Tag Archives: work

To wrap someone in cotton wool

to wrap somebody in cotton wool

Photo credit: uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com

I know my posts are becoming more and more spaced out, but I’m not giving up on this blog! So here’s a quick post on a new phrase that I heard on the radio. I teach on Saturday mornings and on my way there and back I like to listen to BBC Radio 4, so last week I caught Desert Island Disks with Warwick Davis. He talked about his rare genetic disorder, but said that despite his ill health his parents never wrapped him in cotton wool. This means to be overprotective towards someone (usually a child, I would assume).

Here are some more examples:

  • Wrapping your children in cotton wool and living every day as if a multitude of dangers were each crowding out the other to get their fangs into them still seems to me an unhealthy message to broadcast. If your parents allow you to climb trees, sometimes you will fall off them. If you’re allowed to go wandering alone in a wood, sometimes you’re going to get lost (The Guardian).
  • Constantly wrapping children in cotton wool can leave them ill equipped to deal with stressful or challenging situations they might encounter later in life… Cotton-wool parenting is taxing for the parent; wearing for the child. And it’s unnecessary (Bikehub.co.uk)

I wonder if I am a cotton-wool parent? At times I think I am rather irresponsible, but not unreasonably so.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it

I stopped teaching when I had Alisa, but 7 months on I have a new student learning Russian and I’m really enjoying our lessons. On Saturday he asked me about words in Russian that can be used at the beginning of a phrase, or as a filler, but I know that once students learn a filler word it’s impossible to unlearn it – it crops up everywhere! So I diplomatically evaded this and my student said ‘OK, I will cross that bridge when I come to it‘, which is a wonderful phrase, and brand new to me!

The meaning is fairly clear – it’s about dealing with a problem only when it arises.

Here are some examples:

  • You’ll need to repave it every few years, but I guess you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it (Oxford Dictionaries)
  • ‘What if the flight is delayed?’ ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.‘ (The Free Dictionary)
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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).

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Keep a wolf from the door

keep the wolf from the door idiom meaning

Photo credit: skazles.ru

Another gem from Shaun Keaveney’s breakfast show! He didn’t come up with the idiom, of course, but he reminded me of it. To cut a long story short, he was taking the mickey out of his co-presenter, Matt Everitt, saying that he might have a part-time job at ‘to keep the wolf from the door‘.

The idiom means ‘to have enough money to avert hunger or starvation’ and is used hyperbolically (Oxford Dictionary).

A couple of examples:

– Having made enough money to keep the wolf from the door I am concerned with making the world a better place, like many other people (Oxford Dictionary).

– Today, dog lovers Steve and Adele try to make their fortune from their furry friends by preening the pooches of southern Spain – but will they make enough to keep the wolf from the door? (BBC)

P.S. There’s a brilliant song by Radiohead, ‘The Wolf at the Door’.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To cobble together

to cobble together meaning

Photo credit: chocolateandzucchini.com

This exciting new phrased cropped up at today my Russian lesson (which goes to show that I don’t speak Russian all the time, which, perhaps, I should, but nevermind) in the context of teachers who sometimes ‘cobble together‘ textbooks for their course using different bits and pieces. That’s what I do because so far I haven’t found the book for teaching Russian, for better or for worse.

As you’ll see from the examples below, it’s an incredibly useful verb and there’re lots of things that lend themselves to cobbling together:

– He cobbled together a meal from leftovers in the fridge (MacMillan Dictionary).

– Even if an agreement is cobbled together it will not please everyone (Oxford Dictionary).

– Consumers who want to cobble together different subscriptions from HBO, Netflix and others may find it is not that much cheaper after paying for broadband (The Economist).

– When the overspend was officially announced, almost a year later, the Scottish government acted shocked and took a weekend to cobble together a rescue package despite knowing the full increase in costs (BBC).

However, when I heard this phrase, it made me think of a cobbler recipe I recently saw on Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog called Chocolate and Zucchini. And although some suggest that ‘cobblers get their names from the biscuits on top, which look like cobblestone streets’, the assumption that ‘perhaps it’s called a cobbler because you take whatever fruits you have on hand and cobble them together’ also makes perfect sense to me.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

I am swamped!

swamped meaning usage

Photo credit: jonnycooper.net

Actually, it’s not me that is swamped right now – if anything, I’ve had a rather leisurely week, reading an exciting novel, baking biscuits and brownies for my family in Russia and doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. This was what one of my students said, apologizing for not being able to make it to our Russian class.

I’ve come across this expression before, but I must admit I hardly ever use it myself. However, it’s a nice alternative to ‘snowed under‘ (the latter, however, is probably more appropriate for this time of year).

Being ‘swamped‘ implies being overwhelmed with a large amount of something, but not only work, as you will see from examples below:

– Like hospitals, many of the province’s mental health facilities are swamped with requests for help, and the people who need their services can’t wait (Oxford Dictionary).

– Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has claimed British towns are being “swamped” by immigrants and their residents are “under siege”, in an escalation of the emotive language being used by Tory ministers calling for a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Europe (The Guardian) – yay, always blame the immigrants!

– Claims by Scottish government ministers that Scotland‘s universities will be “swamped” by English students seeking free tuition after independence have been challenged by an expert study (The Guardian).

– People have long groused that they were swamped by information (The Economist).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

A do (wait… isn’t ‘do’ a verb?)

christmas do

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Apologies for the prolonged silence on this blog – I cannot even say that I was extremely busy with work, but somehow I just didn’t get round to writing anything.

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party organised by the regional group of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters. In fact, I was also invited to a Christmas party organised by a language school where I teach, but of course they had to be on the same day and at the same time and I had to choose. Despite being completely knackered on that day I had a good time – I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet some new people, which is always good.

The word I chose for this post – ‘a do‘ – is a synonym of ‘a party’, and it can refer to almost any occasion:

– Are you going to Ann’s leaving do?

– We had our work [Christmas] do in this restaurant.

– Such social dos are more or less confined to the well to do and the upwardly mobile class of young professionals (Oxford Dictionary).

– We’re having a bit of a do to celebrate Pam’s birthday (MacMillan Dictionary).

In case I don’t get round to writing anything else this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers!

P.S. Today is the last day to nominate my blog for the Macmillan Love English Award!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Russian up… and some other phrasal verbs you never knew existed

russian out up

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

The other day I had another class with my Russian beginner group and one of my students had just returned from a trip to Russia. We all asked how it went and he was really enthusiastic about it, though he admitted he was ‘a bit russioned out‘ by the end of it (= a bit tired from hearing Russian all the time). Wow! Once again I was surprised by the creativity of English!

However, this reminded me of how I went to visit my friend and her baby daughter, and when her English husband was in another room we obviously switched from English to Russian, so he shouted ‘Stop russioning her [the baby] up!’

Ah, the ever-so-flexible English language, even when it comes to Russian!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,