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Technisches Englisch (Teil 3)

New gadgets

»One man’s meat is another man’s poison« meaning different people like different things and sometimes have very contrary views (»Des einen Freud, des anderen Leid«). Quelle: Steffen Boiselle
»One man’s meat is another man’s poison« meaning different people like different things and sometimes have very contrary views (»Des einen Freud, des anderen Leid«). Quelle: Steffen Boiselle

zu Teil 2: Office matters

»I finally realized it. People are prisoners of their phones, that’s why they are called cell phones«. This statement applies to many people nowadays because they cannot stop reaching for their smartphones more than 200 times a day. Using technology in a healthy and positive way becomes more and more important, especially among the younger generation. Let’s see how Lucy’s and Jack’s digital worlds collide and whether they can find a compromise.

At an electronic store

Today Lucy and Jack have decided to drive to »Electronics Paradise«, an electronics store nearby in order to buy some new gadgets for Jack’s office. Arriving at the store, Lucy is full of energy and enthusiasm to modernize her uncle’s life. Jack, however, is not quite as happy, as he is afraid, he might never be able to use any of this digital nonsense for him because it is too difficult to operate and costs a lot of money.

Lucy: Come on Uncle Jack, don’t be so reluctant. It’s about time you leave your digital comfort zone. As soon as you have got used to all this, you will realize how much easier these gadgets can make your life.

Jack: Okay, okay, simply show me what you think is necessary for me to have in my office. And then let’s hurry home again, I have customers waiting for me.

Lucy: Oh, look at this wonderful display of mobile phones. Why don’t we start here? And look at all the great things you can do with them like going on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, just to mention a few apps.

Jack: Oh, stop it Lucy, I don’t know what you’re talking about. My old mobile phone wasn’t a smartphone. It was very easy to use with a keypad and I only used it for making phone calls if necessary. I didn’t even send text messages. These smartphones are more and more like mobile computers. Then what is the sense of having a computer at home? And typing text messages with my big fingers is very difficult anyway. I can’t understand how today’s young people can do this with their two thumbs and so fast.

Lucy: Let’s discuss all this later. Have a look now at the different handsets. Some of them are free when you sign up to a certain service plan. Others you need to pay for. Many service providers give away really good phones when you use their service, provided that they have good coverage in your area, of course.

Jack: I chose a pre-paid service for my old mobile, I didn’t sign up right away because I wanted to see how it worked for me first. A monthly contract would have been a waste of money if reception had been poor. But it was quite good.

Lucy: I would recommend that you sign up for a monthly contract. It’s much more convenient to pay the bill by direct debit because you won’t need to get top-up vouchers all the time. And look you would get this great Sunsun Orbit smartphone for free if you sign up.

Jack: But isn’t this the brand that had to recall millions of its smart phones due to an explosive battery problem? Lucy: Oh no, that’s not it, but it had a similar name and would be much too expensive for you anyway.

Jack: Glad to hear that you also consider the financial aspect of the whole thing.

Lucy: Don’t worry, I know Uncle Jack. We also need a computer and some accessories after all. But I really think this smartphone would be perfect for you. The display is a little bigger which makes it easier to text for you. Let’s have a look at the features it has. Wow, look at this, it has fingerprint recognition, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, timer, calculator, GPS navigation, predictive text, a torch, web browser, all of which is nothing unusual today. Come on, let’s talk to the shop assistant over there for some advice.

Jack: Be so kind and speak to her without me please. I don’t understand so many of the things you’re talking about. My head starts spinning.

Lucy: No problem, I’ll be back with you in a minute. When Lucy comes back after 30 minutes, she’s beaming.

Lucy: Uncle Jack, I’ve made such a good deal for you. The shop assistant was extremely helpful. Buying such things at the end of the month is always good because they can offer you a big discount. And when I threatened to change to a different provider, I was suddenly offered a new contract with much better conditions. We thought that the 3G network is best for you. It’s not as fast as the 4G which is great for streaming music, route planning and watching videos. But you won’t need all this anyway. The 3G is still good for checking emails and web surfing and it’s cheaper than the 4G tariff. You have unlimited air time and a monthly spend cap. If you want an upgrade to 4G later, you can arrange this at any time. Moreover I’ve been upstairs with the laptops and I’ve brought one which was highly recommended by the sales person. It’s not too complicated and high-tech and not that expensive either. Nowadays these things are so much cheaper then still years ago, believe me Uncle Jack.

