Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversations: Cultural Differences (part 3 of 3)

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Introduction Hi! Lori here, welcoming you to another episode of Real English Conversations from Better at English. Again, I apologize for the poor audio quality this time, but I’m still posting from abroad, using my laptop. This is the third and final episode of a three part series in which Michael and I discuss some of the potentially embarrassing differences between British and American English dialects. This episode takes up right where we left off in part two, so if you are a new listener you might want to go back and listen to parts one and two before you listen to part three. You can find all the previous episodes and full transcripts on the website, www.betteratenglish.com. Hey ho, let’s go! Conversation Transcript Michael: Well, do you know, just to change the subject slightly, you just reminded me of something, of a very good friend of mine, an English computer programmer who went on a business trip to the United States. And when he was over there, somebody asked him where one of the other programmers was ’cause they couldn’t find him. And my friend Peter said, “Oh, I think he’s just popped outside for a fag.” Lori: Oh, dear! M: Now, in British English the word fag is a very, very common, perfectly innocent slang word for a cigarette. L: Right. M: And everybody knows it, everybody uses it, and you would be far more likely to talk about a fag and fags as being cigarettes than you would actually say cigarette. L: Uh huh. M: So, but, but the look that the American fellow gave to Peter, saying that he nipped outside for a fag, was quite priceless. So he had to explain on the spot, “No that’s not what I meant,” because, as we know, the word fag in American English is a slang word for somebody who is homosexual. L: Yeah, usually, a male, male…and it’s not a very nice word I think, from what I’ve understood. It’s a derogatory word for… M: That’s, that’s what I understood. L: …it’s not very nice to say. M: But it was a perfectly innocent mistake, but you just reminded me of that. L: I know! No, it’s funny. And these are the kind of things…I’m not sure they even teach those types of words, you know, I’ve never seen that taken up in a mainstream ELT [English Language Teaching] course book. M: Well, probably not. But it’s the kind of thing that, as we know from experience, this kind of mistake is very easy to make. And if you wanted to sound particularly, umm, if you wanted to sound like your English was British English, then knowing words like that, that fag for cigarette, is…would be a very important one. You would need to know what it was—and not to get it confused. L: Exactly. M: You know, umm, so, I mean, a typical thing, “I’m just going to the shop to buy some fags,” you know is an ev– L: [laughs] It’s like, what kind of shops do you have over there? M: [laughs] I know, I can understand… L: Didn’t know they sold those! M: That’s, well, when you come back from abroad in the duty-free you can get 200 fags very cheaply! L: OK, yeah, they have them on discount. Oh, funny! M: But I can understand this must sound ridiculous to you [as an American], but as a British guy this is just normal speak, this is what we say. L: Well, that’s another thing: Do you consider yourself British or do you consider yourself English, or, does it matter? M: Well no, I’m English. I’m very much English. I’m sure you don’t want to know about my family history, but no, I think of myself as being English. L: OK M: And certainly the other countries, I mean, Scotland and Ireland and Wales, they like to think of themselves as being exclusively Scottish and Irish, they don’t really like to be thought of as being British. L: Mmm hmm. M: I think they prefer to be thought of as independent. So…But, I don’t know, I think foreigners tend to think of…the people on that little green island in the middle of the sea, umm, as just being British. It’s just easier to say, to say Britain, you know. L: Mmm hmm. M: Umm, but no, I’m English. That’s it, yeah. L: OK, and is it actually offensive to be called British, or…? M: Not if you’re English. But in…actually, some…as I was suggesting, that the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh people could be offended to be called British. L: Really? M: Oh yeah, because, umm, they very much, you know, they like to have their independence, and I’m not completely sure, but I think that some…we have an independent Irish parliament now. They’re still governed overall by the English parliament, but they try to break away, really. And certainly in southern Ireland, which is known as Eire, they’re not British. I mean, they’re not part of the United Kingdom. It’s all, it’s all kind of complicated—I’m from the country and I don’t even understand it properly! Final words OK, that’s it for this episode of Real English Conversations at Better At English. Before I sign off, I just want to thank you all for listening and for your continued support. Paul’s generous donation came in right after I posted my latest message to you all—thanks so much, Paul! And Michael, your donation just popped in a few minutes ago as I was preparing this episode—thanks so much! If you’d like to leave feedback about the site, you can email me at info AT BetterAtEnglish DOT com, or leave a message on my voicemail line at 1 (for the USA) 206 350 2283. And don’t forget that your donations make the Better at English possible, so if you get value from the show, please visit the website www.betteratenglish.com and make a donation. Your support really means a lot! Vocabulary list Popped To pop [+ adverb or preposition] is an informal way of saying “to go quickly” in Br.E. For example, “I’m just going to pop into the post office to buy some stamps.” Fag An informal word for cigarette in Br.E. In Am.E, fag is a disparaging (i.e., not nice) word for a male homosexual. It has several other meanings as well — see here. Oh, dear! A common exclamation of surprise. Nipped To go quickly. Similar to to pop (see above). Priceless If something is extremely amusing to see or hear, you can describe it as priceless. On the spot If you do something on the spot, you do it immediately. In this example, Michael’s friend had to immediately explain that “fag” means cigarette in British English. Derogatory If something is derogatory, it shows disapproval or disrespect. Duty-free The duty-free is short for “the duty-free shop.” Duty-free shops are usually found in airports, and are special shops where travelers can buy goods that are free of government taxes. Duty-free shops usually sell “luxury” items that normally carry heavy government taxes, such as alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, and cosmetics. On discount If something is on discount, it is being sold at a reduced price. Offensive If something is offensive, it means that it causes someone to feel upset, angry, or hurt. People can be offended by something, or take offense at something. Copyright 2008 L. Linstruth – www.betteratenglish.com. Real English Conversations: Cultural Differences (part 3 of 3) Less

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Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversation: junk food (part 2 of 3)

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Download Listen Download PDF Download English lesson podcast and transcript Hello, Lori here welcoming you to another episode of Real English Conversations from Better at English.com. In today’s episode, Michael and I continue our discussion about the English government’s decision to ban junk food ads on television before 9 pm, when children are likely to be watching. This is the second of a three-part series, so if you missed the first part you might want to listen to that first. In this episode we inadvertently end up discussing some differences in British and American English vocabulary. As always, you’ll find the full transcript and vocabulary notes on the website, www.betteratenglish.com. Here we go! Conversation transcript L: …do you know what their rationale was, why children, and not just ban them across the board? M: I don’t know the exact reason, but I assumed it was because of this, umm…this…the difficulty that that parents have in, you know, the kids going, “Mum, Mum! I…” You know? I don’t know the exact reason. L: OK, because I…I would think that, I mean, that that’s one reason, but another reason could be that when you’re a child, that your basic eating habits and your relationship to food, that a lot of that is formed by the habits you form as a child. M: OK. L: And so that’s all the more reason to not be making it any harder on kids than it already is… M: That’s inter- yeah… L: …to develop good, healthy eating habits and… M: Right. L: Umm… M: Well, do you remember when, I mean, back when you were at school, L: Uh huh? M: Uhh…did, I mean you…I assume that you ate your lunches at school? Did you have school dinners? L: Yeah we had school “lunches” we would call them. M: Oh, OK, OK. L: Yeah, school lunches, yeah. M: Umm, but I mean, what was the food like then? I mean was it healthful, healthy food or? L: It’s…it’s hard to say I think it could have probably been healthier. I know in high school they always had salads and things, but there was so much junk food, just fried food. M: And what did the kids eat? Which did they choose? Do I need to ask? L: It would depend. You know, the health conscious ones would try to be healthy but there was a lot of, there’s a lot of umm…denial and sort of strange rationalization going on when it comes to food. For example, I know that I had girlfriends who would buy for their snack, they would buy this big bag of trail mix, thinking that “oh yeah, it’s healthy because it’s natural.” But the thing is, is that you know, eating this huge bag of nuts and dried fruit, you know all that concentrated energy — and there were little bits of chocolate and things as well — that that really, unless you’re out climbing mountains all day long, which is when you need something like trail mix… M: That’s why they call it trail mix! L: That if you just, yeah, you know you don’t need this huge gigantic pouch of trail mix just to get you through your biology lesson. M: Sure, that’s right, right. L: But you know, still… M: No, totally. L: …rationalizing