Idioms in the Business World
Do you understand the meaning of the italicized idioms in the following scenario?
An American law firm has just been notified that a deal it was negotiating with a large German drug manufacturer on behalf of one of its biggest clients, a famous American pharmaceutical, fell through. A meeting is called, and the legal team working on this deal gives a briefing on their negotiations with the Germans.
The senior partner sits up straight, looks everybody in the eye and says:
"We need to get to the bottom of this. Why did the deal fall through? Let's go back to the drawing board. In a nutshell, I want another proposal to take to the Germans. I want it with all the kinks ironed out, and I know all of you, when you put your heads together, can pull it off. So let's get to work."
Learning Idioms is as important as learning vocabulary
If you are not an American speaker, you would have a lot of trouble understanding the meanings of the idioms in the above scenario. In order to understand a language, you must know the meaning of the idioms in that language. Students of English must learn its idioms and expressions the way they learn its other vocabulary.
In today's global business world, where English is the lingua franca, you are likely to come across hundreds of idioms. Idioms are everywhere and are often confusing because the meaning of the words in the idiomatic expression has little and often nothing to do with the literal meaning of the words. For example, the idiom mentioned above, pull it off, does not mean 'take it off' or 'remove it'. Rather, when you pull something off, you are accomplishing a difficult task or are successfully doing something difficult. If you try to figure out the meaning of an idiom word for word, you will be stumped. You need to know its hidden meaning.
Idiom flash cards
Here's a technique that will help you learn a few new idioms every week. On the front of a small index card, write the new idiom. On the back of the card, on the upper left hand corner, write the definition of the idiom; in the middle of the card, write a sentence using the idiom. Use one index card for each new idiomatic expression. Try to learn 10—12 new idioms a week. The cards are portable and will enable you to review the new idioms every free chance you have. Remember, the more you review, the more likely you are to store your new idioms in your long term memory.