Yearly Archives: 2011

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London Video Interviews Pt 5

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Full transcript and definitions available below. 

More interviews with native speakers in the centre of London. I asked Londoners to tell me about the best and worst things about London. Here is a transcript to this episode:

Guy on Oxford Street (This guy has a normal London accent)
Luke: What’s the best thing about London?
Man: The best thing about London is there’s a lot to do and a lot of places to go. It’s one of the biggest cities there are in the world so you’ll find a lot of culture and diversity.
Luke: OK. Worst thing?
Man: Everything’s expensive and you can not get a job to save your life, and when you do they pay[s] you nothing.
Luke: Alright, great, thank you very much.
Man: Is that it?
Luke: Yeah, that’s all. Thanks a lot.

Girls in Carnaby Street (These girls are from Australia so they have Australian accents)
Luke: So, where are you from?
Girls: Australia
Luke: Whereabouts in Australia?
Girl 2: It’s a little town called , so
Girl 1: In South Australia, down at the bottom, where the Great Australian Bight is
Luke: Don’t you have beautiful weather and beaches and stuff down there?
Girl 2: We do yeah, umm, Adelaide has really nice beaches. It gets really cold in winter, but yes, during summer it’s really really nice
Girl 1: It’s hot and dry, but it’s good, it’s fun.
Luke: Ok, how long have you been in London?
Girl 2: Umm, five weeks now so not too long at all
Luke: Right. What are you doing here?
Girl 2: We’re just travelling around, just exploring. I guess we always want to be, like, somewhere that we’re not, so we thought we’d just come and check out London, check out the sights, make a working holiday out of it. So, yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Luke: So, in your opinions then, what’s the, what’s actually the best thing about this city?
Girl 1: the best thing, hmm
Luke: Yeah
Girl 2: Nightlife is, nightlife is pretty good, and it’s just lots more opportunity I think for work. We, like, da[nce], like we’re performers so we dance, we sing, we act, so there’s a lot more auditions happening, lots more agencies
Girl 1: More than in Australia
Girl2: So, a lot more happening I guess you could say
Luke: It’s a bit entertainment industry isn’t it, here.
Girls: Yes, it’s huge here.
Luke: What about bad things? What’s the worst thing about London?
Girl 2: We were just discussing that! Far too many people!
Girl: And also, it’s kind of like a very l- rushed lifestyle, like, we’re used to just very chilled out slow pace and everyone’s just rushing off to go somewhere else, and it’s just constant… s’like, yeah
Luke: You have to learn to, sort of, walk twice as fast as normal in London
Girl 1: It kind of gets you a bit stressed out as well, ’cause you’re like “why is everyone, like, overtaking me? Oh my god!” You just try to keep up
Luke: You’ve got to go at, like, twice the normal speed.
Girl 2: Oh, exactly, it’s really like go go go, so, it’s been a bit of an adjustment, ummm
Girl 1: We’re slowly getting used to it
Luke: Alright, great, thank you very much
Girls: Thank you!
Luke: Cheers, bye bye

3 Lads in Carnaby Street
Luke: How’s it going?
Lad 3: Good, how are you?
Luke: Fine thank you. So, do you all live in London?
Lads: yeah
Luke: and did you all grow up here?
Lads: Yeah
Luke: oh hold on, I just need to move back a bit. So, what’s it really like than? Because, I mean, this video is for people who don’t speak English as a first language. They might come to London for a few weeks. But what’s London really like?
Lad 3: it’s a beautiful city on the outside. It’s aesthetics, it’s lovely. The buildings are amazing but it’s more sinister than I’ve found, compared to other cities. People don’t seem to be as friendly, it’s a busy place
Lad 1: No-one talks
Lad 3: People don’t care for each other
Lad 1: it’s a really shit community, running through the whole of London. No one knows each other.
Luke: So, it feels a bit unfriendly
Lad 3: The amount of people you meet on the tube, you should have something, like, everyone should speak to each other, so m-m-more people you would know, rather than not everyone sitting there ignoring each other and suspecting something if they speak to you
Luke: Right, so if someone speaks to you on the tube you just think “who’s this weirdo?”
Lads: yeah
Luke: Ok, alright, umm, I was going to ask you what the worst thing is, but I think you’ve just explained that. What about the best thing, unless you’ve already said that?
Lad 2: The sights
Lad 3: The culture. It’s the history and the culture. You’ve got, you get a proper feel for… it feels different to a lot of other places because the British history and stuff that’s ???
Luke: Ok. Thank you very much guys. Have a nice day
Lad 1: see you later
Lad 3: laters

Man in Chiswick:
Luke: So, err, what’s the best thing about London?
Man: err, best thing is, err, the nightlife, is pretty cool up in London. Especially Leicester Square is very lively and everything like that. Err, and, err, yeah that’s pretty much it!
Luke: Alright, what about the worst thing?
Man: Err, traffic is pretty bad in London, and pollution is pretty bad as well. Like, the way so many cars, there should be a lot more bicycles and areas for people to walk, and a lot more public transport to be used as well
Luke: Okay, great
Man: Thank you, bye
Luke: Cheers
Man: *laughs*

Some definitions of some words/expressions you might not know:
“you can not get a job to save your life” – if you can’t do something to save your life it means you can’t do something even if you try very hard
“sinister” – dangerous and threatening

Watch on YouTube:
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkXxMOlrpfM&w=480&h=360%5D

63. German and British Cultural Identity – Paco Erhard interview part 2


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This is the continuation of my interview with the German comedian Paco Erhard.

Visit Paco’s website here: www.germancomedy.com/www.pacoerhard.com

Paco is a great comedian who is doing very interesting work related to cross-cultural understanding. Do check out his show if you get the chance!

Here are the details of Paco’s Brighton and Edinburgh shows which you must check out!

Brighton Fringe Festival:

9.05., 10.05., 11.05., 16.05., 18.05.2011 – 7.45pm – The Hobgoblin

Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

05.08. – 28.08.2011 – 6pm – Three Sisters / Gothic Room

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me: luketeacher@hotmail.com

Cheers!

Luke

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Transcript available below.

Right-click here to download this episode.
This is the first in a series of 2 interviews with the comedian Paco Erhard.

Paco is originally from Germany but he has lived in America and Spain and he currently lives in London. He speaks 4 languages and is a proficient speaker of English. He is a performer of stand up comedy in both English and German. His show was a big success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011.

