The English We Speak – In black and white

If someone says it’s ‘in black and white’ they mean it’s official – it’s been printed or written down – so there is no dispute!

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The English We Speak from BBC Learning English
Feifei: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak with me Feifei..
Rob: ..and me Rob. Hello. So Feifei have you heard the news?
Feifei: The news? What news?
Rob: We’re all going to get a big pay rise!
Feifei: A pay rise? But Rob are you sure? I haven’t heard anyone else talk about it.
Rob: Yes, yes, I’m sure. Look at this leaflet here.. it says it there in black and white.
Feifei: In black and white? But it’s in colour – look, it says ‘ten per cent’ in red letters.
Rob: I don’t mean it’s printed in black and white – if someone says it’s ‘in black and white’ they mean it’s official – it’s been printed or written down – so there is no dispute!
Feifei: So you’re saying it’s not gossip – it’s true?
Rob: Yes, yes – I have proof of the pay rise on this piece of paper here.
Feifei: OK, well let me read it while we hear some more examples of this phrase..
I have it here in black and white – I’ve got the job!
I’m not going to start celebrating until I’ve seen the deal in black and white.
We didn’t believe the bank’s offer of a loan until we saw it in black and white.
Feifei: So, when something is in black and white it is clearly written down so it is believed to be true. But why in ‘black and white’ and not in ‘red and blue’ for example?
Rob: Well, it comes from the early days of printing when news and information was printed in black ink on white paper. Once something was printed it was official.
Feifei: OK – but hold on Rob – I’ve read this leaflet and it doesn’t say we’re getting a 10% pay rise – it just says we deserve a 10% pay rise – so no pay rise for us Rob.
Rob: What? Are you sure?
Feifei: Yes – look, it says it there – at the top – in black and white!
Rob: Oh I didn’t see that.
Feifei: It just shows you – even if something is in black and white – you need to be able to read it first!
Both: Bye!


















 

BBC The English We Speak


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