If this goes on, I might just jump ship

She had to deliver the envelope to the house enveloped by vines, creepers and flowers

May 29, 2023 08:30 am | Updated 08:30 am IST

Know your English

Know your English | Photo Credit: iStockphoto

What is the meaning of ‘jump ship’? (K. Ramesh, Vizag)

As the word ‘ship’ suggests, this is an expression that was first used in the Navy. When a sailor ‘jumps ship’, he gets off the vessel without getting the required permission from the person in charge. He leaves with no intention of returning.

According to the Captain, the sailor jumped ship in Singapore.

Nowadays, the expression has begun to be used in everyday contexts as well. When people realise that the company they are working for is in trouble, what do they do? Many quit and join another firm. This act of abandoning the old company because of the difficult situation it is in is called ‘jumping ship’. The expression carries with it the suggestion that the move from one organisation to another is very sudden and rather unexpected.

I’ve been with this company for nearly 20 years. I have no plans to jump ship.

If the Management doesn’t give us our bonus, quite a few people will be jumping ship.

Is there a difference in pronunciation between ‘envelope’ and ‘envelop’? (K. C. Anuradha, Trichy)

Yes, there is. There is not only a difference in pronunciation, but also in meaning. ‘Envelope’ is a noun, and ‘envelop’, a verb. There are different ways of pronouncing both words. Envelope is a cover in which you enclose documents; it comes in different shapes and sizes. Some people make the first syllable rhyme with ‘pen’, ‘ten’ and ‘hen’, and the third with ‘hope’, ‘soap’ and ‘cope’. The vowel in the second syllable sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘china’; the word is pronounced ‘EN-ve-lope’ with the stress on the first syllable.

When you go to the stationery shop, buy a few large envelopes.

The documents arrived this morning in a sealed envelope.

In the case of ‘envelop’, the first syllable is pronounced like the word ‘in’, while the vowel in the second sounds like the ‘e’ in ‘bell’, ‘sell’ and ‘tell’. The final ‘o’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The verb is pronounced ‘in-VE-lep’ with the stress on the second syllable. The word is mostly used to mean ‘wrapped or surrounded by’.

In the early mornings, the woods are usually enveloped in mist.

Rain clouds enveloped the mountain peak.

What is the difference in meaning between ‘blackout’ and ‘brownout’? (Rajesh Mittal, Pune)

We Indians experience ‘blackouts’ and ‘brownouts’ quite frequently — especially, during the summer and monsoon months. When there is a blackout, there is no power/electricity; we cannot run any of our gadgets at home. I understand the term was first used in the world of theatre. All the lights in the auditorium, including those on stage, were switched off when the scenery between acts had to be changed. Since the auditorium was in total darkness during this period, it was called ‘blackout’.

According to the electricity department, there’ll be two-hour blackouts at least twice a week.

‘Brownout’ is a term coined by the Americans. During a brownout, there is electricity, but the voltage is rather low. This dip in voltage results in the lights burning rather dimly; many of the heavy-duty gadgets cannot be used work during this period.

Don’t use any of the electrical appliances during a brownout.


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