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Posts from 2019

[The most recent one is at the bottom.]

EXPRESSIONS I REALLY DO WISH I WAS TAUGHT AT SCHOOL

I am a professional translator… how many of those of you who read my blogs actually interact regularly with someone who does what I do? What I really mean by this is, when I’m not doing translation work for clients, I do what I can to establish and reinforce my own credibility as an authority on language, and not just in terms of theory, but in terms of language in reality / actual practice. In my case, when I write these blogs, I don’t really expect to be credited as a fully-fledged professional translator to be taken seriously merely for, for example, being able to explain the pluperfect subjunctive in French, which I had the privilege of being able to learn, even if it were strictly in layman’s terms and I made a point of adopting a humble approach with it.

No, you see: yes, I have some quite clear memories about my school years, and these of course include moments where I truly shone as far as my academic studies were concerned. Back then I certainly acknowledged how my teachers were always impressed by my progress in my foreign languages studies, although I was also frequently commended for what I delivered in the subject of English as well (such as story writing).

Well, I no longer take English lessons at school ever since I pursued higher education and entered the world of work. Many years later… I’m not doing too badly, and, like most people, generally I express myself confidently enough and don’t really think I have a problem of lack of vocabulary by any means, but I am aware that being reminded of that is definitely not the answer to every problem I experience in my life. Try to understand this: what follows is a list of expressions in English I know today but didn’t back then, which I regret; this is because I believe they could have helped me to be… well, smarter and more confident and aware of reality a whole lot earlier in my life had I learned them back then. These include both individual terms and regularly used phrases. For example, the first one indicates humility, does it not?

Even if I do say so myself
Don’t take my word for it
The gloves are off
Straw man argument
In nothing else but name / in name only
The die is cast (and, by association, fait accompli)
Dutch courage (with apologies to brave Dutch people)
Sheeple
Vested interests
“I don’t blame you”
Gaslighting
Spoilers
“I wouldn’t put it past him / her / them”
Provocation, and other permutations of the word
The expression “shit just got real” – hardly the most vulgar use of a swear word
The difference between “shameful” and “shameless”
The actual meaning of the word “empathy”, and how it differs from that of “sympathy”
Useful idiot (and one who is a “useful idiot” is not necessarily someone who has allowed themselves to be used by someone else – and I should have properly understood the expression “to use someone” a lot earlier than I actually did, as well)

And the word “suggest” is not always used in the sense of someone essentially saying “how about this?”, such as I used to be inclined to view it. The facts of a given situation can suggest things, too – which is pretty much the point I have tried to make. This is what is capable of encouraging people to believe things which are not true, nay non-existent, and depending on the particulars of any given case it may prove detrimental. I mean, isn’t this the basis of gaslighting? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQVPmLKOzGI

About the author

I am a self-employed translator with the following language pairs: French to English and German to English. I work from home - I am based in Crowthorne. Berkshire.
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