I DIG ENGLISH - just a cool blog about English

I hope you enjoy reading this blog
half as much as I enjoy writing it for you.
Because I have a ball.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Business English: The C Word

Hello everybody!

This superlong post is in two parts just in case there is a person willing to read the whole thing (LOL). I have figured that will save you time scrolling down to get to the glossary.
Have a fabulous weekend!


In the latest season of America's Next Model, the finalists are taught, among other things, that in order to establish a successful brand you need for this brand to be associated with one single word. What follows is that the aspiring models label themselves with words such as 'girlfriend', 'survivor' or 'daring' and then try to personify them: they act in a friendly way, are brave or bend every rule of the competition. Another old business mantra is that 'sex sells', which can be expressed by a simple formula: any semi-functional product + hot chick = jackpot. Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman, the authors of Chasing Cool, believe that what sells products today is 'cool'. All successful brands and their products are thought to be cool by their respective audiences. However, when you ask the authors if there is one definition or formula for cool, they say no.

Cool sells because young people gravitate towards it and older people covet it. In boardrooms, product managers try to find a shortcut for cool. They spend money on focus groups and trend reports. They cooperate with hip advertising agencies. According to the authors of the book, it is all in vain. Cool can't be hunted down and bottled. It is not the outcome of a chase. You can't find it if you look for it. But if you are passionate about your brand/ product, have a strong authentic vision and are brave enough to follow you gut, cool will find you.

Don't Be Mr Me Too

If you want cool to find you, don't imitate what your competitors have. Don't look at another person's backyard. Instead, change the rules of the game. You need your product to stand out and therefore you need to give it a point of difference. Come up with a disruptive idea like the one the producers of the Grey Goose vodka had – to import their vodka from France, ship it in wooden crates and market it as the best vodka in the world; or like the editor of Us Weekly, who was the first to show that celebrities are just like us – they can be caught picking their nose, with a beer gut or dirty nails.

among other things – między innymi
to be associated with – kojarzyć się z
to label yourself with one word – tut. opisać, dosł. przyczepiać etykietkę
daring – odważna, śmiała
to personify – uosabiać
to bend – naginać, zginać
to express – wyrażać
a formula – wzór, przepis
semi- – w połowie, częściowo (half or partly)
a hot chick – seksowna laska/ dziewczyna
a jackpot – najwyższa wygrana (the largest prize offered in a competition, hit the jackpot – to win a lot of money
respective – odpowiednie, poszczególne
to gravitate towards – ciągnąć do czegoś
to covet something – pożądać
a shortcut for – skrót (take a shortcut – iść na skróty)
hip – supermodne
in vain – na próżno, nadaremnie
to hunt down – dopaść coś, upolować coś (to search everywhere for someone or something until you find them
an outcome – wynik, rezultat
a chase – pościg, pogoń
to follow your gut – postępować zgodnie z intuicją. przeczuciem
to imitate – naśladować
a competitor – konkurent, rywal
a backyard – ogród, podwórko (small space surrounded by walls at the back of a house, usually with a hard surface)
to stand out – wyróżniać się
a point of difference – element wyróżniający
disruptive – destrukcyjny, tut. wprowadzający zamieszanie
to ship – przewozić, transportować
a crate – skrzynka
an editor – redktor(ka)
to pick one's nose – dłubać w nosie
a beer gut – brzuch po piwie, brzuch piwosza


Don't outsource too much

Cool can't be served on a silver platter by trend spotters, cool hunters, field researchers or social scientists. Those outsiders don't know your company and what it stands for. They don't have the understanding of the nuances that make up your company's DNA. If you need to ask young people about what is cool, ask your employees who are part of the company's internal culture. If they can't answer this question, then you know you have to start surrounding yourself with inspired and curious people who can. Next time you hear street kids say that mesh back trucker hats titled to one side are the shit, make sure you don't use them in your advertising campaign. Let your competitors use them and think about something else that will better represent your brand image.

Gimmicks can only work so long

It is true that viral marketing can buy you buzz and attract consumers' attention. You can get thousands or even millions of people from the YouTube community talking about your brand or product within a few days. However, if the product you promote doesn't deliver on its promise – isn't what it claims to be, customers will soon lose the interest you have generated and the product won't be cool. As a result of viral marketing gone wrong, you may also alienate your existing customer base. Also, instead of paying celebrities to show your product on the red carpet or on the streets in front of paparazzi, create a product that celebrities will want to buy with their own money. Trunk, for example, which reproduces vintage rock t-shirts, never pays anybody to wear their tees; rarely gives anything for free and requests their shirts back after any photo shoot. Still, celebrities are willing to wear Trunk even if they are not paid to do so.

