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Archive for the ‘Sprache – English’ Category

 

Hey everyone! Long time, no blog entry. Sorry for that! I had a lot to do, especially last week. I had to proofread the translation (English -> German) for an entire user’s manual. It was quite interesting, especially writing comments and see what the translator says about them was a good experience. You always learn something new.

 

So, what do I have for you today? As the title says, I’m going to post some kind of “blog series” about idioms. Proverbs and idiomatic expressions never get boring. Let’s start!

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1. A bitter pill.

A situation that is unpleasant, but must be accepted.

Example: “Losing the championship to a younger player was a bitter pill to swallow.”

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2. Flash as a rat with a gold tooth. Australian expression.

Ostentatious. A man who tries hard to impress people by his appearance/behavior. In spite of a superficial smartness, he is not to be trusted. In spite of the gold tooth, he is still a rat.

Example: “You’re looking as flash as a rat with a gold tooth!”

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3. To make a good fist of… British & Australian. Old-fashioned.

To do something well; it’s generally used when the results are perhaps disappointing, but not because of the person’s efforts.

Example: “He made a good fist of explaining why we need to improve our public transport system.”/“He did those tasks for the first time, and although the results aren’t perfect, he made a good fist of it.“

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4. A hard/tough nut to crack.

Someone who is difficult to deal with because they are unpleasant or very determined to get what they want./A difficult problem to solve.

Example: “It won’t be easy getting her approval; she’s a tough nut to crack.”

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5. On tap.

available, ready, to be expected, on the schedule

Example: “What’s on tap for today?”

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6. To raise hell.

to complain in a loud and angry way/American: to behave in a noisy or wild way, upsetting other people

Example: “She raised hell when she realized her office had no windows.”/”Some kids were raising hell in the street.”

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7. To grin like a Cheshire cat.

to grin/smile broadly, showing one’s teeth

Example: “When she walked in grinning like a Cheshire cat, I knew that she got the job.”

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8. The worm has turned.

Someone who was always weak and did what he was told has now become strong and confident.

Example: “Yesterday, she just came in and told him to stop bossing her around. The worm has turned!“

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9. To pick someone’s brains.

to ask for information or advice from someone who knows more about a subject than you do.

Example: “The new employee was working for our main competitor before coming here, so the boss has been picking his brains to find out what they’re doing over there.”

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10. To blow one’s own horn/trumpet.

American & Australian: to blow one’s own horn. British & Australian: to blow one’s own trumpet.

to tell other people how good and successful you are

Example: “She’s one of the best journalists we’ve got, although she’d never blow her own horn/trumpet.”

Last but not least ~

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11. To pay through the nose.

to pay too much for something

Example: “If you want a decent wine in a restaurant, you have to pay through the nose for it.”

There are dozens of idioms, I just picked some of them. I hope you liked this blog entry! More languages to follow ~

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Hello, it’s me, Madeleine, the new intern at WORLD TEXT.

I’m going through some files and found some interesting texts. I found gap fill tests on English business expressions. I already learned some of them during my apprenticeship as foreign langauge correspondent, but most of the idioms are new to me. So I’ve decided to list them (English -> German). 

