Category Archives: Slang

767. Amber & Paul in the Podcastle

Two hours of PodPal action for your enjoyment. This one has a bit of everything. Some audience questions, an idioms game, some dodgy jokes, accents, impressions and more. Video version available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome to the podcast.

I’ve got a full two hours of Amber & Paul lined up for you here. Actually, it’s about an hour and twenty mins of Amber & Paul and maybe 45 minutes of just Paul as Amber had to leave to pick up her kids.

There’s a bit of everything in this one. It’s just the usual rambling from the podpals but we answer some listener questions, do a few accents, tell some stories and dodgy jokes and Paul and I play an idioms game at the end. It’s a pretty goofy episode which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. There is a video version on YouTube as well.

Just an announcement for any LEPsters in the Paris area. I am doing a live podcast recording and storytelling show at the British Council on 19 May at 7pm. It’s free, everyone’s welcome and all you need to do is sign up to reserve a seat. All the details are available at www.britishcouncil.fr and then click on EVENTS or événements. I’ll be telling the story of how I ended up in a Japanese hospital scared out of my wits. It’s a story of culture shock, comedy and misadventure. If you can’t come, you should be able to listen to it on the podcast, if the recording comes out ok and the show isn’t a complete flop!

Right, so let’s get back to this podpals episode. I want to point out a stupid slip that I make right at the very start. I wanted to say “Hi, I’m Luke and I need a haircut” but for some reason it came out “Hi, I’m Luke and I’m need a haircut”. I suppose it just shows that native speakers make language errors from time to time, although this was more of a slip than an error. A slip is when you make a mistake even though you know the rule. It just comes out wrong accidentally. An error is when you make a mistake because you don’t know something about the language.

Anyway, I will let you enjoy my language mistake and then settle into over 2 hours of Amber and Paul in the podcastle.

765. Travelling Stories / Reverse Culture Shock (with Martin Johnston from Rock n’ Roll English)

Martin joins Luke to talk about moving back to the UK, his fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees and some funny stories about travelling experiences.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

In this episode I am talking to Martin Johnston from the Rock n Roll English Podcast. Do you know the Rock N Roll English Podcast? This is where Martin and his Rock N Roll friends and family do podcasts for learners of English that are unfiltered and frequently involve discussions of taboo subjects, but also plenty of other stuff as well. It’s very funny and bound to be good for your English and general cultural knowledge. Martin featured me in episode 250 of RnR English and we talked about what it’s really like being an English teacher with a podcast. That was a funny chat with lots of memories and funny moments. Episode 250.

In this episode though, we’re going to have a rambling chat about moving to different countries, Martin’s fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees and then some stories of travelling and getting stuck in tricky situations while abroad.  

Martin has recently moved back to England after living in Italy for a number of years, so I thought I would ask him about his experiences of feeling like a foreigner in his own country, and some of his culture shock experiences both abroad and at home. Because this is a thing – reverse culture shock. When you feel like a foreigner in your own country after living abroad for a long time.

Martin has also recently launched a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees. Basically it is a learning pack with 25 stories, and transcripts and exercises. All the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees. You can find out more at www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories 

So this is a very good cause. We know that several millions of people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of this war, invasion, operation – whatever you want to call it. This violence and aggression has separated families and made civilians homeless as well as killing thousands. This is a horrendous thing to be happening on our doorstep and so the least we can do is try to provide support in some way, so I call upon all of you to go ahead and get that PDF with those 25 stories and all the money will go towards helping these refugees. Martin talks about it  during the episode if you want more details. But let’s help out some fellow citizens of LEPland here. Plus, of course, you get tons of stories with audio versions and everything. It sounds like a win win to me.

So we chat about the project a bit, which is all about learning English with stories and this then leads us to have a story-off. This is a sort of battle of stories where Martin and I trade different anecdotes and we see who comes out on top. So there are 4 or 5 funny stories of travelling experiences we’ve had, in the second half of this episode. I hope you enjoy them.

That’s it for the introduction. There is a video version on YouTube. Don’t forget to smash that like button.

I should say there is some fairly explicit content in this episode, which means fairly graphic descriptions of things like nudity, sex and bodily functions, which is completely normal for an episode of Rock n Roll English to be honest.

I’ll speak to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s get started.


Ending

So there you are, that was Martin Johnston. I hope you enjoyed our stories.

Don’t forget, if you want to get that pack of 25 stories by the RNR English family, go to www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories It costs just 10dollars or pounds, and all the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees.

This is obviously a very good cause as so many people have been displaced, made homeless and so on and these people need our help.

If you enjoyed our stories in this episode, you could check out some of the episodes with those stories told in full. 

Check out 118 Sick in Japan (although I should be doing a live version of that next month) and also Holiday in Thailand 

or A Rambling Chat with Moz for more of the spa story

758. Pub Quiz Trivia with Sarah The Paris Quiz Mistress

Chatting to pub quiz host Sarah Toporoff about her love of trivia, and asking each other quiz questions about history, geography, literature, language & pop culture. Can you answer the questions and follow the conversation?

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Links

Introduction Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners! I hope you’re well. Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world. That’s you, I assume. You are a learner of English and you are around the world. 

Welcome to another episode of my podcast. This is where you can get English into your life in the form of some regular listening practise. This time you’re going to hear me in conversation with a guest and the guest in this episode is my friend Sarah Toporoff who also goes by the name The Paris Quiz Mistress.

This is the first time she’s been on the show and that means this one will probably be a little more difficult for you to follow, but that’s alright – it’s all good practice. 

Sarah is originally from the USA (so you will be hearing an American accent from her, and a British accent from me in the same conversation – and yes, we actually understand each other of course) Anyway, Sarah is from the states, but these days she lives in Paris like me and basically – Sarah loves pub quizzes. In fact, she loves them so much that she decided to run her own pub quiz nights here in Paris, in English, which she does every Sunday evening. 

She writes questions and reads them out in a local pub for teams of people to answer in competition with each other. Sarah also has her own podcast in which she quizzes her friends on various bits of trivia relating to their interests. Her podcast is called The Paris Quiz Mistress Podcast.

So, in this episode I thought I would chat to Sarah about her love of quizzes, and then we could quiz each other with some fun questions, and you can see if you know the answers and generally try to keep up with the conversation and develop your English in the process.

So that’s what you’re going to get – and this is a swapcast, which means that both Sarah and I are publishing this on our respective podcasts. 

Before we continue I think I should give you a little bit of support before I throw you into the deep end and make you listen to this fairly fast conversation between two native speakers. 

So, let me just clarify a couple of bits of vocabulary and some culture which are key concepts for this episode, and I also have a few questions for you to consider, in order to help you prepare to understand this episode more easily.

Some words and concepts

A quiz

(Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here) A quiz is a fun game or competition in which someone tests your knowledge by asking you questions and you compete with others to answer those questions. Quizzes are usually done just for fun, unlike tests or exams for example, which are done not for fun. They usually involve questions relating to trivia…

Trivia (noun) / Trivial (adjective)

…and trivia basically means trivial information or facts which are interesting or amusing but not really presented for a specific purpose. “Oh, that’s quite interesting isn’t it?” ← that’s usually as deep as it gets. That’s trivia.

It’s just random bits of general knowledge, just for fun – facts and figures, names, dates, places, moments in history, pop culture and so on.

A pub quiz 

As the name suggests, a pub quiz is a quiz done in a pub. Big surprise there. But pub quizzes are a very common feature of normal life in the UK where any good pub will have a quiz night. If you’ve ever spent time living in the UK you might have noticed this. Perhaps on a weekday evening in the local pub you might see teams of people sitting at tables competing against each other to answer questions which are read out by a host who might be speaking into a microphone. It’s sort of an excuse to just be in the pub and have a few drinks, but it’s also a really fun way to spend an evening with other people.

A good host will prepare some tricky but achievable questions that make you think and that could spark some conversation later in the evening, and the host might throw in some funny comments here and there just to keep things light. The questions are often quite convoluted and might sound more difficult than they actually are. At the end, the answer sheets from each team are marked and the winning team wins a prize, typically a bottle of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are also known as trivia nights in some places. 

Does that sound familiar? This is the world of the pub quiz. Are they a common feature in your country? Do they happen in pubs? Do you have pubs? Do you have questions? Do you have facts where you live? Are there other people? I don’t know where you are. 

Fun quizzes like this also take place in other situations – and I’m talking about the UK and other English speaking places too and often things are similar in our cultures. I’m sure it’s the same for you, but is it? I don’t know. Anyway, where I’m from quizzing is sort of part of our DNA. Any excuse for a quiz – in pubs but also at family get togethers, at school or even at work Christmas parties and things like that. 

