Archive | April 2012

Volcanos in Colombia, Literal and Figurative

In Colombia and Latin America, we are experiencing a few eruptions right now.  Mexico is dealing with Popocatepetl located close to Mexico City.  Meanwhile Colombia is facing the rumblings of Nevado de Ruiz. Nevado de Ruiz has been causing problems for a few weeks now, and the language used to describe the volcano is rich with literal and figurative uses — erupt, explode, blow up, rumble... the list of colorful verbs goes on.

Volcano movie

Why do we use so much volcano vocabulary? Volcanos are very powerful forces in nature.  According to the above movie they could destroy the world.  Some say they did — the world of the dinosaurs was destroyed by volcanos according to some research. Volcanos are so powerful they have been thought to be the homes of gods.  A humerous movie with Tom Hanks captures this idea in Joe versus the Volcano. Volcanos are violent and unpredictable so volcano vocabulary is often related to angry actions.  So what volcano-related words and phrases can we use?

Rumble  – LITERALLY a deep, heavy, somewhat muffled, continuous sound [ruido sordo, el ruido de volcan]

The volcano rumbled ominously as they approached.

FIGURATIVELY a widespread murmur of discontent [murmullo de quejas]

The CEO noted there had been rumblings among the personnel about the change in coffee brands.

Barney Belches, The Simpsons

Barney belches because of beer.

Belch – to emit contents violently or spasmodically [eructar]

The volcano belched ash and sulferous gases into the air.

The boy belched loudly after drinking the Coca Cola.

Spew / vomit – to send or be sent out in a stream, sometimes in disgust or anger [vomitar, arrojar]

The volcano spewed lava through the night.

The angry words spewed from the employee without thought.

Erupt – to eject or burst forth suddenly and violently, as from restraint [entrar en erupción, estallar]

The volcano erupted without warning, covering Pompey in lava.

All of a sudden Mark Cuban erupted and began yelling at the referee.

Blow up / Explode – LITERALLY to burst, fly into pieces, break up violently with a loud report or noise [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY to burst forth violently or emotionally, especially with noise,laughter, violent speech [explotar, estallar]

The volcano exploded like a bomb.

The boss blew up when he learned his employees were stealing.

Blow One's Top

Uh oh. He is blowing his top!

Blow one’s top / blow one’s stack – LITERALLY explode [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY go crazy with rage, lose one’s composure, become insane [cabrearse, enfadarse muchisimo]

Here’s a great article by AOL News using ‘blow’s one’s top’ in relation to an unexpected action by a flight attendant.

People describe Steven Slater as a nice guy, but yesterday the flight attendant for JetBlue apparently totally lost control following an argument with a passenger.

Slater was working on a flight from Pittsburgh that had landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, when he was hit on the head by a bag a passenger was pulling out early from an overhead compartment.

According to the New York Daily News, words were exchanged and Slater’s reaction was to blow his top. He spewed profanity at stunned passengers, grabbed a beer and activated the plane’s emergency slide, then bolted off the plane.

Passengers told the News as part of his rant, Slater, 38, said he planned to quit the airline.

A JetBlue co-worker who was on the flight, calls Slater a working-class hero.

“It’s something we all fantasize about,” she tells the newspaper. “But we have kids and a mortgage or are just too chicken – or sane – to go through with [it].”

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Original definitions provided by


Las Palabras Correctas para Negociar en inglés

…The Right Words to Negotiate in English

Negotiating Tactics


Business and business negotiation sometimes has very similar words in Spanish and English. Part of this is due to the Latin and French influences in English and part of this reflects the global nature of English and its importance worldwide. Below is a great list of vocabulary with Spanish definitions.

