Category Archives: Vocabulary

625. 88 English expressions that will confuse everyone (Part 2)

Let’s continue going through this list of words from an article I found in The Independent. Here is another list of 30 items of British English slang. Notes and links available below.

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From 2PM at the Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2LY.

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Introduction

Welcome to LEP#625. This episode is all about British English slang.

Let’s continue going through this list of words from an article I found in The Independent.

Here’s the original link

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/british-phrases-english-language-sayings-britain-england-uk-different-a8138046.html

A note on slang

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).

  1. “Faff”

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.”

Messing around

Stop faffing around. Come on, let’s go!

  1. How much time in your typical day do you spend just faffing around?
  2. What do you actually do when you faff around?

2. “Fag”

A cigarette.

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

3. “Fit”

“She’s really fit though, isn’t she?”

Sexually attractive

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.

“He’s fit.”

“She’s got a fit body”

Obviously it also means to be in good physical condition, like an athlete.

Hot

  • Which actor or actress do you think is quite fit/fit/really fit?

4. “Flog”

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?

7. “Gaff”

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?

Peep Show? 
'I'm gonna blow this gaff wide open. '
Veep? 
I've been running this gaff for 25 years.
Layer Cake? 
- That was quick. - The gaff is rotten in there.
Withnail &a I? 
Do you realize this gaff's overwhelmed with rodents?

8. “Gallivanting”

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’m going to gallivant right over (Game of Thrones S6E5) getyarn.io/yarn-clip/6b807166-bb4c-482d-99fd-ad1247186bcc

“Off they go again, gallivanting.”

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. 

9. “Geezer”

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.

11. “Gobsmacked”

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?

12. “Gutted”

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.

Quiz – say these times

Answers below

1:10
2:15
3.20
4.25
5.30
6.35
7.40
8.45
9.50
10.55

Answers

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?

15. “Innit”

“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.”

“Innit though.”

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.

17. “Long”

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 was absolutely car-parked last night.”

sloshed, sozzled, wasted, pissed, badgered, rat-arsed

  • Do you do the same thing in your language? (Not get drunk, but use various words to describe it)

20. “Miffed”

Slightly irritated or annoyed.

“I was a bit miffed, I can’t lie.”

  • When was the last time you felt a bit miffed? What happened?

21. “Minging”

Something unpleasant, unappetising, or highly unattractive might be described as “minging.”

The term comes from the Scottish slang word “ming,” meaning faeces.

“What’s in that sandwich? Is that ham and tuna? That’s minging.”

It’s rude but sometimes people use the word to describe an ugly person, especially an ugly woman, but that’s not very nice at all.

“Your sister’s minging.”

22. “Mint”

“Mint” might be used when referring to something of the highest calibre.

Derived from “mint condition,” which refers to something pre-owned that retains its pristine condition, although something that’s just “mint” doesn’t have to be pre-owned.

“Those shoes are mint!”

  • Can you name something that you own that you think is mint?

My new Dr Martens are mint.

23. “Mortal”

I never use it.

Derived from the Newcastle sociolect, “mortal” was made widely known across the country in 2011 by reality TV show “Geordie Shore.”

“Mortal” describes someone highly intoxicated or drunk in a sloppy manner.

“Did you see Scott last night? He was mortal.”

24. “Nick”

in the nick = in prison

To get nicked = to get arrested

To nick something = to steal something

“The Nick” can refer to prison, while “to nick” also means to steal.

“Did you just nick that?”

“If you nick that you’ll get caught, or you’ll end up in the Nick. You’ll get nicked!”

Terrible accent by Don Cheadle in Oceans 11 (supposed to be Cockney)

That's a great idea, Albert. Let's all get nicked.

  • Have you ever got nicked? I have. You can hear about it in this episode.

45. Luke & Andy’s Crime Stories (with Andy Johnson)

25. “I’m on it (like a car bonnet)”

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?

28. “Pants”

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?

30. “Pear-shaped”

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.

To be continued in part 3…

624. 88 English expressions that will confuse everyone (Part 1)

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.

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London LEPster MeetUp – 2pm Sunday 17 November

Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY

From 2PM.

I’ll be there.

Let’s play some board games and have a drink.

Zdenek is organising it. If you could send him an email to let him know you’re coming that would be great. teacherzdenek@gmail.com

The original article on independent.co.uk

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/british-phrases-english-language-sayings-britain-england-uk-different-a8138046.html

1. A few sandwiches short of a picnic

He’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, isn’t he?

2. Anorak

I’m a bit of a Beatles anorak.

3. Bagsie

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.

EDIT 1

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.

9. Bog-standard

We’re staying in a bog-standard hotel up the road.

10. Boot

Put the money in the boot 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?

12. Brolly

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.

15. Butcher’s

Give us a butcher’s at that! Have a butcher’s at this.

16. Cack-handed

I’m really cack-handed today. I don’t know what’s the matter with me.