Paco is a regular performer on the London comedy scene and at the moment he is preparing a big 1 hour comedy show which he will perform at the Edinburgh comedy festival in August this year. The show is called “The 5 Step Guide to Being German” and explores what it really means to be German in the modern world.

Visit his website here: www.germancomedy.com
In this episode, Paco talks about his experiences as a learner of English. He gives some essential advice for anyone hoping to get good at English. Then he talks about his experiences of performing comedy in his 2nd language.

Paco is a great example of someone who has learned English to a very high standard. He is proof that YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

Enjoy the interview. Part 2 is coming soon. If you have any questions, email me: luketeacher@hotmail.com

I try to respond to emails when I can but I get a lot of messages these days and I can’t reply to them all!

Cheers,
Luke.

Transcript
This Transcript was provided by Dennis from Germany. Thank you for your hard work Dennis. Good job!

L: Right, actually we’ve started recording Paco, so we do need to speak fairly clearly, imagine there’s sort of lots of learners of English all around the world listening to this hanging on every single word

P:Okay

L: just desperately trying to understand exactly what we’re saying in order to become masters of the English language.

P: Easy to do really!

L: Alright, so Paco hello!

P: Hello.

L: Paco Erhard?

P: Erhard.

L: Erhardt okay that now. You’re fromGermanyright?

I am yeah

Paco doesn’t seem to be typically German name. Is there a typical German?

It’s not particularly my name it’s a nick name really I lived in Spain for 8 years and my real first name is Erhardt actually that is in reality my first name but in Spain nobody can pronounce that. So at some point basically my neighbour called down from her floor: alaman alaman German German I’ve forgotten your name again!

And you can’t keep on calling me German all the time

L: They actually called you German?

German guy German guy you know I’ve forgotten your name again. What’s your name?

My middle name is Frank, as you can call me Franco. Franco NO NO NO NO

L:That’s a bad bad name in Spain

P: she didn’t really like that for some reason.

Of course , I’ll explain that later if necessary

For some reason it’s weird but it’s true Paco is short for Francisco so basically it’s a real version of my middle name , so that’s where I came from and I stuck with it ever since

L : you kept it.

Ok so you are from Germany even though Paco is just like a Spanish nick name you picked up. You’re living in Tenerife right?

P I Lived in Tenerife for 5 or 6 years and before that lived in Mallorca for half a year and before that in Valencia for a year. For quite a while.

So, When did you leave Germany then?

Let me think. In 2002 I think. I think it was 2002 …. Nine years ago.

And how long have you been living here in the Uk?

Just about 2 years.

Alright ok

So like that kind of brings me back to the whole English thing? It’s been Luke’s English pod cast

Obviously you speak kind of really proficient English. How did you manage to get your English up to such a good level?

well, For one thing I’ve been speaking it for 25 years now.

How many languages do you speak?

4 . 4 and a half, if you count my horrible French. It’s not very good.

I speak German English Spanish and Italian

Really wow that’s very impressive.

So which one is your second language?

Oh English most definitely yeah then Spanish then Italian.

Let’s say you’ve been speaking English for about 25 years.

How did you first start speaking English then?

Well the first thing was really that when my parents didn’t want me and my sisters to understand something, I mean we’re talking about Christmas presents or whatever, they tended to speak English, my mum lived in London in the sixties for 2 years and well they spoke English. For us it was   “ we need to understand this.”

So you’re parents if they wanted to keep something secret, they would like use English as a code language?

Exactly, that we children didn’t understand

And so whenever they spoke this secret language obviously we really to know all the more what they were talking about

And so when I was 8 I asked for a cassette tape course, like then would nowadays be a cd course

L: like an English course on tape

Exactly So when I was 8 I started learning English just by myself as much as I could and school then I lived in America for a year when I was 17.

L: wow really??

P and all for my time in Spain mainly worked with British people.

Yeah okay alright so you’ve kind of .  that’s so many different things  P: Lots

L:so many good experiences for learning English

Lots

P:   And I was pretty good at school too in languages at least in languages.

So I mean that question then is how did you get so proficient in English? I guess you got like that influence from childhood. Of your parents speaking English sometimes.

Yes having the real motivation to learn it.

Yeah as a child you’re desperate to find out what your parents were talking about when they secretly used English to talk about your Christmas presents or something

P:Absolutetly.

That exposure to English as a child

And you lived in America for a year?

Yeah I was an exchange student.

Right.

In North Carolina.

Okay awesome and then you worked with English people in Spain for another year.

Yes exactly.

Okay what I was gonna ask you was like what you think is like really important for learning English. Do you have any advice or tips for people out there who are trying to speak English well.

Most of all if you have the chance speak it. Go to where the people are who speak it .That’s the only real way to learn it. It’s not enough to  you can study grammar all you want you can study vocabulary  it’s never going to stick for a long time unless you use it. If you go to another country you might only speak 3 words of the language but if you keep on trying you will speak 30 by the end of that day. And it will just keep on growing. Well I’ve done it before when I moved to Spain I spoke basically nothing of the language and it’s physically tiring  to speak a language and you’re frustrated because you can’t express all your thoughts and it’s really exhausting but you learn so quickly  and again of course it’s important when you notice that you don’t know how to say a certain thing that you go back and look in your books and look how you can say this better but that is just secondary to actually going out and speaking it and listening to it and that’s really how you learn it

It’s quite like Learning by doing or like survival learning

Yes I think there’s no other way it’s quite similar to comedy actually. I had somebody who asked me how should I do this how should I do comedy how should I write. I said how many gigs have you done? And he said none, I have my first next week. Basically if you’ve never done it you wouldn’t even know what I’m talking about. If you see words on the page you will never know how it’s spoken in real life.

Yeah okay. The main point  I guess is going out and do it. Right?

No other way!!

That’s hard though for people in some countries who have no access to like native speakers of English in this case. In the absence of that I mean that’s different to how you learned.  But that’s the problem for lot people. They don’t have access to native speakers of that language.

Yes well to be honest in the end you learn the language in order to speak it. That’s your goal anyway I think  If you don’t have access to English speakers then that’s one thing. In most larger cities you have language groups or conversation groups that you can go in and even in smaller villages you have somebody who speaks the language.

Yeah

One important thing I think that is important for many people that you mustn’t be afraid of doing it cause it’s very easy to say : no I’m not enough for that yet  yes you are you might be crap at first but you will learn and you will get better and I’ve had it in my life and lots of people have it that they postpone actually doing that thing until they are good at it but you won’t get good until you do it. However listening to your pod casts is probably a great way; at least you listen to it then and trying to speak it.

