The paperclip – a GEM of an idea

A Norwegian named Johan Vaaler invented the paper clip. When it was produced in the USA the boxes said ‘a gem of an idea’, hence the Swedish name for it – gem! Some dispute whether Vaaler’s invention was exactly the same shape.

The name of office equipment is often hard to remember, even for high level speakers of English

lineal – ruler

gem – paper clip

hålslag – punch, paper punch

häftapparat – stapler

häftstift – drawing pin, thumbtack

häftklammer – staple

limstift – glue stick

pärm – file

mapp – folder

Scotchtape, Tippex,  Xerox machines, Post It Notes , Prestick /Bluetack are often called generically by their original brand.

Here is a link to a great site with vocabulary and exercises regarding office equipment

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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