grammar and sentence construction first. Moreover, essay assignments mimic the final exam. Likewise, mastering paragraph construction is essential for students to effectively communicate in almost all written contexts. Later assignments could introduce new and more advanced aspects from the same chapters in a similar fashion.

It seems sensible to teach some of the topics in tandem with the Norwegian course of the Access Programme since the two courses overlap to a large degree. However, they will lend support to each other regardless of when they are taught. In fact, teaching similar topics across both courses but at different times may improve learning in both.

Online supporting resources

While researching for the book, we bookmarked many online English learning resources and decided to make them available to the readers. These are suitable for self-study and for students with particular needs and interests and at different proficiency levels. There are different categories of resources: quizzes and tests, guides, instructions, examples, glossaries, and more, and many of them are aimed at different levels.

These resources are freely available at: www.universitetsforlaget.no/englishforengineers

For teachers, the boxes may provide ideas and material for exercises and tests. There are resources connected to each of the six chapters in the book.


Stress, intonation, pronunciation, and translation

Reading texts on Robotics and Petroleum Engineering

CALVIN AND HOBBES © Watterson. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.

Speaking and Translation

Introduction – a question of confidence

In many engineering jobs, speaking English may be equally important to writing and reading. The aim of this chapter is not to make you sound like a native speaker but to improve your confidence in speaking.

Speaking English is perhaps not very difficult for someone who has listened to English in films and songs from a very young age. However, most Norwegians will have little experience in speaking English in a professional and academic context. Consequently, this book does not concern itself with the language skills needed when ordering a pizza, but rather when explaining a technical problem.

Let us first agree on the following: You will probably never be able to speak like a native speaker. Accepting that is important to avoid frustration. Set realistic goals for yourself. If you compare yourself with a native speaker, you may end up disappointed and discouraged. As a foreign speaker, you will invariably have a foreign accent and may stumble over your words. This is completely normal. Progress in speaking a foreign language requires some audacity and even indifference to your shortcomings. Remember, perfection is sometimes the enemy of progress. There are, however, important improvements that are entirely achievable. This chapter will help you un-

derstand a few fundamentals of pronunciation, stress, and intonation that will make you a more confident English speaker. In fact, compared to English grammar, English pronunciation is fairly predictable and rule-based.

There is another important benefit to this: the more fluent you are in speaking, the more fluent you will be in writing and communication. These are not disconnected skills. It will make it easier to both learn and engage in conversations, both in professional and in social contexts.

You may benefit from watching the many video resources that exist on the Internet. Some good ones are available here:


Pronunciation and stress

Clear pronunciation is essential when speaking English. First of all, clarity of communication helps ensure that you are understood correctly. Skill in pronunciation also helps you understand others better, particularly when listening to native speakers. Besides, good pronunciation is a sign of professionalism that in a workplace setting will make a positive impression


on others. Wrong pronunciation may not only distract the listener but cause the listener to question the speaker’s abilities and expertise.

We will concentrate first on the pronunciation of individual words. Read the text below (Exercise 1.1) and pay particular attention to the correct pronunciation of individual words.

One useful tip is to read English aloud or in a whisper. When studying pronunciation, it is useful to slightly exaggerate sound and stress.

Exercise 1.1 – Test your pronunciation

Use an online dictionary such as https://dictionary.cambridge.org/ to test your pronunciation. Look up most of the words in this text box as you read. Your pronunciation is probably more or less correct. Nevertheless, compare with the audio pronunciation of the dictionary, listen, and imitate (use earphones if you have them). Note that US and British pronunciation may differ.

If you look up the word characterize, you will find the word phonetically transcribed like this: /’kærəktəraɪz/. You have probably not learnt the symbols of phonetic transcription, but much of it is intuitive and easily learnt. You will find a helpful guide to phonetic transcription in Figure 1.1.

One useful feature of phonetic transcription is the little apostrophe. In characterize, it indicates that stress is on the first syllable. A syllable is a unit of sound within a word and consists of one

or more vowel sound. There are two syllables in payment, with stress on the first, and four in contribution, with stress on the third. Configuration, chronological and authenticity have five syllables each, and accessibility and idiosyncrasy have six. Many words have only one syllable each, such as claw, paw, and fur.


Correctly stressed words are key to excellent English pronunciation. Stress means the emphasis given to a particular word or a part of a word. Spoken English should not sound flat and monotone. In fact, if you pronounce every word in a sentence with equal pitch and volume, others will find it difficult to understand you. Importantly, stress helps create a rhythm when speaking as well as conveying meaning.

Word stress

This is about the distribution of stress within a word. One word cannot have two equally strong stresses. If you hear two equal stresses, you have heard two words. The stress in /’pistol/ is on the first syllable, as indicated by the apostrophe. The apostrophe is positioned in front of the stressed syllable.

The word pistol has two syllables, but the second is not stressed. However, in some words with more than three syllables, one can have a secondary stress. This is the second most prominent syllable in the word. It is pronounced with a lower pitch and less loudly.

1 Speaking and Translation 12

Pronounce the word fortification. This word has five syllables. The stress is distributed like this /,fortifi’cation/, with the primary stress on the fifth syllable and secondary stress on the first. In full phonetic transcription: /ˌfɔːtɪfɪ’keɪʃn/.

In some words, the primary stress may shift from one syllable to another and thus alter the meaning of the word. The change of word stress is what distinguishes between a verb and a noun such as in present: /’present/ or /pre’sent/. The same goes for words such as export, import, contract and object. However, not all similar words follow that pattern, such as report and design.

Pay attention to the schwa /ə/, the most common vowel sound in English. Another important feature is the division between the ‘voiced’ and ‘unvoiced’ consonants, such as the two different ways of pronouncing th, the ‘voiced’ /ð/ and ‘unvoiced’ /θ/. ‘Voiced’ means the vocal cords vibrate.

And remember, words in connected speech are commonly pronounced differently from words spoken in isolation.

In longer words with several syllables, there is a similar change of meaning as a consequence of where stress is put, as in /’photograph/, /pho’tographer/ and /photo’graphic/.

Exercise 1.2 – Finding stress in complex words

Look up the following words and indicate the primary stress with an apostrophe.

Perpendicular, alteration, volunteer, buttress, abbreviation, equality, armchair, computation, suitcase, dishwasher, proficient, carelessness, poisonous, refugee, comfortable, advantageous, first-rate, controversy, superstructure. Use www.dictionary.cambridge.org

Stress 13
Figure 1.1: The phonetic alphabet.

Exercise 1.3 – Word stress, identify some general rules

Use www.dictionary.cambridge.org

Identify word stress in the following word family:

Neutral, neutrality, neutralize, neutralization

The same pattern applies to similar word families, such as central, brutal, etc.

Another pattern of word stress is related to the suffix, meaning the end of a word. For example: in education the suffix is -ion. Consider -ion words such as information, relation, compartmentalization, and explanation. What is the stress pattern for these words?

The same stress pattern applies for words ending with -ual (bilingual), -ious (furious), -ial (artificial), -ior (inferior), -ic (claustrophobic), and more.

Words with suffixes such as -ment and -ism follow a different stress pattern, as in parliament and parliamentary, government and governmental, and department and departmental.

For the majority of two-syllable verbs with a prefix, the stress almost invariably comes second, such as in become, propose, and improve. A prefix is a group of letters such as be-, un-, and mis-. For two syllable nouns and adjectives, however, there is no general rule. Some, like expert and finite, begin with a stressed syllable, whereas in words like report and concise, stress comes second.

Stress in sentences

Content words

First of all, you need to understand which words we generally stress and which we do not. Basically, we give stress to certain words because they carry more meaning and are more central to the statement than the other words. These are so-called content words. Non-stressed words are considered function words. Consider the following phrase:

• Your keys are on the floor.

