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# Some non-english phrases

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Director
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13 Apr 2010, 11:10
Hi Guys,

I always face problems with following French phrases while reading a RC. So, I have noted some for your reference:

De facto - in reality, actually
Sue motto - in its own initiative
Status quo - the existing state of affairs

You can add to the above list, if you have some more such elements.
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01 Jan 2011, 00:58
Good initiative but sadly no takers!
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31 May 2012, 20:36
Hi there,

I believe these are all Latin, actually!

I collected many such expressions for the "Idioms for RC" guide in the Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Verbal book.

Here is a selection of my favorites:

“A given” – The use of a given as a noun is different from the use of given alone. For instance, a person’s given name is the one given by his or her parents (a “first name” in the U.S.), and we might also say, “The truth differs from the given explanation.” Here, given explanation just means the explanation that someone gave. Simple. However, a given means something taken for granted, something assumed or that does not require proof. For instance:

When planning my wedding, it was a given that my parents would invite anyone they wanted, since they were paying for everything.

It’s a given that everyone here is against human trafficking – what we disagree about is the best way to fight it.

Albatross or albatross around the neck of (a person or group) – a constant burden or worry; an obstacle. Literally, an albatross is a bird. The expression an albatross around one’s neck creates the silly image of a person wearing a (dead?) bird – but that certainly sounds like a constant burden or worry! (This expression comes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in which an old man had to wear an albatross around his neck as punishment for his sins),

The city has done an admirable job rebuilding its infrastructure and marketing itself, but the crime rate continues to be an albatross around the city’s neck in trying to attract tourists.

All but – almost definitely. The bill’s passage is all but assured means that the bill will almost certainly pass.

Your objections have arrived too late; the matter is all but decided.

Arms race – competition between two countries to build up the best and largest supply of weapons. This term is often associated with the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Metaphorically, an arms race is a competition that implies a sort of “more, more, more!” mentality and may not be entirely rational.

Analysts carefully watched stock prices as the two Internet giants competed in an arms race, expanding rapidly by buying up smaller companies with little due diligence.

(Adjective) as it is,... – This pattern is used to contrast the part after the comma with the part before. For instance, Charming as she is, I just don’t want to be friends with her anymore.

As pleased as we are to see more minorities on the board than ever before, discrimination in hiring and promotion is still a serious problem.

At loggerheads – in conflict, at a standstill

The strike is not likely to end soon – the transit authority and the union representatives have been at loggerheads for weeks.

The better part – the largest or longest part. The better part does NOT have to be good! The word better is a bit confusing here.

For the better part of human history, slavery has been a reality. (The speaker is NOT saying that slavery is good. The speaker is saying that, for most of human history, slavery has existed).

When the oil magnate died, he left the better part of his fortune to his third wife, and only a small sliver to his children.

(Verb) by so (verb)ing – The second verb is equivalent to or causes the first verb. He defaults by so refusing means when he refuses, he is defaulting (that is, neglecting to fulfill the duties of a contract). By so agreeing also occurs on its own, meaning by agreeing to do the thing that was just mentioned.

He agreed to run as the Green Party candidate though he already holds a Democratic party chairmanship, which he effectively abandoned by so agreeing.

By the same token – This expression means that the speaker will then say something based on the same evidence he or she used for what was previously said.

As a libertarian, he wants to abolish the IRS. By the same token, he wants drugs legalized.

En masse – all together, in a group. This expression is from French and is related to the word mass. Like many foreign expressions, en masse is often written in italics.

The protesters marched en masse to the palace.

Entree into – admittance, permission to enter. Most people in the U.S. think of an entree as the main dish of a meal, but it originally was an appetizer – a dish that leads into the main course (the word is related to “enter”). A person who wants to rise in society might seek an entree into a certain social group. (You can also say “seek entree” – sometimes in that expression, the word an is omitted.)

For disadvantaged young people, good public schools can provide an entree into the middle class.

For all X, Y – This sentence pattern means, “Despite X, actually Y – that is, X and Y will be opposites, or one will be good at one will be bad. The word “actually” (or a similar word) often appears in this pattern, but doesn’t have to.

For all of its well-publicized “green” innovations, the company is one of the worst polluters in the state.

For all of the criticism she has received for her actions during the merger, she’s actually a really nice person if you get to know her.

Garden-variety – ordinary, common

Gloss over, paper over, whitewash – These are all expressions for covering up a problem, insult, etc. rather than addressing it or fixing it. Think of a dirty floor that you just put a pretty rug on top of instead of cleaning. Because gloss is slippery (think of lip gloss), gloss over often has the sense of trying to smoothly and quickly move on to something else.

He made a snide remark about short people and then tried to gloss over it when he realized his 5’2” boss had overheard.

The journalist accused the government of trying to whitewash the scandal, implying that the officials covered up the incident out of concern for national security rather than to protect themselves.

Hand-wringing – an excessive expression of concern, guilt, or distress

There has been much hand-wringing (or wringing of hands) over falling test scores, with so-called “experts” acting as if the world will end if students do 1% worse in math and science.

Hold the line vs. toe the line – Hold the line means keep something the same. It is a reference to (American) football, in which you don’t want the opponent to get the ball past the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field. To toe the line is to conform to a policy or way of thinking, or follow the rules. One theory about the origin of the expression is that, on ships, barefoot sailors were made to line up for inspection – that is, to put their toes on an actual line on the deck of the ship.

My boss doesn’t want to hear original ideas at all – he just wants me to toe the line.

If colleges cannot hold the line on rising tuition costs, students will have to take on even more crippling loan burdens.

All of those are examples from the Foundations of GMAT Verbal book. Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Jennifer
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31 May 2012, 20:42
A bit more -- as for Latin/French phrases that actually might appear on the GMAT or in business writing, try:

bête noire - something especially disliked
bona fide - genuine
carte blanche - unrestricted power
cause célèbre - widely-known case, cause, or issue
ex post facto - retroactively
fait accompli - something already done in an irreversible way
ipso facto - by the fact itself (A bachelor, ipso facto, is unmarried.)
quid pro quo - done for something in return, reciprocal, an equal exchange
sine qua non - an indispensable element or condition

Enjoy!

Jennifer
Re: Some non-english phrases   [#permalink] 31 May 2012, 20:42
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