Meaning of backlog

Could you explain the exact meaning of the very end of the sentence (from my today’s e-mail correspondence):

“Sorry about the delay - our secretary is on holiday - back on 22nd but, no doubt, a backlog.”

Hi Tamara

I assume you know that a backlog is an accumulation of unfinished work.

It sounds to me as if they want to tell you that, because their secretary is on holiday (and won’t be back until the 22nd), a lot of work has piled up and that’s why there has been a delay.

Of course, that also means that there will be a backlog of work waiting for the secretary when she returns, so it will also take her some time to get everything caught up. :shock:


Thanks, Amy.

So, following the sentence and your (clear) interpretation, I should expect that the secretary would be able to contact me even later than she actually will return to work.
And just to arm myself with patience :slight_smile:


P.S. As this concerns to a quite important affair, I need to have clear understanding of the true phrase meaning and the tone used.
(Sometimes I can hardly understand all that juggling with words in formal letters. And theirs ‘implicit meaning(s)’).

Hi Tamara

I’d say the tone sounds “stressed”. In other words, not enough time to even write a respectable sentence.

My experience with companies, backlogs and vacations tells me that you won’t get whatever it is you’re waiting for immediately after the 22nd. The sentence seems to indicate that as well. So, yes, it’s probably best to steel yourself for some further delay, and hope that the further delay is minimal. :cry:

If it’s really important, it might be best not to wait for the secretary to get around to contacting you. It might be better to contact her again after the 22nd. (Applicable expression: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” ;))

Good luck!

Hi Tamara,

Very often the word backlog is used as a lame excuse for not being able to cope. It’s on a par with another irritating expression: Our computers are down at the moment. On a more mundane level people say: We’ve been rushed off our feet or We have been inundated or Demand has far outstripped supply and so on and so on. There is a backlog is an anodyne word that unfortunately covers a multitude of sins and issues a warning: There will be a delay.



And there was I thinking that these things only happened in countries like Spain!

Quite a few years ago, when an old Swiss colleague of mine was transferred to Atlanta (from Madrid), she was absolutely amazed at how quickly and efficiently everything was done there. Especially services like utilities and repairs.

Well, if that isn’t the most suitable expression :lol: ! (I got it all wrong at first: I thought it meant that you only need to grease the wheel for things to start rolling :slight_smile: !) In Spanish we say: “El que no llora no mama” (He who doesn’t cry, doesn’t suckle).

Can you imagine what can happens in Germany? With all the vacation time people get here? People disappear from courses (and their desks ;)) for weeks at a time. But, there’s probably just as much additional absenteeism in my courses on account of vacationing non-participants. :shock:


:shock: :lol:

Hi Amy!

Oh dear, what a comparison! :smiley: I mean, if a wheel is squeaky, probably its bearing must be replaced. Regarding to humans you also could say a squeaky wheel is a person who has a loose bolt (is in a mental dissorder). :shock: oh,oh…!

So it might be better sometimes to be the early bird who gets the worm! :wink: At least, as long as there isn?t anybody who beats about the bush. :lol:


Next winter (or as soon as our brains start functioning normally again, if they can be patched up at all) we’re just going to laugh about all the posts we’re sending now – you mark my words :slight_smile: !

Hey Mr. Babble-head! What are you babbling about? No, no, no, Michael … you can’t compare wheels and grease with “loose screws”. But there are other expressions for “He’s got a screw loose”… :twisted:

“The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”
“His elevator doesn’t go to the top floor.”
“He’s a few beers short of a six-pack.”
“He not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

I know in German you refer to ‘not having all the cups in the cupboard’, but unfortunately we don’t know that one in English yet. :lol:

Thanks to you all for your brainstorming! :slight_smile:

I’ve read all your interpretations :slight_smile: carefully - and now I feel me armed at (almost) all points (heeled?) :slight_smile:

Really I can wait till next Tuesday :), so… it remains to be seen, what happens next.
I just need to understand whether they play for time or really unable to cope.

P.S. Just to keep up and tuppence the summer brain-sizzling:

On the one side – “Power depends on Patience” © horseman’ wisdom from Michael

On the other - “Don’t forget to water your garden”
“Do not put all your eggs in one basket.”


“He is half-baked”
“He has rats in the attic”
“He is not quite all there”
“He seems to be slightly wanting”

Can I join in, too (I just can’t help it)?

He’s a sandwich short of a picnic
He’s one brick short of a load
He’s a few fish short of a hatstand
He’s not playing with a full deck [of cards]
He has bats in the belfry
He has a kangaroo loose in the top paddock
He’s as crazy as a sack full of ferrets
He’s out to lunch
He’s as nutty as a fruit cake
He’s as mad as a hatter
He’s not hitting on all six cylinders
He’s around the bend
He’s crazy as a loon

And how about these ‘foreign’ idioms?

He has a spider on the ceiling
He didn’t invent hot water / wire for cutting butter / powder

He is unlucky when he thinks (isn’t this one very diplomatic?)

He’s a rotten garlic head

Hmm… We seem to be moving in the right direction, don’t we? :slight_smile:
(And the topic is becoming more and more potential and perspective :smiley: )

Great list! Thank you, Conchita. :slight_smile:


He… :lol:
…is a little weak upstairs
…’s touched in the upper storey
…has a tile loose

P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, if someone would like to enrich the topic, don’t hesitate, welcome! :smiley:

Hi Amy (Mrs. Southern-Confederation-Amazon :wink: )! Your idiom concerning the squeaky wheels seems to come from the times of Treks to the West in the early American history, when it probably was okay to grease a squeaky wheel.

As I?m a more modern person, I immediatly thought about nowadays behaviour of solving that issue. And that is: If anything is squeaky, it certainly is out of order and must become replaced. Or is the reason for my missunderstanding that one what is well known as the conflict between buisiness-people and technicians. I mean, if the technician says “this part is out of order, it must be replaced” the business-man/wife says “replacing is too expensive, lubrificate it”? :? :smiley:

Hi Tamara!

I wonder what you mean in your sentences. Is this becomming a feminists topic? :? I must say, I feel a little bit opressed from all discriptions about mental disordered men, as I?m sensible and always found male pronouns for the ill persons. :? :lol:

Is that the perspective you wrote about? :shock: :lol:

However, the day was hot (37 degrees) and I haven?t been able to cool down till now. Puuuuh…


Hi Michael!

No, no - not a bit. Don’t worry :wink:

I suppose that a good few (or maybe the lion’s share? :smiley: ) of the above choice phrases were contributed by men, by very clever and witty men. (Oddish and sensitive, as well :lol:)


OK… To restore (the?) equity (at least, in this topic :slight_smile: ) just a little bit:

… has a maggot in her head
… is a queer fish

P.S. Yesterday here were also up to 36-37 degrees… Quite good conditions to fuse (melt?) all those little grey cells - in a useless mess.

Wishing you a bit cooler weather and hoping to see you in good health (in all senses :slight_smile: ) Mr. Feminist-Hater :slight_smile:
(sometimes slightly displaced in phase) Tamara :slight_smile:


Just to close the case :slight_smile:

At 10.20 this morning (24.07, Monday) I received a quite adequate and exactly-on-my-business e-mail from the secretary. In re and ad rem :slight_smile:
All right.

So, as a matter of fact, the area manager, who e-mailed me in a hurry, had used a backlog as a quite informal notice and ‘a lame excuse’-in-advance for possible future delay.

Thanks to all for comments. They helped me to be patient enough :slight_smile: