A conversation with my (lovely) mum in which we generally witter on about a number of different things including some British history, ways of describing rain, different expressions for talking (like rambling and wittering), my mum’s accent, what she thinks of this podcast and some of her podcast recommendations. Vocabulary is explained after the conversation and there is a vocabulary list available below.
Today on the podcast, you’re going to listen to a conversation with my Mum and I’m going to explain some of the vocabulary that comes up naturally in that conversation.
Here are some of the topics that we talked about:
- a bit of British history from the Regency period (that’s the Jane Austen period of British History) including descriptions of ballroom dances and men in tight trousers
- some descriptions of how we talk about rain in British English
- a few expressions related to ways of talking such as the words ‘rambling’ ‘wittering’ and ‘bickering’
- what my mum thinks of my podcast
- some of mum’s podcast recommendations – her favourite podcasts that she listens to and how she likes to listen to them
- and various other things that you can discover as you listen to the conversation in full
At the end I will be going through some of the vocabulary that you are going to hear, which should help you to learn some really nice, natural English phrases, the kind of English that my mum speaks.
I’ve highlighted some words and phrases in bold and there are definitions and comments [in brackets].
- I typed up the minutes of a meeting of a volunteer group I belong to.
[typed up = converted handwritten notes into a document on a computer]
[minutes of a meeting = the notes describing what happened in the meeting, usually written, typed up and then kept as a record of what happened]
- It’s a very tedious job but someone has to do it.
[tedious = boring]
- Did you volunteer to do that or did someone delegate that responsibility to you?
[to delegate something to someone = to give someone a responsibility]
- *Mum bangs the microphone and apologises* Mum: Oh, sorry I think I just banged the microphone and made a noise. Luke: Flagging it up like that may have just made it worse than it would have been.
[to flag something up = to bring it to everybody’s attention]
- The fact that you brushed against the microphone slightly.
[to brush against something = to touch something a little bit as you move past it, make contact with something as you move past it, probably by accident] [brush up on something also means to improve your skill, e.g. to brush up on your English – but that’s the idiomatic version of the phrase]
- The building had a complete renovation which was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
[a renovation = the appearance was changed in order to make the building look new again. The building had a renovation. It was renovated.]
[it was funded by = it was paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A fund = a collection of money which is collected for a particular purpose. Verb – to fund something = to provide the money for something]
- One of the conditions was that the town council would stage community events.
[verb – to stage an event = to organise and present an event. Noun – a stage – a platform where performances happen, e.g. in a theatre]
- It dates back to the 18th century some time.
[dates back to = it comes from that time, it originates from that time. E.g. this building dates back to the late 1700s]
- It was used as a petty sessions court.
[petty sessions = court sessions or court procedures which are for petty crimes]
- Petty crimes
[less serious crimes, also called “summary offences” in legal English. The serious ones are called “indictable offences”]
- Just fairly petty, trivial offences, like drunkenness etc.
[trivial = another word for ‘not very important or serious’]
- We have a lovely Regency ballroom.
[a ballroom = a fancy looking room where formal dances are staged.
Regency = a period of British history including the very end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century]
- Going to the ball was a very good way of meeting people.
[a ball = a dance]
- The dances were danced en-masse, like a folk dance.
[en-masse = in a group, together. It’s a French phrase that we use in English]
[a folk dance = folk here refers to the traditions and culture of ordinary people, not upper class people or nobility. When I think of ‘folk’ I think of the countryside, farming communities, acoustic instruments, simple clothing and group dances that involve old traditions]
- Men would be wearing these kinds of frilly shirts and tight trousers, and neckties.
[ frilly = a design of a shirt that has fabric with lots of folds in it – see the pic]
Heaving bosoms (!)
[ a bosom = a woman’s breasts or ‘bust’. Heaving = full and pushed up]
- The dresses were fitted under the bust.
[ the bust = the breasts. “bust” is a singular noun used to describe the whole area of the breasts. It’s a woman’s chest, basically]
- What with the men’s legs and the ladies’ busts, it was quite interesting! [What with (all the) + noun . This is a way to say “because of” but you put the noun at the beginning of the sentence. E.g. It was difficult to hear him because of all the noise. What with all the noise, it was difficult to hear him. It was quite interesting because of the men’s legs and the ladies’ busts. What with the men’s legs and the ladies’ busts, it was quite interesting!]
- In common parlance we talk about the Regency era.
[common parlance = the things that people usually say]
- If it starts pissing down (with rain)…
[raining heavily – a slightly rude but very common expression]
- It’s raining cats and dogs
[raining heavily – an idiom that we don’t really use much any more]
- It’s bucketing (it) down
[raining heavily – a common, informal expression]
- It’s “shuttering” down
[what my Gran used to say, but nobody else said it I think!]
