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.
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.
Go through it quickly, just giving quick definitions and pronunciation pointers.
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
The spire = the pointed top part of a building
To take someone on
The work rate
Scared of heights (scared of the heights which are up there)
Riveting (adjective) “This is really riveting stuff, Luke”
Nuts (that you eat)
Nuts and bolts
To hook something (on)
To check someone out
To be wise to what’s going on
To clock something
It’s not on
Don’t get involved
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
A good grafter
To graft (verb)
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. The new building.
K: He goes to, like, the boss of this building who’s building it.
S: OK, yeah.
K: 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 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.
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 is pretty impressive, the work that 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?
S: What, you mean nuts you can eat?
K: Nuts that you can eat.
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: And 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.
…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?
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
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
Every version of every language has slang and also cultural reference points that are unique to that language. English is no exception of course and because it is such a diverse language in terms of the number of different dialects it has, it is quite possible for there to be slang in certain dialects that other speakers of the same language don’t understand. For example, Americans might not understand certain things said in British English. Of course it’s also difficult for learners of English to deal with slang. It’s not normally the language you encounter in the coursebooks and so on, and yet slang is very commonly used.
So, a dialect of English like British English might be difficult to understand for anyone who wasn’t born or grew up there.
That’s what this article was all about and the 88 bits of English (either words or expressions) listed, reflect this uniquely British version of English that might be confusing for everyone else in the world.
But I am here to try to lessen that confusion with my explanations and examples.
You can use this episode series to quickly learn a whole world of slang, which will help you understand and be understood by Brits more easily.
And even if you’re not planning to get chatting to some British people any time soon, you can consider this series just to be a chance to broaden your horizons as far as the English language is concerned and learn yet more of this precious vocabulary – because vocabulary probably is the most precious stuff of all. This is the difference, often, between intermediate English and advanced or proficient English – knowing how to adjust your style of English to meet various different situations. A knowledge of slang is essential, I think, in order to know all the possible light and shade in this language.
As ever with these articles, there are always a few little words or phrases that I dispute or at least don’t know. Last time it was “dench” which neither my brother nor I use, ever. (I made several edits to the episode after initially releasing it, with some comments that my brother sent to me via text). Let’s see if there are other similar words and phrases that I don’t use, perhaps because it’s a regional thing and not said in my area growing up.
As we go through the list I will let you know which ones I actually use and which ones I don’t. If you’re using me as a model for the type of English you want to speak, you can perhaps disregard any of the ones which I don’t use. But of course you should always be listening carefully to the English language as it is used and if you spot any of these expressions being used on TV, in music, films or just in normal life then that’s worth noting.
Also, I think that sometimes I use these expressions but in a knowing, ironic way. For example, if I called someone “the bee’s knees” I think I’d be doing it largely because I like the sound of the expression, but knowing it’s a bit old-fashioned. It can be fun sometimes just to use these different expressions for a laugh as a way to add colour or humour to your speaking.
So I will also let you know if I think I use these expressions with a bit of irony.
In part 1 I did 30 of these. Let’s see if I can do the next 30 and then the final 28 in part 3.
I’m going to have to be quick, so pay attention!
Text in italics has been pasted from the original article (link above).
to faff about/around
To “faff” is to waste time doing very little.
“Faff” comes from the 17th century word “faffle,” which means to flap about in the wind.
“We were just faffing about.”
Stop faffing around. Come on, let’s go!
How much time in your typical day do you spend just faffing around?
What do you actually do when you faff around?
A “fag end” is also the ratty bits towards the ends of a reel of fabric, which are the worst and the cheapest bits of the reel. Historically, “fags” were the cheaper cigarettes made of lower grade tobacco, however, the slang has spread to encompass all cigarettes.
“Could I scrounge a fag off you, please?”
In American English it’s a gay person (very offensive word) so watch out for that. – “Can I bum a fag off you mate?”
What’s the nickname you give to cigarettes in your language?
A fag butt, to stub out a cigarette, to ask for a light, a ciggie
“She’s really fit though, isn’t she?”
When I was a kid we all thought our maths teacher was really fit.
Used to describe someone physically attractive, usually referring to their physique.
“She’s got a fit body”
Obviously it also means to be in good physical condition, like an athlete.
Which actor or actress do you think is quite fit/fit/really fit?
To “flog” means to sell something — usually quickly and cheaply.
“I’m trying to flog my old sofa. Do you know anyone that might be interested?”
What is the last thing that you flogged?
Flog It (TV show)
5. “the Full Monty”
The entire thing, with all the extras included.
After “The Full Monty” film was released in 1997, there was some international confusion over the phrase in which it was taken as a euphemism for stripping. However, “the full Monty” actually refers to pursuing something to the absolute limits.
“The full Monty” historically refers to an old tailor called Sir Montague Burton. Going “the fully Monty” meant purchasing a full three-piece suit, a shirt, and all of the trimmings.
“Our Christmas dinner had everything from sprouts to Yorkshire puddings. If you’re going to have a roast, have the full Monty!”
I’m going to go for the full monty. A full English breakfast.
I very rarely use it.
Have you ever had a full English breakfast? Did you go for the full monty? How about a Sunday roast? Full monty?
6. “Full of beans”
Someone that’s energetic, lively, or enthusiastic might be described as “full of beans.”
This phrase could be a reference to coffee beans, although these claims have been disputed.
Beans generally give you energy (and gas) so the meaning is pretty clear for me.
“Goodness, you’re full of beans this morning!”
How do you feel right now? Do you feel full of bean? Or are you feeling knackered?
Where do you want to do it? Your gaff? My gaff?
“Gaff” is an informal word for “home.”
It sounds cockney to me.
“What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got a party at our gaff, if you fancy it?”
I’d use it ironically because it sounds really cockney. It’s the kind of thing you hear in Eastenders.
Have you ever seen Eastenders?
Withnail &a I?
To “gallivant” means to roam, or to set off on an expedition, with the sole intention of having some light-hearted fun. I imagine someone skipping through a forest or a hilly meadow.
You’re supposed to stay and be a princess, not go gallivanting after pirates!
I would only use this in a kind of sarcastic way, in order to complain about someone doing other things when they should be focusing on something more serious.
Off he goes, gallivanting around the South of France when he should be at home sorting out all the problems.
A “geezer” is a man that could be described as “suave” or “dapper,” and is often suited and booted. Men from east London are also commonly referred to as “geezers.”
A geezer is a slang word for a man, like a bloke.
“That guy’s got such swagger — he’s a proper geezer.”
I use this one quite a lot although it does sound quite cockney (other regional dialects use it too). You can also say “bloke”.
10. “Give me a tinkle on the blower”
“Give me a call” or “ring me.” The phrase is sometimes shortened to “give me a tinkle.”
