I came across an online English language course where the teacher claimed that if one used the expression "Could you please repeat?" instead of "Could you please repeat that?" over the phone it would be interpreted by the person on the other end of the line as a request to "vomit". Is this really true? It seems to me that I heard native speakers say "Could you please repeat?" without the "that" part in informal setting and that always meant a request to say something once again. Could some of the native speakers please confirm?
One meaning of repeat (intransitive) is:
- (of food) to be tasted again after ingestion as the result of belching or slight regurgitation
- to belch
(The Free Dictionary)
I don't think it could be misunderstood over the phone. The teacher was probably joking.
People sometimes say that a strongly-flavoured food has 'repeated on them', meaning that they have brought up wind from the stomach some time after eating and caught the flavour again. I suppose that's what the teacher was thinking of, but I wouldn't say that 'repeat' was a synonym for 'vomit' or would be misunderstood as such.
So I am a native English speaker (well, New Zealand English, which is close enough :P) and I definitely use this in the sense given by the other answers (when I taste food again, usually something strongly flavoured or cucumbers). I wouldn't use it in the sense of to vomit, and I wouldn't misunderstand what was meant by "Please Repeat" in that context (actually I'm having a hard time thinking of any context where there could reasonably be confusion). In terms of my usage (not necessarily standard) the subject of repeat would be the food itself, and I'd usually follow it with "on me".
"I don't like cucumbers, they tend to repeat on me."
"That curry I had last night is repeating on me."
Personally I would tend to prefer the usage "Please repeat that", but I don't think it is likely anyone would misunderstand "Please repeat".
The following usage of repeat is definitely of common or semi-common usage in Australian English, based on experience. The word would not be used this way:
"I had a huge night out on Friday and spent most of Saturday morning repeating in the bathroom";
but might well be used this way:
"I stayed up until 3 after eating that kebab which kept repeating on me and wouldn't let me lie down".
It generally means a sort of unpleasant half regurgitation, somewhere north of a burp and south of a retch.
While it's amusing to think that the different usages could be confused here in Aus, I can't remember ever making such a confusion or having to explain myself in correcting somebody else's. (Though I'd be far more likely to use "say that again?" or just "say again?" than "please repeat" while speaking with a person...)
A person doesn't "repeat" with this meaning of the word. A flavor repeats, or the act of swallowing the food may repeat if there is some regurgitation. In both of those cases it is not a person that is repeating, it is a food, or beverage that is repeating.
based on this idea it would be difficult for someone to mistake another persons request to "repeat" as that meaning. Unless you were in the land of giants, where it may be common for people to be eaten, and therefore repeat on the Giant's digestive system.
As a native speaker, I've sometimes heard the phrase "repeat on me" used informally to mean belching or burping. E.g. "That chilli con carne is repeating on me now". In other words, my stomach is slightly upset now because of the meal, and it's making me burp. I've never heard it used to mean vomit.
However, just "repeat" without the "on me" part, as in your question - "Could you please repeat?" would always be understood to mean "Could you please repeat that?", and never "Could you please vomit".
Sorry, but your teacher is wrong. Please give him or her our greetings and a link to this page :)
The teacher was wrong to say it sometimes means to vomit.
To 'repeat' means to retaste the food you've recently eaten in a burp. It's a bit unpleasant.
The teacher was right in that the request,
'could you please repeat?', might be seen as a bit impolite.
'Could you please repeat that?' is more correct. The most polite way would be
'could you repeat that, please?'.
However, no one would think you were asking the other person to vomit, or belch.
Your teacher was making a (lame) joke. The point was that "Could you please repeat?" is not correct English. Repeat is a transitive verb, and as far as I know, no native speakers say "repeat" without an object. If you say, "Please repeat." over the phone, you'll sound like an ESL speaker...or a robot.
The colloquial term would be used thus: "that dinner is repeating on me". It most often means slight indigestion in the form of bile rising above the oesophagus into or near to the mouth. It does not mean to vomit, but rather a far less dramatic return of the food that is said to be "repeating".
No native English speaker would ever interpret an instruction to repeat something as a request to vomit. For one thing, the word cannot meaningfully be used in that sense in the imperative. And in any case, the context would make clear that this was not what was intended.
Examples of this usage:
"I like strawberry protein shake best but it tends to repeat on me."
"Ugh, that dinner is repeating on me."
"It was a great curry but it repeated on me all night."
I'm a native English speaker from Canada, and until this evening I had never heard the word used that way before tonight. My roommate (it may be helpful for establishing how the word's usage in different English-speaking countries, or regions in the US, may differ in this particular case to know that my roommate is Irish, but has lived in both the Southwestern United States and south England) asked me whether it was normal in Canada to use the word "repeat" in connection with "regurgitate". I honestly had to ask him several times to repeat himself (luckily, he hadn't eaten that day!) as I thought I merely misheard him. I was genuinely quite surprised to find an actual definition of the term existed which did, indeed, seem to confirm his recollection of having heard it used before and using it himself earlier that day. But he had used it as "I've been repeating all day".
Referring back to the question's original intent, whether you would be misunderstood say, on the telephone, I will propose this possibility. Though I wouldn't have misunderstood before having been asked to confirm this definition, I most likely will in the future, however, be aware of the fact that "to repeat" can have this definition. And so I may reply either in jest (Sorry, I haven't yet dined, but I may be repeating later if you'd care to join me!), or normally, but being aware that the other speaker has left out the "that" normally put at the end of that accusative sentence. -