The important two words are keys and floor. If you were extremely exhausted and only able to mutter two words, these are the two words you would probably select.

Since content words are given stress, they take more time and effort to pronounce. Compare the following two sentences:

• The apartment near the old town of Ulm was his precious hideaway for the remaining years of his life.

• The apocalyptic danger is both intimidating and malignant to the core.

Even though the first sentence is about 50% longer than the second, both sentences take about 4 to 5 seconds to speak. This is because they both contain the same number of stressed words (in blue).

With this in mind, a good piece of advice when speaking is to concentrate on the correct pronunciation of the stressed content words. These words are

1 Speaking and Translation 14

to be pronounced clearly and fully, whereas function words can be passed by quickly.

In this regard, English and Norwegian are similar. Both are typically so-called stressed-timed languages. Unstressed syllables are shortened while stressed words are pronounced fully. Combined, the stressed and unstressed syllables together create a particular rhythm when spoken.

Sentence stress refers to the most prominent syllable in a spoken phrase. Let us consider some typical ways in which sentence stress is used.

The final syllable in a statement is often stressed more than the preceding one (sentence stress is shown in red):

• He’s singing.

• He’s singing in the bathroom.

• He’s singing in the bathroom with his girlfriend.

Generally, in most phrases, the final syllable is stressed the most.

Another type of sentence stress is emphatic stress. This calls attention to what you want to emphasize. Note how it may change the meaning of the statement in the following example:

• Peter came to the party yesterday. (It was him, not someone else)

• Peter came to the party yesterday. (He actually showed up)

• Peter came to the party yesterday. (Not a meeting or something else)

• Peter came to the party yesterday. (Not two weeks ago)

Exercise 1.4 – Emphatic Stress

Use stress to change the meaning of the following sentences:

• Jack will drive to the concert tonight.

• I love to sing.

• I love to drive around town with you.

• You are responsible for the first phase.

• I think you are having an affair with Roger.

Another type is extreme stress. These are adverbs such as: extremely, terribly and completely which are often given stress in a sentence in order to provide added emphasis.

• I completely agree with you in this matter.

• Going out that night was a terrible mistake.

Contrastive stress:

• I think he likes this book the most.

• I cannot decide between this or that pair of trousers.

Can/can’t is often given stress, in particular in the negative phrase. Consider how the verb is given different emphasis in the following examples.

• They can come on Friday.

• They can’t come on Friday.

In the first example, “can” is part of a positive and confirmative phrase. In this case it can be quickly

Stress in sentences 15

glided over. In fact, it is hardly pronounced at all. On the other hand, when we use the negative form “can’t” or “cannot”, it is given stress.

Exercise 1.5 – Identify stressed words and their role

Listen and identify stressed words in spoken English.

Look up a news broadcast from either www.gbnews.uk/watchlive, https://www.bbc.com/news/ world, or https://news.sky.com/

Listen and identify which words are stressed and which are not. Pause the video after each spoken phrase and identify the stressed content words. Notice and discuss their importance not only in terms of how they contribute to what is conveyed, but also in terms of creating a rhythm of speech. Put on your earphones and try emulating the speech.

Sound changes in connected speech

Finally, a few words on linking sounds and assimilation. In many cases, a native speaker will make adjacent sounds more like each other. If words are joined effectively, one sounds more fluent and is able to speak more quickly, too.

In some instances, one word may be divided into two different sound chunks. Very often it is the sound at the end of a word and the initial sound of the next word that are affected. For example, the statement: Such a nice afternoon, is pronounced like this: “Su cha ni cafternoon”.

Or consider the phrase “Nice to meet you”. Pronounced together it sounds very different from when pronounced word by word. For instance, when a word ends with a t, and the next word starts with a y, the two sounds merge and becomes a “tsj”; /nais to mi: tsju/. This is an example of assimilation. Another example of the same is “Can I get you a beer?”. There are many sound changes of this kind in spoken English, in particular in colloquial English.

