Sunday, July 15, 2012

41. Turning over a New Leaf

Daniel MasterMan:
Ghost plane bound for The
British Isles
Let’s make a deal you and I: remember that you – and I – can choose to do or not to do something. But what’s the use of sitting on the fence (i.e., doing nothing) when in fact it all comes down to living our own life?

Yes, I know, it’s holiday time – a reasonable reason to refer to it, even if it has to do with work, and not necessarily with travelling for pleasure. Even so, there’s a place for what has been – and might still be – a style in setting rules for those who pack and board a plane, or get on a train: when in Rome, do what the Romans do, the saying goes. So there it goes:  

A WALK IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

[adapted from Headway Intermediate by John & Liz Soars]

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Travelling to all corners of the world gets easier and easier. We live in a global village, but how well do we know and understand each other? Here is a simple test. Imagine you have arranged a meeting at four o’clock. What time should you expect your foreign business colleagues to arrive? If they're German, they'll be bang on time. If they're American, they'll probably be 15 minutes early. If they're British, they'll be 15 minutes late, and you should allow up to an hour for the Italians.

When the European Union began to increase in size, several guidebooks appeared giving advice on international etiquette. At first many people thought this was a joke, especially the British, who seemed to assume that the widespread understanding of their language meant a corresponding understanding of English customs. Very soon they had to change their ideas, as they realized that they had a lot to learn about how to behave with their foreign business friends.

Google Images
Google Images
These cultural challenges exist side by side with the problems of doing business in a foreign language. Language, of course, is full of difficulties - disaster may be only a syllable away. But the more you know of the culture of the country you are dealing with, the less likely you are to get into difficulties. It is worth the effort. It might be rather hard to explain that the reason you lost the contract was not the product or the price, but the fact that you offended your hosts in a light-hearted comment over an aperitif. Good manners are admired: they can also make or break the deal.

1. Which of the ideas in the text above do you disagree with?
2. How much do you think international business is improved by knowing about foreign people's customs?
3. Do you know how to be "a foreigner?"

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Structure: What do you mean?

Language is full of difficulties - a sentence in the text above said disaster may be one syllable away. Apart from lots of "false friends", there are structures in English which may mean different things, depending on the verb form they take.

Put the verbs in brackets into the Gerund or the Infinitive.
1. On the way to London, he stopped (get) some petrol.
2. I’m so sorry I forgot (send) you a birthday card.
3. I hope you will remember (do) all these things I have asked you.
4. Why don’t you try (open) the tin with a coin?
Daniel MasterMan:
Linguistics in the Making
5. I’m sure he’s a doctor. I remember (talk) to him about his work the other day.
6. He always regretted not (go) to university.
7. I regret (say) that I won’t be able to come to the wedding.
8. I like (go) to the dentist for regular check-ups.

Look at these situations and decide:
•   WHO would you speak to in each case to get the information you require?
•   What EXACTLY would you say in each situation?
Look at the phrases in the speech balloon below for some ideas.

1   You've heard that flight BZ 431 is delayed.
2   You want a rail ticket to Manchester.
3   You want to reconfirm your seat on flight TR 998.
4   You want a plane ticket to Bangkok.
5   You're in a hurry to get to the airport.
6   You've arrived at the airport 3 hours before your flight.
7   You have 3 minutes before your train leaves.
8   You've heard that the 17.55 train has been cancelled.
] 
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I'd like to reserve a seat on flight number GJ 414 to Toronto. --- I'd like to change/reconfirm my reservation on flight number AR 770 on the 16th of this month. --- One business class/economy class return/single to Melbourne, please. --- Which platform/track/gate does the 13.40 to Glasgow leave from? Can you tell me what time flight number SQ 060 is due to arrive/depart?