17. Cheeky

You’re such a cheeky little monkey!

18. Chinese whispers

It must have been Chinese whispers.

19. Chinwag

Let’s get together and have a good old chinwag.

20. Chocablock

I tell you what. It’s absolutely chockablock out there. Absolutely chocka.

21. Chuffed

You must be really chuffed!

22. Clanger

You dropped an absolute clanger at the dinner party.

23. Codswallop

What a load of absolute codswallop.

24. Cost a bomb

Those new iPhones cost an absolute bomb.

25. Cream-crackered

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.

27. Dench

I’m going to make some tea. Dench. (?)

EDIT 2

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.

28. Dim

Tim’s a jolly good bloke. A bit dim though.

29. Doddle

That exam was an absolute doddle.

30. Dog’s dinner

You made an absolute dog’s dinner of that.

Follow me on Twitter @EnglishPodcast

 

 

621. British TV: Dragons’ Den (Part 3) Discord in the Den

One more episode about this TV series involving entrepreneurs getting investment for their business startups. In this one there’s plenty of disagreement and some strong feedback from the Dragons.

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A bit of language

  • They’ve applied in their droves, eager to get an investment.
  • It’s the Dragons’ own money on the line.
  • The rest will leave empty-handed.
  • Going on DD must be very nerve-wracking.
  • They’re giving him a healthy dose of reality, but also it’s pretty brutal feedback.
  • They’re going to go to town on him.
    5.20
  • Peter Jones just looks bewildered.
  • His steadfast belief in his product may be admirable but that’s not enough for Peter Jones.
  • I am pleading with you not to do it.

Pitch 1 starts at 01:53 // Pitch 2 starts at 13:35

Leave me your comment – don’t be a ninja!

620. British TV: Dragons’ Den (Part 2) Negotiation

Listen to a real business negotiation and learn loads of English in the process. Vocabulary, scripts and notes available below.

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Transcript & Notes

Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of this mini series I’m going to do about BBC Dragons’ Den, the TV show about entrepreneurs trying to raise finance for their business startups by going to meet the Dragons – a group of 5 business angels looking to make money by investing in interesting new business propositions.

In part 1 of this I did a long business ramble all about the different factors and considerations involved in an entrepreneur attempting to do an investment deal with a private equity investor. That covered loads of vocabulary relating to loads of different areas of business and laid the ground work for this episode in which we are going to use a real pitch from an episode of Dragons’ Den as a case study from which we can learn loads of English.

Also, the story of this particular investment is particularly interesting and the negotiation takes an unexpected turn which creates more emotional drama than you might expect from a business meeting.

So, at the end of part 1 we listened to Kirsty Henshaw’s original pitch. Let’s listen to that again and break it down for language. After that we’ll listen to the rest of the meeting in bits. We’ll listen and then listen again and break it all down.

This should be a really good one! I hope you’re listening carefully. We might be able to get all of this done in this episode, we will see. There are other Dragons’ Den pitches that I’d like to do too so I might add another episode with some other pitches as well. So perhaps this will be a 3 or 4 part series.

Right, so let’s listen to Kirsty Henshaw again and remember my questions from before.

  • How much investment does she need? £65,000
  • What equity stake is she offering in return? 15%
  • What exactly is the product? A healthy alternative to ice-cream – a frozen dessert (free from dairy, sugar, soya, nuts – everything! But what’s actually in it?)
  • Why does she need the investment? To buy stock, raise brand awareness with marketing and PR

Would you like to invest?
What questions would you like to ask next?

Kirsty’s pitch begins at 44:00

Peter Jones
It tastes more like frozen yoghurt. Is that fair?
– She wanted a healthy option, similar to ice cream but there’s no dairy that’s why it’s a frozen desert.
How much has it cost so far?
£20,000
How many have you sold?
2,500 units
Went to a big meeting with a large supermarket – it’s completely unique, some of the staff had heard about it before
Do you have any forecasts in the first year?
– 300,000 units – starting to get into bigger places now

Duncan Bannatyne
How healthy is it? How much fat is in it?
– Less than 3% fat in all of them, no sugar in any, carbohydrates are from fruit extracts, a good form of sugar

James Caan
What are the ingredients?
Brown rice milk (because soya isn’t great for children and rice milk is a good digestive enzyme), the fat is organic virgin coconut oil, sweetened with extract of apple, carob and grape.

Deborah Meaden
How far are you down the track with the supermarket?
– Min 400 stores from Sept when they do their refresh
Are they committed?
– At least 350-400 stores to trial it

Theo Paphetis
Which supermarket is it?
– Tesco
They must have asked you whether you could produce in the right volume?
Yes
What did you say?
– I said yes because I’ve spoken to the manager of the biggest ice cream manufacturers and they can make it no problem, if we get the order (volume – numbers)

James Caan
Do you have any idea what Tesco’s potentially could order?
– At least four flavours for each store to start with
How many in a case?
12
If they sold one case per week per store, that’s 400 cases. How much do you make per unit?
– Just over one pound
So 4,000 per week is what you’d make. That’s 200,000 a year.
– Not including my current suppliers
What did you forecast your profit in year one?
– £300,000
So that forecast is not a million miles out. There’s some substance around it.