Often it is the less important function words that are transformed, such as in the keys are on the floor. Say the phrase aloud and listen to how the three function words are on the sounds. Is it more like a:-n-d?

To master assimilation is not essential to be understood, but it does make the speaker sound much more fluent, and without it, speaking may sound artificial and staccato.

Exercise 1.6 – Connected speech

In everyday spoken English, when words are strung together, many words are seriously transformed. Some words, for instance, often have a weak form, such as conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, auxiliaries, and articles. Such words may more or less disappear in connected speech, or they blend into a neighbouring sound.

Try reading the dialogue below while paying attention to content words, weak forms and their assimilation, as well as stress and intonation.

1 Speaking and Translation 16

Figure 1.2: My friend Pepper, the social robot at the SimVis lab at IIR/IE/NTNU, provides a weather update (Photo: AU).

My Friend Pepper

– Hello, my name is Pepper. What’s your name?

I’m Anders. Nice to meet you. I’m in the office next door.

– Hi, Anders. I’m glad you stopped by. Would you like to sit down for a minute?

– Thanks. You have time for a chat? I mean, you must be busy cultivating your social life. After all, you’re a social robot, right?

– Yes, sure, you should’ve been here last week. There was a conference or something. It was crazy.

– So, Pepper, what do you think about the weather?

– The weather is nice and calm. Temperature is 6 degrees Celsius, but there’ll be a chilly breeze this afternoon.

– Oh dear! Really? Don’t you just hate that constant wind chill. Anyway, nice talking to you. It’s late; I must go. See you!

– Have a nice day, Anders!

Exercise 1.7 – Exaggerate our speech

An exercise in /ɪɡˌzædʒəˈreɪʃn/.

Listen and pause after some of the phrases and try repeating. Pay attention to how it seems as though the speakers exaggerate pronunciation and stress. By exaggerating, you will be able to discover and learn a broader range of phonetic sounds in the English language.

Look up the following journalists on YouTube:

• Zainab Badawi (BBC) and her documentaries on African history

• Nana Akua (GB News) and one of her news analyses

And on Ted – www.ted.com – look up these speakers:

• Niall Ferguson (Scotland)

• Jay Walker (USA)

• Julia Dhar (New Zealand)

Stress in sentences 17

Reading text 1.1: Meet Pepper – The Social Robot1

Vocabulary2 Pronunciation2


Done very often, or existing in many places, and therefore not unusual.


1) the act of accepting a gift, invitation, offer.

2) the act of agreeing with something and approving of it.

3) acceptance (into something): the process of allowing somebody to join something or be a member of a group.

4) the quality of being willing to accept an unpleasant or difficult situation.

There is no doubt that robots are becoming commonplace. Robotic machines of all shapes and sizes are entering our daily lives, and we witness them assisting, working, and serving at shopping malls, hospitals, museums, railway stations, elder-care facilities, schools, and homes.

With all these potential applications, mass production and deployment of these machines could eventually enrich our lives in manifold ways.

Robots capable of exhibiting sociability and achieving widespread societal acceptance are needed more than ever. Such sociable robots’ shape, size, look, behaviour, and intelligence must all be customized and specially designed. This was the idea behind the development of the Pepper robot by SoftBank Robotics.

Pepper was initially designed for a particular application of businessto-business (B2B) uses in SoftBank stores, but it became a platform of interest around the world for other applications. The Pepper robot is currently deployed in thousands of homes and schools; it is the chosen robotic platform for RoboCup@Home Social Standard Platform League (SSPL) competitions.

Manifold /ˈmænɪfəʊld/ Societal /səˈsaɪətl/


1) to change your behaviour in order to deal more successfully with a new situation.

2) to change something in order to make it suitable for a new use or situation.


1) having the ability or qualities necessary for doing something.

2) having the ability to do things well.

