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英語を話す時、あなたは "get your wires crossed" しますか?

2016.05.19

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Do you ever "get your wires crossed" when speaking English?

When you communicate regularly with people from different cultures, usually speaking in another language, it is only natural that you will sometimes have “communication breakdowns”(コミュニケーションの断絶 or miscommunication. 

Some people find it hard to understand other non-native speakers with strong accents, or native-speakers who speak too quickly and use a lot of idioms.  Whichever one is most difficult for you, we are going to look at some idioms and phrases used for communication as well as miscommunication to help you avoid "getting your wires crossed".

to get (one’s) wires crossed

If two people “get their wires crossed,” it means they have a mistake in communication that leads to a misunderstanding.

to drop (someone) a line 

to drop someone a line means to contact the person. It can be by phone or e-mail.

to get a hold of 

to get a hold of someone (or get hold of someone) means to communicate with them – usually by phone.

to keep (someone) posted or keep (someone) in the loop 

to keep someone posted (or keep someone in the loop) means to update the person, inform the person of the most current information. In contrast, if someone has not been kept informed, they can say, “I’m out of the loop” – meaning they don’t know the most recent information.

to beat around (about) the bush 

If someone is beating around the bush, it means they are trying to avoid answering a question or talking directly about a particular issue. Instead, they tell stories or talk about details that are not exactly the most important part.

to get right (straight) to the point

To get right to the point or get straight to the point is the opposite of “beating around the bush” – it means to talk about an issue directly, without wasting time discussing unrelated or unimportant details.

to talk at cross purposes 

“Talking at cross-purposes” describes when two people not only have different or opposing perspectives – but are actually talking about two completely different issues, or with completely different goals or philosophies. This means that they cannot even debate directly, because each one is focused on a different point.

to play phone tag 

“Playing phone tag” describes that situation when two people telephone each other various times during the day, but can’t talk directly because each time one person calls, the other person is not available. Then when the other person calls back, the first person is not available – and this situation repeats several times.

to put (one’s) foot in (one’s) mouth

“Putting your foot in your mouth” is when you accidentally say something stupid, offensive, or embarrassing – any type of comment that you wish you hadn’t said, and then you feel ashamed or embarrassed!

to hear through the grapevine 

If you hear something through the grapevine, it means that you hear the news indirectly – through a friend of a friend, for example, and not directly from one of the people involved. News that you hear through the grapevine may be true or it may be untrue.

Your Turn

Complete the sentences with the correct idiom from above.  You can check your answers at the bottom of the page.

1. “Stop ____________________ and just tell me what happened to the camera I lent you.”

2. “I need ____________Tina to tell her that tomorrow’s class is canceled.”

3. “I __________________ that Dan and his wife split up. Is it true?”

4. “I haven’t actually talked to my sister yet – we’ve been _________________ all day.”

5. “I’m looking for a job. Please _____________ if you hear of any good opportunities!”

6. “At parties, I always end up saying something stupid and ________________________.“

7. “I like having meetings with Nate because they’re so short – he always _________________.”

8. “______________on your plans for this weekend – maybe we can meet up.”

9. “Sorry, we must’ve _________________. I wanted you to come at 7 PM, not 7 AM.”

10. “The two politicians were _________________ during the debate – one argued strongly for immigration control, whereas the other was entirely focused on the educational system.”



 

 

 Answer Key

1. “Stop beating around the bush and just tell me what happened to the camera I lent you.”

2. “I need to get a hold of Tina to tell her that tomorrow’s class is canceled.”

3. “I heard through the grapevine that Dan and his wife split up. Is it true?”

4. “I haven’t actually talked to my sister yet – we’ve been playing phone tag all day.”

5. “I’m looking for a job. Please drop me a line if you hear of any good opportunities!”

6. “At parties, I always end up saying something stupid and putting my foot in my mouth.“

7. “I like having meetings with Nate because they’re so short – he always gets straight to the point.”

8. “Keep me posted on your plans for this weekend – maybe we can meet up.”

9. “Sorry, we must’ve gotten our wires crossed. I wanted you to come at 7 PM, not 7 AM.”

10. “The two politicians were talking at cross purposes during the debate – one argued strongly for immigration control, whereas the other was entirely focused on the educational system.”

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