“Tinkle” refers to a phone’s ring, while “blower” is slang or telephone and refers to the device that predated phones on Naval ships. Sailors would blow down a pipe to their recipient, where a whistle at the end of the pipe would sound to spark attention.
“Give me a tinkle on the blower.”
I never say it.
Astounded; bewildered; shocked.
“Gob” is slang for mouth, so if you’re gobsmacked, you’re shocked to the point of clasping your jaw in disbelief.
“I was gobsmacked!”
It’s a good word which everyone should know.
When was the last time you were gobsmacked? Have you ever felt gobsmacked while watching a film or TV show, like when a character dies unexpectedly?
Not to be confused with literally being disembowelled, someone that says they’re “gutted” is devastated or extremely upset.
“I was absolutely gutted.”
It’s one of the most common and recognisable bits of UK slang, along with knackered and chuffed.
How would you feel if you got invited onto Luke’s English Podcast? Would you feel gutted or chuffed?
13. “Half past”
While Americans are more likely to say “seven thirty” or “five fifty,” Brits will more often than not refer to times in “minutes past” the hour (or minutes to). Eg, “half past seven,” and “ten to six.”
It’s unclear why Brits appear to favour analogue time-telling while Americans go for the digital format. (we don’t do it so much any more)
“It’s twenty past eleven.”
On the right hand side of the clock, it’s past (including half past).
On the left hand side of the clock, it’s to.
1:10 “ten past one”
2:15 “a quarter past two”
3.20 “twenty past three”
4.25 “twenty five past four”
5.30 “half past five”
6.35 “twenty five to seven”
7.40 “twenty to eight”
8.45 “a quarter to nine”
9.50 “ten to ten”
10.55 “five to eleven”
Sometimes these are abbreviated to “half past” “quarter past” “ten to” etc.
What time do you get up?
What time did you start listening to this?
What time do you go to bed?
What time does your lunch end?
14. “Hank Marvin”
“Hank Marvin” is Cockney rhyming slang for “starving.”
“I’m Hank Marvin” means “I’m hungry” or “I’m ravenous.”
“When are we going to eat? I’m absolutely Hank Marvin.”
I do use this one, and my wife has learned to understand it.
How are you feeling right now? Full, stuffed, fine, a bit peckish, hungry, absolutely Hank Marvin?
“Innit” is an abbreviation of “isn’t it” most commonly used amongst teenagers and young people.
You can add it as a tag question on the end of a sentence, no matter what the auxiliary verb is.
He hasn’t done his homework, innit.
He ain’t done his homework innit.
You ain’t done your homework innit.
It can also be used as a response as a way to confirm something.
“It’s really cold today.”
I think also we use “Is it?” as a way to show surprise.
“My mum won the lottery”
“Is it?” or “Yo, is it fam!?”
Sounds terrible when I say it.
I use “innit” quite a lot, but ironically, meaning I know I’m not normally the type of person who uses it and I’m kind of imitating Ali G.
16. “Leg it”
Make a run for it; run away; scarper.
“That’s when all of the lights came on, and so we legged it.”
We used to say this all the time when we were kids.
I never say this and if I did it would be embarrassing. It’s the sort of thing I’d hear from schoolkids on the bus in London.
The same people who’d say things like “innit” and “blud” or “fam”.
Something that takes a lot of effort and probably isn’t going to be worth all of the effort, either, could be described as “long.” This could be due to the lengths that the person will have to go to in order to complete the task.
Something that is “long” is probably also annoying or aggravating.
“Cleaning the kitchen is long.”
18. “the Lurgy”
If someone’s “caught the lurgy,” they’re suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms.
“She’s come down with the dreaded lurgy.”
When was the last time you got the lurgy? Did you take time off work or college? How do you protect yourself from the lurgy? What’s a cure for the lurgy?
19. Making random words past-tense to mean drunk
Brits are known for favouring a drink or two, so much so that almost any noun can be used as a substitute for “drunk.”
In his stand-up show, British comedian Michael MacIntyre said: “You can actually use any word in the English language and substitute it to mean drunk. It works.”
Examples include “trollied,” “smashed,” and “gazeboed.”
I’ve never heard or used this phrase (except the “I’m on it” part).
This colloquialism might be said by someone that has the situation under control.
“I’m on it” is definitely a phrase.
“How’s the report going, Steve?”
“Don’t you worry, Alan, I’m on it (like a car bonnet).”
Alan thinks “That would have been alright if he hadn’t said ‘like a car bonnet at the end’….. He’s going to have to go.”
“Don’t worry Alan. I’m on it!”
26. “On the pull”
Someone that’s “on the pull” has gone out, usually on a night out, with the intention of attracting a sexual partner.
“Pull” can also be used as a verb. If you’ve “pulled,” you’ve kissed someone.
“You look nice. Are you going on the pull?”
“Get your coat, you’ve pulled.”
Also: on the lash
27. “Over-egg the pudding”
“Over-egging the pudding” means embellishing or over-doing something to the extent that it’s detrimental to the finished product. Going over the top.
Basically though, it means going too far, doing too much, pushing a situation to the max, but it is said in a pejorative and disdainful way, like “Don’t over-egg the pudding Luke”.
“We get it — you’ve injured yourself. Don’t over-egg the pudding.”
Do you think they over-egged the pudding at the end of Avengers Endgame? Too many superheroes?
Rubbish; terrible, really bad. Poor quality.
“This is pants.”
“That film was total pants.”
How was the film? Pants
What about the match? Pants
How was England’s performance? It was pants
What about the pub where they showed the game? Pants
The beer? Pants
How about your pants? They’re pants.
Actually no, my pants are great. They’re the only thing that isn’t pants, my pants.
That’s ironic isn’t it, that your pants are great but everything else is pants, but not meaning great.
I think it’s because pants in general are bad, but my pants just happen to be great so they’re
The exception that proves the rule.
Yes, but I’ve never understood that phrase. How can an exception prove a rule? Surely it should be the opposite?
29. Par (diss)
I never ever use this. I’m much more likely to say “diss” as in “disrespect”. So let’s replace “par” with “diss” instead.
A “diss” is a disrespectful comment.
“Diss” can also be used as a verb, eg, “You just got dissed.” “Are you dissing my English?”
It comes from the word disrespect or disrespected.
“I don’t mean this as a diss, but did you remember to wash this morning?”
I don’t think I would use it unironically.
Are you dissing me?
A situation which has quickly evolved into an accident waiting to happen might be described as “gone pear-shaped.”
The phrase is reportedly old slang from the Royal Air Force and was used to described awry expeditions and flights.
“Well, this has all gone a bit pear-shaped.”
Simon, where have you been?
Well, I went out to buy some milk but things got a bit pear shaped and I ended up going to Area 51.
An episode about British English slang and culture, featuring expressions that Brits know but everyone else finds confusing. Here are the first 30 expressions in a list of 88 that I found on independent.co.uk. Includes plenty of funny improvised examples to make you laugh out loud on the bus.