1.
to be hard-nosed -> kompromisslos/pragmatisch/abgebrüht sein
Example: „He’s the perfect person to take on this job. He’s a really hard-nosed person and won’t stand for any nonsense.“
2.
fat cats -> überbezahlter Topmanager/Bonze/Geldsack
Example: „We have to work hard for our money while the fat cats in the city make money doing very little.“
3.
high flyer/high-flyer -> Aktie mit extremem Wertanstieg/Senkrechtstarter/Höhenflieger
Example: „She’s obviously going to get a job soon. She’s a real high-flyer.“
4.
to do a roaring trade -> ein Bomben-/Riesengeschäft machen
Example: „The product has been a great success. We’re doing a roaring trade in it.“
5.
to cook the books -> die Bilanzen/(Bücher) verschleiern/fälschen
Example: „Their accounts were completely phoney. They had been cooking the books for years.“
6.
earth-shattering -> weltbewegend/welterschütternd
Example: „Well I’m not surprised they’re in a mess. It’s not exactly earth-shattering news.“
7.
big fish in a little pond -> „großer Fisch in kleinem Teich“; siehe auch „Fischteicheffekt“
Example: „He thinks he is really important, but he is just a big fish in a little pond.“
8.
to run a tight ship -> den Laden fest im Griff haben
Example: „She’s an excellent manager. She runs a really tight ship.“
9.
to make a killing -> ein Riesengeschäft machen/abkassieren/einen Mordsgewinn machen
Example: „I bought them cheap and sold them for a lot. I really made a killing.“
10.
golden handshake -> goldener Handschlag/hohe Abfindung
Example: „Tom was forced to leave his job, but he got a very generous golden handshake.“
11.
to have one’s hand in the till -> sich an der Kasse/am Geld des Arbeitgebers vergreifen
Example: „The accountant had stolen a lot of money. He had had his hand in the till for years.“
12.
to be a big shot -> ein hohes Tier sein
Example: „John doesn’t look very impressive, but he’s one of the big shots in this industry.“
13.
to hang up one’s hat -> seine Arbeit niederlegen
Example: „I’ve had enough. I’m going to hang up my hat and retire.“
14.
money-spinner -> Renner/Kassenschlager
Example: „You can make a lot of money selling this product. It’s a real money-spinner.“
15.
to stay ahead of the pack -> der Konkurrenz immer eine Nasenlänge voraus sein
Example: „If you want to succeed in the business, you need to always stay ahead of the pack.
16.
to drive a hard bargain -> hart verhandeln
Example: „It’s hard doing business with Maggie. She drives a hard bargain.“
17.
to corner the market -> den Markt beherrschen
Example: „He’s the only person who imports this product. He has really cornered the market.“
18.
to cut a deal -> einen Kompromiss eingehen/eine Vereinbarung treffen
Example: „We’re both competing for the same business. Perhaps we can cut a deal to share out the work.“
19.
to be on the make -> auf Geld aus sein/profitgierig/karrieresüchtig sein
Example: „I wouldn’t trust Harry an inch. He’s definitely someone who is on the make.“
20.
to make it -> es schaffen
Example: „Now that I’ve got a million pounds/dollars in savings, I really feel I’ve made it.“

 

 

An article published a short time ago in the Schweriner Volkszeitung describes gestures as being a language on their own and, as with any language, when you move from country to country you may not always understand what exactly is being said.

The article tells us that whilst nodding your head means “ja” in Germany, it means exactly the opposite in Greece; forming a circle your thumb and your forefinger to signal that everything is ok could get you in trouble in Spain where it has a more vulgar meaning and lazily lying your foot across your knee would cause great offence in Asian and Arabic cultures.

With this in mind, I decided to trawl the net to see which other common gestures have different meanings in different cultures. Here are my most important findings:

  • The ‘ok’ sign also means that something is worthless in France and signifies money in Japan – interestingly enough, various websites quote Germany as being one of the countries where this hand gesture has a rude   meaning, however, my German friends, colleagues and the Schweriner Volkszeitung disagree
  • A thumbs up gesture is not at all positive in the Middle East or West Africa where it is a vulgar insult
  • What an English person would perceive as an offensive hand gesture (index and middle fingers up, palm facing outwards), is the peace sign in North America or simply just a way of indicating that you’d like two of something
  • Crossing your fingers à la the United Kingdom’s National Lottery logo won’t bring you any luck in Vietnam, where it is seen as the ultimate obscene gesture
  • Beckoning someone to come towards you with your index finger actually signifies death in Singapore, and could get you arrested in the Philippines!

There are many more examples of body language that is interpreted differently in different countries and, as well as being fascinating, it’s a little disheartening. Nobody (that I know of) can speak all the languages of the world, but there is always the presumption that even if you don’t share a common spoken language with someone, you could manage to communicate a simple message using gestures. As it happens, you could communicate a simple message – but it may not be the one you intended!

Until I attend some foreign body language classes, I will be keeping my arms firmly by my side and hoping that that doesn’t have some unfortunate double meaning either.

Bis bald

Jess

Small? Yes. Insignificant? Certainly not. Apostrophes have a very important role in written language and can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Unfortunately, many people find the apostrophe so confusing that they either miss them out completely or panic and put them everywhere.

I’m not pretending to be an expert on the fine art of punctuation, my formal English Language education finished at GCSE-level when I was 16. However, that was enough to give me a good grasp of  how to use an apostrophe and also, I must admit, to begin my transformation into a punctuation pedant. It’s still early days but give me another 20 years and I’ll be correcting supermarket signs with a permanent marker / Tipp-Ex with the best of them! At least I won’t be alone in my quest, research for this article led me to discover the existence of The Apostrophe Protection Society, an official organisation based in the UK.