What’s your background?
Uni (sports science), but had to leave because mind was on the business

Theo
Who is Worhingshaw’s?
– Mix of boyfriend and her name – to make it sound like it had been around for a while
Have you really done all this on your own?
– Yes
How do you invest the money in this?
– 2 jobs and a bit of a night job, and my little boy
You’re pretty amazing aren’t you?
– No, not really.
[She starts crying]
This has been really tough for you hasn’t it?
– I just do it all for my little boy. I just want him to have a good life.
I’ve got to be honest with you. I’m finding it really really difficult to actually take on board what you’ve achieved. It’s phenomenal. I’m totally blown away by it. I’m going to make you an offer. You’ve come in here asking for 60,000 for 15% but I want 40%.
And I’ll explain to you why. Because I’m not going to give you 60,000, I’m giving you 100,000 because that’s what I believe you need to make this business successful.

Deborah Meaden
Let me tell you where I am. I think you’ve done a great job against all odds, but here’s my blunt and honest truth to you. I’m not going to beat Theo’s offer so I’m not going to waste my time making you one. Thank you very much but I’m out.

Peter Jones
Where do you want to take it? You’d love to see this product in every shop. Reggae Reggae Sauce was a big success because of Levi Roots’ whole story. You could be the frozen desert version of Levi Roots.

For that reason I’d like to make you an offer for the full amount but I only want 25% of the company.

James Caan
Let me wish you every success but you’re not going to need my offer so I’m out (there are already deals on the table).

Duncan Bannatyne
I’ll match Peter’s offer (£60,000 for 25%)

Kirsty
I don’t want to give 40% away but thank you for your offer Theo.
I’m really confused now because I know you’re both brilliant.
You’re both ideal to help me, so I don’t really know what to do now.

Peter
If we raised it to 30% so we got 15% each, I’m more than happy to work with Duncan if that’s something he would accept (yes).

Kirsty
I’d really like to work with both of you. It would be ideal so thank you very much I’d really like to accept your offers.

That’s it!

What do you think? Would you like some more Dragons’ Den on the podcast?

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

619. British TV: Dragons’ Den (Part 1) Vocabulary

Learn tons of business vocabulary in context in this episode all about a TV show about entrepreneurs negotiating investment for their business startups. Notes & scripts available below.

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Transcript & Notes

Hello and welcome to LEP#619. How are you today? All good I hope.

In this episode of LEP we’re going to look at a popular BBC TV show which is now in its 17th series on BBC2. We’re going to listen to some clips, I’ll help you understand it all like a native speaker and we’ll be mining the whole thing for vocabulary too. I’ve done episodes like this before about British TV including Top Gear and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Both of those are available in the episode archive. Now it’s the turn of one of my favourites – Dragons Den.

You might be thinking, “Dragons’ Den. What is that? Is it some kind of Game of Thrones thing, a fantasy thing with dragons and stuff?”

No, not at all. In fact this series is all about business startups, entrepreneurs, investors, negotiations and pitching new business ideas.

It’s based on a Japanese TV format. So, Japanese LEPsters might be familiar with DD already. Also it might exist in other countries too. It’s been on the BBC since 2005. I really enjoy watching it and also using clips in class, which I have been doing for years now and is one of my favourite things to do in English lessons. I could spend a whole week on Dragons Den, with all the vocab, the listening, and then doing role plays of business presentations, negotiations and discussions. This is the first time I’ve dipped my toe into Dragons’ Den on the podcast.

There will be tons of business vocabulary in this episode as well as a chance to test your listening skills as we listen to clips of this show including people presenting their businesses and negotiating an investment.

What I’m going to do is this

  • Introduce to the topic, with quite a lot of business vocabulary relating to everything involved in starting up a new business and raising finance for it.
  • Play you some clips from Dragons Den, when one person pitches their business idea and dragons start negotiating, and I’ll break it down for vocabulary.

I’ll explain a bit of the vocab as we go through this episode, and there will be a lot of context to help you but mainly I want to focus on just listening to clips from the show and then helping you understand everything. Really, one of my aims at LEP is to help you appreciate things like TV, films and comedy more easily in English, or at least to be able to use them to help you learn English more effectively.

So we’ll focus on the clips after an introduction from me, and then I can deal with the vocabulary more specifically in a premium series, which I’m also working on.

OK, so let’s get into the details of this TV show Dragons’ Den.

First let me explain the title.

Dragons’ Den – what does it mean?

Dragons’ Den. A den of dragons.