L: yes you got it also trying to enjoy it in some way

Oh YES!

Like If you have no access to opportunities to speak

yes

then at least you’ve got to try and get some English in your life

Listen to music watch films in English,

Listen to Luke’s English podcast.

That’s the most important thing of all!

The main thing is like: don’t be shy  you’ve got to be confident you’ve got to be brave enough to just go out there and open your mouth and try and survive in English.

And people will help you. It’s… people might be scared: OH I will look stupid! NO!  People will be happy that you’re making the effort. They will want to help you. And it’s just go out there and do it it’s going to be lovely because that’s when it is fun when you speak to other people that’s fun  and without fun it’s not worth doing it in the first place.

Yeah yeah. Just do it then. Okay cool. So let’s move on to another topic area. Not only have you kind of learned English to a really proficient level but as well you do comedy. You’re a stand up comedian.

YES

And if people listening to previous episodes I do some comedy too and it’s really cool thing and very popular in London. Paco you do comedy as well right? So how you have you been doing comedy? How long have you been doing stand up comedy?

Well in the strict sense of the word probably ever since I came here 2 years.  But before that in Germany in Spain occasionally I did it for a few years before that sporadically.

Sporadically?

Yes occasionally, sporadically …

Off and on ..

Exactly

and of course I was a compere in Tenerife, meaning that I was on a stage, how would you call it? Introducing comedians and playing around with the audience trying to make them laugh on a spontaneous level.

In Tenerife, there are these big tourist resorts where lots of English tourists go for their summer holidays and part of the tourist experience for them is not only spending some time on the beach and getting sun tan but in the evenings going to the kind of entertainment show

And getting hammered.

And getting hammered like getting really drunk and they go to these entertainment shows which are provided by the tourist companies or hotels and the entertainment shows are basically variety shows with different forms of entertainment during the evening and there would be a host of the show.

Yeah that’s a really good way of putting it .

A bit like it was a TV show , the host would be there to introduce the acts to kind talk to members of the audience to create the right atmosphere and that’s a really important job in an entertaining show

That is exactly what I did; you have to warm up audiences you know. Once they flown for hours sometimes and they are not in a good mood so you have to get them in a good mood and get them laughing.

Right

And lots of hosts or comedians or comperes are very good singers and I’m shit if I can say that at singing, so I had no choice but be funny and that’s how it started how I got comfortable on stage and

How did you end? Sorry. How did you end up becoming a compare of an entertainment show in Tenerife?

Oh that’s a long answer

It’s a long story.

It’s a long story

Basically?

Basically I used to be a writer or let’s say a wanna-be writer and ehm in Valencia and I just lived in my little room and tried to write something meaningful and completed a novel that I may now say is crap probably

You wrote a novel?

Yes it wasn’t very good but basically for years I tried to be an artist and deprive myself of you know living, of speaking to people and I’m very much a people person

yeah

and I need people around me so at some point on a whim I was looking for a job and saw a job ad at the job centre for hotel entertainers in Majorca and basically very much like I said on a whim very suddenly I decided that’s what I was  going to do  just get our of my life and doing something completely different

You were an artist, you were a writer and you weren’t making any money

NO

you needed a job and you saw an advertisement for a hotel entertainer and you thought “right, I’ll just do that” and that’s pretty brave.

That’s how I kind of ended up on the stage. Because we had to do sports but only you know did lots of comedy shows game shows and that’s what I did for half a year while at the same time I was studying philosophy it’s all the bit strange

You were studying philosophy too??

Yes I’m a master of philosophy because there nothing more useful economically.

Yeah probably one of the most less practical subjects

YES

that you can study philosophy. Ok so in the end you ended with years of stage experience

exactly

as entertainer let’s say and then you came to London? right? Yes exactly   and you continued to perform on stage here in London That’s right.  And because London is the comedy capital of the world  YES  I mean it is isn’t it?? I’ve been told that it is. I’ve been told by quite a few people who’ve been to New York and say that New York can’t compete with London in how much comedy is going on  and how quality comedy is . Of course when we talk about Chris rock yes HE IS AMAZING yes. I mean the big American comedians are great yes but if you want to grow up and become a comedian then as far as I’m aware London is the place to be.

It’s like there are so many opportunities to do this comedy here in London. It’s fantastic. And …

I think there are probably 80 or 90 open mics per week that is I’m very sure that that is I’m very sure more than in all of Germany combined. Really? yeah yeah I’m pretty sure that’s incredible actually. It’s Incredible.  I should be doing more of those open mics.

Ok so you basically came to London. You’ve been in comedy here because London is like the place to do stand up comedy. Alright so, and how long? you have been doing comedy in London for 2 years. Why? This is may be a stupid question but why are you doing stand up comedy? Now I do stand up myself and I meet a lot people who are doing stand up and actually a lot of my friends ask me: Why did you decide to start doing stand up comedy? So I wanna ask you that. Paco why did you start doing stand up comedy? It’s, in a way, its kind of crazy thing to do it’s really difficult.

Yeah it is a strange question because it’s not quite like you say one day “you know what I want to be a comedian” and then you do it and  I kind of slipped into it. I was an entertainer first then I was a host. But I’ve always been somebody who I want to express my opinions I want to make a difference in some way. And now that I’m in it I can say that stand up comedy is fantastic in many ways because you are really in control of more or less everything. You write what you want to say you can really do it from the heart, it’s very immediate you don’t have to play anything you can really write your things then perform them, basically be your own director too because you have to review how you say something on stage and how you act on stage and everything’s under your control and your in touch with the audience at the same time. So no two nights are the same.

You’re always have a different audience who react differently. You have to be spontaneous as well. There’s a good book on standard comedy called “Zen and the art of standard comedy”

Really?

and I think the title is very well chosen because it is a bit of Zen of even in a way that you can’t really plan what’s going to happen you have to be in the moment and you have an empty head just being ready to react at any second. You have your written material but at the same time you have to be spontaneous you have to see what’s going on in the audience you have to be ready to abandon your material and do something different somebody drops a glass you better say something about it otherwise people will think: well are you just reciting material just written stuff?? And you don’t want to seem like that so it’s very it’s hard to say it’s so much interesting stuff that enters into it. Acting writing being with people and also the thrill of being on a stage and having everybody look at you. Probably I just want to be loved.

