Tag Archives: English people

I’ll see you when I see you

I'll see you when i see you phrase meaning parting phrase

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

First of all, apologies for neglecting this blog a little bit – sometimes there’s really too much going on, and it has been the case with me for the past few months. Also I spent a couple of weeks in Russia and have been trying to get back into my ‘English’ life.

Today I had another volunteering shift at a local Oxfam bookshop. I was tempted to drop them for the time being while I’m struggling with a large translation project, but I know all too well that you deny yourself one thing, then another and then work just takes over your whole life. I wasn’t going to let this happen.

However, I had a hard time fitting all of the things on my to-do list into my morning, so I was running a bit late. I called the shop on my way there to say that I was going to be late and apologized profusely. To this the shop manager said ‘Don’t worry, we’ll see you when we’ll see you‘.

I remembered that I’d heard this phrase before. It always strikes me as a little bit impolite – as in “we don’t really care that much if / when we are going to see you again” – but according to the results of my Google search it is not meant to be impolite. At least I hope so!

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Bob’s your uncle

bobs_your_uncle meaning

Photo credit: zazzle.co.uk

A few weeks ago my other half and I went to a medieval city of Wells, known for its impressive cathedral. This time we decided to go inside and explore the cathedral (not something we often do, since the entry to such places in the UK is by no means cheap). We were just in time for a guided tour, and even though I used to hate the idea of walking anywhere as a group, I started to realise that you learn much more this way. So in we went with our knowledgeable guide. Towards the end of the tour he used the phrase ‘… and Bob’s your uncle’, which at first puzzled me as I’ve never heard it before, but it seemed to mean something like ‘and here you go’.

Indeed, according to World Wide Words, ‘It’s used to show how simple it is to do something: “You put the plug in here, press that switch, and Bob’s your uncle!’

The origin of this phrase is, as usual, quite obscure, but you can find a detailed explanation on World Wide Words’ website and on Wikipedia.

I particularly like this bit: “It is sometimes elaborately phrased Robert is your mother’s brother or similar for comic effect. With his customary whimsical humour, P.G. Wodehouse (one of my favourite writers, by the way) extended it to “Robert’s your father’s nearest male relative”.

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With a little bit of luck

with a little luck phrase usage

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

First of all, apologies to the esteemed readers for neglecting this blog – there’s been too much going on these past few weeks (or months?), but hopefully things will settle down a little bit.

And now to some new phrases. There’s one in particular that I seem to encounter almost on a daily basis.

On Saturday I took a coach to London to see The Cure (they were awesome, by the way). To make sure I have enough energy left for the 3-hour performance I picked the coach that arrived 45 minutes before the start, so that I had just enough time to walk to the venue, but didn’t have to kill any time before that. But on our way I noticed ‘Long delays’ signs on the motorway, which didn’t bode well. And in due course the driver announced that there’s been an accident ahead, which caused a huge tailback. I was duly annoyed – I was now running late! I tried not to get too stressed as the accident was still quite a long way ahead. Later on it turned out that the cars had been cleared and the traffic was starting to move, and the driver added that ‘With a little bit of luck we’ll make it to London with only a 5-10 minute delay’, which we did! Phew, what a relief it was!

I heard the very same phrase today when I went to see the doctor. His last words were ‘With a little bit of luck you don’t have it and then you’ll rub your hands with glee and forget all about it’. I need lots of luck on this one, that’s for sure.

And if you care for some more examples, here they are:

– Now Americans have a high level of tolerance for inequality because they generally believe that the system is basically fair and that with a little bit of luck and even more hard work anyone can achieve a tolerable level of success and economic security (The Economist)

– Thank you for your support and for spreading the message. Keep doing so please. With a little bit of luck it will end up on Condoleezza Rice’s desktop. I know it won’t stop the war, but i am sure at least that she’ll ask me to do her portrait (The Guardian).

Speaking of luck, here’re some more ‘lucky phrases‘.

P.S. As you’ve noticed this phrase is a good example of British understatement – most of the time what you need is a lot of luck for all these things to be achieved!

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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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I was wondering…

i was wondering phrase

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Today I realised that I never wrote about one single English phrase that I find to be the most useful in everyday life. A life-saver of a phrase, even! Not to brag, but I think I somehow got it right on my first trip to the UK and later on I heard it on so many occasions that it didn’t seem special any more.

So, imagine you walk into a stationary shop and you’re looking for… I don’t know, a pair of scissors. You’ve had a look around, but scissors are nowhere to be seen. You pluck up your courage and approach a shop assistant. What would you say?

Saying ‘Hi, I’m looking for a pair of scissors’ is perfectly fine, but if you want to sound a bit less direct, here’s where the life-saver phrase comes in: ‘I was wondering: do you have any scissors?’ Or if you wandered into a shoe shop and there was a pair of shoes to your liking you could say ‘Hi! I was just wondering: do you have them in size 6?’ (Or: ‘I was wondering if you have them in size 6′). More on sentence structures with this phrase can be found on this Wordreference forum thread.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of shoes, here’s my favourite bit of stand-up comedy exploring the uneasy relationship between women and shoes.

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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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Can I squeeze past?

can i squeeze past phrase

Photo credit: dailytelegraph.com.au

First of all, Happy New Year to the loyal readers and subscribers of this blog – it’s great to have you on board. I’ll do my best to keep it up in 2014.

Second… it’s time for a new post, I think.

I’ve been trawling through my vast linguistic archives in search of an interesting word or phrase, and I stumbled upon ‘Can I squeeze past?‘ – a handy phrase for when you find yourself in a place full of people and you need to get past them. I’ve used it a lot at a Christmas party, where I also happened to inadvertently jump the queue – I haven’t felt that embarrassed in a long while.

It’s been, what, two or three weeks, but the festive season seems but a distant memory now, at least to me.

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Boxing day: what’s in a box?

boxing day origin

Photo credit: gardenofeaden.blogspot.co.uk

The other day my husband asked me whether I knew why Boxing day was called Boxing day and I had to admit that I didn’t. Somehow I never asked myself this question. So I went on a googling mission and found an article in Time that was quite helpful.

In fact, the origin of Boxing day is somewhat murky. One possible explanation is that around Christmas people were encouraged to donate money to the poor, putting them in alms boxes.  According to another popular version, the aristocracy distributed presents (boxes) to their servants, who ‘returned home, opened their boxes and had a second Christmas on what became known as Boxing Day.’

It’s impossible to say which one (if any) is correct and in any case, these days Boxing day is mostly known as the Day When the Sales Start.

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