He’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, isn’t he?
I’m a bit of a Beatles anorak.
Bagsie the front seat! Shotgun!
4. The bee’s knees
He’s the bee’s knees.
5. Bender (go on a)
I went on a 3-day bender last weekend. I feel rough as f*ck right now.
6. Blinder (to pull a)
You pulled an absolute blinder in that negotiation.
My brother has chipped in here with a comment, saying that he thinks the most common collocation with Blinder is “to play a blinder” and I admit that he’s right. Thinking about it, I’ve definitely heard “play a blinder” more than “pull a blinder”.
A quick internet search shows us the same thing.
Collins says it’s when a sports player or musician plays something really well but it’s also applied to when anyone does anything well. For example, you played a blinder in that meeting.
Or You played an absolute blinder getting us front row tickets for this show.
OK, so let’s say “play a blinder” more often than “pull a blinder”.
7. Bloody / Bleedin’
Bloody hell Harry! Bleedin‘ Heck!
8. Bob’s your uncle
Put the bag in the mug, add hot water, then some milk and Bob’s your uncle.
We’re staying in a bog-standard hotel up the road.
Put the money in theboot of the car.
11. Botch(ed) job
You did a real botch(ed) job on that chair. It is a real death-trap. You really made a botch of that, didn’t you?
Do you need a brolly?
13. Budge up
Come on, budge up a bit. I don’t have much room.
14. Builder’s tea
I like a nice cup of builder’s tea, me.
Give us a butcher’s at that! Have a butcher’s at this.
I’m really cack-handed today. I don’t know what’s the matter with me.
You’re such a cheeky little monkey!
18. Chinese whispers
It must have been Chinese whispers.
Let’s get together and have a good old chinwag.
I tell you what. It’s absolutely chockablock out there. Absolutely chocka.
You must be really chuffed!
You dropped an absolute clanger at the dinner party.
What a load of absolute codswallop.
24. Cost a bomb
Those new iPhones cost an absolute bomb.
I am absolutely cream-crackered. I think I’m going to go straight to bed.
26. Curtain twitcher
Our neighbour is a bit of a curtain twitcher.
I’m going to make some tea. Dench. (?)
I just want to add something about the word “Dench”.
I said that I didn’t know this and that I don’t use it.
My brother reckons the word is “fake”, by which I think he means that this one isn’t really used.
He’s never heard or used it either.
I don’t know why the Independent would add a fake word in their list, but let’s just say that you can probably avoid the word “Dench” and not worry about it at all.
If you’ve heard or seen the word being used, add a comment to the comment section.
I’ve just done a quick google check and there are entries for the word in Collins (but not an “official” definition – it was added by a user) and Urban Dictionary – both confirming that the word basically means “nice” or “Awesome” but there aren’t that many entries for it.
So I think we can conclude that it is a new phrase, probably only used by a few people, particularly younger generations.
Tim’s a jolly good bloke. A bit dim though.
That exam was an absolute doddle.
30. Dog’s dinner
You made an absolute dog’s dinner of that.
Follow me on Twitter @EnglishPodcast
For me, this is British humour and music at their finest, and it's part of a European absurdist art movement that started 100 years ago, and which runs through a lot of Britain's best TV and radio comedy. 2/12
Here is another episode of this podcast for people learning English.
This time we are dissecting the frog again as we are going to be looking at top jokes from this year’s Ed Fringe. I’m going to read all the jokes to you and then dissect them for vocabulary which can help you learn English really effectively.
Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.
So let’s dissect the frog again!
A challenge for you:
Can you understand the jokes the first time you hear them?
Can you repeat the jokes, with the right timing, intonation and stress, to make the joke funny?
The Culture of Joke-Telling in English
Remember, when someone tells you a joke there are certain normal responses you should make. You shouldn’t give no reaction.
You have to show that you see that a joke has happened. Don’t just give no reaction or respond to the question on face value.
So when someone tells you a joke, you have to show that you’ve noticed it.
go “awwww” or something
Say “I don’t get it”
Heard it before
You also have to respond to certain jokes in certain ways.
Knock knock – who’s there?
Any kind of question, especially “What do you call a…?” or “What do you get if you cross xxx with yyy?”
You answer: I don’t know. Then the answer is the punchline.
Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2019
I did one of these last year – episode 547. A whole year has gone by. So I did 64 episodes of the podcast, plus all the premium ones. Quite a productive year for LEP!
Right now stand up comedians all over the UK are having a welcome break and a chance to think about how their Edinburgh run was and what they can learn from it.
The rest of us are reading articles in the press about the best jokes from this year’s fringe, and which new comedians to look out for over the coming year or two.
What’s the Edinburgh Fringe again? (I’ve talked about it a lot on the podcast. Never actually been there.)
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (also referred to as The Fringe or Edinburgh Fringe, or Edinburgh Fringe Festival) is the world’s largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues. Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the month of August. It has been called the “most famous celebration of the arts and entertainment in the world” and an event that “has done more to place Edinburgh in the forefront of world cities than anything else.
It is an open access (or “unjuried“) performing arts festival, meaning there is no selection committee, and anyone may participate, with any type of performance. The official Fringe Programme categorises shows into sections for theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. Comedy is the largest section, making up over one-third of the programme and the one that in modern times has the highest public profile, due in part to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
Every year hundreds of stand up comedians go to the Fringe to do their shows. It is a sort of make-or-break experience.
Have you ever done it Luke? What’s it like?
I did something about different joke types in the last one of these episodes. I talked about things like “pull back and reveal” and “then I got off the bus”.
Here are about 5 different joke types, or stand-up techniques.
Puns (word jokes) – one word or phrase means two things at the same time, maybe because one word can sound like two words – homophones. [Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8, 9. —> “8” sounds exactly like “ate”]
Pull back and reveal – the situation radically changes when we get more information. [My wife told me: ‘Sex is better on holiday.’ That wasn’t a nice postcard to receive.” Joe Bor 2014]
Observational humour – noticing things about everyday life that we all experience, but haven’t put into words yet. [What’s the deal with airline food, right?]
Similes – Showing how two things are similar in unexpected and revealing ways. [Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog…]
Common phrases, reinterpreted. This time it seems that most of the jokes are based on well-known common phrases and how they could mean something else if you change the context. It’s like a pun but for a whole phrase. [Conjunctivitis.com – now there’s a site for sore eyes. Tim Vine]
The top 10 jokes of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 have been announced, with comedian Olaf Falafel taking the coveted top spot. Check out the full list below.
After previous triumphs from the likes of Tim Vine, Stewart Francis and Zoe Lyons, Falafel scooped the prize with a snappy vegetable themed one-liner.
He took ‘Dave’s Funniest Joke Of The Fringe’ with the gag:
1. “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.
