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ESL Story: The language of relaxation

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Tempers, they say, are more likely to fray nowadays than they did in the good old days when life ran at a smoother rate and people knew the art of relaxation. Well, that's as maybe. Personally I can imagine certain types of people losing their temper in any period of history. The problem then as now is what do you say to those who are prone to fiery outbursts? Admittedly, the safest precaution is to keep out of their way. But sometimes we need to say something if only to keep ourselves calm.

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Take it easy has almost become an international expression which has been superseded of late by cool it and the related expressions: keep your cool and don't lose your cool. An image presumably derived from the behaviour of birds is don't flap and again stop flapping about or I've never known such a flapper. People are also described as being in a terrible state when they are anxious or worried or simply shocked after a frightening experience. If you can see this panic starting to rise in someone, it might be a good idea to utter a quiet “Don't get in a state now.” A description of yourself after having just missed the bus, fallen flat on your face and dropped your loose change all over the pavement might well be: I was in such a state, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. The new teacher in front of a class of rowdy children, who've just seen a police car come up the school drive, could well call out: “Now, calm down, will you please?” or borrowing an image from the kitchen: “Simmer down now.

When the one who's in the state of panic reaches the stage that he needs to be slapped in the face, then's the time to be really strict with: “Get a hold of yourself!” or “Control yourself” or an expression that puts it more directly: Put yourself together now. You will have noticed how I've used the word 'now' with most of these expressions since it conveys the idea of immediacy and of preventing your temper from getting out of hand right at this moment.

A group of expressions for use on those you know well can be used when people jump to the wrong conclusion and you are merely asking them to reflect a little and think twice before reacting too suddenly. So when you announce that you're going to turn down the offer of a job with a higher salary in another firm, you may well expect your colleagues to deride and scorn such a decision. Comments supporting your action could be: “hold your horses now – Don't fly off the handle” or even “Keep your shirt on – I haven't finished yet and I was going on to say that I've since discovered that the firm that made me the offer is in fact on the verge of bankruptcy.” Incidentally, should one of your protesting colleagues be totally bald, a touch of sarcasm could be added to a remark directed specially at him: “Keep your hair on, old chap.

Mind you, there are those and you can't help but admire them who see disasters happening all around them and they never seem to lose control of their feelings. As cool as a cucumber we say for someone who faces danger without any panic. Or alternatively for the public speaker: He didn't TURN A HAIR when his audience shouted abuse at him. And that reminds me of a remarkable man I once knew who had invited me to have dinner with him and his wife. The dish she was preparing had liver as its main ingredient. Suddenly there was a violent explosion from the kitchen. The room was quickly on fire and firemen needed a full hour to get the blaze under control. But throughout the whole proceedings this man didn't bat an eyelid. When it was all over, he turned to his wife and said: “Never mind, my dear, as long as you're all right.” And honestly I never did much care for liver anyhow. Now that's what I call real self control.

Dear Friend,
If you have any questions or comments regarding this essay, please post your answers on the forum here: Take it easy.

Many thanks.

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Next:ESL Story: The language of work

Author: Alan Townend

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