Words making the headlines – lose your job

P45
You receive a P45 document from the tax office in the UK when you leave your job

This week the Bank of England forecast that 75,000 people working in the banking sector in the UK could lose their jobs. This is because many financial services companies are making plans to leave London to avoid the impact of Brexit.

Lose your job is just one of the many ways of saying that a company has stopped employing you. If a company decides they don’t need you any more, they make you redundant, lay you off or let you go.

Grammar is important here. If we focus on the actions of the company, we use the active voice:

“The bank made 2,500 people redundant when it closed its High Street branches.”

If we focus on the person affected, we use the passive voice:

“I was laid off by the insurance company at the start of the year.”

We use a different set of words if you lose your job because of something you did. For example, if you broke the company rules or broke the law. The formal word is dismiss. However, there are lots of slang terms: fire, sack, get the sack, get given your marching orders.1

So, the company report might say:

“Barry Johnson was dismissed for stealing from the Production Department.”

But Barry would probably say:

“I was fired for nicking2 stuff from work.”

Nobody likes to be made redundant and we all hope we’ll never get the sack. However, there’s one day many of us will welcome. That’s the day when we reach the age that we can retire and don’t have to go to work anymore.


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1
In the US they also say terminate. However, in the UK this word makes us think of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film so we associate it with something much worse than losing your job.

2
To nick is a British slang term which means to steal something.


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Words making the headlines – test yourself

In Words making the headlines last week, we focused on the word deal.

This week you can test yourself. How well do you know the words that go together with deal?

Read and listen to the text again then try the exercises.

Words making the headlines – deal

Signing a dealAll across Europe, people, companies and governments are trying to make deals with each other. The British government wants to get a deal on Brexit so that it can then negotiate trade deals with other countries. Taxi company Uber is hoping to strike a deal with the transport authorities in London over its licence to operate in that city. French public sector trade unions want to cut a deal with President Macron over budget cuts. In Germany, newly re-elected Chancellor Merkel is working hard to close a deal with possible coalition partners.

Of course, everybody wants to get a good deal. Prime Minister May is worried that the UK may not get a fair deal from the European Union. She is even making plans for a no deal Brexit in case any deal with the EU falls through. Many people in Catalonia think they get such a rough deal from the government of Spain that they want the region to declare independence.

Across the Atlantic, however, the author of a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ is not interested in doing deals. President Trump says he wants the USA to back out of the deal to address climate change made in Paris last year. At the same time, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to discuss a deal with the leadership of North Korea to avoid military conflict.

Mr Trump, famously, is not an easy man to deal with. Try to remember that next time you’re finding it difficult to make a deal with a customer or colleague.


Exercises

Exercise A

Read and listen to the text and then answer the questions.

1. What three expressions can you find in the text which mean ‘make a deal’?

2. What expression in the text means the opposite of ‘a good deal’?

3. What expression can we use when a deal is unsuccessful or does not happen?

4. What expression in the text means to change your mind after you have agreed a deal?

Exercise B

Now use the expressions in the box to complete the sentences.

fair deal cut a deal fell through backed out of the deal
close the deal rough deal deal with

 

1. Although they have not announced an agreement, negotiators from both sides are working hard to ____________________ before Friday’s deadline.

2. The young entrepreneur is hoping to ____________________ with financiers which will enable him to start production of his latest invention.

3. A recent report claimed that budget airlines were giving passengers a ____________________ by charging extra for services such as hold luggage, meals and seat selection.

4. Strepco and Matrite had agreed on a merger but the deal ____________________ when the two sides failed to agree on the members of the new Board.

5. The company said it would refuse to ____________________ unelected union representatives.

6. United had agreed to buy City’s goalkeeper for an undisclosed sum, but ____________________ at the last minute.

7. Consumer rights groups said payday loan companies were taking advantage of customers, and new lending regulations were needed to help customers get a ____________________ on short-term loans.

 


Answers

Exercise A

1. strike a deal, cut a deal, negotiate a deal

2.  a rough deal

3.  to fall through

4.  back out on a deal

Exercise B

1. close the deal

2. cut a deal

3. rough deal

4. fell through

5. deal with

6. backed out

7. fair deal


How many did you get correct? Make a note of the vocabulary that is useful for your job and use it when you speak and write in English.

