Use of slang or cliches in interviews

A listener of the BBC wondered if the non-native English-speaking interviewees really understand what is being asked of them.

The most recent incident I heard, which has prompted me to write, was on when one of your female interviewers asked an Italian news journalist about Berlusconi’s impending court appearance. She asked the Italian if he thought that Berlusconi would plead innocent and, if so, ‘would he be able to pull it off’.

The poor Italian hadn’t a clue about what she meant and I shudder to think what literal translation may have been flashing through his mind.

This got me wondering: How about all the immigrants in the United States who have English as a second language. How do they react to slang or clichés? Is there a better way for reporters to do their jobs in these types of situations?

Obviously one way around this for the reporter is to have a large vocabulary. If a person being interviewed does not appear to know what the reporter has said, it does no good to repeat the same words.

Another way is for the reporter to learn another language.

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