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Let's say I am on the phone with my friend, and due to poor reception or him being in a crowded location, it is impossible for me to hear what he is saying, Can I say

There is a lot of noise/ disturbance on your side? Can you please speak up?

Is the use of noise/disturbance and on your side idiomatic(native speakers) here?

  • I don't see why it wouldn't be! – Mistu4u Oct 7 '13 at 17:08
  • @Mistu4u I know! But I looked it up and I did not find a lot of phrases with 'disturbance', I saw static often, which I last heard in eletrodynamics :). – Thor Oct 7 '13 at 17:14
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    I tend to say, "There's a lot of static on your end" but I'd totally understand what you mean by "disturbance" – Affable Geek Oct 7 '13 at 17:28
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    Thor, your title would be more natural with the word telephone instead of telephonic, which sounds unusual and very strange. – Tristan Oct 7 '13 at 18:03
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I would say it like this, probably:

There is a lot of noise (or commotion) at your end. Can you please speak louder?

At least in the U.S., "at your end" seems more natural than "on your side." We often say things like, "on your end of the phone" (or "on my end of the phone").

In the context of cell phone usage, I might regard a disturbance as poor reception. You've asked about a noisy room, which is why I prefer commotion.

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  • Disturbance reminds me of Star Wars: "There is a disturbance in the Force." ;) Commotion would make me think of excitement, even if I know it could mean "sudden noisy." Is sudden really what makes the difference between commotion and confusion? – kiamlaluno Oct 7 '13 at 22:50
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    @kiamlaluno - I think noise is the difference between commotion and confusion. (One can be confused in a silent environment, such as when you are confused by a brain teaser, or straining to remember something like a shopping list or old password.) A synonym for commotion would be din, but, for whatever reason, I rarely hear that word in conversation. The O.P.'s noise works okay, too. – J.R. Oct 7 '13 at 23:20
  • As a native British English speaker I find "at your end" more natural as well. – starsplusplus Mar 21 '14 at 15:56
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Any of noise, static, interference would be okay in OP's context, but not disturbance.

I think more commonly, people tend to say "It's a noisy line". More often than not, you don't really know whether the noise is "coming from" one end or the other of the connection (and if it's not caused by the actual equipment at either end, who is to say which "side" it's coming from?).

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Is the use of noise/disturbance and on your side idiomatic(native speakers) here?

I have not heard anyone say that in England or the rest of the UK.

In circumstances where there is a lot of noise at the other person's location, people usually say something like It's very noisy at your end. Please speak up or Please speak louder. In this context, people normally use the word end instead of side.

In circumstances where there is poor reception/a poor signal, people usually say something like I can't hear you properly. The line is bad or the line is breaking up.

The exact wording used can vary so, people usually use these suggestions or some variation of them.

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It is correct and fine to say "disturbance on your side" in a telephone conversation.

"Disturbance on your side" means exactly what it sounds like it means, therefore it is not an idiom. It expicitly refers to a disturbance, which is on the other end of the communication line relative to the speaker.

An idiom is a phrase which either assigns a meaning to some instance of bad grammar ("catch as catch can"), or an understood meaning which is quite different from and cannot be deduced fromn the literal meaning ("kick the bucket").

Colloquially, people use "idiom" when they mean "oft-used phrase" or "canned phrase associated with a situation"; but strictly speaking, these are different concepts. Not all idioms are often used, and not all often used or canned phrases are idioms: only when their meaning is other than the literal one.

There isn't any special, often used, or preferred/expected way to express the idea "disturbance on your side", so you can be as creative as you like.

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