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[Report] SENEWS-2007-12-30 Report

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Home Work

I am Susan Clock with the Special English program-Words and Their Stories.

A woman from Japan was telling a friend about her trip to the United States. The woman had visited major businesses and investment companies in New York city and Chicago. "I started English before I left home," she said, "but I still was not sure that people were speaking English."

Her problem is easy to understand. Americans in business are like people who are in business anywhere. They have a language of their own. Some of the words and expressions deal with the special areas of their work. Other expressions are borrowed from different kinds of work, such as the theater and movie industry.

One such thing is "Get you act together." When things go wrong in the business, and employer may get angry, he may shout:" Stop making mistakes! Get your act together!" Or if the employer is commer, he may say:" Let us get our act together."

Either way, the meaning is the thing. Getting your act together is getting organized. In business, it usually means to develop a common and orderly plan of action.
It is different to tell exactly where the saying began, but it is probable that it was in the theater or movie industry. Perhaps one of the actors was nervous and made a lot of mistakes. The director may have said:" Clam down now! Get your act together."

Word expert James Roger says the expression was common by the later nineteen seventies. Mr. Roger says the Manchester Guarding Newspaper use it in 1980. The newspaper said a reform policy required that the British government "get its act together".

Now this expression is heard often when official of the company need. One company even called it yearly report "getting our act together".

The Japanese visitor was confused by other expression used by an American business people. It is "Cut to the chase". She heard that expression when she attended an important meeting of one company. One official was giving a very long report. It was not very interesting. In fact, some people at the meeting were fallen asleep. Finally, the president of the company said:" Cut to the chase." "Cut to the chase" means to stop spending so much time on details on unimportant material. Hurry, and get to the good part.

Naturally, these saying were started by people who make movies. Hollywood movie producers believed that most of the Americans want to see action movies. Many of their movies show things in which the actors chase each other in cars, or airplane or on foot. Cut is the director's word for stop. The director means to stop filming, leave out some material and get to the chase thing now.

So if your employer tells you to cut to the chase, be sure to get to the main point of your story quickly.

This Words and Their Stories program was written by Jerry Watson. I'm Susan Clock.
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