To walk into the lions’ den (the place where the lions live) = to deliberately put yourself in a position of danger or difficulty

Usually this means to face a difficult situation, like going into a room full of people who will criticise you. Imagine a politician involved in a scandal going into a room full of journalists. He’s walking into the lions’ den.

A “den” is a kind of place where Lions might live. It could be a clearing in a forest, maybe within the roots of a tree, maybe surrounded by some rocks. A place where the lions hang out and sleep. That’s a den. Kids also build dens in their bedrooms. They take blankets and pillows and drape them over chairs and tables to make little dens which they can then hide in and play inside.

In this case its Dragons’ Den, so this is like a lions’ den but even more scary and dangerous! I think it’s just that dragons are better analogies for scary, no-nonsense business people than lions. Also, it sounds cool “Dragons’ Den”.

So, the dragons are the investors in their leather chairs. The den is a kind of renovated warehouse that could be somewhere in East London maybe, in a trendy new business district. The 5 dragons are sitting in a line with their plush leather chairs, sharp suits, pads and pens, side tables with glasses of water and piles of cash! The cash is just for show of course (there are quite a few lingering shots of the money).

The entrepreneurs are nervous, feeling the pressure. They walk up some tight spiral stairs into the room and the dragons eye them all up judgementally.

Then the entrepreneur starts his or her pitch. The dragons ask questions and drill down into the business plan and then there are some negotiations for the investment.

The entrepreneur is looking for an investment of a certain amount. In return they are offering a portion of the equity of the company.

Equity in this case means the ownership of the company. If you imagine a pie chart or a pizza, perhaps, if you prefer. Imagine that pizza. 100% of it is mine. But I might choose to sell some parts of that pizza to an investor. Let’s say I give them 20% of the pizza for about £20,000. In terms of a business this means that the investor gets 20% of the profits that the company makes. In return I get cash which I can use to get the business going in various ways.

So equity refers to ownership of the company and it is divided into shares. Sometimes it is referred to as an equity stake. So an investor might have a 20% equity stake in a company, for example. The entrepreneur holds onto an 80% equity stake.

This is how finance can be raised. Instead of getting a loan and paying interest you kind of liquidate part of the company to get the cash but you also get the support of an investor too, and that’s the other thing the dragons offer. Not just cash but also some business acumen and contacts to help them get a foot in the door.

The dragons have actually financed a few successful businesses in the past on this show, ones that have made it to the supermarkets or even become household names.

Yes, all the businesses are real, all the money is real and the deals are real, but apparently after making agreements on the TV show, necessary due diligence is done before the deal is officially sealed.

But it’s all real. Real people, real businesses, real money. OK.

We’ll meet the Dragons in a moment, but first I have a vocab list here which I am going to go through in a kind of ramble, a business ramble. Luke’s Business Rambles – could be a good series…

I might briefly explain these terms as we go but my main focus is to try and put all these words into a rambling monologue about why an entrepreneur would need to raise finance for a new business. I plan to go over all of this in more detail in an upcoming premium episode.

Vocabulary

Let’s imagine that I have a new business. I’ve invented a pen that goes red or flashes when you make a grammar mistake. Let’s say there’s software you can download for it. It connects to your devices by Bluetooth and you can get different functions, but it’s like Grammarly in a pen.

Why would a startup need to raise finance?

  • Pay for stock, manufacturing costs, hire staff, find facilities, pay for marketing (how are you going to get people to know about it)

  • contacts for retail

  • dealing with a logistics chain

  • Business plan

  • Cost price

  • List price

  • Retail price (RRP)

  • Mark up

  • Margin

  • Profit (net and gross)

  • Manufacturers

  • Wholesalers

  • Retailers

  • B to B

  • B to C

  • SWOT analysis

  • Projected sales figures

  • Turnover

  • Projected turnover

  • Income

  • Revenue

  • Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Ask the bank for a loan

  • Get family to lend you money

  • Use a government scheme

  • Venture capitalists

  • Equity investors

  • Business angels

  • Pitch

  • Elevator pitch

  • Investment amount

  • equity/shares

  • stock/stocks

  • Negotiate

  • Patent (pending)

  • Competitors

  • Valuation of your company

  • “I’m out”

Meet The Dragons

Peter Jones
At age 16 he set up a tennis academy.
He now has a £250m empire in leisure, telecoms & media.

Deborah Meaden
Made millions in the holiday and leisure industriesShe sold a stake in her company in a £30m deal, while maintaining 23% of the company.

Duncan Bannatyne
From Glasgow. He’s worth over £170m.
He owns “Bannatyne’s” health clubs, casinos and hotels.

Theo Paphetis
He’s a retail specialist.
He takes failing companies and transforms them into thriving businesses – Partners, Ryman.

James Caan
Originally born in Pakistan, his family moved to the UK when he was 2.
Was initially successful in recruitment, setting up several high level recruitment companies which he then sold for large amounts of profit. He is also the founder and current CEO of the UK-based private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.

