16 April 2011

Watch Your Language!!

Posted by Kathryn under: Uncategorized .

Corks, Collection

Corks, Collection

Who hasn’t heard that expression many times, especially perhaps as an adolescent, frequently from parents?  This is the first in a new series of posts featuring idiomatic expressions in English that are bound to confuse many non-native speakers.  This is the kind of language native speakers generally use without thinking, the kind of language we need to “watch” in many interactions in today’s global world, because it doesn’t communicate what the words seem to mean.

Of course, this is also the type of expressions non-native speakers often love to learn. So if you forget to “watch your language” and use one of these the-whole-is-breathtakingly-different-from-the-sum-of-its-parts expressions and have a chance to “teach” it when you notice that you are not understood, it can also be fun, both for you and the other.

Today’s language to watch:  “What are the damages?”
This might be fine if you’re an insurance agent talking with a client about a recent unfortunate event (Lemony Snicket, anyone?), but it’s an expression that will confuse the non-native-speaker clerk at the wine store when the ‘hidden question’ is how much they’re going to charge you for a gift bag for the wine you’re taking to a party this evening.  Reality posting; just witnessed exactly this 15 minutes ago.  And now … for my glass of wine! Have a good weekend!

“I would rather decline two drinks than one German noun.” – Mark Twain in “The Awful German Language” (from “A Tramp Abroad”)

One Comment so far...

Metafinance Says:

25 March 2012 at 6:47 am.

Thank you for sharing some of the information.

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