Monday, October 31, 2011

Business Lingo (Part 2)

In our last post, we looked at some English idioms used in business by native speakers. Today, we'll present you with the second part. And if you can, try to make your own sentences with these, so you can get a feel for how to use them.

1. back-of-the-envelope calculations

quick calculations; estimates using approximate numbers, instead of exact numbers

Example: I don't need the exact numbers right now. Just give me some back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Note: This expression refers to the quick calculations one would do informally, as on the back of an envelope.

2. (to) climb the corporate ladder

advance in one's career; the process of getting promoted and making it to senior management

Example: You want to climb the corporate ladder? It helps to be productive and to look good in front of your boss.

3. (to) face the music

to admit that there's a problem; to deal with an unpleasant situation realistically

Example: Enron executives finally had to face the music and admit that they were involved in some illegal activities.

4. (to) jump through hoops

to go through a lot of difficult work for something; to face many bureaucratic obstacles

Example: We had to jump through hoops to get our visas to Russia, but we finally got them.

5. nothing ventured, nothing gained

If you don't try to do something, you'll never succeed.

Example: It's risky to spend so much money developing a new brand, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And speaking of Face the Music, here's the classic hit "Running in the Family" by the pop group LEVEL 42 that tells you what this concept is all about. Listen and view and you'll see why. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Business Lingo (Part 1)

If you're an adult English User, part of the challenge is getting a grasp of (understanding) the real meaning of business idioms. 

Often, it's difficult to stay up to speed with (keep up with) all the expressions that English speakers use when discussing professional matters.

Today, we'll take look at a few of these:

1. blockbuster

a big success; a huge hit

Example: Eli Lilly made a lot of money with the prescription drug, Prozac. It was a real blockbuster.

Origin: This term comes from the blockbuster bombs used during World War Two by the British Royal Air Force. They were huge and created a large explosive force. Blockbuster ideas similarly create a big impact - and hopefully don't cause destruction like blockbuster bombs!

2. cash cow

a product, service, or business division that generates a lot of cash for the company, without requiring much investment

Example: With strong sales every year and a great brand name, Mercedes is a cash cowfor DaimlerChrysler.

3. dog-eat-dog world

a cruel and aggressive world in which people just look out for themselves

Example: Your company fired you shortly after you had a heart attack? Well, it's certainly a dog-eat-dog world!

Origin: This expression dates back to the 1500's. Wild dogs were observed fighting aggressively over a piece of food. The connection was made that people, like dogs, often compete aggressively to get what they want.

4. (to) generate lots of buzz

to cause many people to start talking about a product or service, usually in a positive way that increases sales

Example: Procter & Gamble generated lots of buzz for its new toothpaste by giving away free samples to people on the streets of New York City.

Note: "Buzz" is a popular word for "attention."

5. mum's the word

let's keep quiet about this; I agree not to tell anyone about this

Example: Please don't tell anybody about our new project. Remember: mum's the word!

Origin: The word "mum" comes from the murmur "mmmmm," the only sound you can make when your mouth is shut firmly. Try making other sounds besides "mmmmm" with your lips and mouth shut firmly, and you will see that it's impossible!

And now, for those of you who like rock and roll, here's a classic song from the world famous heavy metal group AC/DC that will now make a lot more sense. The lyrics are below. It's loud. Enjoy!

"Dog Eat Dog" by AC/DC

Well, it's a dog eat dog,
Eat cat, too
The French eat frog,
And I eat you
Businessman, when you make a deal,
Do you know who you can trust?
Do you sign your life away?
Do you write your name in dust?

Hey, hey, hey!
Every dog has his day!
It's a dog eat dog!
Dog eat dog!

"Dog Eat Dog"
Read the news
Someone win,
Someone lose
Up's above and down's below,
And Limbo's in between
Up, you win - down, you lose,
It's anybody's game

Hey, hey, hey!
Every dog has his day!
It's a dog eat dog!
Dog eat dog!


And it's an eye for eye,
Tooth for tooth
It's a lie,
That's the truth
See the blind man on the street,
Lookin' for somethin' free
Hear the kind man ask his friends,
"Hey, what's in it for me?"

Hey, hey, hey!
Every dog has his day!
It's a dog eat dog!
Dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog! Dog eat dog!)
(Dog eat dog!) Dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog!) Hey!
(Dog eat dog!) Whoo! Aaooo...
(Dog eat dog!) Dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog! Dog eat dog!)
Dog eat dog eat dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog!) Dog eat dog eat dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog!) Dog eat dog eat - dog eat dog!
(Dog eat dog! Dog eat dog!)