Yeah well that’s a very concise answer I guess. Its true there are so many different aspects to performing stand-up comedy it makes it a really integrating exciting kind of performance to do

I would agree yes

and when it works and when you actually make the whole room laugh yeah there’s no feeling quite like it!

It’s an incredible thrill and when everybody laughs and you sort of sometimes you just have the right timing and you say the next thing just at the right point so you play with your audience and you just you raise them higher and higher and the energy rises and your energy goes out to them and theirs comes back. It’s just orgasmic!

Wow okay

it is great! And ehm and it’s ….

You’re doing because it’s like a great sort of buzz like a real rush of excitement to do. Buzz and it allows me to express things and be an artist to be honest. I want to… I don’t just want to be …… I want to make points. You want to actually say something to people  yes something important about what I consider important in my view. It might be rubbish for everybody else.

That’s an opportunity for you to kind of basically give some kind of message to people.  YES

Okay. Don’t you feel nervous doing in stand-up another language? Cause like I mean I do stand up in my first language and I feel really nervous before I do it

oh do you ?

yeah I do and I feel nervous during it sometimes unless it’s going well then I’m fine. I think about it . If I’ve got a performance I think about it for days in advance  Oh what exactly am I gonna say?? and I pour over word for word what I’m gonna do and I worry about it too much. Maybe that’s just me. But isn’t it really hard to do that in a second or a third language even or a second language?

I have done it in my third language actually.

Really? Spanish??

I did it in Spanish in Buenos Aires one and a half years ago it worked pretty well actually I can’t remember how nervous I was. Ehm but normally may I ask …  how many gigs have you done?

I’ve done … I think it’s about 50. 49 .. or one like 49 50.

Ok. Alright that’s a pretty good number I think. Well I think I still get nervous when it’s a really important gig and I know that some important promoter is looking at me or whatever … then I’d still get nervous. But not so much on stage well rather before. I used to be incredibly nervous especially in Tenerife when I did comedy there and I didn’t do very well because you know it’s very very uneducated audiences is there.

English tourists

Lovely, lovely people really but not really my comedy wasn’t exactly for them, so I tried to adapt and to do theirs, which is very…  lots of sexism , racism, and some very dodgy things entering into that. And ehm very crude stereotypes of the Germans and since I hate it what I did  I think if you know what you want to say and nobody laughs you can still say “ well still I expressed what I wanted. I can go out of here with my back straight and my head up high..” and aehm “I don’t really care! “ so that gives you , that way you’re less nervous. But if you say something just to in a way of PLEASE LAUGH… I make this joke for you then you basically have nothing to go by .. if they don’t laugh then you’re just an idiot who tried . and basically that’s what happened to in Tenerife a few times and my knee was visibly shaking and I’ve never been to nervous in my life. I don’t think it has much to do with the language to be honest.

Really?

If you speak the language well. I speak English pretty well. Ehm I’m used to it. Of course I will never speak English quite like an native speaker, not nearly, but never quite I guess but good enough I can play with words I can have a laugh with the language I can bend it to my needs and I’m comfortable in it. I feel at home in it . It would actually make me more nervous to do stand up comedy in German because I’ve done it once or twice and I’m simply… I have good material in English, good jokes in English and I know they work, I know my attitude with them, I know I deliver them, I know how to react to audiences. In German structure of sentences is difficult. Melody of the language is different word order like lot’s different things. You can’t just translate it you have to rewrite it all anew.

Do you think it’s ehm, maybe this is just my imagination, but do you think that English in terms its structure, in the intonation. Do you think that it suits comedy?

I’m not sure. I know that famously comedian Steward Lee some might be familiar with, said about the German language that it didn’t lend itself to comedy so much because of German sentence structure the punch lines sometimes have to be delivered before the end of the sentence.

Right

I don’t agree with that. I think you can always construct the sentence in a way that that doesn’t happen. Maybe a little bit. I’m not sure. But … I wouldn’t say that. I used to think that when I lived in America I was very much into Rap.

.I still like it

Yeah. Rap. Hip Hop

Yes and when I came back I thought Hip hop in Germany was horrible.  And it was just ridiculous

German Hip Hop? In German?

In German yeah. And I thought it’s probably just the language that doesn’t lend itself to Hip Hop. It’s just not good for it. But now there are some fantastic artists who do Hip Hop in Germany. It’s fabulous, it’s wonderful, it’s poetry, it’s brilliant. And I think it’s the same with comedy. I think that we have, even on TV, have lots of crap comedians in Germany.

Yeah.

But I don’t think it’s the language’s fault. I’m not sure

It’s not the fault of the language. It’s more the fault of; it’s more just something in the culture which means that people are less receptive to it. Like I wonder why in many other countries stand-up comedy is not as big as it is. Because in England… I recently went to comedy store which for listeners is London’s number one standard comedy venue. One of the best.

Comedy Mecca

It’s the Mecca of the standard comedy. And I was in there and it was just an incredible atmosphere for like 2 and half hours the show goes on for 2 and half hours the whole audience is just totally gripped by laughter for 2 and a half hours and you come out exhausted. And like it’s an amazing experience and there are comedy shows all over the country, comedy venues that do the same thing. It’s such a big thing. Why is it not so big in other countries?

I’m not sure. I know that it exists in Spain, in Argentina, definitely in Germany because it is there and people like it. I just think well there have been very good comedians in the sixties and … whether it was Heinz Erhard , I mean now if you listen to him it’s a bit, very old school, Jürgen von der Lippe is still very good I think and Otto Walkes when he was young. He used to be very good. They were great. They didn’t even call themselves comedians yet. They called themselves some German term I don’t even quite know but then about 10 years ago stand up comedy all of a sudden called this, this came over from England or was imported by German television all of a sudden there was a wave of this new thing called comedy which wasn’t really about being funny. And there’s lots of funny Germans don’t get that wrong. But all of the sudden it was this hype and the media created something huge that they simply didn’t have the resources for all of a sudden comedians were on telly that are simply not very funny, but people love them anyway. And I just think, people if we knew how good comedy can be, there’s such a thankful audience. It’s hard. It’s painful.

Basically comedy became kind of culture. I guess.

It’s imposed by the media.

Did it become an industry?

