I don't know the origin, but some/many native English speakers definitely use this expression when they don't hear something and they want the speaker to repeat it. It can be on the phone or in person.
Teaching ESL to Adults
Over the phone, I here some people say "come again" when they missed the words of the person on the other line. I don't use this cause I'm doubtful about it. Is this applicable???
Another version is 'Say again?' (just two words, and with a rising intonation, although it means 'Say that again'). But the more common one (this side of the Atlantic, anyway) is 'Come again'.
It's a little informal. In, say, a job interview it would be better to say something like 'Could you repeat that, please?', and perhaps add 'I didn't [quite] hear/catch it' or perhaps some excuse like 'There's rather a lot of background noise.'
Now I'm enlightened!
I used to think it's not applicable though I hear it often from people for I haven't heard a native say it yet...
What do you say to the person when you talk on the phone and you can't catch anything he's saying because the sound is broken that you hear some words and miss others....
I thought in GB y'all just said, "Sorry?" I've been thrown by that a few times. (What do you mean, you're sorry? Sorry for what?)
In the situation you describe, I say, "Stop, I can't hear you, you're breaking up." Then the person can try moving to a different spot, whatever.
***How about this: I got from the Backstreet Boys song , "The call"...
Girl : "Hello " ?
AJ : "Hi it's me what's up baby ? I'm sorry ! Listen ! I'm gonna be
late tonight so don't stay up and wait for me OK ?"
Girl : "Where are you ?"
AJ : "Wait wait ! Say that again ?"
Girl : "Hello ?"
AJ: "You're coming in and out I think my battery must be
low. Listen ! If you can hear me we're going to a place
nearby, alright ? Gotta go " ( click )
* Do you make use of this?
These days, with so many people on cell phones, I also say "I think you're losing your signal." (If I'm the one on a landline and my caller is on the cell.)
I was in the process of accepting a job offer when I was the one who lost my signal. THAT was embarrassing!
But "You're breaking up" is very common.
Yes, I do, especially if I have actually been able to hear part of what the speaker is saying. The songwriter might have chosen this phrase because it also has a slight sexual connotation; or perhaps he/she didn't give it that much thought. :)
"The line is breaking up" sounds fine too.
Verizon, a cell phone provider here (maybe in the PI too for all I know) had a long-running commercial in which a man is anxious to demonstrate his new, superior Verizon service. He says, "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?" over and over again to his poor listener as he moves from one remote spot to another. So "can you hear me now?" has become something of a catch-phrase here.
Last edited by Delmobile; 14-Jun-2007 at 02:45. Reason: remove picture
can you here me now?