How it works

When the Dragons are interested in an investment they will say “I’m interested…” and will then make an offer.

The rules are that the entrepreneur must get the investment amount they are asking for, or more. The percentage equity stake is what is negotiated.

If a Dragon is not interested in the investment they will declare themselves out by saying “I’m out” and explaining their reason.

“I’m out” has become a sort of catchphrase that you can use in reference to the show.

Dragons’ Den Series 8 Episode 1 (also contains a brutal takedown of an entrepreneur [1st pitch] and an interesting exchange/argument in the wine pitch, with a v nervous presenter)

Kirsty Henshaw – Frozen Desserts

A part-time barmaid looking for investment in her food business.

Listen to the pitch from 44:00

  • How much investment does she need? £65,000
  • What equity stake is she offering in return? 15%
  • What exactly is the product? A healthy alternative to ice-cream – a frozen dessert (free from dairy, sugar, soya, nuts – everything! But what’s actually in it?)
  • Why does she need the investment? To buy stock, raise brand awareness with marketing and PR
  • Would you like to invest?
  • What questions would you like to ask next?

Kirsty’s pitch begins at 44:00

To be continued in part 2…

617. Sales and Advertising (with Paul Taylor)

A language-focused episode looking at words and phrases that you often see and hear in advertising and sales situations. Also includes discussion of sales techniques, Apple’s sales and marketing strategy and also a classic bit of stand-up by the late great George Carlin.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners, how are you today?

Here is an episode with Paul all about the subject of advertising and sales, with a bit of marketing thrown in there too. So this is a language-focused episode looking at words and phrases that you often see and hear in advertising and sales situations. It also includes discussion of sales techniques, Apple’s sales and marketing strategy and also a classic bit of stand-up by the late great George Carlin.

The episode starts with a discussion between Paul and me about Paul’s experiences of working in sales jobs at Apple, including selling their products to customers on the shop floor and how Apple markets its products to people. Then we go through a big list of words and phrases relating to sales situations in various ways, including the typical things you might read on packaging, advertising or sales material. The list is pretty long but it all leads up to the comedy sketch at the end, which includes all the phrases. That comedy bit, by the way, does contain some very rude language, so there’s a heads up if that’s not your cup of tea.

So get your vocabulary learning hat on for this episode and also let’s get stuck into the topic of sales and advertising, with Paul.


Positive or Negative?

You’re interested in buying a new product (e.g. a fantastic portable tumbler, or some Southwest Pacific Air). You look at the sales literature for the item and see some of these phrases and conditions. Are they positive or negative?

all sales are final

allow six weeks for delivery

authentic

no purchase necessary

batteries not included

classic

convenient

economy

custom

deluxe

designer

luxury

each item sold separately

easy terms

affordable prices

experience

free installation

free admission

free appraisal

free alterations

free delivery

free estimates

free home trial

and free parking

no cash? no problem!

friendly service

genuine

imitation

gourmet

high-quality

hospitality

low rates

Leather / leather-style

limited time only

mileage may vary

money-back guarantee

name brands

no down payment

no entry fee

no fuss

no hidden charges

no kidding!

no mess

no risk

no obligation

no payments or interest until September

no one will call on you

no red tape

offer good while supplies last

order today

performance

premium

prestige

quality

savings

select

selection

send no money

service

so act now

some assembly required

some items not available

some restrictions may apply

style

two to a customer

value


Ending

So that was Sales and Advertising with Paul.

As usual, let me know your thoughts relating to this episode.

What do you think of sales and advertising?

Do you work in sales? Have you noticed any particular techniques or use of language that helps you sell things?

What do you think of adverts on TV or the way things are promoted to you on the internet?

How do you feel about clickbait? Do you ever click on those articles?

Do you think graffiti is ok in public places? How is that different to advertising in the sense that we don’t get any choice over what is displayed to us in public? What about drawing graffiti on advertising that’s in public spaces?

The subject of sales, advertising and marketing is a big one and I expect to come back to it on the podcast at some point because there’s loads of things we could do with that.

Business English is always something that I’ve saved and never done on the podcast. I was always planning to do a business English podcast or a business English course, but without calling it a business English course, because people don’t seem to like the word business. It sounds all heavy and dark, like the dark side or the Death Star or something. But English in professional situations is really interesting and I’m talking about things like how we negotiate, how we deal with being diplomatic in meetings, how we do presentations and socialise with people. I was actually working on a business course and have loads of unfinished material for it. I must go back to that but in the meantime I might dip into some more businessy subjects in the future. We will see. But let me know about your interest in business English and if you’d like to learn the ways of the dark side and fulfil your destiny and all that stuff.

But for now, it’s pretty much time for the end of the episode. Thank you for listening as usual.