- Episode 135 – “Raining Animals” https://teacherluke.co.uk/2013/06/17/135-raining-animals – an episode I did about the subject of heavy rain and whether animals ever do rain down from the sky
- To ramble / To ramble on
[to talk for a fairly long time in quite an unfocused way. It’s sometimes annoying because someone doesn’t get to the point. Note – not rumble.]
[to ramble on means to continue rambling] to ramble on + about + something
- To witter / To witter on
[it’s similar to ‘ramble’. To ‘witter’ means to talk without really saying anything important. It can be used in a negative way, as in “Stop wittering on!”]
[to witter on = to continue wittering] to witter on + about + something
- “A ramble chat” as Adam Buxton would say.
[Adam Buxton calls his conversations ‘ramble chats’ on his podcast]
- What on earth do people want to hear me wittering on for?
[what… for? = why. e.g. Why did you do that? What did you do that for?]
- Why (on earth) do people want to hear me wittering on?
[Do you enjoy listening to my Mum wittering on? Let us know in the comment section]
- The kind of English that Jacob Reese Mogg would speak.
[A Conservative politician who is very posh and upper class, and speaks with an obvious heightened RP accent. My mum doesn’t like him]
- Don’t go there! Don’t even go there!
[Don’t start talking about that!]
- Luke: I think you speak RP. Gill: Yep, I’d go along with that.
[I’d go along with that = I agree]
- Some of them are a bit rambly and go on a bit but most of them are excellent.
[rambly = the adjective for the verb ‘ramble’]
[to go on a bit = to talk for a bit too long]
- Backlisted podcast – They do a podcast every fortnight, talking about backlisted books, which are books that are mainly out of print or aren’t popular in bookshops.
[a fortnight = two weeks – just UK English]
[backlisted books = books which are out of print – I don’t need to explain that, do I? Still, nice language]
- They’re so knowledgeable and yet they’re not academic, they’re not stuffy.
[knowledgeable = knows a lot about things, has a lot of knowledge. Can you say it? He knows a lot. He has lots of knowledge of the subject. He’s very knowledgeable about it.]
[stuffy = formal and old-fashioned, a negative and disapproving word]
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon – it’s written from the point of view of an autistic child.
[autistic = suffering from autism. Autism = a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, difficulties in communicating, problems with seeing and hearing, repetitive behavior, etc.]
- We just peruse the different shelves and tables.
[to peruse = to browse, read, investigate in a relaxed and casual manner]
- James is Whatsapping us while we’re on the podcast. How dare he?
[Whatsapp = a messaging app on your phone. To ‘whatsapp’ someone = to send someone a message on Whatsapp.]
[How dare he? – usually How dare you? – It’s used when you’re shocked or unhappy with someone’s behaviour]
- James tweeted to Mark Kermode (Mark had tweeted that he was listening to a couple of soundtrack albums for films by William Friedkin, and James replied saying he’d “snapped up” the soundtrack to a Friedkin film called Sorcerer. Mark is a big fan of Friedkin, especially Sorcerer, and he liked the tweet.)
[snapped up = took quickly, like a crocodile would take something]
- The Frank Skinner Podcast (Absolute Radio)
- (Frank Skinner) He’s very witty, very articulate, very quick witted.
[witty = funny, able to make quick jokes. Quick witted = with a fast brain for making jokes or quick comments]
- He’s from our neck of the woods. He’s from West Bromwich. It’s in The Black Country. It’s part of the midlands.
[our neck of the woods = the area where we live]
[The Black Country is a region of the West Midlands in England, west of Birmingham, and commonly refers to all or part of the four Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. It’s called the Black Country because in the mid 19th century there were many iron working foundries and forges that produced a lot of black smoke and because of the coal mines that produced the black rock and dust from under the ground.
- People say people from Birmingham sound untrustworthy.
[untrustworthy = can’t be trusted]
- Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Review (aka The Wittertainment Podcast) @Wittertainment
- (Mark and Simon) They seem to be on the same wavelength, but they play this game of being irritated with each other all the time.
[On the same wavelength = they think in the same way]
[to be irritated with someone = to be annoyed by someone]
- They just witter away with each other.
[to witter away = to witter on]
- They bicker with each other. Bickering, getting at each other, a bit like an old married couple.
[to bicker with someone = to argue but not very seriously]
[to get at someone = to criticise someone again and again]
- As far as I can gather, most of my listeners listen when they’re on public transport.
[gather = to understand. Gather can also mean ‘collect’, e.g. to gather firewood. Here it means ‘gather information’ or just ‘understand’]
There’s no language quiz this time. The reason for that is that it takes absolutely ages to create them and I wonder how many of you are actually using them! Let me know if you have used the language quizzes that I’ve done for recent episodes of the podcast. If there is enough demand for language quizzes, I can try and bring them back.
Give me your feedback – I need to know what you think.
Podcast and Book Recommendations from Mum
- Backlisted Podcast
- Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Review Podcast
- The Frank Skinner Podcast on Absolute Radio
- The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andrew Miller (book)