The many websites I found dedicated to ending apostrophe abuse, along with  a few sporadic lessons from my English teachers, have helped me to split the use of apostrophes into three simple categories:

  1. Use to replace missing letters in contractions:
    1. will not becomes won’t
    2. do not becomes don’t
    3. he is becomes he’s
  2. Use to indicate possession:
    1. Ellen’s brother
    2. My mother’s car
    3. The children’s books
  3. Use for the plurals of lower case letters:
    1. There are two i’s and two o’s in ‘dignotion’
    2. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s

I had never really thought about the third rule before I started reading lots of grammar websites, but it stops the plurals of lower case letters being read as other words. For example, without any apostrophes in 3a, we would have the complete words ‘is’ and ‘os’ instead of the plurals of the letters. For upper case letters, numbers and acronyms, however, apostrophes are not necessary:

  1. When she moved house, Chloe realised that she had 45 CDs, 200 DVDs and 3 VCRs.
  2. In his exams he got 4 As, 3 Bs and 5 Cs.
  3. The tradition began in the 1900s.

For some people, using an apostrophe correctly is as natural as breathing; for others it requires a bit more effort. I’m sure that even those who have mastered it sometimes stop, look at what they’ve written and think, “Hmm, is that right?”.

Among the dozens of newspaper articles I’ve read about apostrophes – some begging for it to be used properly, some calling for it to be scrapped – this light-hearted article from 1994 is my favourite:

 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/creativity-an-excess-of-apostrophes-1373772.html

Bis bald

Jess

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit Nottinghamshire, then no doubt you will have been greeted with the words ‘ay up mi duck’ (hello) and wondered why on earth someone just called you a duck. Well don’t worry, it’s an affectionate term!

If it’s ‘black o’er by Bill’s mother’s’ then it’s likely to rain soon and, if a child wanders into the road, you might hear their ‘mam’ (mother) shout “gerron corsey!” (get on to the pavement!).

However, if someone describes you as ‘mardy’ or a ‘mard arse’ then you ought to turn that frown upside down because it means you’re sulking like a child! The word ‘mardy’ is now more widely understood thanks to the Artic Monkeys’ song Mardy Bum but before that it was uncommon to hear it outside of the Midlands, even though it can be found in well-known literature from as early as 1913 in Sons and Lovers by D.H Lawrence, who was born in Eastwood in Nottingham.

Having been born and raised in Nottinghamshire, I speak fluent Nottinghamese; however this can cause problems when travelling outside of the county’s borders, especially when you don’t realise that a certain word is specific to Nottinghamshire! For example, in a cafe in the south of England, ordering a bacon ‘cob’ gained me nothing but a baffled stare – apparently I should have asked for a bacon ‘bread roll’; and when I taught the word ‘tabhanging’ (eavesdropping) to a French friend of mine, I was quickly interrupted by a girl from Belfast who had never heard the word before. I explained that it was a perfectly logical expression because when you eavesdrop, you literally hang your tab next to the conversation that you are trying to overhear. This then led to the revelation that the word ‘tab’ is not used by all Anglophones – not even by all British people – to mean ‘ear’. This is a shame because it means that not everyone gets to use – or even understand – such wonderful Nottinghamese phrases as:

–         ‘Cor, that’s a tablaugher!’ (Oh, that tastes sour!)

–         ‘Shurrup else I’ll bat ya tab!’ (If you don’t be quiet, I’ll hit you across the side of your head!)

 The list of Nottinghamese words and expressions goes on and on. Here’s a link to a mini-dictionary that explains a few of our expressions and a link to an article written by a man who has done extensive research on Nottinghamese:

 What are the most interesting expressions used in your local dialect? Has yours ever been incomprehensible to a speaker of the same language (or was someone else’s incomprehensbile to you)?  Please let me know, and maybe soon I’ll unveil the true meanings of ‘nesh’ and ‘jammy’…

Bis bald or ta-ra duck!

Jess

 

Hallo!

Ich bin der neue Praktikant bei World Text. Ich bin Student an der Universität von Durham, im Nordostengland und folglich bin ich schlechtes Wetter gewohnt. Nichtsdestotrotz war es eine Überraschung, als ich letzten Sonntag in Hamburg gelandet bin. Es regnete und die Temperatur war frische 11 Grad. Willkommen in Deutschland! Das war für mich ein großer Wechsel, weil ich seit Oktober in Spanien gearbeitet hatte und bei 30 Grad ins Flugzeug gestiegen war. Ich kann mich jedoch nicht zu viel beschweren, weil heute die Sonne hier in Schwerin scheint und diese schöne Stadt noch schöner macht!