it saying that, “Oh, oh I got this because it’s healthy.” M: Yeah. L: Umm…”because it’s natural.” M: Well I thought, yeah, the…the school meals thing, let’s call them school meals — you call them err…school lunches and I call them school dinners, umm, but with the school meals, err…it’s something that when you’re…you’re a kid…err…at school, I can remember back at school and there would be chips or what, err you, err “French fries.” L: Yeah, “fries.” M: Yeah, err for you, they’re always on the menu, always and no matter what myself or my friends would eat, we would always have chips, and loads! As many as possible, they were the yummiest thing going! Umm but there was something…are you familiar, you know who Jamie Oliver is? L: Oh yeah, sure, the Naked Chef! M: TV naked chef! L: Yeah. M: Umm…but he was being very outspoken just recently about how really, really bad the choice of food…is in school, umm and he was trying to bring this to people’s attention, using his celebrity status, and I don’t…I don’t think…this wasn’t a money-making thing or anything like that, he was just using his…his position to make people aware of it and pointing out all these…all these things. So in the light of that, because this is a…this was a very recent thing too, in the light of that, this is very interesting that the government has taken this step. L: Yeah, I think…I think it’s a move in the right direction. I would…I would support …a total ban on advertisement, because that’s just one reason, you know, one more reason that you might watch TV — to get at the good things that TV has to offer — is that you know you won’t be subjected to all of these, these advertisements that you don’t want to see. M: Right, well I mean, there are, I mean. L: You know, advertising things that are bad for you, that hurt you but that are… M: Of course. L: …still so compelling that maybe in your life you’re doing everything you can to cut out the junk food and then you’re sitting there, maybe even on a diet, if you’re someone who’s trying to lose weight… M: Oh yeah. L: …so you’re watching TV at night and the Haagen Dazs ad comes on. M: [laughs] L: With this…beautiful images of these gorgeous ice cream creations in front of you and… M: Oh. L: I mean it…it is really hard; that just puts the idea of food into your head and… M: That’s torture, that’s torture. L: Yeah, horrible torture… [To be continued in part 3] Final words That’s all for this time, thanks for listening! We love to hear from you, so if you’ve got questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to e-mail us at info [AT] betteratenglish [dot] com. Your continued donations make Better at English possible, so if you are a regular listener who enjoys the show, please consider making a donation. See you next time! Vocabulary list going In informal conversation, native speakers often introduce reported speech with the verb go. Many careful users of English disapprove of using go in this way, so you should not copy it. making it (any) harder on To make it harder on someone means to make it more difficult or unpleasant for them. school dinners/lunches In British English, the meal you eat at midday is often called “dinner.” In American English, this meal is most often called “Lunch,” and the evening meal is often called “dinner” or “supper.” Note that there is much regional/dialectal variation in the area of meal names. healthy/healthful In everyday English, healthy means (1) contributing to good health, and (2) possessing good health. So it’s OK to say “a healthy diet” (a diet that contributes to good health) and “a healthy child” (a child who possesses good health). But some careful users of English say that meaning (1) is wrong, and that to talk about things that contribute to good health you should use the word healthful. If you are writing a paper for someone like this, you should use healthful to talk about things that contribute to good health. Otherwise, you use healthy for both meanings, as most native speakers do. health conscious If you are health conscious, you are very interested in good health and try to live a healthy/healthful lifestyle. trail mix Trail mix is a type of food for backpacking, hiking or other endurance activities. It is designed to be very calorie-dense for its weight. It typically contains nuts and dried fruit, and may also contain bits of chocolate (such as M&Ms or Smarties) or other candy. rationalizing If you rationalize, you try to find valid reasons to explain your decisions or behavior, usually to make yourself feel better about it. The noun form is rationalization. outspoken If you are outspoken, you express your opinions and views very directly without worrying about what other people will think about them. torture Torture is the act of inflicting extreme mental or physical pain on someone to get them to do what you want them to do, such as confess a crime or reveal a secret. Sometimes people torture others just to be cruel and horrible. But the word torture is often used informally to denote any unpleasant experience. Less

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Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversations: skill or luck?