A global overview of Pepper

Launched in June 2014, Pepper is an industrially produced humanoid robot first created for B2B, and later adapted for business-to-consumer, purposes. The machine is capable of exhibiting body language, perceiving and interacting with its surroundings, and moving around. It can also analyse people’s expressions and voice tones, using the latest advances and proprietary algorithms in voice and emotion recognition to spark interactions. The robot is equipped with features and high-level interfaces for multimodal communication with humans.

Launched /lɔːntʃ/ Humanoid /ˈhjuːmənɔɪd/ Exhibiting /ɪɡˈzɪbɪt/ Proprietary /prəˈpraɪətri/ Algorithm /ˈælɡərɪðəm/

Pepper is a 1.2-m-tall, wheeled humanoid robot, with 17 joints to aid body language, three omnidirectional wheels for smooth movement, approximately 12 h of battery life, and the ability to return to the recharging station. It has no sharp edges, and soft parts in some joints. The machine is designed for interacting with human beings and is equipped with a tablet (which also makes development and debugging convenient).

Omnidirectional /ˌɒmnɪdaɪˈrekʃənl/ Smooth /smuːð/

1 Redacted and extensively adapted from Amit Kumar Pandey and Rodolphe Gelin, “A Mass-Produced Sociable Humanoid Robot: Pepper: The First Machine of Its Kind,” IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, Volume 25, Issue 3, (2018): https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8409927

2 From www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/

1 Speaking and Translation 18
Doubt /daʊt/ Commonplace /ˈkɒmənpleɪs/


1) something important, interesting or typical of a place or thing.

2) a part of somebody’s face.

3) (in the media) a special article or programme.


1) to make something more lively or full of energy.

2) to make models, toys, images, etc. seem to move in a film, etc.

Predilections to like something very much.

Natural, multimodal interaction with robots has long been seen as a necessity for robots’ successful deployment in human environments. In fact, the emergence of human–robot interaction (HRI) as a research domain was shaped around the need to “understand and shape the interactions between one or more humans and one or more robots” in anticipation of the situations and applications when robots would be all around us and collaborating with us.

Studies have shown that a robot’s physical embodiment and tactile communication can make it a more engaging and effective interaction partner than an animated character, and that a physical robot is a better support for human learning gains compared to voice or video.

Furthermore, researchers have found that human-like appearance and interaction modalities are some features that the majority of study participants imagine companion robots should have – although people’s predilections vary with their individual personality differences.




1) the way that somebody/something looks on the outside; what somebody/something seems to be.

2) the fact of somebody/something arriving, especially when it is not expected.

3) the moment at which something begins to exist or starts to be seen or used.

4) an act of appearing in public.

5) an act of being published or broadcast.

In addition, as humanoid robots come to display body language and other abilities that embody human-like social signals, they become capable of being highly engaging. It is no surprise, then, that SoftBank Robotics’ baby-sized humanoid robot NAO, with its multimodal interaction capabilities and easy-to-program interface, rapidly became a widely accepted robotic platform for HRI research. Such studies, along with use-case ideas (for B2B in SoftBank stores and later on for B2C, at least in Japan) and experience with the NAO robot, led to the design of the Pepper robot. Some of the principles behind its design are

• a pleasant appearance

• safety

• affordability

• interactivity

• good autonomy.

Previously at a time before the time that you are talking about.

Appearance characteristics include size, shape, look, and voice. For the shape and size aspects, user feedback on NAO, as suggested previously, and a family resemblance to NAO were incorporated into Pepper. For the look, too exact a human likeness was avoided, with the aim of not falling into the “uncanny valley”. The design also has a Japanese influence, e.g., the manga-like big eyes and the hip joint that allows Pepper to bow upon meeting someone.


/ɪmˈbɒdimənt/ Tactile

/ˈtæktaɪl/ Animated

Stress in sentences 19
/ˈænɪmeɪtɪd/ Character /ˈkærəktə(r)/ Predilections /ˌpriːdɪˈlekʃn/
Appearance /əˈpɪərəns/ Autonomy /ɔːˈtɒnəmi/
Resemblance rɪˈzembləns/


1) to show something in a public place.