Sorry for rambling here but seriously – thinking about this stuff might help you to focus your attention on the topic of this conversation  bit more closely and follow things more easily, and therefore learn more English from this and as a result get a feeling of accomplishment which you carry with you in your life, bringing extra positivity and confidence which ultimately helps to make you a more successful and fulfilled person in your life, which then impacts on other people in similar ways and the benefits spread out from you in concentric circles improving the lives of other people around you and they start smiling a bit more and ultimately the world becomes that bit better which makes all the difference to the global balance of everything and basically I save the world with my podcast. That’s all I’m trying to do, so don’t stand in my way, ok? The fate of the world depends on this, alright?

Now, just in case this introduction wasn’t long enough, I am now going to quickly read out the questions that Sarah and I are going to ask each other in this episode, just to give you a chance to understand them in advance so you don’t get lost in the conversation.

You see, I am COMMITTED to helping you learn English and that means I am willing to make these episode introductions at least 3 minutes longer than they should be in order to give you a helping hand in understanding fast-paced and naturalistic dialogues between native speakers of English. That is how much I care. 

Quiz Questions in this Episode

So listen to these questions, understand them, can you answer them? You’ll be more prepared. Listen to the episode to get the answers.

  • How many countries make up the UK and can you name those countries?
  • Which Eastern European country shares zero of the same borders with countries that it shared borders with in 1989 although its physical borders have not moved? (note: I hope you don’t mind the term “Eastern European country”)

Sarah’s Questions for me

These might seem a bit random, but Sarah is a great quiz mistress and there is a link between all the answers to these questions, and it’s a link that is tailored to me somehow. 

  1. For which film did the MPAA refuse to allow use of Ben Stiller’s character’s last name in the title, unless filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name?
  2. What 2nd novel by English author Charles Dickens is alternately titled “The Parish Boy’s Progress?”
  3. What film series began in 1988 and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane?
  4. In British English it means “eraser”, in American it means “condom”. What is it?
  5. What is the type of gun that features as a weapon in the board game “Cluedo”?
  6. “Scar Tissue” is the name of Anthony Keidis’ autobiography as well as one of his hits, with which band?
  7. PD James, Edgar Allan Poe and Gaston Leroux are all writers specialising in what genre? 
  8. The flags of Romania, Colombia and Moldova all primarily feature which 3 colours?
  9. The first episode of what television drama opens with the news that that RMS Titanic has sunk?

Luke’s Questions for Sarah

My questions are really quite stupid and in fact I am not listing them here because they are too silly and I will let you discover them in all their glory as you listen to the episode. So just listen on if you want to hear my questions for Sarah – but to give you a heads up they focus on music, movies (well, one movie) and British English slang, so there is definitely some vocabulary to learn here!

MMMBop by Hanson

Mmm Bop – Lyrics

Can you tell me any of the lyrics from the first verse?

Answers:

You have so many relationships in this life

Only one or two will last

You go through all the pain and strife

Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast

Oh yeah (so much wisdom from someone so young)

And they’re gone so fast, yeah

Oh, so hold on the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

And when you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care (Hair was important to them)

Can you tell me who will still care? (interesting discussion point)

Oh care

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, oh yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

Said oh yeah

In an mmmbop they’re gone

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose

You can plant any one of those

Keep planting to find out which one grows

It’s a secret no one knows

It’s a secret no one knows (Is it really a secret?)

Oh, no one knows

MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM by Crash Test Dummies

Anaconda – 1997 (Trailer)

Luke’s British Slang Questions

  • If you describe something as pants, how do you feel about it?

“That film was pants. Total pants.”

Answer: bad

  • How would you feel if you’d run out of bog roll?

You’d feel gutted of course.

Answer: Bog roll means toilet paper

  • Can you give me a reason why you might feel “chuffed”?

Answer: chuffed means pleased, delighted, happy

  • What would a British person probably say if they wanted to claim something, like perhaps a chocolate biscuit or a comfortable chair?

Answer: Bagsee!

  • If someone needed to get some kip, how would they probably feel?

Answer: You’d feel sleepy or tired, because kip means sleep (noun)

  • What F word is used to say that someone is physically attractive? (It’s like saying “hot”)

Answer: fit

  • What L word is a generic sickness – like the flu or a bad cold? (a pre-covid expression)

Answer: The lurgy

  • Where do you put suitcases in a car in the UK?

Answer: in the boot

  • What about the engine?

Under the bonnet

In any case, whether you can answer these questions or not, I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation about trivia and that you manage to keep up with it all and pick up some English. I will chat to you again very very briefly at the end, but it’s now time to get started properly and here we go…

Listen to the episode to get all the answers to the questions!

In other news…

My pod-room still isn’t ready but it should be connected to electricity and internet in a couple of weeks.

I’m still waiting to get a WIFI internet connection at home.

My shelves haven’t fallen down yet :)

I am working on LEP Premium series 33 parts 3 and 4 and they should be uploaded soon.

Video versions of episodes will return when I have a decent internet connection (and a new computer which is coming too…)

748. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent [Part 2]

Understand more of Karl Pilkington’s rambling as we learn about the Manchester accent and pick up vocabulary along the way. Video version available on YouTube.

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Episode Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone. Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of a double Karl Pilkington themed episode. I would recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first – it contains important context about who Karl is plus more details about Karl’s pronunciation and accent. 

Listening to that first will help a great deal in understanding this one.

I got plenty of good responses to part 1 of this, so let’s carry on.

In this part we are going to continue as we did before – listening to Karl Pilkington talking about various subjects, understanding exactly what he says, looking at features of his Manchester accent and picking up vocabulary along the way.

Karl is basically just a normal bloke from Manchester and his accent is fairly typical for people from that area so this episode aims to help you understand his accent and pick up vocabulary too.

Some responses to part 1

I disagree with Karl on most things.

Is he arrogant?

I just enjoy the way he puts things. He speaks like a comedian in the way that he expresses a point of view and has a certain way with words, but he’s not a comedian.

This is the enigma of Karl Pilkington – is he really just being himself, or is he playing a comedy character, and in real life he’s a lot more erudite.

I actually think it’s the former not the latter and that he’s just being himself. He just happens to have a funny way of putting his opinions across. 

Sometimes the best comedy comes from someone sharing a specific opinion. I think this is what I enjoy about this, rather than the opinions he is expressing, and as I said I disagree with Karl about most things, and some things he says are quite laughable – especially stuff he’s said on the Ricky Gervais podcast, like his Monkey News stories.

One other thing – apparently it is possible to be choked by a live octopus as you eat it. What I meant was that it would be impossible for an octopus to strangle you from the inside, as strangling means choking from the outside of the throat, with your hands for example, but of course a live octopus could choke you from within, by sticking its arms up into your throat or your windpipe. So, fair enough, it is possible for an octopus to choke you.

Also, in the UK we do eat oysters – which are raw seafood, so I think raw fish are generally ok in the UK but most other raw things would be considered a bit strange for us.

Quick Pronunciation Recap

In part 1 we listened to Karl talk about life, health and food and in terms of his accent I talked about H-drops

  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
  • Look, how many do you need?

glottal stops 

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.

The ‘bath/trap’ split 

  • podcast/podcast
  • laugh/laugh
  • path/path
  • bath/bath

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

Do you go to the gym much? 

Topics: Holidays & Karl’s Fridge

This time he’s going to talk about holidays and his fridge and we will look at more features of his accent.

There’s a video version of this on youtube with text on the screen, plus you will find all the text presented on the page for this episode on my website. 

Just one more thing before we start – I have premium episodes in the pipeline for these two episodes of LEP. The Premium episodes will be a chance to review and remember the vocabulary that comes up in these episodes, and then pronunciation drills too. So, I’ll do a sort of memory quiz with you to see how much vocab you remember and then the usual pronunciation drills – but in my accent, not Karl’s. 

Sign up to LEP Premium

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 


#4 Karl on Holidays

(not Karl on Holiday)

Karl is on a camping holiday, sitting in a tent and moaning. 

  1. Why does Karl think holidays are stressful?
  2. What does Karl think of Lanzarote’s nickname?
  3. What did Karl do on his holiday there?
  4. What’s the problem with holidays in the UK?
  5. What did he think of the seal sanctuary he went to?
  6. What’s the best place Karl has been? Why?
  7. What does Karl think of holidays to the moon?

Vocabulary

You’ve got free time on your hands which you’re not used to.

We ended up walking around this seal sanctuary. 14 quid. £

They were just floating about, hardly moving.

I’m not having a go, but don’t charge me to come in, or at least let me see them again when they’re better.

The coliseum, they don’t do it up.

