Des’ree Teaches Some Business English
Here is all of the vocabulary you will need to understand this song. There are several useful business phrases. Read all lyrics here.
Unfold: Origami is the ancient Japanese art of “folding” paper to create figures. Of course, “unfold” is the opposite of fold. When you open an envelope, you usually unfold the letter inside. “Unfold” also often means develop or progress.
ex: Let’s see how the economic crisis unfolds (progresses/ develops/ turns out).
To Challenge: “To challenge” is to question strongly or rebel against. “A challenge” is something that is difficult to do (maybe a problem) – it often has a more positive meaning. For this reason, it is popular in business English. In the business world they don’t talk about “problems”- that sounds pessimistic; they talk about “challenges” – it sounds more optimistic.
To Hold: This often means to have in your hand. You hold your cell phone or a pen. “Hold” also has more abstract meanings related to “have”. In the business world, we also “hold” (have) meetings, for example. Another common expression is “What does your future hold (have)”, which means “What will happen in your future?”
Tears: These are the drops of water that come out of your eyes when you are experiencing extreme emotions like happiness or sadness. Notice that “tear” rhymes with (sounds like) “fear”. This is important to remember because if you pronounce it incorrectly it changes into another word. “Tear” (which rhymes with “fear”) and “tear” (which rhymes with “hair” or “air”) have the same spelling, but are very different. Tear (which rhymes with “hair” or “air”) means to “break” or “pull apart” usually fabric or paper. “Break” on the other hand is the destruction of solids.
To stand: Often this is the opposite of sit; it is a synonym for “on your feet”. But we also use it in the expression “to take a stand” which means to express your opinion publicly, for example, “to take a stand on war” would be to express an opinion on war publicly. In this song, the phrase would likely mean don’t be timid in life – say what you think.
Gotta: This is a slang word (street English) for “you have got to be” or “you have to be”. It is very common, but not appropriate for business English.
ex: “You gotta try this restaurant – it’s great!”
Bad: “Bad” isn’t always the opposite of good. In slang English it can have many meanings like: tough (strong) or cool. Strangely, it is often a compliment (nice thing to say). You only know the meaning by context.
ex: Michael Phelps is so bad – he won 9 gold medals. (Here it means good or excellent)
ex: Many parents think Michael Phelps is bad because he smokes pot (marijuana). (Here it means the opposite of “good”)
Bold: This often means assertive or brave. It is also used business English when the letters are darker and thicker, for example, this sentence is in bold.
Wise: form of intelligence. Specifically, it is the intelligence of experience and profound thought. We say that Albert Einstein was “intelligent”, but the Dali Lama is “wise”. It has a spiritual connotation.
Hard: usually the opposite of “soft”. It can also mean “tough” (see definition in the next line).
Tough: Often means strong. It is also used to mean “difficult” or “dangerous”.
ex: “My friend Clinton is tough – he was a boxer.”
ex: “Wow, I had a really tough day!”
ex: “Be careful, that is a pretty tough neighborhood.”
Cool: This word has a very open meaning. It can mean fashionable or generally good. In certain phrases, it can also mean to maintain self control. For example: “Keep your cool” or “Don’t lose you cool”.
Stay together: another way of saying “to maintain self control”. You can also say “keep it together”.
Save the day: Perhaps the meaning of “save the day” is obvious, but you should know that it is a common expression.
Herald: to announce or proclaim.
Sweet time: a common expression which means not to hurry – to do things at your own (pace) rhythm or speed.
ex: He is remodeling our house but his is taking his own sweet time.
Cash: paper or metal money.
Don’t ask no questions: Here we see a double negative which is incorrect. This is a very serious mistake in conversation and sounds very uneducated, but it is very, very common in pop music. Non-standard English is part of the genre (style).
To leave behind: is “to not wait for, or “to forget”.
The idea in this section is that life will “leave you behind” if you stop to ask too many questions. The general idea is “don’t worry too much, be flexible, and continue to move forward”
To spin: to move around an axis. The Earth completes one “spin” every 24 hours. Many people will recongnize this word from “spinning class” (cycling) at the gym.
To stare: means to look intensely or for long periods of time. If you think the word sounds familiar it is because it has the same pronunciation as “stairs” (like steps). This can help you remember the word, for example, “He stares at stairs” (He looks for a long time at the stairs or steps). This is a silly sentence, but might help you remember the word.
In the face: means very close. The similar expression “in one’s face” mean aggressive. This is often used with the verb “to get”.
ex: My boss really got in my face when she hear the bad news about the project.