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Hi! Lori here, welcoming you to another edition of Real English Conversations here at Better At English dot com. Before we get into the conversation, I want to thank everyone who has submitted book recommendations – I’ve started listing them on the website and will continue to list them throughout the week. And I’d also like to thank everyone who has let me know how you feel about mild swearing in these casts. The verdict has been overwhelming: swearing it OK with you. Only one person has said it’s not OK. In fact, many of you actually think that understanding the more vulgar or “colorful” side of English would actually be useful. But I don’t want to offend anyone, so here is what I’ll do: if any of my casts contain vulgar words or provocative, semi-naughty topics, I will alert you at the beginning. That way you can choose not to listen if you don’t want to. So here is my first alert: the following cast contains one very-mild-but-still-vulgar expression. So if that would be offensive to you, then I suggest you not listen any further. OK, enough of my yakkin’ – here’s the conversation. Real English Conversation Transcript Lori: Have you ever played the game Rock, Paper, Scissors? Rock, Paper, Scissors link to YouTube video Michael: Yes, umm, but I’m not very good at it. L: You’re not very good at it? Well, I was just reading that there was an actual competition, a world championship in Rock, Paper, Scissors, and that the UK, the UK kicked America’s ass in the rock paper s… M: Well that makes me proud to be British! That we… Rock, Paper, Scissors! L: I mean, it’s such a childish game — I can’t even imagine that that there would even be — I mean that’s like having the championship in thumb wrestling! Thumb Wrestling link to YouTube video M: Nnn.. actually, no, I disagree. Because I think that thumb wrestling, with thumb wrestling there is a lot of skill involved. L: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s all in the technique . M: Abso- exactly. But with, with Rock, Paper, Scissors — I could be completely wrong — umm L: Uh huh M: But I think that it’s all down to luck. L: Uh huh. M: Umm, or maybe that’s just my excuse for being so bad at it. I always seem to lose and so I can put it down to bad luck, that I, I seem to pick the wrong one, but umm… L: Yeah, well, in the, in the article that I was reading — it was also on the BBC – M: OK L: Umm, in the article they were talking about the tactics and saying that — they were comparing it to poker… M: O- L: …actually, saying that… M: -K L: …that they have to do a lot of hard work and spend a lot of time practicing and training, learning about tactics and body language, and that it’s act…that they bluff so much, just like you do in poker. M: I’m trying to imagine how you bluff making a fist or, you know, holding your hand flat, or making the scissors shape. L: Yeah, they’re actually that they have a special word for it; they called the bluffing they do priming, and that allows the players to sort of fake a move… M: Oh, make it look like you… L: And sort of trick their opponent into making the wrong, you know, making the move that they want them to make… with all the subtle body language and umm, you know, psychological tactics… so actually there might be more to it than meets the eye… M: Mmm, well there, I suppose there must be… L: …with this Rock, Paper, Scissors thing. M: Umm, but to be honest Lori, I think that the reason, umm, when you…telling me about this, I, I compare it to something like, umm, world championship coin flipping. L: Mmm hmm. Oh right yeah, that it’s… M: Heads or tails. L: Exactly. M: I mean, OK, so there’s one extra, I mean, so there’s three sides that we’ve got to consider… L: Well, I think… M: ummm…but, no, that’s amazing. L: I think were going to have to put it to empirical test… M: OK L: And I think — just to do right by my own country — that I’m gonna have to challenge you. M: [laughs] L: …to a Rock, Paper, Scissors contest… M: Oh goodness me, I don’t know whether I can… L: …fighting for the dignity of my own country. M: …possibly…you’re only saying this ’cause I’ve already admitted I’m terrible! L: Yeah, well, so am I. And you al-, you already kick my ass at thumb wrestling, we know that so…anyway M: OK, we’ll have to, OK we’ll do that, we’ll do that. L: OK I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Real English Conversations. You can visit the website, Better at English dot com for the full transcript and for a link to the original BBC article that inspired this conversation. I’ve also added a couple of short videos that demonstrate Rock, Paper, Scissors AND Thumb Wrestling. As always, I welcome your feedback about the show. You can email me at info at better at English dot com, or call the voice mail line at +1 (for the USA), 206 350 2283. See you next time here at Better at English dot com! Bye for now… Link to BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6159658.stm Vocabulary list Rock, Paper, Scissors A two-player game played with hand gestures. Each player makes a rock, paper, or scissors gesture on the count of three. Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock. Sometimes adults use this game as a friendly way to settle a dispute. The UK kicked America’s ass To kick someone’s ass is informal slang for “to beat someone at something.” In this example, the UK beat the USA at Rock, Paper, Scissors. Thumb wrestling Thumb wrestling is a child’s game (but adults can play too) in which two opponents lock fingers and try to “wrestle” with their thumbs. The winner is the one who manages to pin the opponent’s thumb down. (See photos). It’s all down to luck The expression “x is all down to y” means that x is caused by y, or that x is depends on y. Michael means that winning Rock, Paper, Scissors is a matter of luck, not skill. Put it down to bad luck To put something down to x means to attribute it to x, to say that it is caused by x, to blame x for it. Michael means that he doesn’t win at Rock, Paper, Scissors because he has bad luck in the game; he loses the game because of bad luck, not a lack of skill. Pick To pick something means to choose it or select it Tactics Tactics are a strategic plan you have to win or achieve something. Bluff If you “bluff” in poker, you pretend to have better cards than you actually have, to try to get your opponents to give up (fold). In general terms, “to bluff” means “to deceive someone by making them think either that you are going to do something when you really have no intention of doing it, or that you have knowledge that you do not really have, or that you are someone else” Priming To prime something means to prepare it. In the Rock, Paper, Scissors game, if you “bluff” you are priming your opponent to make the wrong move. Fake To fake something means to pretend. For example, you can fake a feeling or an illness, that is, pretend you have a feeling or illness that you don’t really have. The Rock, Paper, Scissors players can “fake” a move: pretend that they are going to execute a different move than the one they actually make. Move A move is an action you take in a game. In this case, the moves are forming your hand into the rock, paper, or scissors shape. Trick To trick someone is to fool or deceive them, usually as part of a plan. Subtle In this case, subtle (adj.) means “small and difficult to notice, but still important.” More to it than meets the eye If there is more to something than meets the eye, it is more difficult to understand or involves more things than it seems at the beginning. At first it might seem that Rock, Paper, Scissors is a simple game of chance with no skill involved, but it you analyze it carefully you might find that being a champion player takes a lot of skill. Suppose If you suppose something, you think it is likely, but you are not sure enough about it to say “I know.” Coin flipping Michael compares Rock, Paper, Scissors to coin flipping (tossing a coin in the air and letting it fall down on its own – chance will determine which side it lands on). Coin flipping (or coin tossing) is often used as an example of a random event. He means that there is no skill involved in Rock, Paper, Scissors; it’s a matter of chance just like coin flipping. Heads or tails The two sides of a coin are called the “head” (front side) and the “tail” (back side). Usually the “head” side features the head or bust of a famous person. To put it to empirical test If you put something to (a) test, it means you experiment to see if something is true. Empirical means real-world experience rather than theory or opinion. To do right by my own country If you do right by somebody or something, it means that you do the right thing for them, to treat them well or do something that is good for them. Oh goodness me! Oh goodness me is an expression used to show surprise, similar to “Oh my goodness” Copyright 2008 L. Linstruth – www.betteratenglish.com. Real English Conversations: skill or luck? Less

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Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversations: Lori wants a naked cat

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Download Listen Download PDF Download English lesson podcast and transcript Hi! Lori here, welcoming you to another episode of Real English Conversations from Better at English. I’m currently on vacation in the American southwest, but during a very long car trip I had some time to put this episode together for you. In today’s conversation, my English friend Michael and I talk about whether or not I should get a pet cat. We don’t agree: Michael thinks that the cat I want is ugly, and I think it’s adorably cute. To settle our dispute, we have put a poll on the website that will allow you listeners to vote and give me your advice. If you go to www.betteratenglish.com, you can see photos of videos of the kind of cat we talk about in the conversation, and use the poll to tell me whether you think about my choice of cats. Are you ready? Here we go! (more…) Less

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Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversations: What was he thinking?