There’s no overheads.

That’s a mess. Get it knocked down.

At the end of the day the moon is just a big rock. You may/might as well go to Lanzarote.


PRONUNCIATION #3

Nasal

Alright so I went on holiday and it was great and all that.

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • When’s the last time you heard about a tortoise having a heart attack?

Works well with glottal stops.

Nasal sound in /aʊ/ and /ai/ sounds

/aʊ/ in words like about and now sounds more nasal.

What’s he going on about now?

If there were dinosaurs about now and that.

If we’ve run out we need to go outside and get some more.

Nasal sound in /ai/ sound

The /ai/ sound in words like alive, inside, survive, fighting, riot and dying sounds more nasal.

You’re not supposed to eat them alive.

We’ve got to stay inside if we want to survive.

If they were running about fighting and dying and that.

Running riot (sounds like “roonin raiyut”)


#5 Karl on his fridge

Karl’s fridge is broken and he called out a guy to fix it. 

Naturally he’s moaning about workmen who come to your house to do different jobs.

  1. Why does the guy charge £80?
  2. What is Karl’s main problem with engineers, plumbers, workers who have to come to his house?
  3. What advice does the fridge guy give to Karl?
  4. What’s the problem with Karl’s new fridge?

Vocabulary

The fella turned up, right.

Yeah, it’s broke. (broken)

That’s why I called you out.

That’s 80 quid

I said, “you what?” 

An 80 quid callout charge.

I tell you. They wind me up.

I had a fella come round to do the tiling

Turned up late with a carrier bag.

A pot noodle

A copy of the Daily Mirror

A crossword book

He was asking what the pub was like across the road. “What is …. like?”

Having a laugh

When did you last vac it out

Vacuum cleaner

You’re meant to vac them out, because dust and that gets in.

Can’t afford any food to put in it.

It needs wiring in. It’s got one of those fancy plug things.


PRONUNCIATION #4

A lot of other vowel sounds are nasal too.

Turn the corner /ɔː/

They becomes thee

It depends what they do with it.

Why have they only just found that? 

How did they miss that?

Also, he adds little fillers like:

(Do you) know what I mean?

Right? (just sounds like a nazal grunt, almost)

… and that

Like that

And whatnot

And stuff like that

Do you know what I mean?

I tell ya…

Watch out for those things if you like.


Ending

Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the end of this episode, as we now prepare to exit the world of Karl Pilkington and re-emerge blinking into the light of the normal world.

Welcome back to yourself, your own attitudes and your own personality again.

I urge you to (just wanted to use that phrase) check the page for this episode on my website where you will find a downloadable full transcript, the audio file for download in mp3 format, a text video version of this episode where you can read the entire thing as you listen and it’s all presented in a rather majestic looking font before your very eyes and of course there’s the comment section where you can share your thoughts not to mention the episode archive with all the previous episodes plus lots of bonus extra stuff. 

Teacherluke.co.uk

LEP Premium 
LEP App
LEP Merch

Have a good one and I will speak to you again soon, bye!

741. Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Learn English from some jokes in this episode as we go through 9 jokes chosen as the best of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand up comedy scene this year (2021). Let me tell you the jokes, see if you understand them, and then I will break them down for language learning opportunities. Video version available.

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Episode Transcript / Notes

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Hello listeners, hello video viewers. How are you? How is the world treating you today? Not too badly I hope. 

Here’s a new episode. So stick with me. Listen closely. Pay attention. You can definitely learn some new English from this. Let’s get started.

Introduction

It’s time to dissect the frog again as we look at some of the most popular jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of this year 2021. I’m going to read them to you and then explain them so you can understand them fully and also learn some new vocabulary in the process. 

This is something I’ve been doing every year at the end of the Ediburgh Festival when the list of the most popular jokes is published in the newspapers. 

Last year I didn’t do one of these episodes because Ed Fringe got cancelled due to Covid-19. 

But the festival was back this year, so here we go again. Let’s find some popular jokes told by comedians at the fringe and use them to learn English.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Just in case you don’t know, the Edinburgh Fringe (full name: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe) is a huge comedy festival that happens every August in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

Sometimes it’s called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Ed Fringe, just The Fringe or simply Edinburgh.

It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and every August comedians travel to the city in order to perform comedy to the large crowds of people who travel there. 

For comedians August in Edinburgh is a huge opportunity to get exposure and experience, but it is very tough, especially at the beginning when you have to drum up an audience of people to come to your shows every day.

Just in case you didn’t know, stand-up is a form of entertainment that involves one comedian standing on stage with a microphone telling stories and jokes in an effort to make the audience laugh. It is an extremely popular form of entertainment in the English speaking world.

This episode is about specific jokes told by comedians during the fringe this year, but stand-up comedians don’t really just go up and tell individual jokes one after the other (except in the case of some specific comedians), rather they fit their jokes into stories, observations about the world or confessions about themselves.

However, this list of the “best jokes from the fringe” just picks simple one or two line jokes from people’s performances.

Lower Your Expectations Now 😅

I expect that taking these jokes away from their original performances will not help the jokes. 

They will probably be less funny outside the comedy show that they came from because we’re going to remove the context of the joke, the attitude and personality of the comedian who told the joke and what was happening in the room that particular evening. All those elements have a huge impact on how funny the joke will be.

So, it’s not very fair to judge these jokes on their own like this, outside of their original context, but this is still an interesting experiment in learning English, so here we go.

Here’s how we’re going to do this

  1. First I will read each joke one by one. 
  • There are 9 jokes in total. 
  • How many jokes do you “get”?
  • If you “get” a joke, it means you understand why it is funny.
  • Ideally you will laugh, but you can also groan.
  • If you don’t understand it you need to say “I don’t get it!
  • The main thing is: You have to notice and acknowledge that a joke has been told to you.

So, listen to the jokes, do you get them all?

  1. Then I will go through each joke one by one and I will break them all down, explaining exactly how they work, showing you double meanings, explaining any specific vocabulary or cultural reference points and giving you all the information you need to be able to understand these jokes properly.

There is a lot of vocabulary to be learned from this, which I will highlight as we go through and recap at the end.

So, get ready, it’s time to dissect the frog again.

Of course, I have to say the quote: 

Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.

I expect I will be killing all these jokes by explaining them. 

You’re not meant to explain jokes, and if you do, the joke suddenly becomes less funny. 

Most jokes work by surprise. 

Getting the double meaning instantly is usually the only way to find a joke funny. 

So I can’t guarantee that you will laugh at these jokes, but this is certainly going to be good for your English in any case.

Joke types

A lot of these jokes use 

  • synonyms (different words with a similar meaning),
  • common fixed expressions and sayings
  • homophones (different words that sound the same)
  • similies (finding similarities between otherwise different things), 
  • pull back & reveal (revealing extra information to change the situation)

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021

I’m getting this list from the website Chortle.co.uk which is the UK’s number 1 comedy website.

www.chortle.co.uk/news/2021/08/22/49087/masai_graham_wins_the_dave%2A_joke_of_the_fringe

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”

– Masai Graham 

2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” 
– Ivor Dembina

3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” 

-Tom Mayhew

4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.”

– Adele Cliff

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.”

– Leo Kearse

6 “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.”

– Will Mars

7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” 

– Sameer Katz

8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” 

– Rich Pulsford

9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” 

– Sameer Katz

Vocabulary Focus

Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down so you can understand them fully, picking up bits of vocabulary along the way.

Broken down versions (sorry frogs)

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.” 

– Masai Graham

Vocabulary

A caesarean

A C-section


2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina

Vocabulary

Common phrase: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Quid

Halved (verb)


3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew

Vocabulary

To be into role play

Role play – pretending to be someone else, often during sex to make it more interesting.

To pretend to be someone / to do something

He pretended he was James Bond

She pretended she still loved him.


4. “The Roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff

This is a pun – a word joke and it’s just that one thing sounds like something else.

“Julius Caesar” sounds like Julius sees her, which is why his wife hates playing hide and seek because Julius always sees her. Julius Caesar. I think you get it.

Vocabulary

To play hide and seek

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse

Oooh, this is a bit of a groaner. That’s where you go Oooooh like it almost hurts. 

“Heard it through the grapevine” is one of Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs.

“Herd” can mean to move a group of animals in a certain direction, like sheep or cows. You herd your sheep into a field.

Marvin used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. A vineyard is a place where you grow grapes for wine. 

The grapevine is where the grapes grow, but there’s also an idiom “through the grapevine” meaning when you hear people gossiping about something, or you over hear people talking about something. 

In the case of the song, he hears that his girlfriend is cheating on him and he hears it through the grapevine. 

