Tag Archives: business

To keep your hand in

keep your hand in idiom meaning

Photo credit: imgkid.com

Yesterday I went to our regular French-Russian meeting, where we chat – in Russian, French and English – with fellow translators who work in these language pairs. As we haven’t seen each other for quite a while there was a lot of catching up to do, so we pretty much spent the first hour just chatting. One of my colleagues started a full-time office job and we were wondering whether she was going to keep translating, and she said she would like ‘to keep her hand in‘ so as not to lose touch with translation agencies and so that it’s easier to go back to freelancing when she feels like it.

While I heard of ‘getting your foot in the door‘ – which is also quite relevant for us, translators, I don’t think I’ve come across this expression with the hand, but it’s incredibly useful for the situations when you want to keep practising a skill often enough so that you do not lose it.

Some examples:

– I do a bit of teaching now and then just to keep my hand in (Cambridge Dictionary).

– “I don’t do adverts as a rule but this was great fun and it’s nice to keep your hand in. No pun intended,” he added. Gervais has starred only once before in a UK advertising campaign, in a commercial for another charity (The Guardian).

– Fiona Severs says: “It’s much harder to find a rewarding role when you’ve had a long career break than it is if you’ve managed to keep your hand in with flexible years.” (The Guardian).

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I’ll make my own way

i will make my own way phrase

Photo credit: toomanymornings.com

Last week I started giving Russian lessons to a student… actually, three students (I’ve gone from zero to three in a week!), but this one turned out to be an author of books on Business English. I was astonished! He showed me one of his latest books with basic Business English phrases and I wished I had this book years ago, when I was a student myself. Somehow we were never taught the ‘real’ English, but some ancient form of it (and I don’t mean Old English either – they’ve made us work really hard on that one).

There was one phrase in that little book that caught my attention – I must admit I haven’t come across this one before – ‘to make your own way‘, as in:

– Shall I send a car for you?

– No, thanks, I can make my own way.

And another example:

– Is it still possible for someone to pick me up, or should I make my own way to the airport? (Wordreference.com)

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I’m tied up

to be tied up meaning

Photo credit: irez.me

This week I learnt another useful phrase – it was in an email rather than in a conversation, but it doesn’t make it less authentic, I’m sure. I was going to arrange to speak to somebody on Skype to save us sending each other another half a dozen emails. I mentioned I could call right not, but the reply was ‘I’m tied up at the moment, shall we Skype later today?’

The meaning is quite obvious, really, but I think it’s one of those ubiquitous (but handy!) phrasal verbs that can express so much in so few words!

Some more useful examples:

– Oh, is it eleven o’clock already? I got so tied up with sending out these invitations that I didn’t even notice (phrasemix.com).

– Sorry, I’m kind of tied up at the moment. Can I call you back? (phrasemix.com).

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Ticket tout

ticket tout meaning

Photo credit: rsport.ru

Facebook finally proved itself useful – I noticed a friend posting an ad of an upcoming gig of… The Cure. I was over the moon! They’ve been my favourite band for almost ten years, but I’ve never seen them live. They were performing at quite a few festivals back in 2011 and even went to Russia (I was at the UK at that time, obviously), but I never made it to any of these events. And now… a 3-hour performance at the Royal Albert Hall!

Actually, FB proved itself useful once again when I spotted a ‘Beat the touts‘ pre-sale for FB fans. So at 9 a.m. when it opened I was sitting there with my debit card at the ready refreshing the page every two seconds. And a couple of minutes later I had my ticket! Not the actual paper ticket, though, which will arrive in the post later, but still, I’ll get to see the Cure!

When excitement died down a little bit, I remembered that I wanted to look up those ‘touts‘. I sort of guessed that it means a ticket dealer, and that wasn’t far off. A ‘tout‘ is someone who sells tickets at very high prices outside a place such as a theatre or a sports stadium (MacMillan Dictionary).

As the examples below suggest, they are not a very popular crowd:

– Sharon Hodgson, a Labour MP, who has long campaigned for reforms to the ticketing industry, says: “This is not small-time touts. This is big-time industrial touts, power sellers, call them what you will. This is not fair means any more, this is foul means, criminal means.” But if she is correct, how are these touts able to secure tickets so much more effectively than ordinary fans? (The Telegraph)

– After tickets for Monty Python’s comeback gigs sold out before you could say ‘ni’, many went on sale again – at a vastly inflated cost. How do the touts get away with it? (The Independent)

P.S. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the photos of Robert Smith, The Cure’s front man, young, so here’s one:

Before…

Robert Smith young The Cure

Photo credit: sandinista.centerblog.net

… and after:

Robert Smith The Cure

Photo credit: itv.com

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How long is too long?

waiting time perception in uk

Photo credit: Banksy, untappedcities.com

Today I had what might almost be called a ‘business meeting’  in London. The person I was meeting mentioned that he was negotiating with a certain company for so long that its managing director died. At this point my eyes nearly popped out.

