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English phrases and their translations


Hi everyone, as this community is so large I wondered if anyone had any experience of designing training solutions for employees in other parts of the world.

I'm looking for any guidance or suggestions for call centre agents off shore dealing with calls from the UK.  Specifically this would focus on the language differences and how we use common words or phrases which can be difficult to translate e.g. moving digs (as in moving house), split up (as in a relationship has ended), pulling your leg (having a joke).

Our language is so diverse and often words and phrases do not mean their literal translation therefore it can be very challenging for someone who is not familiar with them.

Any guidance or suggestions for materials or approaches to this challenge would be appreciated.

Thanks everyone.

4 Responses

  1. serendipity

    I just came across this, yes it is a "joke", but I think it may help you in your quest!

    English is not the only language to have idiosyncracies like this (it has MORE) but it is not alone, in French if someone is refered to as having the melon it means that they are cocksure… German to say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the trunk it means "like father, like son".

    A lady called Sally Fagan runs training for presenters presenting to multinational audiences so she might be able to help you but your issue is training the audiences so short of teaching them all the idoioms the best bet is asking them to be honest when they don’t understand and ask for an explanation




  2. Phrase Finder to the Rescue!

    I am an American dating a Brit, and while we are supposedly speaking the same language, we often have to stop the conversation mid-sentence to clarify something the other does not understand. 

    I was very happy to find this resource:

    With it, I am able to quickly look up the confusing phrase (e.g., "take the mickey") to find out what I am being accused of!

    Hopefully it will also be helpful to you in developing training materials, or at least be a resource for your off-shore staff.

    Best wishes,


  3. nice one Garry, but……

    …it was a pity that she didn’t explain that whilst "give me a hand" means "help me",  "give me a big hand" doesn’t mean "help me a lot"!

    Rus Slater

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