He heard it through the grapevine. He heard rumours or gossip about it.

He’d herd it through the grapevine. He attempted to move the sheep around through the grapevines of the plants in the vineyard.

Vocabulary

To herd sheep

To hear something on/through the grapevine

Vinyard

This is too much of a stretch and if you get the joke please let me know. Write a comment in the comment section – do you get the Marvin Gaye joke?


6. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars

This is quite a clever little joke. Everything took longer in the past – travelling, communicating etc. 

Marriages seemed to last longer, but everything took longer back then.


7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz

This is quite funny and of course it hits two of my favourite notes, well three in fact: Star Wars, France and speaking English. 

There is a common misconception that French people arrogantly refuse to speak English in Paris let’s say, 

but I find that French people are more willing to speak English than it seems, and in fact they’re a bit more shy than arrogant, and if a French person in Paris speaks French to you, that’s quite normal as you are in France. 

Also, rather than being arrogant, a lot of French people just feel quite self conscious about their accent and certain common mistakes that French people often make. They also might have bad memories from English lessons at school which knocked all the confidence out of them, and they’re afraid to be judged by each other. So it’s more likely to be shyness than arrogance.


8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Rich Pulsford

This is a clever little joke. 

To have an inkling means to have a suspicion or an idea of something.

“I don’t know who stole the last biscuit, but I have an inkling. Or I have an inkling of an idea who took that biscuit, and I think it was you!”

But an inkling does sound like a small spillage of ink from a pen. A small puddle of ink, or ink on your hand. An inkling. 

What do we call that? I don’t know, but I have an inkling!”

Vocabulary

To have an inkling

A spillage


9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz

I’m not sure I have to explain that, do I?

Being humane means treating people in reasonable and humanistic manner. 

Treating people with respect, dignity, justice. 

Inhumane is the opposite – and although it includes the word human, we do use this word to refer to the cruel treatment of animals.

Keeping animals in a cage is inhumane. 

Even though they’re animals, we still use the word inhumane, and this is just a funny little thing that can make you laugh when you notice it.

Vocabulary

Humane

Inhumane


Vocabulary Review

  • A caesarean
  • A C-section
  • “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Quid
  • Halve (verb)
  • To be into role play
  • To pretend to be someone / to do something
  • To play hide and seek
  • To herd sheep
  • To hear something on/through the grapevine
  • Vinyard
  • To have an inkling
  • A spillage
  • Humane
  • Inhumane 

719. Amber & Paul are on the Podcast

Talking to pod-pals Amber & Paul about diverse topics including organ harvesting (yes), favourite fruits (exciting), accent challenges, guess the punchline, British Citizenship tests, What the “great” in Great Britain really means, and Amber’s son Hugo’s astonishing fluency in English.

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Episode Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and welcome back to my podcast for learners of English. How are you doing today? Doing ok? 

I won’t talk at great length at the start here, suffice to say that as the title of this episode suggests, Amber & Paul are on the podcast again, after a one year absence. 

Yes, the tangential trio are at it again.

I’ve been wondering What on earth I should call this episode. As you will hear, the options I had for a snappy title for this one were a bit tricky because our conversation covers some pretty diverse topics, including some quite dark themes, some potentially controversial moments and the usual fun rambling nonsense. It’s hard to sum it up in one pithy clickbait title. I think I’m just calling it “Amber & Paul are on the Podcast” but that does seem like a bit of a cop out. Anyway, we will see what I ultimately choose as a name for this episode. 

Here’s a quick hint of the diverse topics which we explore. 

Organ harvesting – yes, that’s right, organ harvesting. To get this, you will need to have listened to the previous episode of this podcast (#718), which was a conversation with Michael the hitchhiking shaman from Poland. In that episode Michael explained how, when hitchhiking once, he almost got kidnapped by several people who he suspected were organ harvesters – people involved in the illegal trade of human internal organs. Amber heard that podcast and was sceptical.

This prompted nearly 30 minutes of conversation about the ins and outs of organ harvesting, including how, where, why and who would do this. 

Then we go on to do various random questions & challenges from my list of random questions and challenges, so you will get some accent fun, a thrilling discussion of Amber’s favourite fruit and vegetables, a story about Amber’s son Hugo and his surprising articulacy in English, a joke about Spanish firemen, some British citizenship questions about Easter holidays, British overseas territories and why Great Britain is actually called Great Britain, and plenty more besides. So, other than organ harvesting, there isn’t just one theme for this episode, hence the rather generic title.

It’s a thrill ride of an episode which has everything you could expect from a a conversation with Amber & Paul. I hope you enjoy it. Nothing more needs to be said except that you are about to hear a rapid conversation between friends and it might be difficult to follow, so strap in, hold on tight and let the tangential chat commence…


Episode Ending Transcript

Well, there you have it. Amber & Paul reunited on the podcast once more. We’d been waiting for ages for that to happen, and I hope you were not disappointed.

Just in case you were wondering what “tangential” means (and you’re not a long-term listener)

A tangent or a conversational tangent is when someone starts talking about something that is unrelated from the main topic of the conversation. To go off on a tangent.

Tangential is the adjective and it refers to something different from the subject you were talking about. This is typical of all my podcast conversations, but especially those ones with Amber & Paul, and so we are the tangential trio.

As ever I am curious to know what you think about all of this. 

Sometimes our conversations become quite rude and inappropriate, but I’m just presenting you a natural conversation between friends, and this sort of thing is normal when socialising in English. 

Here are some questions for your consideration:

  • What do you think of Michael’s organ harvesting story? Do you believe it? Is it possible?
  • What is your favourite fruit or vegetable?
  • Why is Great Britain called Great Britain?
  • Did you hear about the Spanish fireman and his two sons?

Let us know your thoughts and comments in the comment section.

I’ve got a ton of episodes in the pipeline which will be coming out over the next few weeks and months.

Here’s a little taster of things to come:

Bahar from Iran

A couple of episodes about expanding your vocabulary using word quizzes and dictionaries with a returning guest

More episodes in the vague Beatles season including some stuff about the psychology of John Lennon, adjectives for describing personality traits and some analysis of Beatle song lyrics, with a sort of expert guest.

Various stories which I have been searching for and then reading out on the podcast, with YouTube versions (this is because the recent Roald Dahl story I read out was a popular one)

More special guests for interviews and collaborations, more bits of comedy analysed and broken down, and plenty of other things too…

I am still waiting for my shiny thing from YouTube but when it arrives I will be doing another YouTube live stream. Who knows, I might do one before it arrives, but I will let you know. 

Premium subscribers, I have the rest of the “What did Rick say” series coming up, and then a similar series called “What did Gill say?” focusing on language from my recent conversation with my mum about The Beatles, following a suggestion from a listener.

So, new premium content is either being published, written or recorded all the time, so watch out for new episodes. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo if you’d like to find out more.

I will be back soon with more episodes, but for now it’s time to say goodbye…

684. Chasing the Tangent Train with Elspeth Graty

A conversation with English-teaching stand-up comedian Elspeth Graty, which covers lots of different topics including Elspeth’s background in England, teaching English, cultural differences, “French-bashing”, old-fashioned telephones and The Tellytubbies. Enjoy!

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This podcast is made possible thanks to donations from lovely listeners (click a yellow PayPal button on the website if you’re feeling generous) and also the premium subscription, which costs, per month, slightly less than a pack of 80 Yorkshire Gold Teabags from Sainsbury’s. So if you would like to make sure I never run out of tea, then consider signing up.

There are now well over 100 audio and video episodes in the premium archive and you can access them all, plus new ones that are coming. That’s what you get when you become a premium lepster. To get all the information, including how it works and exactly how wonderfully reasonable the prices are – go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

How are you today? Doing alright all things considered? I do hope you’re managing to keep calm and carry on during this weird and difficult period of history that we are all experiencing.

Shall we start the episode? OK.

Here’s the second in a series of interviews I’ve been doing lately featuring people I’ve been meaning to talk to on the podcast for quite a while (quite a while — is that a short time or a long time? Quick answer: It means a long time.)

I just wanted to record natural conversations with some new guests so you can hear their voices, their stories, their thoughts so you can notice bits of language and practise your English listening as usual.

The first of these recent interviews was with Marie Connolly from Australia, which was the last episode of course. I hope you all enjoyed it.

This conversation is with a friend of mine called Elspeth who is from England.

Elspeth is an English teacher and she also does stand-up comedy in the evenings, which is how we met each other. Yep, she’s another English-teaching comedian friend of mine.

Explaining this episode’s title

The title of this episode is “Chasing the Tangent Train with Elspeth”.

The title is just a metaphor – please don’t expect a conversation about train travel!