Yeah, an industry but without the right people. Definitely it’s an industry here but you have very very good people to fulfil those roles of being funny and I think in Germany there are probably much funnier people in the little clubs. I think in general, I don’t know if it’s the same with television here in Britain that I believe German television seems to think that a large majority of their viewers are stupid and they want simple stupid things. But I think if they were a lot more clever and better quality people will still get it.

It has something to do with the broadcasting culture which we have in the UK. Maybe like the  BBC with their unique way the BBC broadcasts, like quite sort of original things. Something to do with that.

Possibly. I’m not sure. I’m not familiar enough with how television works exactly here, but I think that there are more programs for clever people or even that it simply expect more from the viewers, well don’t get me wrong. X factor is crap. It’s not it’s really well done but it’s simply targeted and for non-thinking masses. To be honest these days I think there are more … the TV has been dumbed down quite a lot and lot of the content going on TV is really rubbish.

That’s probably the word I was looking for.- I think television in Germany is dumbed down even a lot more that’s when it pains me.

Is it because in Germany you have like, Is there any national tv  is all private. Is it all private channels with advertising? Are there any non-adverstising channels?

Absolutely they’re struggling. Their audiences are ancient they are just really old. I don’t know what they are doing wrong but there’s something just not quite. I think it could be a lot better. And I don’t really want to tell those people how to do their jobs. Because they probably know very well why they do what they do. I just know that comedy that I see on German television and those probably earn millions and I sit in front of it without forcing myself not to laugh I simply think this is lame. Why are you trying to make me laugh with that? yeah. Please stop! Really?  Sometimes there are a few good things. I mean there are a few very good things but few.

Yeah ok alright so then we’ve just been talking about comedy and the question of why is comedy is such a big industry here in the uk why is it less big as in industry in other countries? Maybe it’s something to do with broadcasting standards or culture of broadcasting or something but anyway. We’re gonna move on to talk about your comedy. Paco now you’re at the moment I know you’re very busy. You’re preparing for a show right? Yes. You’re doing the biggest comedy festival in the country is Edinburgh. The Edinburgh comedy festival. In the world even.  Is it in the world? I think Montreal might be a little bit bigger but that’s just very industrial. Montreal in Canada there’s another one in Australia  Adeleide.  Adeleide.  Melbourne is that. Yeah sorry  but Edinburgh I think is probably the biggest let’s say in the world.   That’s just say it. It sounds better. It’s good.

So you’re preparing to actually do an Edinburgh show you’re doing the whole month?. I am yes, except I will have Saturdays off . ok   that’s a lesson from last year when we didn’t have any day off.  Right  it’s just very hard. There’s 20 shows, is it? I think it yeah was 22 or something plus of course all the little spots that you do like the 10 minute spots that you do to show yourself at other places, so I think in the month like 60 . 70 gigs or something like that. Wow. So basically if you’re work in comedy if you’re sort of serious comedian or serious comedy performer, Edinburgh is where you go in august every year the whole of august is devoted to the comedy show . If you’re a tourist and you’re interested in going into the Uk and you’re gonna be in the uk in August you have to go to Edinburgh. Yes you have to! Basically there’s so many things , so many entertaining things happening, so many stand up shows going on in the city of Edinburgh in August. It’s really fantastic. And so Paco you’re at the moment preparing yourself to perform there like almost every night in the week yes  in August.. so tell us about your show. What’s the show about?

Well my show is called “My 5 Step to being German”

The 5 Step Guide to Being German.

61. 127 Hours / ‘Hand’ Idioms


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Listen to an interview with Aaron Ralston, learn about the movie 127 Hours and pick up some useful idioms with the word ‘hand’.

Luke’s English Podcast is completely free and a great way to improve your English. Luke focusses on British English, specifically on natural language which is really used by people in Britain every day. You can learn vocabulary and cultural information.

In this episode, I talk about the film 127 Hours, we listen to an interview with Aaron Ralston (who is the subject of the film) and then I teach you some really useful idioms with the word ‘hand’.

True or False Statements. There is a video and transcript below.

1. The week of April 26 – May 1st 2003 divided his life into two parts.
2. The hike he went on was one of the most extreme and dangerous hikes he had ever done.
3. As he was hiking above a canyon he dislodged a boulder and they both fell into the canyon. The boulder landed on his arm and trapped him in the canyon.
4. He was 5 hours from civilisation.
5. He hadn’t informed anyone of his plan to trek in that area.
6. He realised almost immediately that he was going to starve to death.
7. By the 5th day he had already tried every possible way to escape.
8. By day 5 he was still not convinced that he was going to die there.
9. He wasn’t able to deal with regrets that he had about his life.
10. He had a dream about himself as a boy and he wanted to go back to apologise to himself.
11. He got really angry because he felt he had failed himself.
12. He made a controlled decision to break his bones and to cut his arm off.
13. He was very happy to cut off his arm despite the pain.
14. He took a really good quality photo of his hand before he left.
15. He fell 60ft into a pool of water.
16. He hiked 7 miles even though he was losing strength all the time.
17. He climbed 800ft to his truck and then contacted a helicopterto rescue him.
17. His experience in Blue John canyon totally changed his life forever.

Video (transcript below)

Transcript of the Aaron Ralston Interview

[5:56]
When I think about the week of April 26 – May 1st 2003, there was what came before and there is what came after. It was such a watershed for me that literally cleaved not only my arm, but my life into these this kind of before and after. This pre and post Blue John.

I walked into that canyon not only with two hands, but just as an adventurer on a day trip for kind of a vacation (of sorts). And midway through this hike that was pretty low-key for the kinds of things that I was doing at that time of my life. I got to a drop-off in a slot canyon in the middle of very remote desert in Southern Utah and I dislodged a boulder. I pulled it down as I was descending, this drop off and the boulder fell from my head as I was now underneath it. And as I put my hands up to try to block it from crashing into my skull that my hands, one got smashed and as the boulder ricocheted my right hand became trapped by this rock as it slammed into a new spot between these very narrow walls.

So this like bus-tire size boulder now is trapping me in a fifty foot deep slot canyon five miles from the nearest dirt road and hours from a phone or pavement or running water or help. I was by myself and told anyone where I was going, didn’t leave any kind of a itinerary and so it was just me stuck and trapped basically standing in my grave and without being able to get free I was definitely going to die there via one or the other kind of mechanisma, see either infection, dehydration or starvation, perhaps a flash flood or just by succumbing a hyperthermia during the very cold nights.