Text and picture by Barney

Exercises by Joy

 

Do you need to expand your English vocabulary? Contact us to talk about it.

 

Words making the headlines – deal

Signing a deal All across Europe, people, companies and governments are trying to make deals with each other. The British government wants to get a deal on Brexit so that it can then negotiate trade deals with other countries. Taxi company Uber is hoping to strike a deal with the transport authorities in London over its licence to operate in that city. French public sector trade unions want to cut a deal with President Macron over budget cuts. In Germany, newly re-elected Chancellor Merkel is working hard to close a deal with possible coalition partners.

Of course, everybody wants to get a good deal. Prime Minister May is worried that the UK may not get a fair deal from the European Union. She is even making plans for a no deal Brexit in case any deal with the EU falls through. Many people in Catalonia think they get such a rough deal from the government of Spain that they want the region to declare independence.

Across the Atlantic, however, the author of a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ is not interested in doing deals. President Trump says he wants the USA to back out of the deal to address climate change made in Paris last year. At the same time, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to discuss a deal with the leadership of North Korea to avoid military conflict.

Mr Trump, famously, is not an easy man to deal with. Try to remember that next time you’re finding it difficult to make a deal with a customer or colleague.


Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.

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Read about deal in the dictionary.

deal (noun)

deal (verb)


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Words making the headlines – green

Trees - photo by Barney BarrettWhen is a colour not a colour? Well, when the word green appears in a new headline, it’s rarely referring to the hue of something. It that case, green means a set of beliefs or a political movement or a lifestyle.

Green, of course, is shorthand for anything to do with the natural environment and protecting that environment from damage by human activity.

Many countries have a Green Party. The members of those parties are often referred to as Greens. However, they are not the only ones who are concerned with green issues such as reducing pollution or protecting biodiversity. People who fight for these things outside traditional political systems are called green campaigners or green activists.

All of these groups campaign for the wider use of green technology which uses renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun to generate green electricity. These kinds of projects are often paid for with green investment from green banks.

Other campaigns are for people to adopt green living. There is disagreement about what this means. For some people it’s about sorting their recycling and buying local produce. For others it extends to giving up flying and becoming vegetarian or even vegan.

"Green" carMany companies are now competing for the green dollar. They do this by marketing consumer products that they claim are better for the environment that other, similar products. However, these companies are also accused of greenwashing: making exaggerated claims that their products are more environmentally-friendly than they really are.

All of this doesn’t answer the big question of whether a consumer culture can be truly green. At the end of the day, given the choice of several “environmentally-friendly”, luxury products, the greenest option is to buy none of them.


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Words making the headlines – trade

Shipping container - tradeThe world economy relies on trade in goods and services between countries. This is nothing new. It’s been happening for most of human history. We don’t find it unusual that our local shops sell products from every part of the globe, or that our High Street bank* has its headquarters on the other side of the world.

The word ‘trade’ is in the headlines a lot at the moment because several major international trading partners are reconsidering their relationships with each other.

The most famous, of course, is Brexit: the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Trade talks are one of the biggest parts of the Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU. At the moment, the UK is still part of the European Union. This means UK-based companies benefit from trade agreements the EU has with countries like Japan, Canada and other trade blocs such as Mercosur in South America. However, UK government ministers say they want the freedom to make their own trade deals with these countries. They claim that membership of the EU involves too many trade restrictions. The UK’s trade figures show it has a deficit with many countries: imports are worth more than exports. Supporters of Brexit believe that leaving the EU will allow the UK to convert those trade deficits into trade surpluses.

The president of the USA also talks a lot about free trade. However, he also threatens to use international trade as a weapon. Since his election, there have been regular headlines about trade disputes with Canada and rumours of a trade war between the USA and China, its biggest trading partner.

Of course, history shows us that all these countries and blocs will continue to trade with each other. However, it looks like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – the organisation responsible for adjudicating on international trade disputes – is going to be very busy for the next few years.