It’s just a metaphor to explain the fact that this conversation is full of tangents and I hope you can keep up with it. In fact, it’s mainly tangents.

What is “a tangent”?
Long term listeners should know this, but plenty of people won’t know so let me explain.

In a conversation, a tangent is when the topic changes to something quite different and seemingly not related to the main point of that conversation.

It’s when you digress from the main point, go away from the main point or get sidetracked.

“To go off on a tangent”

There are lots of tangents in this conversation. So, for the title of the episode, I was trying to think of a way to describe the experience that you will have of just following the changes in direction in a conversation and seeing where it goes.

I ended up with “chasing the train”, which is not actually an expression you will find in the dictionary – I made it up.

Let’s imagine, then, that this conversation is a train and it’s going down the tracks and every now and then it switches to new tracks and continues for a while, then it switches to another new track and then does it again, and again and so on. Can you keep up with the train? I think you get the idea.

My overall aim for this interview was mainly to get to know Elspeth in more depth and to capture an authentic conversation to help you learn English. That is the destination for this train journey. But as I said, the topics move around a bit, which is totally normal in a conversation. Just ask David Crystal, he wrote a book all about it and he’s a professor and definitely knows what he’s talking about.

What I’m getting at is that this might be hard for you to follow – depending on your level of English.

So you’ll have to focus.

Nevertheless, I can help you keep up with this if I let you know what the main changes will be in advance.

So I’m now going to give you a quick overview of the main changes in topic in this chat.

The main points in this conversation are, thus: (these aren’t spoilers)

We talk about

  • Where Elspeth comes from originally, and how her family moved around parts of England
  • Being the daughter of a vicar (that’s her, not me obviously) A vicar is a priest in the Anglican church – the church of England. The cliche of the typical English vicar is that they wear black with a little white collar, they’re often softly-spoken grey haired men with glasses who ride bicycles around their parish and love drinking tea, eating cake and generally worshipping god.
  • Our accents, which are not strongly affected by the region where we grew up (we actually come from the same general area in England)
  • Having harvest festivals at church when we were children
  • Then there’s a big, random tangent → Remembering the old dial telephones we had in our houses when we were children. Remember them? You had to put your finger in and turn numbers around a dial, and it went went kkkkkkkkk. You don’t remember? That must be because you’re young, or you’re old and you’ve lost your memory.
  • Services you could get on the old analogue telephones, like the operator (a person who you could speak to and who would deal with your telephone-related enquiries) and the talking clock (a recorded voice that was constantly telling the time and you could call a number and listen to it)
  • Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, which was almost destroyed during World War 2 but was rebuilt and is now definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city
  • Elspeth’s life in France, her French, and whether or not she feels French or English after living here for quite a long time
  • Some of the cultural differences between England and France that frustrate us a bit, like the usual things – being punctual, walking down the street and in particular, queueing – standing in line to wait for things in public
  • Teaching English to young engineers, and the challenges that French students have when learning English
  • Some of Elspeth’s experiences of learning French
  • How Elspeth can behave slightly differently in English and in French, especially when doing stand-up comedy in the two languages
  • Elspeth’s thoughts on her own clothing choices and fashion sense, and how people react to it, especially the Nike Air Max trainers that she wears
  • Teaching English online using Zoom – and what that is like
  • Doing stand-up (going on stage and telling people jokes and stories to make them laugh) and Elspeth’s favourite and least favourite things about doing that
    Where her inspiration for comedy material comes from and “flow activities” or being in a “flow state
  • If there is a connection between stand-up and English teaching
  • A little story about The Tellytubbies that Elspeth uses in her English lessons, which makes the students laugh (The Tellytubbies is a children’s TV show) The story involves The Tellytubbies, William Shakespeare, the county of Warwickshire in England and April Fool’s Day. Basically, the county council of Warwickshire played an April fool’s trick on the people of Warwickshire, and it involved The Tellytubbies and Shakespeare, and people didn’t like it.
  • Why English people get into rages – like road rage, or trolly rage in the supermarket
  • The concept of French-bashing (criticising or making fun of the French and French culture) and why Parisians seem to complain about each other’s behaviour quite a lot (Parisians are people living in Paris)
  • How people’s behaviour in public in Paris compares to behaviour in the UK and in Tokyo
  • Things we love about France – because there’s a lot to love about this country too
  • Finally, a bit at the end where we both conclude that Paul Taylor is basically a cake – a delicious British cake.

Actually, reading out that list – it doesn’t seem like there are that many tangents, but there are tangents ok? What I’ve just given you there is the main flow of the conversation.

Right. Now that you have an overview of the track layout, let’s get this train rolling.

Let’s just get started. Here is my conversation with Elspeth, and here we go.


Luke’s fuddy-duddy slippers (a Christmas present from a couple of years ago)

Ending Transcript

Right, so that was my conversation with Elspeth. I enjoyed it a lot, especially because we have quite a lot in common, not least because we are from the same neck of the woods (a local area where someone lives).

How did you get on? Did you manage to follow it ok? Well, you must have done, because you made it. You’ve caught up with the train. You can have a rest now. Well done for keeping up.

I expect you’re getting out your phone now. If that’s what you’re doing, open up Instagram on your phone and check out Elspeth’s page, which is @elslostinfrance which I now realise would have been the perfect name for this episode, right?

Elspeth on Instagram

www.instagram.com/elslostinfrance/

I could do a lot of rambling on now, about all sorts of things, like what’s been going on and the WISBOLEP competition (which is now closed by the way – no more entries please. The deadline has passed, unless maybe you’re in a part of the world where it is still the 15th October – in which case, you have until midnight).

I’ve received loads of entries and let me tell you – it is going to be difficult to choose just one winner. There are so many really interesting recordings and stories of how people learned English and all kids of other things. It will be hard to pick just one person. Also I’m now wondering how I’m going to manage the whole thing. I’ve had nearly 90 entries. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to get so many.
Each entry is about two minutes long and so – 180 minutes, even without my comments (and I really want to make even very short comments).

Shall I play them all on the podcast? That’s a lot, isn’t it?

I think the best way to do it might be to make a YouTube video of all the audio (if that makes sense) and then I can add time stamps for each person, which will make it much easier for everyone to find each recording.

In any case, I will find a way to manage this. It could take a while though, so be patient.

I do want to re-state that it has been amazing listening to all the recording (I’ve had brief listens to most of the recordings sent). There are some awesome people in my audience. I just want to give a shout out to anyone who sent in a recording. Well done for plucking up the courage to do that. The competition is going to be a bit of a celebration of my audience from around the world.

Not much more to add here, except the usual mention of LEP Premium which you can find out more about by going to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo I’ve been getting some very positive feedback about it. There are now over 100 episodes of LEPP now in audio and video form. Check it out to see what you’ve been missing.

I’ll be back again soon with another episode, perhaps one in which I just ramble on about all the stuff that I’ve been meaning to say on the podcast for a while, a few listener emails, some songs perhaps and more…

Let me say thank you again to Elspeth for her contribution to this episode. Thank you Elspeth.

Everyone: Hang in there. Keep your chin up.

Hey, do you want some anti-covid funk music to cheer you up? (Yeah)

OK. This is something that I recorded this morning. I probably should have been doing some work but after dropping off my daughter at school I suddenly felt compelled to play some bass, and one thing led to another and I ended up recording a little 2-minute funk groove. The drums are from a youtuber called Dimitri Fantini (link on the episode page). I needed a 90bpm 16-beat funk groove and he delivered. Credit to Dimitri for the drum track. I’ve added bass using my Mexican-made Fender P-Bass, some rhythm guitar with my Fender Stratocaster (also made in Mexico) as well as some string sounds which are from my Yamaha P-45 electric piano.

I called the track Funk in the Kitchen, because it’s supposed to make you dance in your kitchen, or indeed in any other location.

Brace yourselves – music is coming… In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, let the funk commence…

Thanks for listening… Speak to you again soon… Bye!!

665. A Chinwag with Sebastian Marx / 18+ British slang phrases that Americans don’t understand

Chatting to Sebastian Marx from New York and testing his knowledge of British English slang phrases. Slang vocabulary list available below.

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Introduction

This episode features a chinwag (that’s a conversation by the way) with Sebastian Marx – a friend of mine who is originally from New York (he’s an American) but who has been living in France for the last 15 years. Long term listeners might remember him from his past appearances on this podcast. You’ll see links to those episodes on the page for this episode.

Sebastian is a stand up comedian who performs both in English and French, and he was the one who first started doing stand up in English in Paris. So all of us comedians who perform on stage here in English, including Amber, Paul, Sarah Donnelly and others – we all have Sebastian to thank for originally giving us that opportunity as he is the one who got the whole scene started in the first place with the New York Comedy Night which he set up years ago.