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Transcript Introduction Hi there! Lori here, welcoming you to another edition of Real English Conversations at Better at English dot com. Thanks to everyone who’s answered my question about the vocabulary notes in Better at English transcripts. Your answer is an overwhelming “Yes, we need the vocabulary notes.?? So to help you learn English, as time permits I will continue to post transcripts and vocabulary notes for all Better at English podcasts. However, there is something you can do to help: if you are feeling generous, you could always support my work by making a donation. Just click the “donate?? button on the website, www.betteratenglish.com, to learn about how you can help. Warning: some of you might find today’s conversation topic somewhat offensive, because Michael and I talk about a rather vulgar and disturbing video that we saw on the Internet, and a related story on the BBC website. It’s about people doing amazingly stupid things to their own bodies, and involves talking about a body part that is considered rather vulgar. So if you are sensitive or easily offended, you should not listen to this conversation. For those of you who are not easily offended, there are links to the video and the BBC article on the website. And as always, the full conversation transcript and accompanying vocabulary notes are also available on the website. So hey ho, let’s go! Conversation transcript Lori: Do you remember a while back there was this horrible video going around, you know one of these, umm, video links that friends pass around in email forwards? Michael: Mmm hmm L: And the video was of…I think it was a teenage guy who took a rocket… M: a firework L: a firework rocket, and put it in a very, very sensitive area and actually lit it, and you could just see him running around and screaming and, and the flame and…do you remember that? M: That, I have, umm, the image of that is burned in my memory, no pun intended. [link to video: warning, it is rude and vulgar watch at your own risk] L: Yeah, and it makes you, you know, the whole Darwin Awards thing, like, so that? M: That was actually…Interestingly enough it was Bonfire Night, November the fifth, as we call…Bonfire Night in England just recently, and I saw on the BBC a news report that somebody had done something similar just recently. I mean this is, what, you know…ten or eleven days ago… that someone had done the same thing with a firework, a rocket, and, uhhh, inserted it into, uhhh… L: An area that doesn’t normally see the sun. M: Yes! That’s a good way of putting it. But the difference here… and I remember the video that you mentioned, I remember seeing that, where the rocket as it was, the firework was facing outwards. L: Uh huh. M: Okay? This guy had put the rocket facing inwards. L: Oooooh! M; I think the idea was…yeah the idea was… L: To shoot it? M: Well, I think he wanted to make it look like “Hey, look I’ve got, ummm, I’m a rocket-powered guy!?? You know… L: Oh dear! M: …it was propelling him forwards, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out and the rocket propelled itself into him. L: Okay so he wanted to make it look like he was shooting flames out of his nether regions… M: That’s right, that’s right but… L: And it actually went inside and… M: It went inside him, yeah. L: Oh my gosh! M: And this, I mean, this was on the national news in England, I mean how embarrassing would that be? L: Oh yeah, did they have his name? M: Ummm… L: Can you imagine applying for a job after something like that, if your name had been…? And, umm, ‘cause that’s the kind of thing people will pass around as well, “Oh look at the stupid thing THIS guy did!?? M: Well I’m never going to forget that, that’s L: Yeah that’s horrifying. I mean even the first one was horrible, I mean…how, why do people do such stupid things? M: That was the…yeah…The thing that really struck me is “What were they thinking??? L: Yeah, what were they thinking? And how can you even get past the age of… three… and not understand that sticking a firecracker or rocket, you know, up your… M: Up your bum. L: Yeah! That’s just not a good idea! How does this happen? M: Well, I don’t know I think, ummm, I mean, it’s okay in cartoons! L: Is that it? That they can’t, that they really just don’t have a concept of, “Wow, these are flames and, and, you know, flames can burn you, and this is a sensitive area, and even a tiny, tiny little flame would just really not be very nice to have…??? M: Well, when you were, when you were young, at sch- I mean at school, ummm didn’t you ever have, ummm, things like the fire brigade come and tell you about these things? Because… L: Oh yeah, yeah, the firefighters would come. M: Because we have, ummm, Bonfire