2) to show clearly that you have or feel a particular quality, ability, feeling, or symptom (to exhibit fear).

The shape aimed to be gender neutral (with no explicitly defined gender characteristics) to avoid any stereotyping effect. Some studies already show that a person tends to rate a robot that looks like the opposite sex as more credible, trustworthy, and engaging and that, if robots exhibit a gender, there is a stereotype-based bias in the expected services the robot should be providing.

In addition, to further avoid stereotypes and unrealistic expectations, the robot’s voice was crafted to be childlike and androgynous.


Safety is considered in various aspects of the Pepper body design. For example, the robot has no sharp edges, there are soft parts on the cover, and the centre of mass is at the base to keep the robot from falling over. The motors are powerful enough to move the joints but not strong enough to hurt someone accidentally. The robot is equipped with bumpers.

Stereotyping /ˈsteriətaɪpɪŋ/ Trustworthy /ˈtrʌstwɜːði/

Various /ˈveəriəs/ Mass /mæs/


1) done on purpose rather than by accident

2) an action done on purpose rather than by accident.

Components one of several parts of which something is made.


to make an action or a process possible or easier.


1) the act of forcing somebody/something away from their home or position.

2) the amount of a liquid moved out of place by something floating or put in it, especially a ship floating in water.

Only necessary components, sensors, and functionalities were added to fulfil specific use-case needs. For example, the hand was deliberately not designed for heavy manipulation but only to be good enough for expressive interaction.

Functionality /ˌfʌŋkʃəˈnæləti/ Deliberately /dɪˈlɪbərətli/ Interactivity

Interaction is one of the Pepper robot’s key features. The need for natural and intuitive interaction is at the heart of these, but the machine’s design also considers the real-life situations in which communication might not always be particularly reliable or useful. Pepper has a multimodality of interaction interfaces including a touch screen, speech, tactile head and hands, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Several software components were developed to facilitate perception abilities and ensure a smooth HRI. This included the capacity to recognize and respond to human emotions, a library of expressive gestures, and microlevel behaviours for displaying liveliness.

Intuitive /ɪnˈtjuːɪtɪv/

Particularly /pəˈtɪkjələli/

Ability /əˈbɪləti/

To achieve human-like and graceful expressivity through body language, the kinetic structure of the robot was carefully designed with 17 joints. Three omnidirectional wheels help in achieving smooth movement and support the realization of local, small displacements more naturally.

Kinetic /kɪˈnetɪk/, / kaɪˈnetɪk/

1 Speaking and Translation 20


1) action taken to improve or help a situation.

2) action by a country to become involved in the affairs of another country when they have not been asked to do so.

3) action taken to improve a medical condition or illness.

4) the act of interrupting somebody when they are speaking in order to say something.

Random one chosen, etc., without somebody deciding in advance what is going to happen, or without any regular pattern


1) to fix something in a substance or solid object

2) to send a journalist, etc., to an area, so that they can travel with the military and report.


Long-term autonomy is also important, so the robot can last an entire workday in SoftBank stores without recharging or intervention. The whole system was designed to balance software and hardware loads and achieve a battery life of about 12 h. In addition, a specifically designed docking station for autonomous charging was developed. Furthermore, there are modules and apps for the robot to achieve behavioural autonomy in particular applications, reducing the need for human intervention.

Body and computer

The robot’s hull is smooth, high-quality plastic, with parts consisting of soft plastics to reduce the risk of pinching during physical interaction and minimize damage if the machine falls over. Tactile body parts with capacitive sensors indicate when the robot is touched.

Pepper is 1210 mm tall, 480 mm wide, and 425 mm deep. It weighs 28 kg. The robot is equipped with several LEDs for communicating. These are software controlled to change colours and intensity. The machine has an Atom E3845 processor with a quad-core central processing unit (CPU) and a clock speed of 1.91 GHz. It has a 4 GB double-data-rate, type-three random-access memory and a flash memory of 32 GB embedded multimedia card, of which 24 GB are available for users.