I invited Seb onto the podcast just for a bit of a chat, but also to test his knowledge of British English slang. I’m always interested to see how much my American friends know about my version of English.

The Chinwag

In terms of the general chinwag – we talk for the first 25 minutes or so about a few topics, including:

  • What he thinks of the Trump presidency
  • His learning of French
  • Speaking French or English to French people, like waiters in cafes

Then, after about 25 minutes of jibber-jabber, we decide to focus on language and you’ll hear me testing Seb’s knowledge of British English slang – informal spoken English phrases that most Brits know but which Americans are probably unfamiliar with.

This is slang so you should know that things get a bit rude later in the episode with some references to sexual acts – you know, sexual stuff, and also a few other fairly lewd and crude things like bodily functions and so on.

Some of you are probably delighted to hear that and have no problem with it at all but I feel I should give you a heads up about rude content, just in case you’re a teacher listening to this in class or something (I can imagine getting a message from a teacher who’s heard it, or perhaps even having a conversation, like this: Luke, I used an episode of your podcast in my young learners’ class the other day and oh, you started talking about… arseholes and chests, it was quite awkward — Oh dear I’m terribly sorry Mrs Crawly, I should have provided a warning of some kind. I trust that this will not affect my daughter’s entry into the Royal Academy in September. Perhaps you should come for tea and we can discuss it at length. I have one or two things to say to you about your conduct and how this is affecting your reputation among the staff at Downton. Oh, I’m terribly sorry to put you out Lady Crawley… etc… Sorry, I accidentally slipped into an episode of Downton Abbey there. Papa and Mama would be awfully disappointed, and we’ve just received a telegram that the first world war has started and we’re all terribly worried about how this might affect life at Downton and blah blah blah).

I dunno, maybe you’re a teacher or you’re listening to this with children, or maybe you just don’t like rude things of that nature. Basically – there’s some rude stuff in the second half of this episode. Alright? No big deal.

*it’s ok Luke – we fucking love rude stuff, don’t worry*

Alright, steady on…

OK, I promised myself I wouldn’t ramble too much at the start of this one so let’s crack on now, and here is the jingle….

The Slang you can hear in the episode

(listen to hear the full descriptions, examples and American English equivalents)

✔️= Sebastian knew it or guessed it correctly
❌= Sebastian didn’t know it or guessed it wrong

❌“Pants” (adjective) “That film was pants” = not great, rubbish
✔️“Knackered” (adjective”) “I’m absolutely knackered today” = exhausted, really tired / American English equivalent: “beat”
❌”Gobsmacked” (adjective) “I was absolutely gobsmacked” = shocked, surprised
Also: “shut your gob” = shut up, stop talking (gob = mouth)
✔️“a slash” (noun) “Hold on, I’m going for a slash” = I’m going to go and urinate
❌“On the lash” (prepositional phrase) “I’m going out on the lash tonight” = to go out drinking alcohol
✔️“To pull” (verb) “Hopefully I’m going to pull” = to score, get lucky, to get laid, to have sex with someone
On the pull” = trying to ‘get lucky’ with someone
To go out on the pull
To chat someone up” = to talk to someone to make them like you (sexually) to try to pull someone by talking
❌“To get off with someone” (phrasal verb) “I got off with her” = to kiss passionately on the lips (USA: to make out with someone)
To get on with someone” = to have a good relationship with someone, to “hit it off with someone”
✔️“A plonker” (noun) “You are such a plonker” (not a swear word) = an idiot
❌”A tosser” (noun) “Stop being such a tosser” (synonym of “wanker” but less rude) an idiot, a person you don’t like
a wanker” is a mean nasty unpleasant man that you’re angry with
To wank” = to masturbate
Asshole” (US English)
Arsehole” (UK English)
✔️“A fag” (noun) “I’m just having a fag” = a cigarette (in US English it’s a very rude term of abuse meaning a homosexual)
❌“A wind up” (noun) “He’s a wind up merchant” “Is this a wind up?” = a joke, a piss-take, teasing, making fun of someone, playing a trick on someone, a con, a prank, lying to someone as a joke
To wind someone up” = to annoy someone
❌“whingeing / to whinge” (verb) “Stop whingeing! You’re always whingeing.” = to complain, to moan, to whine, in an annoying way
✔️“Smart” (adjective) “You’re looking smart today. What’s the big occasion?” = to be well dressed, to be wearing formal clothing, to look clean and tidy (opposite = casual) (USA: smart = intelligent)
❌“Lush” (adjective) “Oh that’s lush” “Those trainers are lush” “Oh she is lush isn’t she?” = good, attractive (for a person), cool, great, awesome
❌“Grotty” (adjective) “I smoked a cigarette earlier and I’m feeling dead grotty now.” = unpleasant, dirty, feeling a bit unwell or under the weather
❌“Ta” (exclamation) “Could you pass me the sugar? Ta.” = thanks
✔️”A chinwag” (noun) “We’ve had a good chinwag” = conversation
❌“It’s all gone pear shaped” (idiom) “We did a Zoom call but everything went pear shaped because of technical problems” = to go wrong

Schlep (verb – US slang, from Yiddish) to carry something with difficulty, to carry something heavy – “I’ve been schlepping this bag around all day”
Schlep (noun – US slang, from Yiddish) a long and arduous journey – “I work on the other side of town and getting there is a real schlep!”

50 British phrases that Americans just don’t understand (MatadorNetwork)
matadornetwork.com/notebook/50-british-phrases-americans-just-dont-understand/

Ending

Music: Sippin’ Gin by Jim Thompson

Righty-ho, that was Sebastian Marx (thanks Sebastian) and 18 bits of British English slang.

How many did he get right? He predicted 50% I think. Well, out of 18 he identified 7. And my criteria for getting it right was whether he knew the word or phrase already or if he worked it out correctly, first guess, from my example. 7 out of 18. What’s that as a percentage? Some of the mathematicians are already on that, but I need a calculator to work that one out, unless you want to listen to me working that out in my head. Trust me, you don’t want to listen to that. I don’t think I can do it. Anyway, the result is… 38.88888888889 Let’s round that up to 39% which is a clear fail I think everyone can agree.

What does this mean? I’m not sure, except that it proves something about American and British culture and language. Sebastian made the point during the episode and I think I’ve said it before previously, like in that slang game I did with Jennifer from English Across the Pond last year.

Brits are way more familiar with American English than Americans (and of course I mean people from the USA) are with British English because we are exposed to a lot more American culture through TV and film than Americans are exposed to British culture.

America produces tons of TV and film of course and exports a massive amount too, but it doesn’t import as much TV and film as it exports. Basically, most Americans don’t get exposed to that much British English, certainly not the kind of local informal slang stuff that we touched on in this episode. Big surprise eh! Not really! We know this about the USA – big place, quite loud on the world’s stage, exports a lot of stuff, but to a large extent doesn’t look beyond its own borders all that much, relatively speaking. We all knew that though didn’t we!

Anyway, never mind all that geo-political stuff. I just enjoyed chatting with Sebastian in this episode and sharing some of my version of English with him. That is more interesting and fun for me.

What about you? How much of the slang in this episode did you know? I’ve definitely talked about some of those things before, but I bet there were one or two new things in there too.
But how much of it did you know and how much did you learn from me in previous episodes? And if you didn’t get it from me, where have you learned British slang? Let us know in the comment section!

Also, feel free to add other bits of British slang that you think is especially, quintessentially British in the comment section.

All the slang I tested Seb on is listed on the page for this episode on the website, so check it out. That’s where you can see specific spellings of words and phrases, and you can check some example sentences and definitions that I’ve given for you.

Talking of British English expressions – I must finish that series I started last autumn – 88 English expressions that will confuse everyone. Remember that? I still have about 25 expressions left to cover I think! I must get round to doing that.

My podcast is a bit like a big, slow moving ship. Sometimes I miss something or forget something and kind of sail past it, but for some reason it’s very hard to stop the ship or turn it round and go back. So, if I don’t do a specific episode I was planning to do at one point, general momentum keeps pushing me forwards and it’s difficult to turn the ship around and go back. I’m not sure why this is.

Stuff to mention at the end

Lovely comments from listeners on the last episode (in different locations like YouTube, website, twitter, email) My wife said that the comments were cute and lovely.

Something evil this way comes… Episode 666 is next.

666 → often described as the number of the beast. The mark of the devil.

Lots of people have been asking if I’m planning anything special for that.