Night every year, traditional for letting off fireworks November the fifth… Just a few days before, the fire brigade for the different local fire brigades would go around to all the schools in Britain and you would have a lecture and they would show a video or slides, a slideshow, showing you the dangers of fireworks. And they would really hit it home. I mean we were told year after year after year that you…all these ground rules…and I can still remember them now. I mean, that you never hold a firework, you know, when you light… you don’t…If you light a firework and it doesn’t go off, you don’t go back to it. L: Oh right, yeah. M: You know, you leave it, because, just because you can’t see the flame burning on the blue touchpaper doesn’t mean it’s not going to go off. L: Right M: You never carry fireworks in your pocket. You never throw fireworks. L: Right M: This stuff, you know, they couldn’t have been stricter about it. I guess they still do that now; they must do that now. L: Mmm M: But maybe people just think they’re invincible. L: Yeah, I guess so, because that to me is just so obvious that that’s just not a good idea. M: Sure, I mean, the guy in the video actually pulled his pants down, and… L: Yeah I remember. M: Terrible. L: That was, it was so horrifying to watch, I remember… M: Yeah yeah L: …just thinking, “Oh my god,?? and “What happened to the poor guy??? And at the same time it serves him right, you know, for being such an idiot. M: I still can’t believe he actually did it. L: I know, me neither! Final words Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Real English Conversations at BetterAtEnglish.com. Remember, I love your feedback: you can email me at [email address], or call the voice mail line at 206 350 2283 and leave a message, ask a question, suggest a topic, or whatever you like. And remember, if you get value from my work, then share the love by leaving a donation. Don’t leave it up to other people…be the first to show your generosity! If enough people donate, I can a use a transcription service to reduce my workload and post more frequent podcasts. Heck, if all subscribers donated 10 dollars per YEAR, I could quit my day job and do B@E full time. Hmm, a girl’s gotta dream a dream… Links Stupid bum rocket video (view at your own risk, it’s vulgar and disgusting) BBC article about a stupid idiot and what he did with a rocket on Guy Fawkes night See the Darwin Awards website for a compendium of human idiocy. Vocabulary list going around If something is going around it is being passed from person to person or from place to place. email forwards emails that people copy and send to their friends, usually because they are funny, entertaining, or interesting burned in my memory If something is burned in/into your memory (or mind), you have a strong, vivid memory of it. no pun intended If what you say is a pun that you didn’t intend, you excuse yourself by saying “no pun intended.?? Darwin Awards The Darwin Awards are given by an organization that “salute[s] the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it…ensuring that the next generation is one idiot smarter. Of necessity, this award is generally bestowed posthumously.” See http://www.darwinawards.com. In short, an award for killing yourself by doing something ridiculously stupid, thus removing yourself from the human gene pool (so you can’t pass on your stupid gene to your children). Bonfire Night Another name for Guy Fawkes Night. “In Britain, the evening of November 5th when models of men, called guys, are burned on large fires outside and there are firework displays. This is in memory of the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605 with explosives.” Inserted If you insert A into B, you put A inside B. see the sun In this context, to see the sun means to be exposed to sunlight. In Western culture, the buttocks (bum (Br. E), rear end, posterior, derrière, butt, etc.) are usually covered by clothing (that is, not exposed to sunlight). Because the buttocks are usually not considered polite to mention, there are lots of euphemisms for talking about that body part. You might also hear the phrase “stick it where the sun don’t shine.” This does not mean “put it in your pocket”; it is a rude and vulgar way to angrily disagree with someone. facing If A is facing B, is turned toward(s) B. propelling To propel something means to push it or move it somewhere, usually with a lot of force. work out In this context, to work out is a phrasal verb meaning to be successful or to achieve the desired result. nether regions A euphemism for the male and female body parts that are usually covered by underwear (the buttocks and genitalia). Oh my gosh! An informal exclamation of surprise or other strong feelings. did they have his name? Did