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Part of speech
Meaning (Spanish) Example Sentence
other options (alternativas) We can’t offer you the raise you requested, but let’s discuss some other alternatives.
expand; give more information (ampliar) Could you amplify on your proposal please.
conflict that is addressed by using a neutral third party (arbitraje) We’re better to settle this between us, because a formal arbitration will cost both of us money.
try to change a person’s mind by using various tactics (negociar) We bargained on the last issue for over an hour before we agreed to take a break.
the lowest one is willing to go (el mínimo posible resultado de negociar que una parte puede aceptar) I’ll accept a raise of one dollar per hour, but that’s my bottom-line.
together (conjunto, colectivo) This is a collective concern, and it isn’t fair to discuss it without Marie present.
make up for a loss (compensar) If you are willing to work ten extra hours a week we will compensate you by paying you overtime.
agree (acceder) I’d be willing to comply if you can offer me my own private office.
changing one’s mind/terms slightly in order to find a resolution (transar, transigir) We are willing to compromise on this issue because it means so much to you.
a thing that is granted or accepted (concesión) I think we can offer all of these concessions, but not all at once.
conflict resolution
general term for negotiations (resolución de conflictos) It is impossible to engage in conflict resolution when one of the parties refuses to listen.
present an issue to someone directly (afrontar, enfrentar) I confronted my boss about being undervalued, and we’re going to talk about things on Monday.
agreement by all (consenso) It would be great if we could come to a consensus by 5:00 P.M.
the working together (cooperación) I have appreciated your cooperation throughout these negotiations.
counter proposal
the offer/request which is presented second in response to the first proposal (contraoferta, contrapropuesta) In their counter proposal they suggested that we keep their company name rather than creating a new one.
present other side of an issue (contraataque) Before we could start our counterattack they suggested we sign a contract.
person on the other side of the negotiations (homólogo) I tried to close the discussions at noon, but my counterpart would not stop talking.
politely (cortésmente, cordialmente) In the past I have had little respect for that client, but today she spoke cordially and listened to my point of view.
needs/expectations that one side believes it deserves (exigencias) They had some last minute demands that were entirely unrealistic.
point where neither party will give in (punto muerto) When the discussions came to a deadlock we wrote up a letter of intent to continue the negotiations next week.
argument/conflict (disputa, conflicto) I was hoping to avoid discussing last year’s dispute, but Monica is still holding a grudge.
have the most control/stronger presence (dominar) Max has such a loud voice, he tends to dominate the conversations.
be deserving of (tener derecho a..) My contract says that I am entitled to full benefits after six months of employment.
open/willing to change (flexible) We have always been flexible in terms of your working hours.
get down to brass tacks
to get to the point or the details of a negotiation (ir al grano, ir al punto) Americans like to get down to brass tacks as quickly as possible.
arguing back and forth (often about prices) (regatear) We’ve been haggling over this issue for too long now.
long-term anger towards another (hostilidad) I want you to know that we don’t have any hostility towards your company despite last year’s mixup.
make a request that is much higher than you expect to receive (oferta o demanda más alta que las expectativas) I’m planning to high-ball my expectations when I open the discussion.
quick decision without thought or time (impulso, decisión sin pensar) I acted on impulse when I signed that six-month contract. Maybe that was bad.
has difficulty choosing/making a decision (indeciso) They were so indecisive we finally asked them to take a break and come back next week.
(bargaining power) something that gives one party a greater chance at succeeding over another (palanca) We have a little bit of leverage because we are the only stationary company in town.
trading one favour for another (intercambiar favores) After a bit of log-rolling we came to an agreement that pleased both of us.
offer something much lower than you think the opponent will ask for (oferta o demanda más baja que las expectativas) I was expecting my boss to low-ball in the initial offer, but he proposed a fair salary increase.
convince by altering or not telling the whole truth about something (inducir por error, engañar) They misled us into thinking that everything could be resolved today.
agreed by both or all (mutuo) The decision to call off the merger was mutual.
goal for the outcome (objetivo) My prime objective is to have my family members added to my benefits plan.
point of view
person’s ideas/ thoughts (punto de vista) From my point of view it makes more sense to wait another six months.
work hard to convince another of an idea (presión) He pressured me to accept the terms by using intimidation tactics.
argument to present (propuesta) While I listened to their proposal I noted each of their objectives.
open to/interested in an idea (receptivo) His positive body language demonstrated that he was receptive to our suggestions.
anger held onto from a previous conflict (resentimiento, rencor) Mary’s resentment stems from our not choosing her to head the project.
a display of opposition (resistencia) We didn’t expect so much resistance on the final issue.
end conflict, come to an agreement (resolver, aclarar) Before you can resolve your differences you’ll both need to calm down.
strategies used to get one’s goals met (táctica) There are certain tactics that all skillful negotiators employ.
feeling of stress/anxiety caused by heavy conflict (tensión, tirantez) There was a lot of tension in the room when George threatened to quit.
terms that are offered in return for something else (solución de compromiso) Lower payments over a longer period of time sounded like a fair trade-off until we asked about interest charges.
throw off
To throw or throw off, to distract (distraer) George was breathing fire and it really was starting to throw me off my game plan.
a final term that has serious consequences if not met (ultimátum) His ultimatum was that if I didn’t agree to give him the raise he asked for, he’d quit today without two week’s notice.
very unlikely to happen (poco realista) It’s unrealistic to think that we will have all of our demands met.
a win (victoria) We considered it a victory because they agreed to four of our five terms.
to give in to another’s requests (cedar) The client will only yield to our conditions, if we agree to work over Easter weekend.

Sometimes negotiation can be an arm-wrestling match. Careful, the bigger side usually wins.

Thanks to for their initial resource. Modifications and adaptations to Colombia made by BBE.

Start your practice negotiating in English with Bogota Business English!

¿Por qué aprendes inglés? 6 motivos para aprender

…Why Learn English? 6 Reasons to Learn

Hay varios motivos para aprender inglés.  Hablaremos de algunos a continuación  pero lo más importante es…

Motivo 1 Quieres aprender inglés.

Aprendemos algo porque lo deseamos

Dice en inglés Aprendemos algo porque lo deseamos

Si no tienes ganas de aprender inglés, ¡es muy complicado aprender el idioma!  Si el inglés es un requisito de trabajo pero no deseas aprenderlo, no vas a entender.  Necesitamos el deseo de aprender.  Si no lo tenemos, no aprendemos bien. Es como cuando vemos temas en el colegio o la universidad y no recordamos bien esos temas porque el estudio era forzado, es decir no era deseado.  Para muchos, el inglés era un requisito para matricularse o para obtener buenas notas pero no lo deseaban estudiar en ese momento.  Y al final cuanto aprenden? Poco o nada.