Florets are chunks of broccoli or cauliflower
Tourette’s is a condition in which people shout out the rudest and most taboo thing in any situation, particularly stressful ones.
The two words sound quite similar.
It’s not the best joke in my opinion.
What makes a really good joke?
If it’s a pun, it should work both ways.
You’re looking at a sentence that means two things at the same time. Ideally, both of those things will make overall sense.
“I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.
So, one sense here is that he has a type of tourette’s which only involves shouting out broccoli and cauliflower. That makes sense, sort of.
But the other meaning doesn’t. Why would he be randomly shouting out the words broccoli and cauliflower if he had some florets in his hand?
So, for me it doesn’t quite work.
Here’s a joke that works both ways
I broke my finger last week. On the other hand, I’m ok.
On the other hand means “But” (the whole sentence still makes sense) He broke his finger but overall he’s ok.
On the other hand means “literally on his other hand” (the whole sentence makes sense again) He broke his finger on one hand, but his other hand is ok.
“I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.
It came from Falafel’s show It’s One Giant Leek For Mankind, which was performed at the Pear Tree.
The comic, who won with 41% of the vote, claims to be “Sweden’s 8th funniest” comedian. He also works as an acclaimed children’s book author.
(This is like a democratic election in which the one that 59% of people (the majority) didn’t vote for, is the one that’s picked.)
Falafel said: “This is a fantastic honour but it’s like I’ve always said, jokes about white sugar are rare, jokes about brown sugar… demerara.”
(How is that like winning this list?🤷♂️)
Check out the rest of the top ten below.
2.”Someone stole my antidepressants. Whoever they are, I hope they’re happy” – Richard Stott
Listen to a lovely bit of stand up comedy that will require quite a lot of breaking down in order for you to understand all the jokes like a native speaker, but there’s lots to learn in the way of language and culture in the process.
This is LEP episode 610. and it’s called British Comedy: James Acaster.
In this one we’re going to listen to a lovely bit of stand up comedy that will require quite a lot of breaking down in order for you to understand all the jokes like a native speaker, and there’s lots to learn in the way of language and culture in the process.
James Acaster is a popular stand up comedian from the UK who has won various awards, done Netflix specials, Edinburgh shows and who appears on panel shows and TV comedy programmes all the time. He’s now a very popular and well-known stand up in the UK.
I’ve got a clip of one of his performances from the New Zealand Comedy Gala in 2013 on YouTube.
I’m going to play the video in about two parts.
You have to try to understand it – not just what he’s saying, but why is it funny?
Then I’ll go back through the clip, sum it up, go through it line by line, breaking it down for language.
You can then listen again using the video on the page for the episode.
Who is James Acaster? (Wikipedia) James Acaster is an English comedian originally from Kettering, Northamptonshire. (accent?) He has performed for several consecutive years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and won two Chortle awards in 2015. He has been nominated for Best Show five times at the Edinburgh Fringe. Acaster has appeared on several panel shows, including Mock the Week and Would I Lie to You? He has a 2018 Netflix show entitled Repertoire, consisting of four hour-long stand-up comedy performances. He has also written a book, James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes, consisting of true stories, most of which were originally told on Josh Widdicombe’s show on XFM. He currently hosts panel show Hypothetical alongside Widdicombe and food podcast Off Menu with fellow comedian Ed Gamble.
He’s originally from Northamptonshire which is in the east midlands. He doesn’t have a strong northern accent or a brummie accent, although I do think he would say “podcast” instead of “podcast” and “bath, grass, laugh” with that short a sound too.
The main thing is that he drops all his “T” sounds and also “TH” sounds.
So, “bring them” sounds like “bring em”
“Sitting in a tree, eating all the apples” sounds like “si’in in a tree, ea’in all the apples”
“Theft” becomes “Feft”
He also says “Raver” instead of “rather”.
All very common features of local English – dropping Ts and TH sounds is common all over the country.
What is his comedy style?
Whimsical (unusual, strange and amusing)
Thinking of things in a different way, unconventional (quite normal in stand up)
Acting a bit cool even though he isn’t
Geeky looking, wears sweaters, clothes even a granddad might wear
Looks a bit like Jarvis Cocker
James bought some ‘ready-to-eat Apricots’ and he went on a lads’ night out
You get these bags of fruit in the UK (and elsewhere I’m sure) of fruit which is ready to eat.
It’s been cut up, washed, prepared. It’s ready to eat.
For example, you might get “ready-to-eat apricots”. That’s what James is talking about here.
Also, the expression ”You are what you eat?”
Play the clip:What’s the joke about apricots?
Stop and explain it
What kind of apricots are these?
They are ready-to-eat apricots.
How do you feel?
I feel ready. Ready to eat apricots.
In fact, you could say I was ready to eat these ready-to-eat apricots.
Maybe you’re not ready to eat apricots.
Maybe you just want some, which is why they’re in a resealable bag.
So, they should be renamed ready-to-eat-some-apricots.
A lads’ night out / You wouldn’t bring an apple to an orchard
James went on a night out with a bunch of lads.
For James, this was not an enjoyable night.
It wouldn’t be for me either. I’ve never been one of those guys who likes to go out on a lads’ night out.
Lets me explain what a lads’ night out is like.
Lads are usually English young men, together, doing male things and generally being aggressive, overly sexual, crude, rude and competitive.
Lots of alpha male behaviour
Taking the piss and general one-upmanship and aggressive, laddish, competitive behaviour
Spending time in bars and clubs that you hate but they think are brilliant (terrible, terrible music, awful people, loud, smelly, horrible)
Trying to pick up girls and the general lack of a moral code – cheating, lying, using alcohol – all in an attempt to get lucky with a girl. This includes cheating on your girlfriend if you have one.
Medieval-level sexual politics – being openly judgemental about women’s appearances, giving women marks out of ten, saying whether or not you would shag any of the women around, looking at their bodies and comparing notes etc.
You get sucked into it through peer pressure and become part of it even though you hate it.
One of the lads, who has a girlfriend and yet plans to pick up a girl at the club, when asked why he didn’t bring his girlfriend, says “You wouldn’t bring an apple to an orchard”
An orchard is a place where apples are grown. It’s full of trees and there are apples everywhere. You might pay to access the orchard and pick the apples.
You wouldn’t bring an apple to an orchard. Presumably because you wouldn’t need to bring one because there are loads there anyway.
How about bringing your girlfriend to a night club. Is it the same?
This leads James to kind of question the logic of that statement and go off an a monologue about bringing an apple to an orchard and how that compares to bringing your girlfriend to a nightclub.
To be an accessory to something (like a crime)
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Play the clip:Do you understand all the comedy about the nightclub and bringing an apple to an orchard?