I immediately remembered all the things that seem to take a disproportionately long in this country compared to Russia, where I come from. To paraphrase the words of King George VI from King’s Speech, waiting for a BT engineer to come one can wait a rather long wait. I also remember how I came to the university library to get a library card (which only gets a few minutes to print and issue) and was asked whether I could pick it up in a couple of weeks. I couldn’t. On another occasion I amazed a whole bunch of people by completing a task, which they thought would take a couple of weeks, in under one hour – and I swear it was no rocket science.

I’m still trying to figure out why these things take such a long time. Can it be that tea-drinking gets in the way?

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We’ll stretch you!

we will stretch you stretch somebody meaning usage

Photo credit: axlbarnes.blogspot.co.uk

It is only recently that I became aware of yet another meaning of the verb ‘to stretch‘. A couple of weeks ago my husband, who had been offered his dream job, reported that after hiring him his future boss said ‘We’ll stretch you‘. It sounded a bit menacing, I thought.

Today a fellow translator asked my opinion on the sentence ‘People learn how not to make mistakes by being in a climate where they are stretched‘. By then I was well prepared to clarify the meaning of ‘stretching’ people.

To stretch somebody‘ means ‘to make someone use all their intelligence or ability, especially in a way that is interesting or enjoyable’ (MacMillan Dictionary). Not so menacing, after all!

Some more examples of usage:

– I agree that G&T (gifted and talented) students do need exceptional teachers, ones who don’t feel threatened by them, who are open to being challenged beyond the usual and open to many things. Indeed a multi-subject specialist of some sort would fit the bill. G&T students too often coast and we must push and stretch them (The Guardian).

– Don’t delegate anything that is totally beyond the knowledge, understanding or capability of the person you’re delegating to. It’s the difference between stretching people and drowning them (The Guardian).

– A tenth of home-schooling parents say that one of their children has a physical or mental problem that the local school cannot or will not accommodate. And some parents teach at home because their children are brilliant and public school fails to stretch them (The Economist).

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To look the other way

to look the other way phrase meaning

Photo credit: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

Yesterday I went to see Woody Allen’s new film Blue Jasmine – it was my reward for a long working week, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll try not to spoil too much of the plot, but the story is about the wife of an indecently rich guy who turned out to be a crook and got his fortune by stealing from others. She was often accused by her friends of ‘looking the other way‘ when he came up with dubious financial schemes and other illegal stuff.

While the meaning is pretty clear I don’t think I’ve come across this phrase before. However, there’s a good synonym – ‘to turn a blind eye to something‘.

Here are a few more examples:

– Apart from a few dogged journalists at the profile news magazine who exposed Waldheim and much else besides, Austria chose to look the other way. That’s a habit that is not an Austrian monopoly (The Guardian).

– If the international community looks the other way now, the violence will flare up again and the government of Sudan will go back to slaughter  (The Guardian).

– European nations look the other way while Greek officials abuse migrants, particularly children, to keep their borders secure (The Guardian).

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I need it yesterday!

i need it yesterday phrase

The other day I was watching an episode of ‘Lie to me’ (it’s what other people were doing 3 years ago) and one of the characters, a big boss, was telling somebody ‘I need it yesterday!’ This phrase caught my attention not so much because it was new, but because there is exactly the same phrase in Russian, but I’ve stopped assuming that similar phrases should necessarily exist in other languages.

Somehow translations turn out to be the thing that the clients often forget about or leave until the very last moment, subsequently calling a translator or an agency and saying that they need it yesterday. Isn’t it sweet?

Here are some more examples of the usage:

– Does this ever happen to you? Your client calls and says ‘we need this done immediately – right now – like, yesterday!’ And you’re up to your eyeballs in other work. You don’t want to let your client down because the relationship is important and you don’t want to say yes because you’re really manic (Badlanguage.net).

– I need you to fill out this document, Johnson, and I need it yesterday. No time to waste on this — in fact, even the fastest you do this won’t be fast enough. I need it on my desk yesterday. You might be thinking I’m saying that I need this document yesterday as an idiomatic expression, Johnson. You might be thinking that I’m asking for it tomorrow, or even in a couple hours. You might be thinking that, but you’d be dead wrong. I need it yesterday (Brownjugmag.com).

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