So let me start by clearly saying that the bullet is through the church on this one even though I think we’ve probably made some milkmaid calculations to get there. That being said, I just don’t want to keep father happy anymore.
If you didn’t understand anything I just wrote, don’t worry about it. I didn’t understand anything I just wrote either. Why not start this article with something a little different than the usual desire to sound important and intelligent? I’m taking a bold leap of faith and starting off by just sounding plain incomprehensible.
Actually, though, the three expressions that I just used that may have sounded like total gibberish – especially when used together – are actually commonly used business buzzword expressions in Belgium, Germany, and Indonesia respectively.
For those of you who read my articles, you know that I periodically take a pause from writing about what I think are hopefully important topics to just have a good time at the expense of all of us (myself included) who have made the business world our chosen professions.
One consistent topic I’ve poked a little fun at is business buzzwords. I’ve been on a bit of a self-imposed mission to eradicate the business world of ridiculous buzzwords. I’ve taken many opportunities to highlight the worst of the worst, developed a ridiculous quiz to help people identify if they were buzzword abusers, wrote a book about it, and even tried to write an entire article using nothing but buzzwords to try to get the attention of buzzword abusers.
Despite my best efforts, let’s just say that I’m not winning the war. We all still use business buzzwords, and the other day I had an out of body experience when I actually told some people that I would “bake them into the process.”
If You Can’t Beat Them, Go Global
If I wasn’t already troubled with our heavy overuse of nonsensical terminology in Corporate America, I recently had a conversation with the U.S. CEO of Babbel – Julie Hansen – about global idioms and buzzwords. For those who may not be familiar with Babbel, it is fundamentally a language learning platform and is a company of linguists and knowledgeable language experts who, among other things, help educate us about communication and language.
As such, they are remarkably connected to all of the localized buzzwords in lots of different countries around the world. They recently worked with 10 international Chambers of Commerce in the U.S. to identify some of the most interesting (or unique depending on the terminology you’d like to apply to them) business expressions in various locales.
And whereas these might sound downright bizarre, they also might just be important to know if you do business in these areas because they represent local shorthand, if you will. By knowing the expression, you have a better sense of the nuanced language and might just be more successful doing business there. (Did I really actually just say something positive about business buzzwords? I think it is time to call my therapist again).
And so here they are – my new favorite global buzzword expressions you never thought you’d need to know from a few countries you just might be doing business with in Europe. Feel free to start using them:
Phrase: Glida in på en räkmacka
Literal translation: “Sliding in on a shrimp sandwich”
Doesn’t Mean: A new way for your children to play with their food
Actual Meaning: To have things easy; to succeed without having to work hard
Phrase: “Co ma piernik do wiatraka?”
Literal translation: “What does gingerbread have to do with a windmill?”
Doesn’t Mean: No comment
Actual Meaning: What does one task have to do with another?
Phrase: “Det gikk litt fort i svingene”
Literal translation: “The speed was too high in the turns”
Doesn’t Mean: We’re doing a Go-Kart racing teambuilding this afternoon
Actual Meaning: Making mistakes by rushing to get a task done
Phrase: “Jetzt’s geht’s um die Wurst!”
Literal Translation: “Now it is about the sausage!”
Doesn’t Mean: Anything about sausage
Actual Meaning: The final stages of a project/the moment when it counts
5. French-American Chamber of Commerce
Phrase: Avoir du pain sur la planche
Translation: “To have bread on the cutting board”
Doesn’t Mean: We’re cooking instead of working this afternoon
Actual Meaning: We’ve got work to do
I might just be back with some additional unique global business expressions that span South America and Indonesia in a future post. Until then, I don’t want to hear about anyone sliding in on a shrimp sandwich.