Stop and explain it
Going to a nightclub with a bunch of lads
One of them cheats on his girlfriend and you become an accessory to it, like it’s a crime and now you’ve become pulled into it. You’re involved in it, without intending to be, and you could go down, like you’re an accessory to a crime.
In this sense, you just have to keep a secret, you’re being expected to lie on behalf of someone else. The guy is a twat basically.
This lad says “You wouldn’t bring an apple to an orchard”.
But then James deconstructs this analogy in a brilliant way.
This is nuanced comedy which is subtly making fun of stupid lad culture in a clever and funny way, with some weirdness and surrealism.
Go through it line by line
One of the reasons I like it is that a lot of people might just say James is being weird and that he’s some sort of loser, but he’s absolutely right in my opinion and he’s just clever and not afraid to be himself and he embraces the slightly weird things in life, because let’s face it, life is weird.
Types of humour / how nuanced & subtle humour can be all about changing the context of the situation in order to reveal new perspectives.
This acknowledges the fact that there are many different perspectives or layers to any situation and a good comedian can make you realise a whole different underlying meaning by just changing one bit of perspective.
Despite the fact that I like this a lot and so do many other people, I’m sure plenty of others don’t find it funny because it’s not fast enough, there aren’t enough dynamic changes (he doesn’t change his voice a lot, a lot of the jokes are left to the audience’s imagination), it’s pretty low energy, maybe little things like (I can’t get into it – I just don’t like his hair cut or his shoes or something) and also some people just don’t really want to look at the world from a different point of view. Some people prefer more direct humour, perhaps with a more obvious target or more relatable things, like observational comedy or something.
As usual, I’m worrying that nobody will get it, but what’s the point of that? Some people just won’t get it because “you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.
And it doesn’t matter. If you didn’t find it funny, that’s totally fine. At least you’ve learned some English in the process. :)
They say “you are what you eat”
A resealable bag
A lads’ night out
Check out the arse on that
Normal people perv solo
To outnumber someone
A dented suitcase
To cheat on someone
An accessory to a crime
Eloquent use of language
A little bit miffed
This godforsaken pisshole of an orchard
Who in their right mind compares women to apples?
Another saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”
Here’s another short clip of James Acaster, this time talking about Brexit and comparing it to a tea bag in a cup.
Should you take the bag out or leave it in?
James Acaster Brexit Tea Bag
Now explain that Luke!
Tea / Brexit
Should you leave the bag in or not?
If the bag stays in, the cup as a whole gets stronger. It might look like the bag is getting weaker in some way but it’s actually part of a good strong cup of tea.
If you take the bag out, the tea is actually quite weak, and the bag goes straight in the bin.
Do I even need to explain how that analogy works with Brexit?
Should the UK stay in or go out?
If the UK remains, the EU as a whole gets stronger. It might look like the UK is getting weaker in some way, but it’s actually part of a good strong union of nations.
If the UK leaves, the EU gets weaker and the UK goes straight in the bin.
Quite clever really.
You can watch James Acaster clips on YouTube.
You can see his Netflix specials “Repertoire” on Netflix
You can read his book “Classic Scrapes” from any half-decent book shop.
Amber & Paul join me to talk again about poshness, posh accents and posh celebrities. This episode is full of different British accents – posh, RP and regional differences. It’s also full of comedy and I found myself laughing out loud while editing this, especially the interview with the football player that Paul tells us about. I hope you enjoy it.
In this episode I’m joined by Jennifer – a podcaster from the USA, and we test each other on our knowledge of slang from our countries. Listen and learn some informal words from British and American English. Notes & definitions below.
Here’s a new episode and in this one I’ve got a guest. I’m talking to Jennifer from the English Across the Pond podcast. You’re going to hear a mix of both British and American English and you can learn some slang from both sides of the Atlantic. Also you can find out about Jen, her podcast, and the other language learning services that she offers to you, with her co-host Dan on their podcast and also through their website. More on that in a moment.
But first let me give you a little bit of news here before we get started properly.
A little bit of news before we get started properly
If you’re a subscriber to my email list then you will have received an email from me recently with a link to a post that I published on my website. Did you get that email? Did you click the link? Normally emails from me just contain a link to a new episode, but sometimes I send you other stuff, like posts on my website which you might find interesting.
Basically in that recent post I said a couple of things. One of them was that February might be a bit quiet for the normal podcast – I mean, these free episodes (because there’s the free podcast and the premium podcast, you see). This is the second episode I’ve uploaded in February, and this might be it for February actually, on the free podcast and that’s because I’m focusing on LEP premium this month in order to make up for the lack of premium episodes in January.
So if you’re a premium subscriber you’ll see that you’ve been getting new episodes regularly and that’s going to continue throughout the month but the number of normal free episodes will be a bit lower.
Now, this means that all the free subscribers can just catch up on all the episodes I’ve uploaded since the start of the year (which is quite a lot) but if you want more you could just wait a bit for some new ones to come along, or you could consider signing up for the growing library of premium stuff.
New premium episodes this month include ones covering vocab & grammar from my recent conversation with Zdenek Lukas. I picked out over 40 bits of target language for you to learn from that, and so there are about 4 parts to that episode. Then, in the pipeline I’ve got premium episodes focusing on language from the Paul Chowdhry episode and the recent episode with James. Tons of language for you to learn. This is all stuff you’ve heard on the podcast, but I’m doing all the work of explaining, clarifying and demonstrating the language and also drilling it for pronunciation and all that – all to help you not just hear it but properly learn it. I do all that work so you don’t have to. To subscribe to my premium content, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium
The other thing I wrote about in that recent website post was that I was featured in an episode of the Rock n’ Roll English Podcast. Do you remember Martin and Dan from episode 490. They’re the guys from Rock n’ Roll English, which is another British English podcast. Just recently they had me on one of their episodes and we talked again about how to handle awkward social situations (like we did the first time I was on their podcast), and we covered some pretty funny and fairly disgusting topics, including the ins and outs of giving up your seat on the tube, how long you should hold a door open for someone and how to deal with poo smells in public toilets. Yes, the poo thing is a subject that quite regularly comes up in their episodes.
Anyway, check the episode archive on my website for the recent website post about Rock n Roll English and that’s where you can find the relevant links to listen to that.
Now then, onto this new episode of Luke’s English Podcast…
This is another collaboration with a fellow podcaster. There are quite a few of us out there in podcastland and from time to time we invite each other onto our respective podcasts as you will have noticed.
This time I’m talking to Jennifer from English Across the Pond. Some of you will be familiar with English Across the Pond – it’s another podcast for learners of English, hosted by Jen in the USA and Dan in the UK (that’s another Dan – not Dan from the RnR English Podcast). They do weekly episodes focusing on different topics and you can listen to their conversations which include both British and American English.
In this episode you’ll hear me talking to Jen via Skype (she was in California), and we chose to focus on slang words in British and American English.
