August 24, 2007

#01-011: TGIF! Office Culture Slang and Idioms

Logo for the TGI Fridays restaurant

Note: English has lots of "initialisms": things that look like words, but are usually pronounced as separate letters: UK, FBI, and today's expression: TGIF!

Get Ready: What day is the end of the work (or school) week in your country? Do people think that day is special? Are there any customs associated with it?

Roy and Dale are co-workers in an American office. They're chatting on a Friday.

Roy: Man, this was a tough week!

Dale: Yeah, TGIF!

Roy: I guess. But on Monday, it's back to the old 9-to-5.

Dale: At least the dress code has loosened up a little. Look at us: no ties, comfortable clothes... 

Roy: Yeah. Thank God it's Casual Friday!

Every big office has its own "corporate culture," the environment around the workers. In some cases, corporate employees even have their own special vocabulary, and a certain way of dressing. In Roy and Dale's office, this includes something called "casual Fridays."


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Practice: Match the terms to their meaning. There's more information about each word given below.

  1. 9-to-5
  2. casual Fridays
  3. dress code
  4. TGIF
  5. tough
  6. man
  7. yeah

  1. a required clothing style
  2. appreciation of the end of the work week
  3. difficult
  4. a reference to the boring work day
  5. a way to agree
  6. a planned weekly relaxation of the rules
  7. a meaningless opening expression like "Gee" or "Oh"

Explanation of the Answers: After you check your answers in the first comment below, read on for more information on these words.

  • 9-to-5: If you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, that would make a standard (in the U.S.) forty-hour week. Of course, different offices have different hours; you might work 8 to 6 with a two-hour lunch, and still call it "a 9-to-5 job." (By the way, Roy says, "It's back to the old nine-to-five." That phrase, "it's back to," is a common idiomatic expression meaning "[someone] will return to [something]." For example, with school starting again, a student might say, "I'm going to play this week, but next week it's back to the books for me.")
  • casual Fridays: Some companies with more formal dress codes allow their workers to dress more casually on Fridays. While a few started in the 1950s, it didn't really become popular until the 1970s. (When a school allows students to wear "street clothes" instead of the uniform, it might be called "free dress day.")
  • dress code: Most companies require their workers to dress in a certain way. For some, it's a uniform; in others, it's coats and ties for men, dressy for women. Others are more relaxed, with open shirts allowed for men, jeans for men and women, etc.
  • TGIF: an abbreviation generally well known inside and outside of corporate culture. It means "Thank God It's Friday," and indicates that the weekend is almost here. There's even a restaurant chain called "T.G.I. Friday's," with locations in around 60 countries.
  • tough: a "tough" week would be one with a lot of work, more stress than usual, etc.
  • man: We sometimes begin sentences with a word to express emotion (called an "interjection"); "man" is one of those words.
  • yeah: a short form of "yes," often used to agree with the other speaker

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 24, 2007

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1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. f; 3. a; 4. b; 5. c; 6. g; 7. e