Pepper has 20 degrees of freedom (DoF) for motion (17 joints) and omnidirectional navigation (three wheels). The wheels allow the robot to climb a 1.5 cm step and a 5° slope.


1) to understand or think of somebody/ something in a particular way.

2) to notice or become aware of something.


1) (of a person, thing, substance) the fact of being in a particular place

2) the quality of making a strong impression on other people by the way you talk or behave; a person who has this quality.

Human interaction

The core requirement of the initial B2B scenario was interaction with humans: the capacity to perceive people is needed to achieve this. The Pepper robot is equipped at both the hardware and software application programming interface (API) levels to provide good functionality for perceiving humans. The multimodal perception components are primarily intended to discern people’s presence and avoid collisions with the environment. The NAOqi People Perception module provides a list of inbuilt APIs to help in the development of high-level reasoning and behavioural capabilities.

Scenario /səˈnɑːriəʊ/ Discern /dɪˈsɜːn/ Behavioural /bɪˈheɪvjərəl/

Stress in sentences 21
Autonomous /ɔːˈtɒnəməs/


1) to give something to somebody or make it available for them to use.

2) to state that something will or must happen.


1) the ability or qualities necessary to do something.

2) the power or weapons that a country has for war or for military action.


1) to invent something new or a new way of doing something.


1) to happen or appear for the first time in a particular place or situation.

2) to create something new.

3) to start in a particular place.


1) to control or influence somebody/something, often in a dishonest way so that they do not realize it.

2) to control, use, or change something with skill.

One of Pepper’s unique capabilities is dialogue-based interaction, crucial for delivering a natural, more gratifying HRI. A dialogue-based interaction system can be easily created using the NAOqi ALDialog and Qichat modules. These provide various functionalities to devise and shape natural interaction, such as originating concepts and topics and are the easiest means of providing input to and commanding the robot through natural language.

In addition, the robot is equipped with the Animated Speech and Expressive Listening modules to display human-like gestures while speaking or listening. These, combined with Pepper’s 17 articulations, allow the machine to move fluidly in ways that make it appear more naturally interactive, with the aim of achieving a high level of human–robot engagement.

Pepper is not designed to manipulate objects. However, it is equipped with two arms, each with a five-fingered hand, and thanks to its appropriate height, the robot can be used to achieve some basic object handover and tabletop manipulation tasks.

To ensure safety even during Pepper’s shutdown process, a two-step procedure has been adopted. First, the robot goes into a relaxed and safe position and turns its motors off. It also has a stop button at the back. In addition, it has no sharp edges. If someone bumps into the machine, it tries to maintain its balance. If the robot is pushed hard enough to fall over, it cuts off all of its motors as it falls. Most of the weight is in the base near the wheels, so the upper body is relatively light.

Pepper complies with some of the ISO norms on robot motion and corresponding safety requirements. It stops before colliding with any obstacles detected more than 1.5 cm away, and is equipped with touch reflex, reduced movement speed, blind zone analysis, and a module to create a local map for safe navigation. Furthermore, to avoid dangerous movements in blind zones, the arm speed is lessened when moving inside an unknown zone. The robot is designed to detect a human or obstacle using anticollision software. Also, the base is too low (2 cm) to roll over a human foot. Pepper’s travel speed limit is 2 km/h and its emergency speed limit (push recovery) is 3.6 km/h.

Unique /juˈniːk/

Gesture /ˈdʒestʃə(r)/ Articulation /ɑːˌtɪkjuˈleɪʃn/ Appropriate /əˈprəʊpriət/ Height /haɪt/

Procedure /prəˈsiːdʒə(r)/

Maintain /meɪnˈteɪn/

Obstacle /ˈɒbstəkl/

Analysis /əˈnæləsɪs

1 Speaking and Translation 22

Exercise 1.8 – Content words and sentence stress

Work in pairs. Underline content words in a selection of paragraphs from the text above. Concentrate on pronouncing the content words: Pay attention to sentence stress and the correct intonation patterns, then read aloud in turn.