If the spirit moves you, you could leave me a lovely lovely review on iTunes or apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Getting positive reviews helps to promote my podcast on those platforms. It’s more likely to end up in recommended selections and things like that, so it helps the podcast a great deal.

Otherwise, you can always donate with one of the yellow paypal buttons, sign up to LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium and check out my sponsors italki at www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk

You’ve been listening to Luke’s English Podcast and until next time, good bye  bye bye bye…


Simon Sinek – Start With Why

Adam & Joe – Free Stuff

George Carlin’s Advertising Lullaby

Advertising Lullaby – Lyrics

Quality, value, style, service, selection, convenience
Economy, savings, performance, experience, hospitality
Low rates, friendly service, name brands, easy terms
Affordable prices, money-back guarantee

Free installation, free admission, free appraisal, free alterations
Free delivery, free estimates, free home trial, and free parking

No cash? No problem! No kidding! No fuss, no muss
No risk, no obligation, no red tape, no down payment
No entry fee, no hidden charges, no purchase necessary
No one will call on you, no payments or interest till September

Limited time only, though, so act now, order today, send no money
Offer good while supplies last, two to a customer, each item sold separately
Batteries not included, mileage may vary, all sales are final
Allow six weeks for delivery, some items not available
Some assembly required, some restrictions may apply

So come on in for a free demonstration and a free consultation
With our friendly, professional staff. Our experienced and
Knowledgeable sales representatives will help you make a
Selection that’s just right for you and just right for your budget

And say, don’t forget to pick up your free gift: a classic deluxe
Custom designer luxury prestige high-quality premium select
Gourmet pocket pencil sharpener. Yours for the asking
No purchase necessary. It’s our way of saying thank you

And if you act now, we’ll include an extra added free complimentary
Bonus gift at no cost to you: a classic deluxe custom designer
Luxury prestige high-quality premium select gourmet combination
Key ring, magnifying glass, and garden hose, in a genuine
Imitation leather-style carrying case with authentic vinyl trim
Yours for the asking, no purchase necessary. It’s our way of
Saying thank you

Actually, it’s our way of saying ‘Bend over just a little farther
So we can stick this big advertising dick up your ass a little bit
Deeper, a little bit deeper, a little bit DEEPER, you miserable
No-good dumbass fucking consumer!’

 

616. Can you find the 15 idioms? (with Paul Taylor)

Listen to Luke and Paul play a conversation game and try to spot 15 common idioms. All idioms are demonstrated, explained and listed on the website.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome back to this podcast which is made by me in my flat in order to help you learn English and also enjoy learning English too!

If you heard the last episode, you’ll remember that I was planning to play an idioms game with Paul. That’s what you’re going to hear in this episode – a game with Paul in which we have to try to include some idioms into our conversation seamlessly.

What you can do in this episode is not only follow the conversation as usual, but also try to spot all the idioms as they crop up. There are 15 in total. Admittedly, about 3 of them are explained and defined at the beginning, but 12 others are slipped into the conversation and then explained and defined at the end.

So, can you spot all the idioms during the conversation? Do you know them already? Can you work out what they mean from context? This is good practice because it encourages you to pay attention and notice new language as it occurs in natural conversation. Noticing is actually an important skill which can really help with language acquisition.

This from the British Council’s website for teacher development, teachingenglish.org.uk

When learners “notice” new language, they pay special attention to its form, use and meaning. Noticing is regarded as an important part of the process of learning new language, especially in acquisition-driven accounts of language learning, when learners at some point in their acquisition, notice their errors in production. Noticing will only occur when the learner is ready to take on the new language.

Example
A learner might make an error in the use of a preposition, but “notice” its correct use by another learner, or in an authentic text. This might allow them to begin to use it correctly.

www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/noticing

It’s an important skill to develop – to be able to notice language, to identify certain bits of grammar, or certain fixed expressions like idioms, notice the form (all the individual words used to create the idiom) and the meaning. It helps you identify differences between your use of English and the way it is used by natives, and that comparison allows you to then adapt your English accordingly. This awareness of what kind of English you’re aiming for is vital.

Developing noticing skills is an important part of developing learner autonomy and your language acquisition skills. The better you are at noticing, the more you are able to learn English by just listening to audio that you enjoy, rather than going through a language coursebook which teaches you specific language items. So, I encourage you to pay special attention during this episode on idioms and fixed expressions. Obviously idioms are confusing because they’re not literal – the whole phrase means something different to the individual words being used.

About the idioms you will hear. These are all very common ones. Some of them you are bound to have heard before and will not be new to you. In a way though, if you have heard them before I’m not concerned. That just means that you’re starting to learn all our idioms, which is a good thing. Remember that you also have to be able to use these idioms, not just understand them. When you do use them, be extra sure that you’re using them 100% correct – for example you’re not using a wrong little word here or there, or perhaps collocating the phrase with the wrong verb or something.

