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What does "downsize" mean?



 
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What does "downsize" mean? #1 (permalink) Fri May 25, 2007 21:45 pm   What does "downsize" mean?
 

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #47 "You have to go", question 7

The firm has decided to ......... which means they don't want me.

(a) resize
(b) upsize
(c) in size
(d) downsize

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #47 "You have to go", answer 7

The firm has decided to downsize which means they don't want me.

Correct answer: (d) downsize
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i need an explination please!

MillerJoe
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downsize #2 (permalink) Fri May 25, 2007 22:13 pm   downsize
 

Hi,

This means 'reduce the number of employees in the firm'.

Alan
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What does "downsize" mean? #3 (permalink) Fri May 25, 2007 22:44 pm   What does "downsize" mean?
 

I assume the "oddness" of some of the expressions in this test is due to the fact that it is "very British". There are a number of things that would basically not be used in American English. (The word downsize, however, appears to be used both in North America as well as in the UK nowadays.)

For your convenience, I have made some notes about how you could say some things in this test more naturally in American English.
BE = British English (presumably), AmE = American English

1. BE: My job has gone because my boss has fired me.
AmE: My job is gone because my boss fired me.

2. BE: I shan't be working tomorrow...
AmE: I won't be working tomorrow...

4. BE: I was handed my papers yesterday ...
AmE: I was handed my walking papers yesterday / I was pink-slipped yesterday...

6. BE: I have been made redundant ...
AmE: I was laid off

8. BE: "be surplus to requirements"
AmE: "be excess baggage" or "be nonessential"
.
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What does "downsize" mean? #4 (permalink) Sun May 27, 2007 5:55 am   What does "downsize" mean?
 

From this I can conclude that BE is more formal than AmE.
(in BE, you're getting at the main point using tricky, complicated words, like be surplus to requirements, but in the US, you just stun a man that he's become excess baggage :))
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What does "downsize" mean? #5 (permalink) Sun May 27, 2007 11:15 am   What does "downsize" mean?
 

Hi LS

I'm not sure whether "surplus to requirements" is used primarily in business in the UK or not. It would likely be understood in AmE, but not as a widely used buzzword. However, there are also lots of buzzwords and euphemisms used in American business, the actual meanings of which can be pretty obscure to the outsider: aggressive accounting, boiling the ocean, face time, etc.

The word "downsize" is also a euphemism. However, some business people have now apparently decided that "downsize" is also too negative to be an "acceptable" euphemism. After downsizing became well known, people began referring to "rightsizing" and "smartsizing" and "reinventing", etc. These words also mean that the company is going to reduce its headcount (i.e. lay people off).

Lower level business people often get frustrated with the all the buzzwords used by their bosses and have been known to resort to games:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzword_bingo
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