Entonces es importante que todos siempre tengamos este motivo principal… que deseemos aprender inglés.  Es excelente sí es así y te felicito, ya estas listo para estudiar inglés.  El estudio del  inglés es invertir en uno de los activos más importantes que tenemos, mejor dicho nosotros mismos.  El inglés es una herramienta invaluable para el negocio, la vida y pues nuestro futuro.

Motivo 2 Inglés es para negocios internacionales.

El inglés es y seguirá siendo el idioma común de negocios internacionales.  A pesar del desarrollo de poderes regionales y la potencia de China, el inglés es el idioma de los mercados financieros más grandes en el mundo y es el idioma del comprador más grande en el mundo, Estados Unidos.  En este momento Colombia desarrolla su capacidad importadora y exportadora a nivel mundial lo cual incluye tratados de libre comercio. Pronto Colombia tendrá la capacidad de comerciar sin aranceles con decenas de paises que hablan inglés lo que implica un cambio drástico en la necesidad de inglés.

Obama y Santos para TLC

Obama y Santos saben que los TLC vienen a Colombia!

¿Sabias? Colombia tiene o está realizando más que 15 tratados de libre comercio con socios comerciales tales como la Unión Europea (27 paises incluyendo Francia, Alemania y los países eslavos) , USA (se incluyen los estados de California y Nueva York los cuales tienen un PIB más grande que la mayoria de países en el mundo), Canadá, los países Caribeños (Belice, Jamaica y el resto de las colonias antiguas de Inglaterra y Holanda), los paises libres de Europa (incluyendo Suiza y Noruega el cual es rico con ingresos petroleros), Corea del Sur, Japon, Turquía, Jordania, entre otros.   Los negocios con estos países se realizan en inglés.

Motivo 3 Se utiliza inglés en las publicaciones científicas importantes.

El inglés se habla en la mayoría de negocios internacionales pero igual es utilizado en las ciencias.  Si quieres acceder a la comunidad científica más grande, necesitas saber inglés. A continuación hay algunos ejemplos.

Una de las publicaciones mas importantes de medicina,  el New England Journal of Medecine, está escrito en inglés.

El informe sobre la partícula más rápida que la luz ya está disponible en varios idiomas pero el anuncio inicial y el correspondiente informe era en inglés.

Uno de los mejores recursos de pensamiento empresarial, el Harvard Business Review, no publica sus estudios de caso en español.

El software está desarrollado en inglés y la mayoría de los recursos vanguardistas para programación y tecnología está escrita en inglés.

Los proyectos grandes y de las multinacionales de ingeniería son realizados en inglés.

Las clases de las universidades más superiores en el mundo tales como Yale, Princeton y Oxford no se enseñan en otros idiomas. Necesitas saber inglés para aprender ahí. (Y para estudiar ahi, necesitas buenos resultados en los exámenes TOEFL o IELTS, averigua más aqui sobre IELTS Y TOEFL!)

Motivo 4 El inglés aparece en las normas internacionales.

Los estándares internacionales están escritos en inglés. Los comités de normas a nivel mundial se ubican en Nueva York, Londres, Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea donde hablan inglés. Algunos ejemplos están a continuación.

Colombia se une los estándares internacionales de contabilidad (IFRS por sus siglas en inglés) los cuales definen las cuentas en inglés.  El inglés será muy importante para los contadores.

En arquitectura, las normas de construcción sustentable tales como la certificación LEED están escritas en inglés.

Los estándares de eficiencia como los de ISO están escritos en inglés.

Para competir con el resto del mundo, es necesario aprender inglés.

Motivo 5 El inglés para viajar.

Bien sea que vayas a Europa, Reino Unido, Estados Unidos, India o Asia, algún manejo de inglés va a enriquecer la experiencia y permitirte disfrutarla más. Es posible visitar EEUU sin hablar inglés pero te perderías la belleza y la experiencia verdadera de conocer el país. Para conocer un lugar y su cultura, hay que conocer la gente y eso solo será posible cuando hablas inglés.

Motivo 6 Mejorar tu español.

Parece raro pero cuando aprendes un segundo idioma, mejoras tu manejo de la lengua materna y la precisión de expresar ideas.  El estudio de idiomas revela que la misma idea se expresa con distintas imágenes y metáforas.  Aprenderás más de tu idioma nativo con el repaso de tiempos verbales, preposiciones, vocabulario y otras partes del discurso que usas diariamente sin pensar.

Se dice que los mejores escritores y poetas eran poliglotas: Gabriel Garcia MarquezJorge Luis Borges, Pablo NerudaOctavio Paz, entre otros.

¿Por qué aprendes el inglés? Dínos en facebook o twitter.

¿Quieres aprender inglés hoy? Contacta a Bogota Business English.