UK vs USA Slang Game
We decided it might be interesting to see how much of each other’s slang words we know by playing a kind of UK vs US Slang Game.
What do you think will be the result?
So we both prepared a list of 5 slang words and prepared to test each other, and that’s what you’re going to hear.
There’s a bit of chat between the two of us first, so you can get to know Jen a little bit and then we get stuck into the slang game.
As you listen, see if you can play along with us. Do you know all the words in this game?
Keep listening to hear the words explained, defined and demonstrated. I have a feeling that long-term listeners to my podcast might know some of the British ones because I’ve probably dealt with them in previous episodes of this podcast, but do you know all of them? And how about the American English slang words you’re going to hear?
All the answers to the slang game are on the page for this episode if you want to see them.
And also keep listening until the end to find out about a nice offer that Jen and Dan have for you in terms of the learning English content that they are providing on their website.
Anyway, I hope you’re ready for some real slang from both sides of the pond.
So without any further ado, let’s get started.
Answers to the slang game
1. Buff (adj) You’re looking buff, have you been working out? Meaning = muscular, toned
2. give me / let me have a butcher’s at that thing (noun) Giz a butcher’s at that new phone of yours = give me a look at that new phone of yours Meaning = Give me a look
It’s cockney rhyming slang. “A butcher’s hook” = a look.
3. Chuffed (adj)
I’m really chuffed to bits to have won the prize. When my daughter does something for herself she always looks so chuffed. Meaning = pleased, or pleased with yourself
4. Gutted (adj) How do you feel to have lost the match today? I’m absolutely gutted to be honest. Meaning = very disappointed
How would you feel if these things happened? Chuffed or gutted?
Dan wins a podcasting award, but you don’t.
Tom Cruise crashes his car into your house.
5. Knackered (adj) I’m absolutely knackered this evening. I had an absolutely awful day at work today. I had to work a 12 hour shift with no break. I’m knackered. I’m just going to go straight to bed. Meaning = very tired, exhausted
USA slang words (California specific)
1. a grippa somethin’ (a grip of something) You must have a grippa toys in your house at the moment. I have a grippa things to do today. I have a grippa work that I need to get done today. It feels good when we get a grippa things done. Meaning = a lot of
2. To rock something (clothing) You’re rocking some fresh sneakers. I’m rocking this fresh cardigan. I’m rocking some dope corduroy pants (trousers) this afternoon. My brother rocks a cowboy hat. Meaning: To wear some stylish clothes
3. To post up somewhere If you want to go into that shop, I’ll just post up here and wait for you. I like to just post up at the beach all day long and enjoy the sun. Meaning: To stay somewhere for a while and hang out.
4. To flip a bitch Hey, at the next light, flip a bitch. Meaning = To do a U-turn (to turn around 180 degrees)
5. To trip out I was tripping out because I thought I saw you at the restaurant yesterday but I thought “He’s not here. He’s not in Southern California.” Meaning = to be confused
So there you have it.
Now, if you liked what you heard there and you’d like to hear more, you could check out English Across the Pond – they have weekly podcast episodes, but also you could consider signing up for their Gold Membership Package, which includes loads of cool stuff to help you learn English with Jen and Dan.
I’m just telling you about this because you might be interested in what they have to offer. So here is some info that might be of interest to you, plus a couple of freebies (that means free things)
So you heard Jen mention this near the end of the conversation there.
Basically, if you sign up with their membership package, every week they send you a learning plan which contains loads of exercises, activities, tests, vocabulary lists, grammar explanations and also a speaking task and a writing task each week with real feedback from Dan and Jen. So, each week their members get a study plan with all those things.
Jen and Dad have set up a little freebie for any LEPsters that choose to become members, and that’s two free study plans if you sign up within the first week of this episode being published.
So, sign up and you’ll start to receive their weekly study plans and if you sign up within one week of the publication date of this episode you will get two extra study plans as a free gift.
In a recent episode of this podcast, you heard me talking to Amber and Paul about experiences of doing comedy and both Paul and I mentioned a British comedian called Paul Chowdhry. I have mentioned him on the podcast several times before, and I’ve been meaning to do a whole episode about him for a while now. So here we are.
In this one we’re going to listen to the audio of some of Paul Chowdhry’s stand up. Let’s see if you can understand it, and if we can learn some English from it and also some things about English life and culture too.
Who is Paul Chowdhry?
He’s a British comedian, from London. He was born in the UK and is of Indian origin.
In terms of ethnic groups in England, white people of English origin are by far the majority ethnic group, but the next largest group is Indian.
I’ve chosen to talk about Paul Chowdhry in this episode because he’s a really funny comedian, and I talked about him with Amber & Paul on the podcast recently. He’s one of my favourite comedians.
Because Paul is of Indian origin, ethnicity, identity and accents are often topics in his comedy. I think really this is just because he’s always playing with social conventions about what we find acceptable or not acceptable, about the subtle tensions that exist between ethnic groups. Without getting too serious, he makes fun of everyone, including white English guys called Dave, his Indian parents or Indians who are fresh off the boat and living in England, Chinese waiters, African taxi drivers and all sorts. I like him because of the accents and impressions he does, because of how quick and brief in his delivery he is.
He’s just funny and that’s it. Certainly, England’s ethnic diversity is a theme that always comes up in his comedy and perhaps informs the audience’s reactions to him.
So, it might be necessary to give you some info regarding ethnic groups in Britain. Here are some stats, and this is from the UK’s most recent census, the 2011 census. The census is the country’s largest national survey and is very reliable and impartial as a source of information, so these figures are generally accurate.
What do you think? If you could imagine a pie chart with different segments for the different ethnicities in the UK, what would it look like? What do you think are the ethnic groups and their percentages?
Here are the figures, which by the way are controversial, not because of the numbers but because of the way the different groups are classified. For example, the categories “white” and “black” are not really ethnicities, are they? Anyway, here’s some information from the 2011 census.
I think this meant people registered as British citizens, and could include people born in the country or people who moved there and became citizens.
UK Population by Ethnicity
Source: UK Census/Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_the_United_Kingdom
By the way, most of the non-white ethnic groups are concentrated in the cities, particularly London, which is by far the most racially or ethnically diverse place in the UK.
London has had a diverse population for centuries, but most of the Indian and Caribbean families moved there in the immediate postwar period.
People like Paul Chowdhry, who are basically around my age would have grown up in the UK, but with Indian parents.
Anyway, back to Paul Chowdhry.
It’s quite interesting that Paul Chowdhry’s audiences are often quite diverse. He appeals to everyone – white people, Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and so on. In his audience he often picks out the groups of people of different origins and it’s funny the way he makes fun of them one after the other.
No need to go further into all that stuff. It’s just a bit of context. It doesn’t all have to be about ethnicity. Like I said, I mainly wanted to do this episode because I just find him to be really funny.