The topic of conversation just happens to be Paul’s brother Kyle who we talk about on the podcast occasionally. In case you don’t know – Kyle Taylor is a professional footballer who plays for the Premiership team Bournemouth FC, although he is still yet to make his Premiership debut. A debut is your first game. So he hasn’t played in the Premiership yet (he’s only about 20) but he has played in the FA Cup.

Alright, so you can listen to Paul and I discussing Kyle and his footballing career, amongst other things, and you have to spot the idioms, which will all be explained at the end. All the idioms are listed on the page for this episode on the website, so check them out there if you want to see specific things like spellings, the specific form of the idioms and so on.

Right, without any further ado, let’s begin!


Ending

Remember, all those idioms are listed on the page for this episode. So check them out.

The Idioms List from this game

  1. (to go) back to the drawing board
  2. to mind your Ps and Qs
  3. to feel under the weather
  4. to be all ears
  5. to take the bull by the horns
  6. a hat-trick
  7. to save something for a rainy day
  8. to pull your socks up
  9. to be down in the dumps
  10. to let the cat out of the bag
  11. to bend over backwards
  12. to get your skates on
  13. to call a spade a spade
  14. to be full of beans
  15. not a sausage

What did you think of the episodes about the mystery game? I don’t know what you all thought of that? Did you enjoy it? Was it too difficult to follow? Give me your feedback. You can do that on the website.

Get in touch and let me know how it’s going for you.

 

614. Another Murder Mystery Detective Story (Part 3)

Here’s the conclusion of this online murder mystery text adventure game. Vocabulary is reviewed at the end. Video available for premium subscribers.

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Video Version for Premium Subscribers

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Episode notes and transcriptions

Hello listeners and welcome to episode 614. In this episode I’m going to continue reading through this online text adventure that I started in episode 612. This should be the 3rd and final part of this murder mystery story.

You have to listen to parts 1 and 2 first before you listen to this. They are episodes 612 and 613. If you don’t listen to them first, none of this will make any sense, ok!

So I’m assuming you’ve heard those two parts.

Let’s just recap the story quickly.

We’re on the hunt for the killers of 3 prominent academics in London 1861. Intelligent and brilliant people keep turning up dead, completely naked and with their hearts torn out.

After lots of investigation by us (a brilliant Holmes-style detective) and our partner Mardler, we’ve worked out that the killings have been done by a weird religious cult that worships King Cobras and likes to eat the hearts of people as a way of absorbing their intelligence. So they’ve been preying on academics, scientists, surgeons, historians and so on.

We’ve managed to catch two of the principle murderers – a wealthy member of the upper-classes, a woman posing as a nurse in local hospital and now we are on the tracks of the main bad guy, an old man by the name of Lynch who we suspect is currently holding a French intellectual hostage with a plan to murder him and eat his heart in the next few hours. Earlier in the story we got shot and had to jump out of a window so we are nursing an injury and not at our full strength.

We’ve managed to track down Lynch to a house outside London and now we are about to enter the house and hopefully save the life of the French man and bring Lynch to justice. Let’s see what happens next and what kind of score I’m going to get at the end of this game!

I have a feeling that we’re getting close to the end of the story, based on how it’s going. I reckon this should be finished in the next 15-30 minutes, but we will see. If there is time in this episode I will go through a list of vocabulary items that I’ve picked up from the story.

By the way, there are videos for episodes 612, 613 and hopefully this one available for Premium subscribers. You can see me reading through the story, and there are also some bonus extras including a song in 613 part 2. Sign up to LEP premium at teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Right, let’s carry on then!

Word list

  • an acclaimed historian
  • the odour of varnish
  • a furrowed brow
  • a loner
  • Julian chuckles
  • I thought I had you for a minute
  • a raving lunatic
  • a bookmark
  • bags under your eyes
  • confident footsteps
  • a mutilated corpse
  • gutted like an animal
  • She has blisters on her left fingertips from the strings
  • Gray rummages through his desk drawer for a moment
  • Marilyn is taken aback
  • Marilyn hastily digs through her bag
  • her hand returns clutching two ticket stubs
  • This is a pretty good alibi, assuming we can hear from some witnesses that confirm her whereabouts
  • you don’t rule her out as a suspect entirely just yet
  • birch tree pollen
  • They got into a violent scuffle
  • scraping your palms on the hard road
  • You stumble back onto your feet and catch up with Mardler
  • sweat forming on your brow
  • sprint across the road
  • tripping on a discarded piece of garbage
  • Dilated pupils, bloody nose, hoarse voice
  • lurking at Hollowleaf Hospital, he’s trying to score some drugs
  • Dr Yates slumps down on the ground, defeated
  • Another dead end!
  • footprints on the floor
  • dried mud
  • following the faint footprints
  • a fist
  • a bruise on Julian’s face
  • The floorboards creak noisily as you walk over them
  • you tackle him to the ground
  • Most of the doctors and nurses have gone home for the night, but a few stragglers are left caring for the sick and wounded.
  • You wince in pain.
  • Your kneecap and head are throbbing.
  • a cane
  • Sorry I have to ambush you like this
  • gears turning
  • Crisp morning air fills your nostrils
  • You feel winded by the time you reach Palomer’s door
  • a shard of glass
  • Mardler ponders your theory.
  • He was brushing up on German translations when we saw him last
  • You limp into the shop
  • Quentin Lynch was cold and out of breath
  • Discerning detective