Intonation concerns how our voice goes up or down over several words within a statement. Intonation is essential to effective communication. It helps us understand feelings, attitudes, and meaning, and it helps to understand if the speaker has finished speaking and it is your turn, or if there is a question to be answered. Interestingly, the spoken word contains more information compared to the written word. Although punctuation marks, such as commas, can convey some of the intonational meaning, the majority of it cannot be expressed in writing. As a result, English spoken by native speakers is more informative than written English.

Falling intonation

This is the most common pattern of speech, associated with statements and certainty. You are stating a fact or you believe you are right. It also communicates completion. You have finished speaking and the listener can now respond. (All sentences in this paragraph

should be spoken using a general falling intonation at the end of the sentence).

• He’s going home.

• He’s going home to see his brother.

• He’s going home to see his brother before leaving for college.

Rising intonation

Rising intonation is associated with uncertainty:

• What’s your favourite colour? Blue?

It invites the listener to answer yes or no:

• He’s great, isn’t he?

When you have not finished speaking, the rising intonation implies incompletion as indicated in writing by commas in the following examples:

• This is a pencil, and it’s made of wood.

• Eric plays the flute, clarinet, and saxophone.

• It was interesting, but tiresome.

Intonation may therefore change the meaning of a statement. Consider the following question:

• It’s raining, isn’t it?

If the phrase ‘isn’t it?’ is said with the pitch of the voice rising, it is likely to be heard as a question, while a falling pitch is likely to be heard as confirmation.

Intonation 23

Intonation in some cases can convey significant different opinions or attitudes. Let’s take the following exchange between father and son, for example:

• Son: I’m dropping out of school.

• Father: Are you serious?

Are you serious? spoken with an upward pitch may convey an open attitude, interest, or concern for his son.

Are you serious? with a downward pitch is more what you would expect of a statement. It conveys a judgement, and a negative one: “I do not agree that you should be dropping out of school.” Same words, but very different meaning.

Exercise 1.9 – Comprehension and prepared spoken interaction

Work in pairs. Read the article on the social robot above.

Divide the four questions between yourselves. Try to prepare a longer explanation of several connected sentences, not just a single statement. Use vocabulary and phrases from the article. Pay attention to pronunciation, stress, and intonation. Look up pronunciation if in doubt. Spend 10 minutes to prepare, then try answering orally without reading from your notes.

1. What was done to ensure Pepper cannot harm anyone?

2. What influenced and informed the design of Pepper’s physical appearance?

3. What does the statement that a robot is “social” mean?

4. What does the statement that the robot has multimodal features mean?

1 Speaking and Translation 24

The purpose of this book is to help students demonstrate the English language proficiency required for admission to engineering studies. It will recapitulate key learning objectives from secondary education, emphasise academic and communication skills as well as prepare students for a professional career in engineering.

English for engineers is distinctly practical: Examples and exercises are all related to engineering and technology.

The book is designed to be used on the Access Programme for admission to Bachelor of Engineering Studies degree (forkurs for ingeniør- og sivilingeniørutdanningen).

Sandy Tippett has over 30 years’ experience of working in senior management and lecturing in Higher Education across the UK and Europe. Her interests include facilitating learning and the use of technology in language learning (English and French) for non-native speakers, with publications focusing on those areas. Amongst other things, she taught and then was Programme Director on the first Access Course for Higher Education in Scotland, at the University of Dundee. Sandy is currently an Editor and Researcher for Editorial Projects in the International Business Department at NTNU, Ålesund. She is the author and editor of academic publications across a range of specialisations.

Anders Ulstein is an Assistant Professor, Department of ICT and Natural Sciences, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, NTNU, where he has been teaching Norwegian and English at the Access Programme (forkurset) for many years. He co-authored the textbook Kommunikasjon og norsk for ingeniører (Universitetsforlaget, 2022), currently in use at forkurset.

ISBN 978-82-15-06895-4 9

788215 068954

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