So, let’s just listen to some of Paul’s material and see if you can understand it and if we can learn some English from it.
This is the audio from a YouTube video of Paul Chowdhry’s appearance on a TV show called Live at the Apollo. This is the BBC’s big stand up comedy show, which is filmed at The Hammersmith Apollo, which is just 10 minutes down the road from where I used to live in London. It’s a huge venue and they have big comedy shows there and they also do music concerts. All the great bands that you love, all the great British rock bands from the last few decades. They’ve all done shows at the Hammersmith Apollo. It’s a very famous venue. The Who, Elton John, Queen, Black Sabbath, David Bowie’s last concert as Ziggy Stardust was there – just all of the great bands. and also all the big comedians that we have.
Anyway, this is the audio from Paul Chowdhry, Live at the Apollo.
This routine is full of slang, rude language, accents and jokes about ethnic identity. That’s what you can expect.
I’m not sure what you’re going to think of think of this, as ever, because this could easily be considered offensive (because he’s making fun of different ethnic groups to an extent), but my instinct tells me this is just funny and so I’m just going to go with it. But certainly a lot of the laughs come from the fact that this kind of thing, the sorts of things he’s saying are borderline unacceptable, but in some way he gets away with it because it’s coming from an Indian guy. Although the things he’s saying might be considered unacceptable or politically incorrect if they came out of the mouth of a white guy. For some reason because it’s coming from an Indian guy that kind of makes it ok. If it was a white guy up there making fun of ethnic minorities, that would be considered extremely old fashioned and in very bad taste, but Paul has got the pass, the card, because he is Indian, so he can do it.
He can even get away with doing impressions of Africans and Chinese people, which I would definitely not get away with in front of an English audience.
Anyway, enough from me. Let’s get into it.
Paul Chowdhry Live a the Apollo (2012)
An example of bad dubbing in a kung fu movie
Express yourself – write your thoughts in the comment section below!
Vocabulary explanations and discussions of hot topics from the last couple of years. Talking about some controversial political stuff like the rise of fascism and anti-fascism, the relative popularity of UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, and how the winter season changes people’s feelings about romance and relationships. Transcript available.
Right, so this episode series is all about the Collins Words of the Year. You’re listening to part 2, now. Obviously I recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first because that’s how numbers work. 2 generally comes after 1. You knew that already.
You can do what you like of course. You could listen to part 2 first and then listen to part 1. Maybe English is your favourite subject, not maths, so ok feel free to just forget about numbers and sequences and just listen on.
The Collins Words of the Year
Collins is a company that makes dictionaries and every year they release a list of their “words of the year”. These are words that have been used a lot in the last 12 months and seem to sum up the general mood of the moment. The words represent things that have been happening in culture, politics and general life during the year.
In this series I’m talking about the Collins Words of the Year for 2017, I know that’s last year but the words are still very relevant to what’s going on now in 2018 when I’m recording this.
I’m defining the words and then just talking about how they relate to what’s going on at the moment. When I’ve been through the words for 2017 I’m going to go on to the words for 2018, hopefully joined by Amber, for a bit of conversation rather than just me ranting or rambling on my own.
In 2015 the Collins word of the year was binge-watch. In 2016 it was Brexit.
In the last episode I talked a lot about fake news which was the word of the year for 2017.
So let’s keep going through the rest of the word list for 2017 now then.
noun: (1) an antifascist organization (2) a member of an antifascist organization adjective: (3) involving, belonging to, or relating to an antifascist organisation
I think Antifa are mainly in the USA, but there are probably similar counter-protest antifascist groups in other countries. Antifa though is mainly a US term for a US phenomenon. Having said that, with the pervasiveness of the internet, this word and its associated ideas and vocabulary has spread to many areas of the English-speaking world, because much of the time these so-called fascists and anti-fascists are clashing with each other online, not just within the borders of a particular country.
Certainly, I keep seeing arguments in comments sections of different websites, like YouTube, Twitter etc. I know, I probably shouldn’t read those comment sections because it’s like entering the sewer system or something – it’s smelly and you might catch something down there, but I can’t help myself, I always get fascinated by the often angry comments that people write and the petty arguments and stuff.
It’s often very unpleasant and you can read some shockingly racist views and other ideas that are quite depressing. I find it both amusing and disturbing how even some innocent YouTube videos about non-controversial topics have comment sections which descend into awfulness.
So anyway, the word ‘antifa’ probably relates to people in physical spaces in the USA, but this whole topic area extends beyond those borders when you’re online, in English.
Antifa is a kind of reduced portmanteau word – anti-fascist, reduced to antifa. As Trevor Noah on the Daily Show said, the name is quite convenient for anti-fascist demonstrators because you don’t need to be able to spell fascist to be able to use it. By the way, fascist is spelt f a s c i s t.
Oh god. This topic’s a bit heavy isn’t it! Fake news in the last episode got a bit deep and dark, and now we’re talking about fascism and stuff. I promise there are more light-hearted words in this list, ok? Fidget spinner is one of the words that’s coming up – that’s less heavy and political, isn’t it? So, don’t worry, fidget spinners are coming, although the world has probably moved on from fidget spinners already, hasn’t it?
Anyway, this word is antifa and it’s kind of all about punching fascists, like Captain America. OK, here we go then.
What I’m going to do here is read from a page on the BBC’s website. Some people listening might say that is biased information because it isn’t negative enough or critical enough of anti-fascists, but I would say that this is just information about Antifa and if you read or listen objectively you’ll see it neither glorifies nor condemns the movement, just describes who they are, what they want and what they do.
The main thing is that Antifa became a phenomenon since Trump’s inauguration in 2016 and continued through 2017 and beyond in response to the rise of the far-right in many places.
The story here is – the far-right are rising. What’s the solution to that? Punching them in the face? I don’t know. That’s not all Antifa do of course, as we just read in that article. According to Antifa, the usual legal methods for resisting this “creeping authoritarianism” are not working because the system doesn’t properly deal with it. They might cite the fact that US President Donald Trump belongs to this movement that they’re fighting against and is kind of the figurehead for it, so to Antifa protesters, the current political administration is part of the problem, and so they take matters into their own hands.
Basically, this shows the extent to which the USA is divided – you have groups fighting online and in the streets. It’s not just the USA too – groups with strongly different ideological or political opinions are clashing all over the place. The far right are rising in many areas and so are groups that want to resist them.
What about in your country? What is the status of the far-right there? Are they actually in government or having a significant influence on the government? Does your political system provide adequate opposition to the current administration? In what way? What kind of movements and counter-movements are there, and where are they? Is there fighting going on? Where is it happening? Between who, and why? Are fascists and anti-fascists clashing? What are the reasons for this and how is it affecting society?