Previous detective episodes

338. A Murder Mystery Detective Story (Part 1 of 2)

339. A Murder Mystery Detective Story (Part 2)

425. Thompson, Taylor & Minogue: Victorian Detectives (Part 1) with Amber & Paul

426. Thompson, Taylor & Minogue: Victorian Detectives (Part 2) with Amber & Paul

612. Another Murder Mystery Detective Story (Part 1)

613. Another Murder Mystery Detective Story (Part 2)

611. Top 10 Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Listen to 10 jokes from this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy shows. Understand the jokes and listen to Luke break them down to help you learn more English.

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Video Version for Premium Subscribers

To sign up to LEP Premium, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Episode notes & transcripts

Hello folks and welcome back. I hope you’re well.

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.

  • laugh
  • 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.)

From Wikipedia

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[1] in 317 venues.[2] Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in EdinburghScotland, in the month of August.[3] It has been called the “most famous celebration of the arts and entertainment in the world”[4] and an event that “has done more to place Edinburgh in the forefront of world cities than anything else.[4]

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 theatrecircuscabaret, 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? 

Joke types

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]

NME.com https://www.nme.com/news/10-funniest-jokes-2019-edinburgh-fringe-festival-2539446 

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.

  1. On the other hand means “But” (the whole sentence still makes sense) He broke his finger but overall he’s ok.
  2. 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

I hope you’re happy

www.examiner.org/news/114141-councilman-walks-out-of-meeting-resigns

3.”What’s driving Brexit? From here it looks like it’s probably the Duke of Edinburgh” – Milton Jones

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/breaking-prince-philip-crash-duke-13998489

4. “A cowboy asked me if I could help him round up 18 cows. I said, ‘Yes, of course. – That’s 20 cows’” – Jake Lambert

To round something up (two meanings)

5. “A thesaurus is great. There’s no other word for it” – Ross Smith

There’s no other word for it

Fine dining is fancy, there’s no other word for itNewshub29 Aug 2019

6. “Sleep is my favourite thing in the world. It’s the reason I get up in the morning” – Ross Smith

It’s the reason I get up in the morning

Oxygen15 Aug 2019
She added that her dog is “the reason I get up in the morning.”

7. “I accidentally booked myself onto an escapology course; I’m really struggling to get out of it” – Adele Cliff

I’m struggling to get out of it

8. “After learning six hours of basic semaphore, I was flagging” – Richard Pulsford

flagging

9. “To be or not to be a horse rider, that is Equestrian” – Mark Simmons

That is the question

That is equestrian

10. “I’ve got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad’s contacts” – Ivo Graham

Read more at www.nme.com/news/10-funniest-jokes-2019-edinburgh-fringe-festival-2539446#idlDviSDEPGrBuXP.99

Did you get all the jokes?

Did you get them first time?

Did you pick up some language?

Vocab review

  1. florets
  2. tourette’s
  3. I hope they’re happy
  4. To drive something (not a car)
  5. to round something up
  6. There’s no other word for it
  7. It’s the reason I get up in the morning
  8. Struggling to get out of something
  9. Flagging
  10. equestrian
  11. to open doors for someone

Check the LEP App for a video version of this episode!

610. British Comedy: James Acaster

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.

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Transcripts and Notes

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.[3] He has been nominated for Best Show five times at the Edinburgh Fringe.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] He currently hosts panel show Hypothetical alongside Widdicombe and food podcast Off Menu with fellow comedian Ed Gamble.

Accent-wise
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)
Thoughtful
Thinking of things in a different way, unconventional (quite normal in stand up)
Weird
Acting a bit cool even though he isn’t
Geeky looking, wears sweaters, clothes even a granddad might wear
Ginger-ish hair
Looks a bit like Jarvis Cocker

James bought some ‘ready-to-eat Apricots’ and he went on a lads’ night out

Ready-to-eat apricots

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
  • Heavy drinking
  • 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.

Vocab
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. :)

Vocab list

  • Ready-to-eat apricots
  • They say “you are what you eat”
  • A resealable bag
  • A lads’ night out
  • Check out the arse on that
  • Big time
  • Normal people perv solo
  • To outnumber someone
  • Sinister
  • A dented suitcase
  • To cheat on someone
  • An accessory to a crime
  • Despicable
  • An orchard
  • Fit birds
  • 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.

That’s it for this episode!