Jack: As long as you can handle all this equipment and can perhaps teach me a thing or two about it, that’s all fine with me at the moment. I’m exhausted from so much information. Let’s pay and go home then. I’m longing for a beer. Let’s call it a day.

Lucy: Oh, that’s so kind of you Uncle Jack that you don’t start arguing with me now about prices and so on. This is what my mother always does. But you know, she definitely doesn’t have your technical understanding. I’m so proud of you. I’ve also chosen some accessories like a screen protector, a power charging cable for recharging the battery and to extend talk time for use outside the home like in cars, at work etc. and a case to protect your new Smartphone from bumps and scratches. You need one with a hard outer shell, so I think this book-like form with a cover that you open to use your device is perfect. The cover protects the screen and has additional pockets for credit cards and business cards so you can use it as a wallet. After paying at the check-out, Lucy and Jack are on their way home in the car.

Jack: Look at this young girl there on the street corner waiting for the light to turn green. Why is she using her smartphone? Why does everybody have to be connected to the rest of the world all the time? This is something I can’t understand. Isn’t it okay to be bored occasionally? It could spark your creativity. People nowadays have no tolerance for boredom. They can’t tolerate not doing something because they have the world in their pockets. My friend told me his daughter even takes her smartphone into the bathroom. Young people don’t wear watches any longer to tell the time the old-fashioned way. No, they check the time on their mobiles and right after that have a quick look at Facebook or any other of these crazy apps. And look at this guy in the car over there, he’s using his mobile while driving. Don’t they realize how dangerous it is being so distracted while driving the car? It increases the risk of accidents enormously. When the police stop you seeing this, you’ll receive penalty points to your license and a fine of at least 60 GBP.

The use of mobiles in cars should be banned altogether. And think of the health effects. Mobiles use electromagnetic radiation and are therefore harmful to human health in my opinion. Carrying these devices somewhere on your body all the time cannot be without effect. We even have created the word »butt call«. Do you know what it means, Lucy? That’s when you have your mobile in your back pocket next to your butt and then the send button is pushed during normal movement or when you sit on your mobile and thus a call is placed accidentally and unintentionally. Isn’t this crazy? Moreover, some medical studies have found association between mobile phone use and certain kinds of brain tumours and other long-term effects are uncertain, too. Just incredible! Why are you so silent, Lucy? Have I convinced you of the negative effects of this digital craziness? Should we take everything we bought back into the store?

While Jack is laughing out loud about the little joke he’s made, he’s looking to his left and sees that Lucy is fast asleep. Well, perhaps it was better she didn’t hear everything her uncle said. So much for today. As you can see, there is a lot of specialist vocabulary related to mobile phones. In the next issue we will see how Jack and Lucy will manage the set-up of all the newly bought devices. Stay tuned!

(to be continued)




Some more false friends Last time I explained what false friends are. There are some more in connection with mobile phones and as so many people like to talk about their mobiles, it’s important to know them. The German word »Handy« is a »mobile phone« or just »mobile« in British English. The Americans call it a »cell phone«, »cellular phone« or just »cell«.

  • »I’m sorry, John isn´t in the office today, but you can reach him on his mobile

There is also the English word »handy« but it means »handlich, praktisch« in German. A pocket knife is very handy in many situations. Another one is the German word »Taste« which is »key« or »button« in English. How many keys are there on a keyboard? The verb »to key« means »tippen, eingeben« in German.

  • She keyed the data into the computer.

The English word »taste« means »Geschmack«.

  • »I don’t like the taste of curry
  • »The wine is too sour for my taste

The German word »Kanal« has also different meanings in English and only one is a »canal«, which is an artificial inland waterway for boats and ships.

  • »Are there more canals in Venice than in Amsterdam

But we talk about TV channels (»Kanal, Sender«) and we use the remote control to change channels.

Über die Autorin
Sabine Barz

English communication-skills trainer


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