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Thread: work colleague

  1. #1
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default work colleague

    Hi,teachers.
    The other day I used "work colleague" in my letter to my American friend, but she said that "work colleague" is redundant and crossed out "work" in her revision. I remember I first read "work colleague" in an online article by a native speaker not long ago. And this is why I dared use it in my own writing. Besides, the day right after I received my American friend's revision of my letter, I read the expression "work colleague" again in a novel titled The Love Wife, written by Gish Jen, a native novelist. On p. 179 of the novel, the sentence goes, "I had a more reasonable reaction to my work colleagues." In my next letter, I gave her this sentence, but she replied, "... the fact that she used it in a novel does not necessarily make it good to use either in conversation, or your own writings." But it seems that although I have learned and taught English for so many years, I am unable to decide in which situations the expressions "work colleague", "colleague", "workmate", "fellow worker" and "coworker" are used respectively. As for "workmate", my American friend said that "...which["workmate"] is not used by most..." . I feel quite grateful to my American friend for her scrutiny of my letter and her advice on how to use English correctly; however, to be honest, at the same time, some of her comments simply have distressed me a lot.
    Please give me your views on the uses of "work colleague", "colleague", "workmate", "fellow worker" and "coworker". And I also beg you to give me some advice on what I have to do to get out of my current embarrassing situation, as I am always eager to learn more about English and use it in a better way and set a good example for my students. Thanks.
    Richard

  2. #2
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: work colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Hi,teachers.
    The other day I used "work colleague" in my letter to my American friend, but she said that "work colleague" is redundant and crossed out "work" in her revision. I remember I first read "work colleague" in an online article by a native speaker not long ago. And this is why I dared use it in my own writing. Besides, the day right after I received my American friend's revision of my letter, I read the expression "work colleague" again in a novel titled The Love Wife, written by Gish Jen, a native novelist. On p. 179 of the novel, the sentence goes, "I had a more reasonable reaction to my work colleagues." In my next letter, I gave her this sentence, but she replied, "... the fact that she used it in a novel does not necessarily make it good to use either in conversation, or your own writings." But it seems that although I have learned and taught English for so many years, I am unable to decide in which situations the expressions "work colleague", "colleague", "workmate", "fellow worker" and "coworker" are used respectively. As for "workmate", my American friend said that "...which["workmate"] is not used by most..." . I feel quite grateful to my American friend for her scrutiny of my letter and her advice on how to use English correctly; however, to be honest, at the same time, some of her comments simply have distressed me a lot.
    Please give me your views on the uses of "work colleague", "colleague", "workmate", "fellow worker" and "coworker". And I also beg you to give me some advice on what I have to do to get out of my current embarrassing situation, as I am always eager to learn more about English and use it in a better way and set a good example for my students. Thanks.
    Richard

    Hi, Richard ~

    Don't take small things like this too much to heart!

    I also think "work colleague" is wrong because it's redundant.

    ~ "colleagues" refers only to professionals

    ~ "workers" and "workmates" -- used almost exclusively to refer to blue-collar work

    ~ "fellow workers" and "co-worker" -- used for non-professional white-collar work, but can also be used to refer to blue-collar workers

    "At the University-wide Christmas party, the professor talked to his colleagues, while the secretary chatted with her co-workers. Meanwhile, the janitor hung out with his workmates."

  3. #3
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: work colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by Ann1977 View Post
    Hi, Richard ~

    Don't take small things like this too much to heart!

    I also think "work colleague" is wrong because it's redundant.

    ~ "colleagues" refers only to professionals

    ~ "workers" and "workmates" -- used almost exclusively to refer to blue-collar work

    ~ "fellow workers" and "co-worker" -- used for non-professional white-collar work, but can also be used to refer to blue-collar workers

    "At the University-wide Christmas party, the professor talked to his colleagues, while the secretary chatted with her co-workers. Meanwhile, the janitor hung out with his workmates."
    Thanks for your advice and explanation. But my Oxford dictionary says:
    1. A colleague is a person that you work with, especially in a profession or a business. The first example phrase listed at the entry in the dictionary is "a colleague of mine from the office".
    2. A workmate is especially British English and means a person that you work with, often doing the same job, in an office, a factory, etc.
    3. A co-worker is a person that somebody works with, doing the same kind of job.
    You are right, perhaps I care too much about such trivia, but, as I said in my last post, I am a teacher and I think I have to be careful about diction and choice of sentence structure and set a good example for my students. I agree with you that too much is not good. I will also care about things which are bigger like cultures in English-speaking countries in order to improve my English skills steadily.
    Thanks again for answering my quesiton.
    Richard

  4. #4
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: work colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thanks for your advice and explanation. But my Oxford dictionary says:
    1. A colleague is a person that you work with, especially in a profession or a business. The first example phrase listed at the entry in the dictionary is "a colleague of mine from the office".
    2. A workmate is especially British English and means a person that you work with, often doing the same job, in an office, a factory, etc.
    3. A co-worker is a person that somebody works with, doing the same kind of job.

    Thanks again for answering my quesiton.
    Richard
    "Colleagues" is used strictly to refer to one's fellow professionals.
    - If a bus driver referred to the other drivers as his "colleagues," it would be a joke.
    - If a used car salesman used it, it would be pathetic.

    To American ears, "workmates" is heavily associated with the British "mates" -- which we would pronounce as "mites" for comic effect. In addition, "workers" is strongly associated with Marxism, "Workers of the World, Unite" and so on -- the proles. So these terms are used only for blue collar work, laborers, that sort of work.

    That leaves a large middle -- neither proletarians not professionals -- unskilled and semi-skilled white collar workers, women, etc. They ended up with the neutral term "co-worker."

  5. #5
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: work colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    You are right, perhaps I care too much about such trivia, but, as I said in my last post, I am a teacher and I think I have to be careful about diction and choice of sentence structure and set a good example for my students. I agree with you that too much is not good. I will also care about things which are bigger like cultures in English-speaking countries in order to improve my English skills steadily.
    Thanks again for answering my quesiton.
    Richard
    I have had some fine teachers -- and others not so fine.

    I wish all my teachers had been like you.

  6. #6
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: work colleague

    Quote Originally Posted by Ann1977 View Post
    I have had some fine teachers -- and others not so fine.

    I wish all my teachers had been like you.
    Hi,Ann.
    Thanks for your compliment. It is really very hard for a Chinese, whose first language is totally different from English, to reach a high level of English proficiency. There are always a lot of barriers in the way that prevent you from reaching the intermediate level from the beginner level and from reaching the advanced level from the intermediate level. Most Chinese learners, including most English majors and even many of their teachers, never succeed in their effort to learn to use English freely-- never--although they work hard at it. I am not exaggerating things; I am telling you the truth. But nowadays, if we make the most of what is available on the Internet, our English learning will be made much easier. Unfortunately, even though I repeatedly "lecture" my students on the importance of using the Internet to help us learn English more effectively, so few of them follow my example. They love to play games on the computer or online,or watch movies online, or chat with their friends in Chinese online. I will not say what they do is merely a waste of time, but in my opinion, as English majors, they have to put more effort into learning English than non-English majors--pitifully, they don't.
    Although the current situation I am in dismays me, I will try to innovate my teaching to get more and more of my students motivated and help prepare them for their future. This is my duty. Besides, I myself find English learning to be something rewarding. Ever since I applied to China Telecom for Internet service in 2006, I have made friends with several Americans and one Canadian and they are as kind and helpful as you and many other members of this forum are.
    Thanks again for your help.
    Richard
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 21-Oct-2009 at 15:07.

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