I suffered through all of these various bodily and mental degradations over not just one day and one night, but two days, two nights, three days and three nights, four days and four nights, five days and a fifth night I knew that at this point I’ve tried everything there is to try including trying to cut my arm off to get myself free and being there, I etched my name and my birth month and what I thought was my death month in the wall off the canyon above my shoulder. I used this hand-held video camera sat on a rock in front of me to strapping my hand and recorded my will and testament, I mean my goodbyes to my family, my loved ones and I was resigned perhaps or at peace with, maybe another way to say it, the fact that I was going to die here. There was no more life in front of me. I found a lot of regrets in my life too, but also I came to, I think, an understanding with myself about it to let some of those regrets, just let them be. But as a turned out it was not the end. I had a vision during that last night, that fifth night, that I was there, of a little boy. I saw myself in some point in the future with a handless right arm playing with this little blond-haired three-year-old and lifting him up and I’m holding him up on my head then, the eye contact that I had with him told me that this is my future son. And if I used to have a future son, that meant that I was going to have a future. I was going to get out of this place, a few hours later the sun came up yet again in the sixth day in the canyon, but this time with this renewed hope that I would get out of there. I actually fell into a rage of sorts. I lost control of what had previously being very controlled experience for me and in this rage I felt my bones bend and as they bent I realised that I might actually be able to break the bones. If I can break them I might be able to then use the knife which was too dull to cut through the bones, but to use that just on a soft tissues and this smile came over me. I was euphoric as I… went about first breaking one bone and then contorting my body to break the second bone and then using that knife to cut through the various tissues and cleaving the nerve which was a thousand times worse than having that boulder crashing my hand. But even when I got through that most intense pain, I knew that I was going to get out of there. I’m going to die at some point, but I’m not going to die here. I’m going to get out of this place and sure enough after about an hour and five minutes of working through the imputation I was free. It was euphoric, ecstasy that I’ll probably ever feel in my life. And I gathered myself after a few deep breaths and picked up my rope, picked up my climbing gear, picked up my water bottle that then was full of urine. I took the last photograph of this, this was good riddance photograph, but the hand that nearly tra… killed me and the boulder and I started hiking down the canyon. I made it through a few hundred yards of third and fourth class canyon until I got to a rappel that I set up and rappelled a 60 food drop and I got to a pool of water and drank from that for about fifteen minutes and then started hiking. Walked through almost 7 miles then. Slowly losing energy as the adrenaline and just the effects of all of these sleep deprivation and everything else had been mounting on me.

And at the end of this hike, I was just a mile away from my truck, where I had to leave the canyon bottom and about eight hundred vertical feet of climbing at this moment now a helicopter came out of the sky that had been searching for me plucked me out of the canyon and off we fly to the hospital.

This was such a remarkable synchronicity of me getting myself free and out in the open when I could be found and that helicopter being there within minutes when I was otherwise bled to death. It’s to me still an astonishing miracle that I did what I did, but actually that I survived and the effect of it, got to medical attention.

Putting my life back together after again this is before and after of everything that had happened leading me up to that place than that where I was go after that. It still stands even now with being married and having a little six-month old boy Leo that the experience back in the Blue John is still the defining moment in my life, what came before and what came after.

[13:20]

Answers to the true or false sentences
1. The week of April 26 – May 1st 2003 divided his life into two parts. [TRUE]
2. The hike he went on was one of the most extreme and dangerous hikes he had ever done. [FALSE – it was fairly low key]
3. As he was hiking above a canyon he dislodged a boulder and they both fell into the canyon. The boulder landed on his arm and trapped him in the canyon. [TRUE]
4. He was 5 hours from civilisation. [FALSE – he was ‘hours’ from civilisation]
5. He hadn’t informed anyone of his plan to trek in that area. [TRUE]
6. He realised almost immediately that he was going to starve to death. [FALSE – he realised he was going to die, but by many possible ways – infection, dehydration, flash flood, starvation]
7. By the 5th day he had already tried every possible way to escape. [TRUE]
8. By day 5 he was still not convinced that he was going to die there. [FALSE – he was convinced that he was going to die]
9. He wasn’t able to deal with regrets that he had about his life. [FALSE – he made peace with himself]
10. He had a dream about himself as a boy and he wanted to go back to apologise to himself. [FALSE – he had a dream about his future son]
11. He got really angry because he felt he had failed himself. [FALSE]
12. He made a controlled decision to break his bones and to cut his arm off. [FALSE – he was in a rage – out of control]
13. He was very happy to cut off his arm despite the pain. [TRUE]
14. He took a really good quality photo of his hand before he left. [FALSE – it was a ‘good riddance’ photo]
15. He fell 60ft into a pool of water. [FALSE – he rappelled 60ft and then found the water]
16. He hiked 7 miles even though he was losing strength all the time. [TRUE]
17. He climbed 800ft to his truck and then contacted a helicopterto rescue him. [FALSE – his truck was an 800ft climb away, but he got rescued by a helicopter]
17. His experience in Blue John canyon totally changed his life forever. [TRUE]

Hand Idioms
Here are the hand idioms from this podcast. Listen to the episode to get definitions and examples:

1. to be good with your hands
2. to get your hands dirty
3. (get your/keep your) hands off!
4. hands up!
5. to have your hands full
6. in someone’s hands
7. to be in safe hands / in good hands
8. many hands make light work
9. off someone’s hands
10. on someone’s hands
11. out of someone’s hands
12. take something off someone’s hands
13. with your bare hands
14. give him a (big) hand
15. you’ve got to hand it to him
16. to hand something to someone
17. to hand something out
18. a handout
19. a hand-me-down
20. handed down from generation to generation
21. handy (adj)
22. on the one hand / on the other hand
23. I know it like the back of my hand
24. to shake hands
25. holding hands / hand in hand

That’s it!

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60. The King’s Speech / ‘Mouth’ Idioms


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Hi! Learn some really useful idioms and listen to an authentic interview with a native speaker in this episode of Luke’s English Podcast.

The King’s Speech / Stammering
This episode is about The King’s Speech – an excellent film which recently won 4 Academy Awards at The Oscars, including the award for Best Actor for Colin Firth. In the film Colin Firth plays the part of King George VI, who had to overcome a difficult stammer and become a strong leader of Great Britain at the beginning of The 2nd World War. A stammer is a speech problem which makes the stammerer (the person who has the stammer) unable to produce words or sentences clearly. For some stammerers, it is almost impossible to speak without long pauses and the inability to produce some words clearly. Basically, it prevents many people from speaking and therefore has a strongly negative affect on their lives. There are millions of people in the world who suffer from a stammer, and their struggle is not often discussed or understood fully. The King’s Speech is a very high profile movie, and has brought the subject of stammering back into the public eye.