There is no such thing as a quick fix for cool. You can't find it , engineer it or buy it. However, if you've got a strong vision and are gutsy enough to follow it, your brand may one day become the epitome of cool.

For more advice on cool, go to http://chasingcoolbook.com/

to outsource – zlecać część pracy innym firmom
a platter – półmisek, (served on a silver platter – podany na tacy)
to stand for – reprezentować, wierzyć w coś
a nuance – niuans
to make up – stanowić, składać się na coś
curious – ciekawi (interested in learning about people or things around you)
mesh – siatka
to tilt – przechylać, odchylać
a gimmick  – sztuczka, chwyt
(can) only work so long – działać tylko do (pewnego) czasu
viral marketing – marketing wirusowy
buzz – rozgłos
to deliver on one's promise – spełniać oczekiwania
to alienate – zrazić
vintage – klasyczne
a tee – a t-shirt
to request something back – prosić o zwrot
a photo shoot – sesja zdjęciowa
a quick fix for something – prowizoryczne rozwiązanie, rozwiązanie na skróty (something that seems to be a fast and easy solution to a problem but is in fact not very good or will not last long)
to engineer – zaaranżować, uknuć
gutsy – odważny
to be the epitome of – uosobienie, najlepszy przykład czegoś

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Story of My Life: Cezar the Doggie

Hello everybody!

Let's talk cats and dogs today, shall we? Are you a dog or a cat person?

I am definitely a dog person. I have been sure about that ever since I was a kid and got back from my friend's place with a few scratches on my cheek. The scratches came from her cat, which attacked me unexpectedly. OK, I did tease it a little and the attack was probably well-deserved but I was just a kid. I didn't know any better ;)

Can I have a bite of what you're eating?

Then, a couple years later, there was another cat in my life. My friends had an overweight black cat named Gudi. And I somehow liked her. For one thing, I felt sorry about how big of an appetite she had. I also liked her name, which I chose to pronounce and secretly spell in my head as “Goodie”. But even the most adorable cat can't compare to having a dog. There, I said it! :)

I love my pink toy-shoe.

My family has a yellow Lab called Cezar. And let me tell you that he wasn't all that great in the beginning. At first, he was a high-maintenance poop factory. My mum and him seemed to be attached at the hip. Wherever she went, he kept her company. But the minute she was out of his sight, he pooped and guess who had to clean that mess... He also hated walking on a lead and made me carry him half the walk every time I walked him.


The list of misdeeds in Cezar's short but eventful life is endless, including anything from scratched walls, chewed on stairs to ruined shoes and a half-eaten bus pass card. I asked my mum which of Cezar's bad deeds she remembered best and she told me the ones that stuck in her memory were when Cezar sneakily stole a piece of raw meat from the kitchen counter and when he would pluck leaves from her plant while running frantically around the living room.

Being naughty as always.

Having said that, I still love my doggie with all my heart – the morning pitter-patter of his paws on the wood-panelled floor, which I call 'tap dancing”, – him being excited about each new day, him nudging me with his nose when he needs attention, him wagging not only his tail but his whole body when he's happy, his wet nose against my cheeks (haha), his sighs that are so much like human sighs, him playing fetch without actually fetching the ball or stick, him sulking when someone has shouted at him and told him off, him rolling on his back instead of following commands, him playing with his pink toys even though he's a boy....


Most of all, I like it when it's just the two of us on a walk – him sniffing the grass and bushes, me – listening to music on my mp3 player and pulling him away from other dogs ;) And then, in the evening, when it's bedtime, I can snuggle up to him to keep me warm. He loves cuddling as much as I do.


No pics today!