By the way, fascist is a dirty word isn’t it? I mean, not many people these days are proud to call themselves fascists, are they? Some people are, but I think generally the word is not favourable because it obviously has so many negative connotations that people, understandably, want to distance themselves from the word.
What’s more common is that people use the word fascist against anyone they don’t agree with and who they see as exercising too much authority or power. Fascist is generally used as a term of abuse, I think. Everyone seems to get called a fascist these days – including the far right mostly but also movements that come from a left-wing and liberal position, like social justice campaigners or the political correctness movement, who basically want to create equal opportunities for everyone – they just want a level playing field and they get called fascists sometimes by people who see them as being too controlling and even oppressive with their methods of trying to achieve equality, which is ironic.
It’s like right-wing people say “Hey, the way you’re trying to force us to treat everyone equally and fairly is too controlling, it’s fascist! You don’t get to force me to give everyone a fair chance, that’s fascism!” Pretty weird.
But I think in most people’s minds, the word fascist is still associated with things like racism, sexism, homophobia, authoritarian power, militarism and the silencing of political opposition.
I’m sure I’ve got some people listening to this who will feel it necessary to defend the fascists, or to redefine fascism as actually something really quite nice, reasonable and positive – like “hey, it’s just people trying to defend their interests”, but there it is, I think in general, as I said, fascism is still defined in negative terms, and why not?
Going back to the point – this is one of the words of the year because it shows that fascism is on the rise again – or arguably has risen again, and so this response to it – Antifa – be it violent or non-violent, has also risen too, and this is the story.
I’m not going to attempt to deal with this subject any further in this episode of this podcast for learners of English, so I am now stepping away from the topic slowly… Just back away from the whole area Luke… carefully now. Be careful not to trip up on anything, just back away nice and slowly, move away from the subject and close the door quietly…
noun: fervent enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party
Oh god, more politics.
This is a bit 2017. I think Corbynmania is arguably over now.
We’ll see how things pan out with Brexit. Corbyn still might end up being our Prime Minister if that’s possible, if we have a general election because Parliament loses confidence in the government over a failed Brexit deal and if Labour win the election, we might end up with Jeremy Corbyn as PM.
Try to sum up Corbynmania.
I’ve moved from one political hot potato to another here…
Basically, Jeremy Corbyn is the opposition leader and he doesn’t really fit the ‘mainstream’ profile of a political leader. He’s pretty popular with younger voters who might be university students – the sorts of people who are quite left-wing and don’t like modern Conservative policy and even the policies of the New Labour movement which was created by people like Tony Blair.
Corbyn’s vision for the UK is more like old-fashioned democratic socialism. He doesn’t look or sound like the kind of slick, career politicians you see on TV. He’s a bit like Bernie Sanders in the USA. He’s older, grey, has a beard. In a way he’s like a kind of Obi-wan Kenobi figure, but that doesn’t mean to say everyone loves him, it’s just that the people who do like him, really like him and in 2016 and 2017 this meant a lot of younger voters.
At the Glastonbury music festival in 2017, Corbyn went onto the main stage and delivered a big speech in front of a cheering crowd of music fans flying flags with hearts and rainbows and so on and posters saying “bollocks to Brexit” and things like that.
He’s a bit like the anti-Trump (or in the UK that means anti-conservative or anti-right) and his speech actually included a lot of messages directed at Trump and his policies, for example saying we need to knock down walls between people, not build them up. “Build bridges not walls” and pushing the message that it’s unfair that there’s so much poverty in our society when some people are so very rich. It’s like what Bernie Sanders says – there’s something deeply wrong with our society when a tiny percentage owns the vast majority of the resources and the capital, and this is because of a huge imbalance of power – the 1% owns all the money and therefore also has the power, and are untouchable, and the Conservative government or the establishment don’t do enough to redress this imbalance.
The Glastonbury speech was mainly about those kinds of liberal values and the crowd loved it.
To be fair he was preaching to the converted but anyway, it showed that he’s got a lot of fans.
Not everyone loves him though, of course. He has critics and his party, The Labour party has lots of internal problems – they’re split over the direction Corbyn wants to go and other issues.
Some people feel that Corbyn is too radical or idealistic and that with him as leader, Labour doesn’t stand a chance of winning a general election because he doesn’t attract people from the centre or right, he just appeals to his fans more and more strongly. Maybe we can hear some of that speech.
He sort of stole the show at Glastonbury actually. What does that say about the current situation, that a politician making a speech can be the most popular or talked about event at a huge music festival? Perhaps it shows that politics is alive and well, or that our music scene is terrible, I’m not sure.
A quick dip into the comment section of that video?
The positive mkur 1 year ago If Teresa May did this, she’d get lynched! Never known so many people take to a political leader like they have Jeremy Corbyn. Long may it continue. Corbyn for PM! (121 likes)
Gstar Warmed 1 year ago The most important political leader of this generation, demanding peace, equality and socialism. This is an incredible moment. JC4PM (146 likes)
The negative Dave Lombardo1 year ago You think the uk is fuked now,it will be totally fuked if he bocomes pm…. (3 likes)
The Truth (1 year ago) Bahahahaha Corbyn, Glastonbury, and the champagne middle-class socialist Glastonbury kids are delusional. (4 likes)
1 year ago “if you can see that far, look on the wall right over there that surrounds this wonderful festival. There’s a message on that wall for President Donald Trump. Do you know what it says? Build bridges not walls”. Hilarious!!!! You couldn’t make it up.. The message is painted on a wall. A wall that exists to keep out those who haven’t contributed to the cost of making the festival happen. Kinda like a border…. (2 likes)
noun: the period of autumn and winter, when single people are considered likely to seek settled relationships rather than engage in casual affairs
“Cuffing” means to become locked to something with handcuffs. To be cuffed to something – attached to something with handcuffs. I suppose “cuffing season” then means when people get attached to each other, permanently. The idea of handcuffs can either be negative – like being caught by the police and jailed, or it can be kinky – using handcuffs during kinky sex.
But “cuffing season” isn’t really negative and although it might involve sex it’s more about intimacy and making a permanent commitment to being with just one person. Cuffing season refers to this period of the year when people feel like settling down with one person in a secure relationship. Perhaps it’s because during the winter it gets dark and cold and you want one person who you can snuggle up with and feel secure with. It seems that people perhaps are more likely to get into serious long-term relationships at this time of year. I don’t know if there’s any real research to back this up.
From personal experience I can say that I first got together with my wife in the winter, so maybe there’s some truth in this idea. What about you? Are you in a committed relationship? When did you first get together and get serious about each other? Was it in the autumn or winter, during “cuffing season”?
I’ve never actually heard anyone say “cuffing season”. I’ve never used the term. I don’t think people actually say it a lot, but it is the sort of language you might read in articles about lifestyle and relationships. Sometimes these buzzwords are just used a lot in the media, rather than in every day conversation.