Contents
This is quite a long episode with lots of detail and content. Here is what to expect from the episode:
A. Some background information to the story of The Kings Speech
B. An interview with a member of the British Stammering Association, which is a charity for people who have a stammer. In the interview he talks about the story of King George VI, the importance of the film for stammerers, and the subject of stammering. I explain what the man says in the interview, and clarify it for you
C. Useful vocabulary: I teach you some commonly used idioms which feature the words ‘mouth’ and ‘tongue’

This is definitely a useful podcast episode! You should listen to all of it several times to really get the benefit of it.

A. Some background Information
The King’s Speech is a true story of King George VI and his struggle with a speech impediment, or ‘stammer’. Here is a definition of ‘stammer’ from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (which is available free online here dictionary.cambridge.org/):

stammer
verb /ˈstæm.ər/
Definition
to speak or say something with unusual pauses or repeated sounds, either because of speech problems or because of fear and anxiety
[+ speech] “Wh-when can we g-go?” she stammered.
He dialled 999 and stammered (out) his name and address.
Synonym: stutter

stammer
noun [C usually singular]
Robert has a bit of a stammer.
(Definition of stammer verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

In the film, prince George has suffered from a very strong stammer ever since he could speak. His family would correct and punish him when he stammered. As a result, George suffers from a terrible lack of confidence, particularly when speaking in public. He cannot speak in publis as it causes him to stammer uncontrollably, causing total shame and embarrassment to all around. When he addresses the public it is a shocking and disappointing failure on a national level. This happened at a time when people were not sympathetic to someone with speech problems and in a king it would have been a huge sign of weakness. But, George must become the King when his country is about to go to war with Germany, so he has to learn to overcome his speech impediment in order to regularly address the public over the radio.

So, he takes speech therapy from a therapist called Lionel Logue. It is a tremendous struggle but together they manage to develop a relationship (between a king an an ‘ordinary’ man) which helps the king to learn to speak to the public in a confident manner. It’s a fantastic film about human struggle, challenge and bravery.

Here’s the trailer for the film:


Hello, I have a stammer.

There hasn’t been really high profile stammerer in the UK since king George VI died in 1952, a very long time ago, nor has there been a decent film featuring someone who stammers.

Generally speaking, we have been shown as figures of fun (ha ha). As a result of this and many other inaccuracies very few people know anything much about stammering.

But now at last we have “The King’s speech”, potentially Oscar winning film, which shows people who don’t stammer how life can be if you do. And Colin Firth does an incredibly realistic job of conveying how it is to be stuck in a block with no control over your speech, part of the audience staring at you and part staring at the ground. No film has ever done that before.

So it should be very helpful in terms of creating some greater understanding between stammerers and non-stammerers. But we need to remember that the action takes place about seventy five years ago, so it is history. From what we know, it’s a fairly realistic reenactment what was going on at that time.

Things are different now of course. We know that stammering it’s a symptom of a condition in which the brain’s neural circuits for speech have not wired normally. So the king would have been born with a neural propensity to stammer, it wasn’t caused by some deep rooted psychological problem. His character and behaviour would have been partly affected by this inability to say what he was trying to say, not vice versa.

It’s quite interesting there was a research exercise on at about the same time which is come to be known as the “monster study” in which a group of orphan children were cruelly encouraged to stammer. At the end of the exercise, none of them grew up stammering, but several of them developed psychological problems.

Of course, speech therapy techniques has changed considerably. When he was a child, stammering was thought to be a defect. So, the future king was corrected and even punished by his family and staff which made him very self-conscious and tense about speaking and that surely would just make his stammering even worse. Today where it is available and it’s available everywhere. Early intervention allows the vast majority of those very young children at-risk of persistent stammering to talk fluently for the rest of their lives.

Some adults do find ways to control their speech, but there is still no cure. The King continued to stammer, but as we see in the film, Logue helped him to control his stammering when he was making formal speeches. I must say though that the last time I went to see a speech therapist, she didn’t encourage me to swear. But then… I’m not a king, you understand. And that really is the main point of this film. It was how Lionel Logue found a way to form a relationship with a client, whose upbringing had made him reluctant to discuss anything personal.

As stammerers, we are one ideally equipped to stand up and change so many misconceptions. But we need to try. “The King’s speech” will give stammerers and non-stammerers a kind of a permission to talk to each other. It will be the greatest opportunity, I’ve ever seen, for this often embarrassing subject to be discussed openly and on such a broad scale.

So for all our sakes, please grasp it with both hands, talk about it. But remember that the opportunity will only last for a short while. After that, there is a danger that stammering will slip back into being inaudible and invisible. We don’t want that to happen. So if you feel you’d like to help, please stay tuned. But in the meantime, I just like to say: “Thank you for listening”.
[21:40]

Answers
1. How many high profile stammerers have we had in the UK since George VI died in 1952?
(None)
2. How many decent films about stammerers have there been? (none)
3. How have stammerers been shown in films? (they have been shown as figures of fun)
4. What does The Kings Speech show people who don’t stammer? (it shows how life can be if you do)
5. Is the film historically accurate? (yes – it’s a fairly realistic reenactment)
6. What do we know about stammering now? (it’s a symptom of a condition in which the brain’s neural circuits for speech have not wired normally)
7. Was the stammer caused by something that happened during his childhood? (no – he was probably born with it)
8. How did his family and staff deal with George’s stammer? (they corrected him and punished him)
9. How did this make him feel? (very self conscious and tense about speaking)
10. With today’s knowledge, what is the best way to help people with stammers? (early intervention)
11. What did George VI’s therapist do that the speaker’s (interviewee’s) therapist didn’t do? (he encouraged him to swear – to say rude words like f*ck and sh*t)
12. What made George VI a difficult client? (his upbringing had made him reluctant to discuss anything personal)
13. What will The King’s Speech do for stammerers and non stammerers? What will The King’s Speech do for stammerers and non-stammerers? (it will give them permission to talk to each other about stammering – “for all our sakes, please grasp it with both hands, talk about it”)
14. What is the danger about the near future? (after a while, stammering will slip back into being inaudible and invisible – “please stay tuned”)

Here is some information about the video interview
n The King’s Speech, Colin Firth did an incredibly realistic job of conveying how it is to be stuck in a block with no control over your speech. No major film had ever done that before, and I’m sure it has been helpful in terms of creating greater awareness of something which is largely inaudible and invisible in our society.