Wie gesagt, war ich im Spanien, weil ich Sprachstudent bin: Französisch, Spanisch und Deutsch. Natürlich bin ich der Meinung, dass Sprachen wichtig sind. Deshalb hat es mich enttäuscht zu erfahren, dass jedes Jahr etwa 25 Sprachen verschwinden und laut UNESCO sind rund 2500 weitere in Gefahr (Neues Deutschland, 23.02.10) (http://www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/165656.dramatischer-kulturverlust.html?sstr=Dramatischer|Kulturverlust).

Warum sollte diese Statistik beunruhigend sein? Was bedeutet eigentlich eine Sprache? Ist sie nur ein einfaches Kommunikationsmittel? Sicherlich nicht. Eine Sprache ist ein wichtiger Teil der Kultur eines Volkes, ein Symbol seiner Identität. Man muss nur an die politischen Probleme in Belgien denken, um diese Idee klar zu sehen (http://www.welt.de/die-welt/politik/article7297705/Belgien-zerbricht-am-Sprachenstreit.html). Der Streit um die Wahlkreisreform wird auf Meinungsverschiedenheiten zwischen den französisch sprechenden Wallonen und den niederländisch sprechenden Flamen zurückgeführt. Die beiden Sprachgemeinschaften verteidigen ihre Sprachen, um ihre Identität nicht zu verlieren.

In Großbritannien gibt es 11 gefährdete Sprachen, inklusive Walisisch, das von 750.000 Leuten gesprochen wird. In Deutschland werden vor allem Nordfriesisch und Saterfriesisch als schwer gefährdet angesehen. Was kann man machen, um eine Sprache zu retten, zu revitalisieren? Kornisch ist hier ein gutes Beispiel. Am Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts gab es fast keine Kornischsprecher mehr. Jetzt gibt es dank mehrerer Initiativen, z. B. Radiosendungen, Zeitschriftenartikel und der Förderung der Sprache in Schulen rund 3.000 Sprecher und bis zu 300.000 Sprecher mit Grundkenntnissen. Nicht nur kann man Kornisch an der Uni studieren, sondern es gibt auch Gedichte, Lieder und Bücher in der Sprache.  Obwohl es ein langer Prozess sein wird, gibt es positive Anzeichen. Eine Sprache, die tot war, wird nach und nach wiedergeboren und damit die historische Kultur einer Region. Hoffentlich wird mit anderen gefährdeten Sprachen etwas Ähnliches passieren!

Alex

There are those that would argue that the pun is the lowest form of linguistic humor (or any humor), and then there are those that love the pun – the execution, the set-up, everything. I for one am somewhere in the middle – bad puns make me groan, good puns are so unnoticable that I have to listen to the sentence twice to get it.

A bit of introduction is in order, I think: a pun is a play on words, more accurately a play on similar-sounding words. Let me give you an example:

„Eww, that chicken is bad! It’s decidedly fowl!“

I have to apologize for what I deem a cringe-worthy pun; you never come up with a good one on command. But that’s how it works: you want to say something, and just while you are in the process of arranging the sentence, you realize that the word sounds similar to another that could be used in a humorous context. Either your humor is really good and people will enjoy the pun, or you are like me and your „spontaneous puns“ are more akin to the one I did earlier – hardly palatable.

Puns have been around for longer than anyone cares to admit – Shakespeare has punned so often and so cunningly that people nowadays don’t even realize that a colorful description of a tree might in fact just be an euphemistic pun on another phallic organ. A pun works in many different ways; since, strictly speaking, a pun is just a wordplay that focuses on how a word is pronounced, it is possible to change words to suit your punning needs. A good example would be the following (brazingly stolen from the corresponding Wikipedia article since I am afraid of what would happen should I try to pun again):

* „Immanuel doesn’t pun; he Kant.“ — Oscar Wilde
(Kant: play on „can’t“, in the name of philosopher Immanuel Kant)

The last name of Immanuel Kant is usually not pronounced the same way „can’t“ is, but for the sake of the pun, Wilde decided to pronounce the „can’t“ like „Kant“ – people would still get the joke.

Lastly, since puns are far from dry and scientific, here my favorite puns (as far as I can remember ;))

– A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
– Once you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.
– Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

That’s all I got, make sure to write me a few in the comments section!

-Moritz

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