they have his name? in this case means Was the man’s name published in the news article? In authentic, natural conversations, speakers often omit details because they assume that their interlocutor (the person they are speaking to) has enough background information to fill in the blanks. pass around In this case, pass around means be inclined to talk or gossip about. horrifying If something is horrifying, it makes you feel a strong sense of horror or shock. horrible If something is horrible, it is very unpleasant or bad. struck (From the verb strike) If something strikes you, it causes you to feel strongly about it, to think deeply about it, or to remember it. sticking (sth up) In this context, to stick something up something means to insert it into certain bodily orifices. The man in the BBC story stuck a rocket up a bodily orifice where it did not belong. You often see little children sticking their fingers up their noses. But you stick something in your mouth or ear. cartoons Usually funny or amusing films made using animated (drawn) characters and images rather than real actors. fire brigade (Br. E). The organization that is responsible for stopping unwanted fires. In Am.E, fire department) firefighters (Am. E.) A firefighter is a man or woman whose job is to stop unwanted fires (usually as part of the fire department or fire brigade). It is the gender-neutral form of fireman. Apparently, the term fireman is still quite common in Br. E. letting off To let off a firework or rocket means to fire it or make it explode. go around To travel from place to place hit it home If you hit something home it means you make your point about something in a way that makes people understand it. If something hits home for you, it means that caused you to realize and understand it. ground rules Basic principles or rules about something, usually about how you are supposed to behave. go off In this context, to explode. If a firework doesn’t go off, it doesn’t explode. go back To go back to something means to return to it touchpaper (Br. E.) a small piece of (usually blue) paper on one end of a firework, which you light in order to start the firework burning. In Am. E this is usually called the fuse. stricter If you are strict about something, you make it very clear that there will be severe consequences if someone disobeys you or doesn’t follow your rules. invincible impossible to defeat, harm or injure poor In this case, an adjective that shows that you think the person (or thing) you are describing deserves sympathy. it serves him right If you say it serves somebody right, it means that you think the person deserved what happened. Copyright 2008 L. Linstruth – www.betteratenglish.com. Real English Conversations: What was he thinking? Less

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Learn English – Podcast: Real English Conversations: 20 questions game

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Download Listen Download PDF Download English lesson podcast and transcript Hi! Lori here, welcoming you to another episode of Real English Conversations from BetterAtEnglish.com. My English friend Michael and I are back and ready to rock after our long-overdue vacations. In today’s conversation we talk about a fun electronic game that I found out about while on vacation in the States. But before we start with the conversation, I have a really cool tip for you. If you like what we do here at Better at English, you’re sure to enjoy Andrew and Addison’s ESL podcast at China232.com. Just like me, Andrew and Add are tired of the typical boring English learning material and podcasts, and have reacted by creating a fun and free conversational podcast. You can find it at www.china232.com. If you’re keen on improving your English in a fun and entertaining way, you definitely should check it out. OK, let’s get on with today’s conversation. As always, you can find the full transcript and vocabulary notes on our website, www.BetterAtEnglish.com. Here we go! Conversation transcript Lori: OK, you know, every time I go back to the States, it’s usually been a few years since my last visit, and there’s always some new gadget or some new thing that’s come along that I just for some reason hadn’t heard about in Sweden. Michael: Mm hmm. L: And this time it was that 20Q game. M: Oh yeah (laughs), that’s…it’s a great little thing, I think you should tell our listeners a little bit more about that. L: Yeah it’s this unbelievable little game, you just hold it in your hand and it’s computerized and the idea is for you to think of an object and then the…the little game asks you 20 questions, and more often than not, it’s actually able to guess what you’re thinking about. (more…) Less

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