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Words, Words...

Maggio 2005
Questo mese, uno sguardo al linguaggio del business.

di John Rigg

File audio:


Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British), Chuck Rolando (Standard American)


The word “mobbing,” which refers to the mistreatment of employees, is well known in Italy, Spain, Germany and particularly Sweden, where it was coined by a physician to describe school bullying or “ganging up” on an individual child. Prior to that it had been used by the German ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, to describe a group of animals acting together to defend themselves against a predator.
Mobbing later came to be used for what Britons and Americans call “workplace bullying.” Ironically enough, it has now returned to the English language with this new meaning. In English “mobbing” traditionally describes a crowd – or “mob” – of excited fans surrounding their favourite leader or celebrity.?This is the opposite of its new, “continental European” meaning!

The bottom line

“This company must increase its bottom line.” This means it must increase its profitability. The term comes from the final (or bottom) line of an income statement; this shows the net profit or loss of a company. The bottom line is also the final conclusion to a discussion. “The bottom line is that people are never perfect,” said the writer Tom Robbins.

Blue chips

A company that has a long history of success and stability is a blue chip company. We can also talk of blue chip shares. This term comes from poker and the use of plastic chips instead of money. The chips come in different colours and blue has a high value. When the chips are down, you are in a bad situation and need help. This also comes from gambling and refers to the small number of chips you have after losing a lot of money.


If a company needs money in the short term, they may decide to sell a part of their production. A car manufacturer may sell a division that produces trucks. This is a spin-off: the truck division becomes a separate company. Another use of spin-off comes with films: a successful children’s film results in various spin-off products such as toys, video games and so on. The word spin means to revolve or to go round and round, so the company or toy breaks away from the original body to become a separate item.

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mistreatment of employees - maltrattamento dei dipendenti.

coined by a physician - coniata da un medico.

bullying - bullismo.

crowd - folla.

income statement - conto del reddito.

shares - azioni.

plastic chips - gettoni, fiches.

gambling - gioco d’azzardo.

trucks - furgoni.

breaks away - si distacca.

item - prodotto.