lingua franca: /ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfræŋkə/ a medium of communication used between people who speak different languages. E.g. English has become a lingua franca in many parts of the world.
global language: a language used all around the world. E.g. English has become a global language.
command of a language: /kəˈmɑːnd/ ability to use a language. E.g. Applicants will be expected to have (a) good command of English.
mind/ watch your language: pay attention to the words that you use (for example, in order not to appear rude). E.g. Watch your language, young man!
language barrier: a breakdown in communication as a result of people not having a common language in which to communicate. The difficulties faced when people who have no language in common attempt to communicate with each other. E.g. Investigators faced a language barrier because the husband and wife only spoke Cantonese. The couple then went to a local French hospital, but the language barrier proved a slight problem.
dead language: a language which is no longer in use, for example Latin or ancient Greek. E.g. Latin is a dead language
official language: the language which is used for official (e.g. legal) purposes in a country. E.g. English and French are the official languages of Canada.
everyday language: the language used to communicate on a day-to-day basis. E.g. The national language of Ireland is 'gaeilge' (Gaelic or Irish), but English is the everyday language.
(not) get a word in edgeways (not) to be able to say anything because somebody else is speaking too much. E.g. When Mary starts talking, no one else can get a word in edgeways.
to the point expressed in a simple, clear way without any extra information or feelings. Pertinent. Relevant. E.g. The letter was short and to the point. His evidence was brief and to the point. Please get to the point of all this. Will you kindly get to the point? (get to the important part)
cross purposes: /ˌkrɒs ˈpɜːpəsɪz/ if two people are at cross purposes, they do not understand each other because they are talking about or aiming at different things, without realizing it. E.g. I think we're talking at cross purposes; that's not what I meant at all. I think we're/they're at cross-purposes (Sp. creo que estamos/están hablando de cosas distintas). We seem to be talking at cross-purposes (Sp. esto parece un diálogo de sordos)
catch something to hear or understand something. E.g. Sorry, I didn't quite catch what you said.
talking-to: a serious talk with somebody who has done something wrong. E.g. to give somebody a good talking-to. They gave Peter a talking-to about solving problems with words, not fists.
But the boss gave us a real talking-to at half time and we came out with more aggression for the second half.
talk shop (usually disapproving) to talk about your work with the people you work with, especially when you are also with other people who are not connected with or interested in it. E.g. Whenever we meet up with Clive and Sue they always end up talking shop. He and his fellow workers would incessantly talk shop in the village pub.
shop talk (N) talk about your work or your business. E.g. When I was a kid I loved listening to all the shop talk around the breakfast table and dinner table.
run something by (someone) (again) to explain something to someone again; to say something to someone again. E.g. I didn't hear you. Please run that by me again. Please run it by so we can all hear it.
can't make head nor tail of something to be unable to understand something. E.g. I couldn't make head nor tail of what he was saying.
understatement /ˈʌndəsteɪtmənt/ a statement that makes something seem less important, impressive, serious, etc. than it really is. E.g. To say we were pleased is an understatement (= we were extremely pleased).‘These figures are a bit disappointing.’ ‘That's got to be the understatement of the year.’ To say I'm disappointed is an understatement (Sp. decir que estoy desilusionado es quedarse corto)
to say the least without exaggerating at all (implying the reality is more extreme, usually worse). To put it mildly. At the very least. E.g. I was surprised, to say the least. His performance was disappointing to say the least.
get (hold of) the wrong end of the stick (British English, informal) to understand something in the wrong way. To misunderstand something. E.g. The game was probably the most sensitive treatment and realistic treatment of battle displayed in a video game at that point, so obviously, the media got the wrong end of the stick.
1 They discuss the evolution of English, and how it might change in the future.
1) the fact that far more people speak English as a second language than a first
2) the influence of computers and automatic translators
3 Changes in pronunciation and vocabulary
outweigh something: /ˌaʊtˈweɪ/ to be greater or more important than something. E.g. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. The risks are vastly outweighed by the potential benefits.
swell, swelled, swollen (or swell, swelled, swelled): to increase or make something increase in number or size. E.g. swell something (to something) Last year's profits were swelled by a fall in production costs. Crowds of commuters were swelled by Christmas shoppers. We are looking for more volunteers to swell the ranks(= increase the number. Sp. engrosar las filas) of those already helping. Swell (to something) Membership has swelled to over 20000. (as adjective swelling) the swelling ranks of Irish singer-songwriters.
Fry's English Delight is a BBC radio documentary which looks at various aspects of the English language. It is presented by Stephen Fry, an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and language enthusiast. He is best known as a comedy actor and as the reader for the Harry Potter audio books.
Professor David Crystal is a linguist, academic and author. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the English language, and has been involved with over 120 books on language.
David Crystal at the 2011 EOI Conference in Madrid
Culture and identity: different countries have adapted English to express their own culture and identity.
New Englishes: there are now many different types of English. for example Nigerian English. Ghanaian English, Singaporian English, etc ..
Local languages/local brands of English: when English is adopted by people, it changes according to how they use it, for example to describe local places and things that are important to them (it becomes their own local brand of English).
English as a mother tongue: there are about 400 million people for whom English is their mother tongue.
English as a second or foreign language: there are 2 billion people who speak English as a second or foreign language (five times more than the number of people who speak it as their mother tongue)
4 English has been adopted by more than 70 countries around the world.
6 Around the world, one third of the population speaks English as a second or foreign language.
migratory /ˈmaɪɡrətri/ /maɪˈɡreɪtəri/ connected with, or having the habit of, regular migration
migratory flights/ birds.
suit: /suːt/ to be convenient or useful for somebody. E.g. suit somebody/something Choose a computer to suit your particular needs. If we met at 2, would that suit you? If you want to go by bus, that suits me fine. He can be very helpful, but only when it suits him. It suits somebody to do something It suits me to start work at a later time.
make up something to combine together to form something larger. E.g. Women make up 40 per cent of the workforce. This book is made up of twelve separate short stories.
take something up: to accept something that is offered or available. E.g. to take up a challenge. She took up his offer of a drink.
shift: to move, or move something, from one position or place to another. E.g. Lydia shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The action of the novel shifts from Paris to London.