Don’t speak English like a robot

(Level A2+)

Some French speakers who speak English as a second or third language have adopted a robotic style of English. This is not their fault. It’s the way English has been taught.
If I ask a student: How are you? I know 90% will respond with this robotic reply: Fine and you?
Robotic or automatic answers lack warmth and charm.
There are many other ways to respond to this everyday question that are friendlier and much more charming and inviting.
Here are a few examples:
I’m fine thank you. And you? (pause) How are you?
Fine thanks. And you? Busy?

Great! Thanks. (pause) How about you?
Not too bad thanks. How are things with you?
I’m well thank you. How are you? How was your weekend?

Advice: Change your response to the question How are you? and you might find that conversations start to blossom. How are you? is often the entry point into a conversation. Respond in a friendly open manner and show your interest in the other person and you never know where it will go from there…

 

Have a good day

An expression that is terribly overused is Have a good day.  This is the favorite phrase of customer service employees. It now can be found in every customer service manual on planet Earth. For many customer service employees it is compulsory to end a conversation with this phrase. Yuck! Berk! I am personally sick to death of it.

Advice: Instead of saying Have a good day try one of these phrases if applicable…  Enjoy your day or Thank you for your time.

 

C’est pas vraiment parfait

The French expression: C’est parfait! or simply Parfait! is used to positively agree with the speaker. But does it work in English? Can you say That’s perfect! or Perfect! to indicate you agree or are happy with what is being said?
Yes, you can. But, not all the time! It is better to reply: Great! Excellent! Very good!  Good or even Terrific! if you are very happy with what you hear. A simple Okay is enough to tell the speaker that you are in agreement with what he or she is saying.

Advice: Don’t overuse That’s perfect! You can say: Great! Excellent! Very good! or simply Thanks or Thank you or even just a simple Okay is fine.

But you can say: The car is in perfect condition. She speaks perfect English. The weather was perfect. It is a perfect day for a picnic. The instructions were perfectly clear.

And finally remember: No-one is perfect. Definitely not your English teacher.

Questions and feedback: director@tlh.ch

Photo: Upsplash

FML! Let’s clean the toilet

Cleaning your apartment is no LOL (Laugh Out Loud) activity. Kneeling in the bathtub, scrubbing pesky dirt rings is more of a FML (Fuck My Life) experience.

No-one knows this better than the global giant of cleaning products, Procter & Gamble. The multi-national has applied in the USA to patent four textspeak expressions – WTF (What The Fuck), LOL (Laugh Out Loud), NBD (No Big Deal) and, wait-for-it, FML (Fuck My Life) – for use in their niche markets of soaps, detergents, cleaners and air fresheners.

OMG! FFS! you might say.

Procter and Gamble (P&G) wants to share the angst of younger floor-polish-carrying consumers and mop-up their dollars.

It’s not such a gamble. P&G has already given us Mr Clean, (you may know him as Monsieur Propre), the sexy gay and straight icon of sparkly floors and benchtops and the follically-challenged.  He’s made cleaning sexy (well, that’s probably a wee exaggeration). He’s also an international brand monster, so lithe and lily-white, that he appeared during the Super Bowls telecast last year.

 

 

At this stage the applications have not yet been approved. Media reports say the trademark office has requested clarification and P&G has until January to respond.

But can a company or entity own our common expressions? Surely language is free and belongs to us all?

Well, yes and no. Celebrity Paris Hilton was able to trademark the expression “that’s hot”.

Welsh footballer Gareth Bale successfully trademarked a heart symbol he made each time he scored.

The singer Taylor Swift trademarked various lyrics from the album 1989, including “this sick beat”.

But many attempts have failed. WTF has attracted more than 100 unsuccessful patent applications.

Companies, like P&G, seek the exclusivity to use a phrase or a word only in connection with a certain product, in this case dish-washing liquids, air fresheners and all-surface cleaners. Similarly, Gareth Bale’s trademark heart celebration can only be used for his clothing, footwear and headgear.

P&G’s plans for new consumer speak is part of a major shakeup of the 180-year-old-company. Last year the hedge fund Trian Partners bought a $3.5 billion stake in the company and then secured a seat on the board for its head Nelson Peltz who has been critical of the company’s old-style culture.

If they do succeed in launching ‘FML! but my bath is clean’, sales in the younger demography might go up. Twitter will definitely light up and expressions like WTF will be disinfected and purged of any questionable cultural value.

(Mind you, my 16-year-old son described LOL and WTF as old-fashioned).

The company certainly has the muscle to clean up big-time. P&G spent more than $7 billion worldwide on advertising during the fiscal year 2016/2017.

If the mammoths have their way, we will be all popping our dentures into a glass of WTF (White Teeth Forever) on the bedside table and having a sly old toothless chuckle as we slip on our pyjamas.

Yes. It all sounds a little OTT.

 

I look forward to hearing from you

I look forward to hearing from you.

(Level B1+)

This is a golden expression that can be used in both written and spoken English.

When I tell a French-speaking client that I will contact them in the next few days with a proposal, he or she often replies: Perfect! I am waiting for your call.

J’attends votre appel is a popular French expression. The English translation is:  I am waiting for your call.  It sounds a little strange to a native English speaker.  It conjures an image of you sitting next to the phone, patiently twiddling your thumbs while you wait for my call.

I am waiting for your call is loaded with urgency and a lack of patience.

A much better response is: I look forward to hearing from you.

This is a classic polite phrase that can be used both in spoken and written English in a variety of formal and semi-formal situations. 

 I look forward to hearing from you

I look forward to meeting you 

I look forward to seeing you

I look forward to receiving your proposal

You can also say:

I am looking forward to my holiday in Australia.

I am not looking forward to my exams.

I am looking forward to seeing him again.

In a formal email you might write:

Dear Ms Winters

Thank you for your time today. Please find attached a proposal based on our discussions. I look forward to hearing from you. Please call me if you have any questions.

Dear Mr Best

I confirm our meeting for Wednesday at 12. I look forward to meeting you.

In a less formal email you might write:

Dear John

Thanks again for the information. I  am looking forward to seeing you at the sales meeting next month.

Dear Michaela

There are still a few problems with the annual report. Can you please check it and send me your thoughts ASAP. I look forward to receiving your feedback.

Advice: I look forward to is a phrase to learn and use

Feedback: I look forward to receiving your feedback and questions. Please send your questions and feedback to:  director@tlh.ch

I look forward to hearing from you.