Well, you’ll have to wait and see…

Previous episodes with Sebastian

130. A Cup of Tea with… Sebastian Marx

183. Luke’s D-Day Diary (Part 1)

247. Understanding The USA

298. The Bank Robbery (Part 1)

299. The Bank Robbery (Part 2)

388. US Presidential Election 2016 – Trump vs Clinton (with Sarah & Sebastian) Part 1

389. US Presidential Election 2016 – Trump vs Clinton (with Sarah & Sebastian) Part 2

656. British Comedy: Karl Pilkington’s Monkey News / The Ricky Gervais Show

Listen to a funny story told in a Manchester accent, and learn various bits of English in the process including vocabulary and pronunciation. Improve your understanding of regional British accents. Story transcript & vocabulary notes available.

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Episode aims

To understand a funny story in English to the same level as a native English speaker
To become more familiar with a Manchester accent (mancunian) and to practise listening to colloquial speech in English
To learn vocabulary relating to working on a building site, and more

Listen to the story – Monkey News / Builder

What are the main events in the story?
What’s going on?
What does the builder do?
What does he see?

A quick summary of the story

A man gets a new job on a building site. He’s just told to get to work and to not ask any questions. He sees another guy working at the top of the building who seems to work really well. He’s efficient, he doesn’t take breaks, he seems to take risks and be a hard worker. He asks the other builders and they say not to worry about it. Never mind. Don’t ask questions. He notices this guy at the top doesn’t have lunch, except for a bucket of nuts which is sent up to him. Peanuts. He gets v suspicious and asks the boss what’s going on. The boss just tells him to get back to work and not ask questions. Ultimately the guy clocks what’s going on and works out that it’s a chimpanzee working on the building and he complains, but the boss gives him the sack. So it turns out that a chimp was working on a building site and he was actually a more valuable worker than this experienced builder. Well, fancy that.

Vocabulary

Go through it quickly, just giving quick definitions and pronunciation pointers.

A bloke
A builder (person)
A building (noun)
To build / building (verb / -ing form of verb)
To get going on it = start doing something
To get on with it = hurry up, continue doing something
Bricks
Cement
Girders
The spire = the pointed top part of a building
The foundations
A fella
To take someone on
The work rate
Scared of heights (scared of the heights which are up there)
Riveting (verb)
Riveting (adjective) “This is really riveting stuff, Luke”
Nuts (that you eat)
Nuts and bolts
To hook something (on)
To check someone out
To stare
A tyre
To be wise to what’s going on
To clock something
It’s not on
Don’t get involved
Don’t interfere
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
A good grafter
To graft (verb)
Graft (noun)
To let someone go
To be made redundant
To be laid off
A chip off the old block

Monkey News – Transcript

Ricky: Ooh, chimpanzee that! Monkey news, you fff…

Karl: There was this bloke who was a builder, right?

Steve: Oh yeah

K: And, er, you know what builders are like. They sort of move about, don’t they, from, from sort of building to building just building.

R: Well yeah. Once they’ve built it, the building’s done and they move on to build some more.

K: So he goes to his next job and that, right?

S: Who does, the builder?

K: The builder

S: Yep.

K: He goes to, like, the boss of this building who’s building it.

S: OK, yeah. And he says what unto him?

K: Do you need anything building?

S: OK, yeah

K: So anyway, so he says, err, he says “Yeah yeah there’s plenty of work and that going about”. He says “We’re working on this one here”. He said, err, “Get going on it, like. There’s your bricks and your cement and stuff. Get on with it.”

R: Any plans? Nah, JUST BUILD.

S: Just start building.

R: GO UP

K: They’re getting on with it and stuff. It’s all going well. But he notices that there’s someone working high up, on the top bit.

S: Sure

K: Because you know how, like, there’s girders and stuff on these big buildings.

R: And he’s still building the bottom bit, which is weird.

K: And he’s still… Yeah well that’s, that’s the way they do it there apparently, just to sort of speed it up. Work from top to middle, from top to bottom.

S: Sure. And that’s where? That’s in imaginary land.

R: We put the spire on and then we’d better do the foundations, and then put some stuff in the middle to keep it up there.

K: So anyway, he’s saying to, like, the other workers, he’s going “What’s… Who’s that up there? …

S: Who’s that up there?

K: … He’s working on his own.

R: What? Little fella was he?

S: Little hairy fella up there.

R: The little hairy fella up there with the hard hat.

K: The other fellas are going “Look, you know, don’t ask questions, you know. The boss decides who he takes on. We’re happy to be getting paid here.”

R: [Laughing] DON’T ASK QUESTIONS?? Well I’ll see him when he comes down.

K: So he said, “Well he’s pretty impressive, you know. The work rate he’s doing, the way he’s getting from one girder to the other “

S: Haha, he’s swinging is he?

K: “He doesn’t seem to be scared of the heights of anything.” He said “no, we just let him get on with it, you know. We work well as a team.” Lunch time comes. They’re all sat there. Sat on a little wall having their sandwiches. He’s just thinking that he’ll come down in a bit. [But] He’s just carrying on.

S: Is he? He’s just still going.

K: He’s still going and that, right? So, the fella says to the boss man, he says “Isn’t that fella up there going to come down and join us for lunch?” He said, “Err, like I said mate, don’t worry about him, right?” So he said “Oh, anyway, you’ve reminded me that he’s up there. He’s doing a lot of riveting and stuff up there. He probably needs some more nuts, to err…

S: Right, sure, and what kind of nuts is that? Is that nuts the food, or…?

K: So he said “What? Nuts?” He says “Yeah, just… There’s a bag full of them there, just just put them on the hook. Send them up and he can get on with his job.” So, anyway, he picks these nuts up.

S: Nuts, yep.

K: Just hooks them on and thinks “They’re not that heavy, considering, you know, they’re normally pretty heavy aren’t they like nuts and bolts and stuff.”

S: A big bag of nuts, yeah.

K: Anyway, he has a little glance in.

S: Ah no, what’s in there?

K: Nuts

S: What, you mean nuts you can eat?

K: Nuts that you can eat.

S: Ah

K: So they send the bag up and he’s thinking “What’s all that about?” He checks him out. Starts to stare. Worked it out. He can see that… It’s a little chimp running about. So he goes, “I’m not happy with this.”

R: Why isn’t he? Is the boss sitting in a tyre?

K: He said “All them lot out there might not be wise to what’s going on here, but I’ve clocked it, and you’re sending nuts up to it. It’s a monkey, it’s not on.” So he goes, “Look, you know, we’re all just trying to earn a living here.” He said, err “Don’t get involved in it. I’m happy to pay you, but I’m paying him. Don’t interfere.”

R: He’s paying him?

K: He’s saying “Look, I’m just not happy with this. It’s not allowed.” So the boss was saying…

R: We pay peanuts, we get monkeys.

K: He said “To be honest mate, you know, err, he’s a great worker. He’s known for doing what he does. He’s a good grafter. If one of you is going to go, right, I’m afraid I’ll have to let you go because he’s been here longer and that.”

S: Blimey. He was made redundant.

R: None of that happened.

K: He was laid off.

R: None of that happened.

K: He’s laid off and that. And that’s where that saying, about, err, you know how there’s a lot of tower blocks and that in America, it’s not like, err… ‘a chimp off the old block’, is where…

R: [Laughs hysterically]

K: So that’s monkey news.

Can I still listen to the Ricky Gervais Podcast?

Yes, you can.

Some episodes are still available on
The Ricky Gervais Podcast (find it on iTunes and wherever you get your podcasts, and just scroll back through the archive to find some “best of” stuff)
The Ricky Gervais Show website www.therickygervaisshow.com/podcasts
YouTube (Search or Monkey News and you’ll find full compilations of them)

Another Monkey News – Chimp Goes Into Space

Links & More

A full page listing all instances of Monkey News, with summaries, and time codes for where they appear in episodes of the Ricky Gervais Podcast.

pilkipedia.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Monkey_News

A compilation of almost all the Monkey News segments from the RGP. Over 3 hours of Monkey News!

629. Do you ever … ? (with James) Strange Habits & Funny Observations

A funny conversation about strange habits that we don’t often talk about, with my brother James. Notes & scripts available below.

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Yes, this is a long episode…

…but remember the best way to listen to these episodes is by using a podcast app on your phone. That way you can listen to a bit, pause the episode and when you choose to listen again your app will remember where you previously stopped. If you’re wondering which podcast app to use, let me recommend the Luke’s English Podcast App, which contains the entire episode archive and loads of bonus stuff. Just search for Luke’s English Podcast App in the app store for Apple devices or Google Play store for Android, and yes it’s completely free. Using a podcast app means that you don’t have to listen to an entire episode in one sitting, which is the best way to listen to longer podcasts like this one.

