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Talking about politics


Business Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 9/2021 vom 25.08.2021

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Tricky translations

Here, we look at words that are difficult to translate because they have several meanings.

How do you say Politik in English?

1. When Politik refers to the ideas and activities related to having power in a country, region or town, it is translated as politics. A Politiker(in) is a politician: Politiker(in) sein ist nicht leicht. Wann haben Sie sich dazu entschieden, in die Politik einzusteigen? , “It’s not easy being a politician. When did you decide to go into politics?”

2. However, when Politik refers to an official decision or course of action, especially when it has been taken by a political party or ...

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... organization, we translate it as or Die neue Regierung wird bestimmt die gleiche Politik verfolgen. , “The new government will no doubt pursue the same policy.”

False friends

Many words in German and English seem similar but have very different meanings.

What’s (Wahl-)Urne in English?

(Wahl-)Urne =ballot box

• Our compu btaelrl soyts btoemx will replace old-fashioned ballot boxes.

It’s not “urn”!

urn = (Grab-)Urne

• Would you keep the ashes of your loved ones in an urn in your home?

an urn in your home?

Jargon buster

Know the jargon, but be careful how you use it, as others may not understand it.

chumocracy

Example: “It was chumocracy pure and simple that got them the government contracts.”

Explanation: In the UK, “chumocracy” is a derogatory term for a political system that is controlled by a group of people who went to the same school (typically a private one) and the same elite universities. They socialize together and they make sure that their friends and families get government positions or lucrative contracts. The word “chum” is an old-fashioned informal term for “friend”.

Essential idioms

Read the two versions of this short dialogue. Then read the idiomatic one again. Can you remember the meanings of the idioms?

First, the idiomatic way Paul: It’s no use burying our heads in the sand. We have to do a U-turn.

Jo: I thought you wanted to take a stand against their policies.

Paul: I do, but we also need to face facts.

Jo: And if you keep flip-flopping on this, they’re going to win by a landslide.

Now, more simply

Paul: It’s pointless ignoring the negative side of things. We have to do the opposite of what we originally planned.

Jo: I thought you wanted to protest against their policies.

Paul: I do, but we also need to accept reality.

Jo: And if you keep changing your opinion on this, they’re going to win this by a huge majority.

Common collocations

Here, we look at some key word partnerships for talking about politics.

Alex Hammond is to enter politics

Deb: Alex is the political heavyweight right now. He’s sure to reshape politics if he’s elected.

Kate: He’s got grassroots politics to thank for his success.

John: And yet, I’ve heard someone is about to drop a political bombshell about him. I think he’s on the brink of losing his political clout.

Deb: Oh, that’s bound to be little more than your average office politics. It won’t change anything.

Grammar point

Generally, we use a future tense to talk about the future, but, depending on the context, we do have other options. We can use be + infinitive, for instance. This structure is often used by journalists:

⋅ Alex Hammond is to enter politics.

⋅ If you are certain that something will happen, use be + sure/ bound to do sth.:

⋅ He’s sure to reshape politics.

⋅ That’s bound to be little more than your average office politics.

When you believe that something is going to happen in the very near future, use be + about to do sth. or be + on the brink of sth./doing sth.:

⋅ Someone is about to drop a political bombshell.

⋅ He’s on the brink of losing his political clout.

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