* a bank which (in the UK) provides services to individuals as well as companies and has many local offices

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Words making the headlines – gig economy

DeliverooWhen the business and finance sections of British newspapers are not expressing concerns about Brexit, they’re discussing the gig economy.

So, what is the gig economy? Let’s start by looking at the meaning of gig. For about 100 years, a gig was a single performance by a musician or group of musicians. For example,

Did you get tickets for the Ed Sheeran gig at the O2 Arena?

We’re playing a gig at the Rose and Crown* tomorrow. Tell your friends.

In the last few years, the word gig has been adopted by freelance workers. They used it to describe a single job for a client.

I’ve got a 2-week gig consulting in Dubai for IST Engineering.

So, a gig is a single event or piece of work. The gig economy refers to companies who employ and pay people on the basis of individual jobs.The most famous examples are the taxi firm Uber and the food delivery company Deliveroo.

Why is the phrase gig economy in the headlines?

This is because of the controversy about the status of people who work for companies like Uber and Deliveroo. At the moment, the people who drive the taxis or deliver the food are classified as freelancers or independent contractors.  The companies say that these people benefit from the flexibility of this arrangement. They can work as much or as little as they want.

The workers see the situation differently. Many of them rely on these companies for most of their income but they only get paid when the companies give them a gig. When the workers divide the amount of money they earn by the number of hours they’re available for work, they say that they earn less than the minimum wage.

It’s not only the money. An employee with a traditional contract has legal benefits. For example,

Paid holidays – This is when you’re guaranteed holiday time while still receiving your salary.

Sick leave – This is when you continue to receive your salary for a period of time while you’re unable to work because of your health.

Maternity and Paternity leave – This is when you receive your salary while you’re away from work after you have a baby (maternity leave) or your partner has had a baby (paternity leave).

Gig economy workers don’t receive these benefits because they are classified as independent contractors. They argue that covering the costs of these things pushes their calculated hourly-rate even lower while the company they work for has higher profits because they don’t have pay for these benefits.

The British government has just published a long report on the future of work in the UK. One section of the report is about the gig economy.

What makes so many people nervous is that many of the companies that benefit from the gig economy are the technology companies that are changing the world in so many ways. What about your job? Do you think you’ll have to become a gig worker in the future?

*Rose and Crown is a very common pub name in the UK.

 

If you would like to suggest a word from the news for future blog posts, please use the comment box.


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Words making the headlines – Fake news

Fake News!

The phrase ‘fake news’ started to appear in news headlines last year and has now entered the dictionary. Here’s the definition from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Fake news is:

“false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”

The term fake news is used a lot by some politicians. When they say that a news report is fake news, they mean it contradicts their beliefs and so they don’t want other people to believe it. They have a different view of the situation and want to promote that view. Instead of giving evidence to support their view, the politicians try to discredit  the original new report by calling it fake news. Very often, it isn’t important to these politicians whether the news is true or not.

When a politician claims something is fake news they rarely criticise the content of the news report directly. Their aim is to call the writer and publisher of the report a fake. In other words, they’re calling them a liar. Of course, this is also an attack on anybody who accepts the truth of the original news report. The implication is they are stupid to believe it and, therefore, those who don’t, such as the politician and his supporters, are more intelligent.

Although fake news is a fixed phrase it’s not the only word that we use when we talk about attempts to deceive people. There are words such as false, forged, counterfeit, and fraudulent. For example,

The document had a forged signature at the bottom.

Last week I found a counterfeit pound coin in my wallet.

He was arrested for submitting a fraudulent tax return.

We can also use the words fake and false to describe these situations.

He made a false claim that it was his signature.

The pound coin was a fake.

The tax return contained false information.

While we’re taking about words that mean fake, let’s look at some words that mean the opposite such as true, real, genuine and authentic. For example,

Read the article then decide if each of these statements is true or false.

I prefer documentaries to dramas. I like to hear the stories of real people.

The art expert declared that the painting was a genuine Rembrandt.

There’s a new restaurant in the High Street. They serve authentic Malaysian food.

So, what’s the opposite of fake news? It’s just news, of course.

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By Barney