Introduction (after the jingle)

In this episode, let’s just ask each other a bunch of “do you ever?” questions.

This is going to involve using present simple tense a lot. This is the most basic verb tense we have in English, and we use it to talk about permanent facts and habitual behaviour.

In lessons at school this tense is often taught to students at low levels because it’s a really important foundation for general English, but it tends to be a little bit dull – not the way students deal with the tense, but the way it’s presented in textbooks. Usually, materials based around present simple tense just involve daily routines, what time you normally get up, eat lunch, go to bed etc.

Students at that level lack the vocabulary to be able to talk about habits and routines in a more complex way. When they do have more vocabulary at higher levels, the course books always focus on other tenses – e.g. past tenses for telling stories about the past, future tenses for making predictions about the future, conditional sentences and modal verbs for speculating and so on.

The poor present simple tense is left with this boring reputation of just being a low-level bit of grammar which we only use to talk about what time we get up in the morning and how often we go to the gym.

So, let’s come back to present simple tense and see if we can use it to talk about slightly more unusual and fun things.

As a teacher, the main problem I have noticed when students are using present simple tense is just remembering to add ‘s’ or maybe ‘es’ (which often adds another syllable to the word – like ‘I wish’ and ‘he wishes’ for example). Often it’s just missing 3rd person forms. Like someone saying “He go” when it should be “he goes”. It’s so basic but it’s worth self-correcting if it happens.

Anyway, this episode is called “Do you ever?” and I’ve prepared a big list of unusual behaviour which I think we don’t often talk about, but which I think many of us do, or maybe it’s just me.

Now, I don’t necessarily do all of these things. They’re just based on observations I’ve made. Also, some of the things in this list were written by my brother during a conversation we had ages ago about weird little habits that we have.

Let’s see what happens in terms of the language that comes out. Will we switch to other tenses at any point? What kind of vocabulary will emerge? And do you ever do these slightly unusual things?

***Interruption***

I’m interrupting here because, before we go any further, I think it’s necessary to say a few things about this episode in order to help you understand it all a bit better.

First of all, you should know that this is quite a silly and rambling episode and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Most of what you’re going to hear is just for fun really and I hope you enjoy it.

There is quite a lot of rude language in the episode and by that I mean things like the F word (you mean the word “Fuck” – err, yes – OKay, thanks. Just checking. Wait – who are you? Never mind, carry on!) So there is some swearing but for me that’s quite normal in an informal situation but obviously – swearing is still not a good idea in polite company or at work for example. But for two people like James and me chatting informally at home, swearing might happen and, you know – I want this to be authentic, as if you’re sitting with us the whole time. So, that’s why there is swearing.

Also, I think it will probably be difficult for many of you to follow this conversation because we talk about some very specific and quite personal things, sometimes we talk quickly because we’re in a rush to say things before the other one interrupts us, we talk over each other sometimes and the topic of conversation changes a lot as we go through each question quite quickly.

So this is definitely going to be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course. But sometimes you need a challenge!

Generally, I think I am quite easy to understand when I’m talking on my own, even when I’m speaking quickly. I just have a clear voice. But when I’m talking to friends on the podcast I think it becomes a lot more difficult to understand everything and that might demotivate you. But you need a bit of a challenge from time to time. I hope the bits that you understand will carry you through the bits that you don’t understand.

But I do want to help you understand as much as possible, so I’m now going to read out all the Do You Ever…? Questions that we answer in this episode. I’m going to read them all out now, just to give you a chance to understand them all in advance. This can make a big difference to your comprehension of this conversation.

If you have already had a chance to think about the different things that we talk about, you’ll be in a much better position to understand it all.

So, let me now go through this list of “Do you ever…?” questions and I’d like you to concentrate and just try to understand each one and then prepare to hear what we have to say about them in the rest of the conversation.

You should also consider whether you do these particular little things or not, and if you consider them to be normal, funny or weird.

Right, so listen carefully – these are the questions that James and I are going to discuss in this conversation. Here we go…

Do you ever…?

  • Get song lyrics stuck in your head (like an earworm)

  • Aim at things when you pee

  • Use a special system for getting to sleep

  • Have dreams or nightmares

  • Wave at people on boats

  • Look out of the window in a moving car and imagine that you’re running along next to the car like Mario or Sonic, jumping over obstacles, or that you’re cutting everything with a huge saw or laser as you move past

  • Shave your beard into a funny moustache for a moment when shaving

  • Talk to yourself in a different voice, when nobody else is around

  • Wipe while sitting or wipe while standing

  • Imagine doing an amazing performance in front of your old school during an assembly or something

  • Avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, or live by any other superstitions

  • Go to the hairdressers and have a really bad time but say nothing about it

  • Drink loads of tea or coffee at work just so you get more toilet breaks

  • Smoke cigarettes because you’re bored, or decide to smoke a cigarette because you see someone in a movie smoking

  • Imagine what you would do if a zombie apocalypse happened right now

  • Count the number of steps it takes you to get up a flight of stairs or go from the sofa to the toilet

  • Flip something, like a remote control, in the air over and over again until you drop it

  • Do fake bets with yourself or your friends

  • Badly need the loo on the way home

  • Listen to songs and completely misunderstand or mishear the lyrics

    Fugzi – Waiting Room

    The lyrics are, “I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.”

    James thought it was, “I am a pastry boy. I weigh, I weigh, I weigh, I weigh.” 

  • Open toilet doors with your elbows

  • Use the back of your hand or certain fingers for touching your face, as if the back of your hand or your knuckle are ‘totally safe’

  • Think “that would be a good name for a band”

  • Fall asleep in public and then suddenly wake up because your head has suddenly moved, you’ve snored or you’ve made another noise, or your head has moved back and your mouth has hung open, or you’ve drooled out of your mouth

  • Throw a ball of paper at the bin, miss, pick up the ball and try again from the exact same spot as before

  • Eat any parts of yourself – e.g nails, dead skin or bogies

  • Tap your foot to the beat of other people’s music which you can overhear from their headphones, in order to show them that you can hear it (or because the music is actually good)

  • Walk past someone you know in the street and go to say hello, then realise they’ve chosen to blank you (to ignore you)

  • Not move down in public transport even though you could, because you want to save space for yourself and because you generally hate other people

  • Fall in love with a stranger on public transport and yet do absolutely nothing about it other than glance at them and hope they don’t notice

  • Add your own voiceover track to films or TV shows

  • Doodle particular things with a pen while you’re on the phone

  • Hate strangers on public transport for no reason

  • Put toast in the toaster, it comes up not done properly, then you put it back and then it’s burnt

  • Lie on your back and throw a ball or maybe an orange into the air, and fail to catch it

  • Walk for ages with a stone in your shoe – it feels massive, then you take it out and it’s tiny

  • Find everything totally fascinating, just before bedtime – especially if you promised yourself earlier in the day that you’d have an early night


Ending

That was the LEP Jingle Megamix that you heard at the end there. I haven’t played that on the podcast for a while. If you’d like to know where all those little samples in that jingle come from, check out the Jingles & Music category in the LEP App. There’s a full episode there in which I go through all the samples and explain where they all come from. It’s called “Deconstructing the LEP Jingle Megamix”.

Well done for listening to all of that. I wonder how many of you have made this far, and how many people just couldn’t handle it any longer for whatever reason, and how many skeletons there are with headphones on right now – skeletons that were perfectly healthy fresh-faced humans when they started listening to this, who slowly perished as the episode went on.

But not you – no, you made it all the way through and there’s a good chance you laughed with us, and perhaps were struck by a profound sense of shared experience when you realised that you also do some of the things we talked about.

But well done to you, in any case and I hope you also picked up some English along the way – because, after all, that is the main purpose of this whole thing, of course. I expect the lower level listeners or the more serious listeners probably stopped listening because they couldn’t keep up or because they felt that they didn’t have time. I’m not going to get into all the stuff about the pros and cons of long episodes vs shorter episodes and things like that. Anyway, the point is – if you made it this far then “nice one” and I wonder what your favourite moments were from this episode. You could share your thoughts in the comment section of course.

Let me thank James again for being on the podcast. I always enjoy our episodes together and I hope that that comes across in the recording.

Right, time to stop talking. There’s no time to mention that you should sign up to LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium. No time to that, but you should anyway. There are now over 60 premium items available and more premium episodes are coming, I promise. They just take quite a lot of work and preparation. But there will be more coming before Christmas.

All I’ll say now is thank you again for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – goodbye!

What’s the music at the end of the episode, Luke?

The music you can hear at the end is called Wonderland and it was produced by James on his Akai MPC2000. You can check it out (and his other tunes) on his Soundcloud page here soundcloud.com/jt-2000