American Jargon and Baffling Idioms
Someone who is in charge of Insurance
Director of Human Resources
Director of Risk Management
Account Manager; Service Representative
What are some examples of language proliferation in American English ?
Why is American English so proliferated?
- Because it is full of:
buzzwords, cusswords, puns, gags, show biz zingers, hyperbole, euphemisms, Latinisms, local colors, jargons, slang, and officialese.
- What does the sentence mean: “It is clear that America faces a communications crisis that neither Berlitz nor bytes alone can solve” ?
What’s the meaning of the following idioms?
- Make waves
- Keep a low profile
- Leave someone out in left field
- Ballpark figure
- Get to first base
- Play for all the marbles
- A whole new ball game
- Get someone into hot water
- Don’t “Frenchify” your American pronunciation.
Don’t show off by using the Latin/Greek equivalent of English expressions, such as per se, ad hoc, quid pro quo, and a priori, unless you are in the field of religion or law.
- You may misuse or overuse them.
- You may embarrass your non-native English-speaking associates.
- You may mispronounce them.
- You may make grammatical mistakes when using them.
Other points about “how” to say things:
- Tame the down-home accent and word choices.
- Beware of drawls and twangs.
- Speak at normal speed—not too fast and not too slow.
- Try to repeat sometimes.
- Respect the “silent period” among the Japanese during business meetings.
- Keep in mind that your words may be taken literally by your foreign counterpart.
- Most jargons die out quickly.
- Using yesterday’s buzzword today is as fatal a career move as rolling a Hula Hoop to the office.
- Jargons don’t always come from the high-tech heritage, some low-tech words that have been around a long time and have been studied by foreigners may be a challenge for native speakers to understand.
- A lot of idiomatic expressions in American English come from California.
- For example: “share” the life story with you
- “workshop” on anything
- the use of the verb: take a meeting, do drugs, flow…
General Confusion in Command
- Jumbo shrimp
- Metal wood (golf)
- Fair tax
- Epic miniseries
- Guest host
- Bitter sweetness
- “desktop publication”
- “read my lips”
- “spin doctor”
- “catastrophic health insurance”
- “hog heaven”
- “leveraged buyouts”
- “number crunching”
- “power lunch/breakfast”
The You Nobody Knows
- Avoid using expletives (swear words) or slang expressions that have the four-letter words connotation (e.g. “ smart ass”) even when the business seems to be officially over.
- Avoid the usual ephemera such as “with it,” “go for it,” and “no way,” even “scratch the sushi."
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Leave the Locals Local
- Don’t imitate your host’s accent even though it is intended as a friendly joke or compliment.
- Never try to get a chuckle at the expense of the national cuisine or architecture or government.
Words and Grammar
- Exaggeration and Euphemism can be taken literally.
“fantastic” “fabulous” “disaster”
“idiot” “slave driver”
“powder room” “comfort station”
“I couldn’t read hardly a word of your contract.”
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Other Languages, Other Misunderstandings
Am EnglishBritish English
At the end of the day Sth. will never be done
(a list of order waiting (a hopelessly
to be filled) overstocked inventory)
Tabling an item at a meeting
(put the discussion off) have the discussion
Am EnglishBritish English
- Discuss argue
- Support financial aid
- Embarrassed pregnant