Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let's Learn Business English with some Naked Talk!

Welcome to today's Business English lesson. We'll try to keep this English lesson "PG-rated" despite the theme of nudity! Today we're going to learn 12 new English expressions and useful words, and we're going to have a lot of fun while doing it.

In the USA, there's an association for just about every cause or interest. So it was not that surprising to read about the "American Association for Nude Recreation" in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago. The association is for those who like to vacation with no clothes on -- or, in their lingo, to take a "nakation."

The Wall Street Journal article talks about this association's search for new corporate sponsors. The association's leadership was excited by the many recent products with the word "naked" in them -- such as Naked Pizza (and if you want a beer with that pizza, how about a Naked Lap Lager?!).

So let's sit down, take off your sweater (no need to get completely naked, unless it makes your English learning more effective!), and take a look at parts of this article. The terms we'll take a peek at highlighted in blue.

Extract from "Nudists Seek Corporate Sponsor Looking for Greater Exposure" WSJ article*:

The nation's largest nudist association is looking for corporate sponsors, and leaders think this might be their moment in the sun. Now that the organic food movement has given the word naked a wholesome new meaning—suggesting natural and free of preservatives—the word is popping up in all kinds of product names: Naked Pizza, Bear Naked granola, the Naked Grape Chardonnay and more than one naked lager.

Since October, the group has sent about 100 query letters. They have written to the makers of "naked" products and to companies selling items their members use a lot, such as Hawaiian Tropic and BullFrog sunscreens. And they have also targeted companies they think should be interested because their advertising has gone au naturel in a fun or artful way...

"We're hoping we'll give the association greater exposure," says the association's Executive Director Jim Smock, adding a difficult to believe, "no pun intended."

The response has been skimpy. So far, he has received three letters of regret, and a case of E. & J. Gallo Winery's Naked Grape wine …

Nevertheless, the group faces a significant hurdle. Though the 82-year-old organization has made strides in gaining social acceptance and legal protections, many people still find nudism off-putting.

Wooing major brands could be a heavy lift, given the risk of backlash and the association's relatively small membership, branding experts say.

Their advice: The association should first give itself a face-lift, a sleeker website, a revamped logo and maybe a stripped-down name.

Now let's look at some definitions:

moment in the sun - getting some attention, usually for a very short time (Note: this often refers to a person, usually not a well-known one, finally getting a little bit of attention).

(to) pop up - to appear, often unexpectedly. In this case, the word "naked" is suddenly appearing -- or popping up -- in all kinds of brand names. Obviously, marketers have realized that "naked" is a powerful selling word, at least for now.

(to) give one greater exposure - to get more attention in the media or among the public (Note: this is a pun because "exposure" has a second meaning -- the act of showing a body part, typically one that is not supposed to be shown in public!).

skimpy - small in quantity. This also has another definition, which is where the pun is here: skimpy also means lacking in fullness (when said of clothes, it means there is not enough of the clothing to fully cover the body part in question -- so a skimpy skirt, for example, might be tight and very short).

(to) face a hurdle - meet a challenge or something that blocks success

(to) make strides - to make progress

off-putting - something that causes feelings of unease, disgust, or annoyance (Note: from the phrasal verb "to put off" meaning to annoy, disgust, or repel someone)

to woo - to try to get the favor of; to attract 

heavy lift - a difficult task

give oneself a face-lift - to improve one's image or look

revamped - made newer and better; improved

stripped-down  - shorter; more simple; spare (Note: this is another pun, playing off the word "stripped" meaning naked)

If you would like to learn more business English idioms, check out the popular book & CD "Speak Business English Like an American" available from Language Success Press. It's also available in app format for iPad and iPhone under the names Speak Business English I and Speak Business English II.

*"Nudists Seek Corporate Sponsor Looking for Greater Exposure" is © 2013 by the WSJ and is reproduced here in part for educational purposes.

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