dog treats/ dog biscuits

a collar and a lead

a pooper scooper

a scratch – zadrapanie, to scratch – drapać
a cheek – policzek
to tease somebody – psocić się komuś
well-deserved – zasłużony
I didn't know any better – Inaczej nie potrafiłam. (know better – be wise enough not to do something, to reject a stupid/ silly idea)
overweight – otyły
somehow – jakoś (for a reason which is not clear)
for one thing – po pierwsze (used to introduce a reason for something)
to pronounce – wymawiać
to spell – literować
adorable – uroczy
a Lab (Labrador) – labrador
high-maintenance – wymagający, kosztowny w utrzymaniu
poop – kupa (to poop – załatwiać się)
attached at the hip – przyczepieni do siebie (Two people who are always around each other, whom you never see one without the other) attach – przyłączać, hip – biodro)
to keep somebody company – dotrzymywać komuś towarzystwa
out of sight – poza zasięgiem wzroku
a lead – smycz
a misdeed – czyn karygodny, przestępstwo
eventful – bogate (w wydarzenia)
to chew on – obgryzać
a bus pass – sieciówka
bad deeds – złe uczynki
to stick in somebody's memory – pozostać w pamięci (stick-stuck-stuck)
sneakily – podstępnie
raw – surowe
the kitchen counter – blat kuchenny
to pluck – wyrywać, zrywać
frantically – szaleńczo
a doggie/ doggy – piesek
pitter-patter – tupot, stukot
paws – łapy
tap-dancing – stepowanie
to wag its tail – merdać ogonem
attention  – uwaga, zainteresowanie
a sigh – westchnienie
to play fetch – ćwiczyć aportowanie (to fetch – aportować, przynosić)
to sulk – mieć focha, być obrażonym, dąsać się
to tell somebody off – zbesztać kogoś
a command – komenda
to sniff – wąchać
to snuggle up to – przytulić się do kogoś
cuddle somebody – przytulać się do kogoś, tulić kogoś

Can I have a bite? – Mogę gryza?
naughty – niegrzeczny
a fattie – grubasek
a sleepyhead – śpioch

dog treats, dog biscuits – psie przysmaki, nagrody
a collar – obroża
a pooper-scooper – łopatka do sprzątania psich odchodów (a tool like a small spade, used for picking up and taking away a dog's solid waste from public places)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Do I say It in English: Dates


How did you ring in the New Year 2012? I hope you did it in style.... :)

Today I would like to talk about dates for a bit. And I know what you are going to say either: “Thanks, but no thanks, Karolina;” or “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” But I still hope some of you will benefit from reading today's post.

You have probably heard that the British and Americans write their dates differently. I've been presented with the following patterns when it comes to writing dates:


January 1, 2012 (please make a note of the comma)


1(st) January 2012

I've decided to compare the patterns I know against data I can find on the internet. Here are the results:


edition.CNN.com – CNN

January 3, 2012

europe.wsj.com – World Street Journal

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

USAToday.com – USA Today


NYTimes.com – New York Times

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Tuesday, January 3


BBC.co.uk – BBC

3 January 2012

Telegraph.co.uk – the Daily Telegraph

Tuesday 03 January 2012

Guardian.co.uk – Guardian

Tuesday 3 January 2012

HeraldScotland.com – Herald

Tuesday 3 January 2012

WalesOnline.co.uk – Western Mail (Wales)

3 January 2012

Economist.com – the Economist

Jan 3rd 2012

And here are the conclusions:

  • Americans write dates according to the /MM/DD/YY/ format.
  • The British write dates according to the /DD/MM/YY/ format.
  • Therefore, to be on the safe side, it is better to write the name of the month in full (or write the short version e.g. Jan, Feb etc.)
  • It is nowadays common to skip ordinal abbreviations: 'st', 'nd', 'rd' and 'th', when writing dates.
  • Commas are used by Americans and don't seem to be used by the British.

I've also asked native speakers how they say dates. The British use two forms. Some of them show preference for form (1), which follows the order in the written pattern.

(1) the third of January,
(2) January the third,

whereas Americans will say

(1) January third (most often),
(2) January the third,

and sometimes 

(3) the third of January.

There's one more issue left. How do we say “2012”? Some internet users solved this problem two years ago:

Is it

2010 two thousand (and) ten OR twenty ten
2011 two thousand (and) eleven OR twenty eleven
2012 two thousand (and) twelve OR twenty twelve ?


(AND it is actually for the speaker to decide.)

And just in case, the remaining patterns:

1400 fourteen hundred
1900 nineteen hundred

1409 fourteen oh nine
1901 nineteen oh one

1810 eighteen ten
1999 nineteen ninety-nine

2000 two thousand
2001 two thousand (and) one
2009 two thousand (and) nine

Oh, and most importantly,

Happy New Year 2012!!!!!!


to ring in the New Year – powitać Nowy Rok (dzwonami)
for a bit – przez chwilę
Captain Obviousa sarcastic name for someone who states the obvious; obvious – oczywisty
to benefit from – skorzystać z czegoś
to make a note of something – zapamiętać, zapisać (to write something down or remember it carefully)
a comma – przecinek
a pattern – wzór (a particular way in which something is done, organized or happens)
data – dane
to be on the safe side – na wszelki wypadek
to skip – opuszczać, omijać
an ordinal (number) – (liczba) porządkowa
an abbreviation – skrót
to follow the order – tut. odzwierciedlać kolejność
an issue – kwestia
just in case – na wszelki wypadek
remaining – pozostałe
and most importantly – a co najważniejsze