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Misunderstandings, colloquialisms, wrong words and false friends: 3


PROFESSOR AT A BRITISH UNIVERSITY: Welcome everybody to a new term here at the university. But first, I would like to remind each and every one of you that drinking and smoking here on, or about the university premises, is strictly forbidden.
RICHARD, AN ENGLISH STUDENT: Gosh, I’m dying for a cigarette.
KRZYSIEK: Yes, but smoking cigarettes here on, or about university premises is strictly forbidden. Let’s just go to the canteen and get a cup of coffee.

(This is an updated item from the book found on page 36.)

In normal, casual conversation, to say ''...smoking cigarettes here on, or about university premises is strictly forbidden', just sounds so totally odd and out of context from a student, along with being completely unnatural. It would be more natural for our student to have said: 'Yes, but smoking’s banned around here' or 'Right, but we can’t smoke around here', or 'Can’t, they won’t let us smoke round here' or perhaps something that uses language that I cannot print here. Or maybe Krzysiek is just being sarcastic. 


But since the university professor is making an official, formal announcement, then his choice of formal vocabulary would be considered appropriate. 


As an additional note, the recent arrival of e-cigarettes on the market has made the issue of, and perhaps the definition of smoking, not so clear. In fact, since the publication of the TEE book along with my general lack of knowledge on the topic, the activity of smoking an e-cigarette is called vaping.  


In many parts of the European Union, smoking in the ‘traditional’ sense, i.e. smoking an actual cigarette, cigar, or any other similar item that is to be lit up by a match, lighter, or similar device, is completely banned in public places, but the e-cigarette - vaping as opposed to smoking - is allowed since it does not require lighting up in the traditional sense. However for many, particularly in the UK, the idea of e-cigarettes and vaping in the office is still considered a form of smoking as they choose to interpret the meaning as ‘an act of consuming nicotine or similar substances in a fashion similar to a cigarette’.

So by this ‘unofficial’ meaning, many places that ban smoking also include the use of e-cigarettes and so banning vaping.

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