But there is still a great deal of ignorance about why we stammer, and very inaccurate assumptions are made about our characters. We are not ideally equipped to stand up and change these misconceptions, but we need to try. The King’s Speech has given everyone – stammerers and non-stammerers – a kind of ‘permission’ to talk to each other about stammering. It has been the best opportunity, almost in living memory, for this often embarrassing subject to be discussed openly and on such a broad scale. So, for all of our sakes, please keep talking about it!

For an interview with Colin Firth about his role as the King, please go to www.stammering.org/colinfirth.html And for more information on The Monster Study, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_study

If you want to know more about the National Appeal for Change, or to make a donation, please go to www.stammering.org/change

If you want to talk about helping in some other way, please send a message to Leys Geddes through the speakingout2 channel on YouTube or by emailing chair@stammering.org

If you are in the UK, and want help with your speech, please ring the British Stammering Association helpline on 0845 603 2001 or visit www.stammering.org

The BSA is the national charity and is run by people who stammer, for the benefit of all those whose lives are affected by stammering.

If you live outside the UK, and want advice about stammering/stuttering – or simply want to learn more – you can still go to www.stammering.org or to any of these other leading sites: www.stutterisa.org (International Stuttering Association), www.stutteringhelp.org (USA), www.stutteringhomepage.org (USA) or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stammering.

If you like to see an adaptation of this video, spoken in Swedish, please go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB9TDLkovm4

C. Useful Vocabulary – Idioms with the words ‘mouth’ and ‘tongue’
I thought it would be appropriate to teach you some commonly used fixed expressions which feature these two parts of the body which are so important for speech. Here are the idioms with examples and definitions. All this for free? You lucky people!

“Me and my big mouth!”
-use this when you have said something you shouldn’t have said, like when you give away a secret by accident. “Oh, me and my big mouth!”

“to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth”
-this means to be born into a rich family. It is often used to complain about people who are born into a rich life.
“Prince William doesn’t know what it is like to work hard like normal people. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”

“don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”
-use this to say that you should accept a gift without checking it for problems first. Don’t look for problems in the gift too much, just accept it. “I didn’t want to accept my uncle’s old car, but he told me not to look a gift horse in the mouth”

“live from hand to mouth’
-this is when someone lives on very little money – they spend the money they earn and can’t save anything. “There’s no way we can go on holiday this year, we are living from hand to mouth”

“melt in your mouth”
-use this to describe delicious food that is so soft and tender that it feels like it is melting in your mouth. “The steak here is so delicious, it just melts in your mouth”

“put your money where your mouth is”
-show that you really mean what you say, by doing it rather than just talking about it. “You’re always talking about running a marathon, so come on, put your money where your mouth is. Why don’t you run the London Marathon with me next year?”

“Keep your mouth shut! / Shut your mouth!”
-this means ‘shut up’ or ‘don’t way anything’. It’s a bit rude. “When the police arrive, just keep your mouth shut, all right?!”

“to leave a bad taste in your mouth”
-for food it means that it tastes disgusting and the bad taste stays in your mouth. We can also use it to describe a bad experience, which leaves us feeling bad afterwards. “The argument just left a bad taste in my mouth”

“Watch your mouth!”
-be careful what you say!

“by word of mouth”
-use this to say that information is transferred by people talking to each other. “Publicity for the film spread by word of mouth”

“to put words into someone’s mouth”
-this means to suggest that someone has said something which in fact they haven’t said. “I didn’t say that! You’re putting words into my mouth!”

“to bite your tongue”
-this means that you stop yourself saying something
“When he asked me about the missing biscuits, I just bit my tongue and kept quiet”

“has the cat got your tongue?”
-use this to challenge someone who is unable to say something, keeping quiet
“So, what about the missing biscuits then? Huh? What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

“mother tongue”
-your first language
“English is not his mother tongue”

“on the tip of my tongue”
-this means you can’t quite remember the word – you can nearly remember it
“What’s his name? Errrmmmm…. wait, I can remember… oh! It’s on the tip of my tongue! Oh, no, I can’t remember”

So, that is it for this episode. There’s a lot of content here for you. I recommend you listen to this episode several times. Try to use the idioms and other words you have learned here. Use them in conversation, or just say a few sentences to yourself. Personalise the sentences. Use the idioms to talk about your own life and experience. This will help you learn it.

You could donate some money to me to help me with the podcast, but really I think it would be better to donate money to help people in Japan who are suffering from the terrible tsunami which struck last week. There are many many people who have no food, shelter or electricity. Search on google for your local charity organisation, or give money here www.redcross.org.uk/japantsunami/?approachcode=68816_googlePAD10JpTs&gclid=CNqNvd-70acCFdFX4QodMVXiDA .
You could save some lives.

Thanks for listening.

Luke

59. Billy Connolly Interview / Scottish Accent


Right-click here to download this episode.
An interview with comedian, actor and musician Billy Connelly who comes from Scotland.

Practise listening to more samples of British English, in particular the scottish accent in this episode. Billy Connelly comes from Glasgow and is one of the UK’s favourite comedians. He is also an actor who has appeared in Hollywood films (such as Mrs Brown with Judy Dench).

In this podcast you will listen to an interview with Billy on a television show presented by Clive James (an Australian born writer and comedian). Also in the interview you will hear Sir David Attenborough who speaks classic BBC English.

Listen to the interview
Try to understand Billy, Clive and Sir David
Keep listening and I will explain the things they said in more detail
Enjoy the experience of listening!
The interview begins at about 13 minutes in. The first 13 minutes is just me TALKING TOO MUCH ABOUT NOT VERY MUCH AT ALL, as I usually do in these podcasts. I do apologise for talking and talking in such a boring way sometimes. Perhaps I should talk less, but I suppose that is why you download this podcast, so you can listen to a native speaker talking fluently to you, a learner of English. I guess you could just imagine that you’re in a pub with a boring person, but a boring person who keeps speaking English to you, in quite a clear voice.

You can watch the video of this interview on YouTube here. The internet is a wonderful thing (in the right hands).

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9wvTy5si1s&w=480&h=390%5D

Tapescript
Dear listeners – if you think you can do it, please provide a transcript to the interview (13.30-ish). It would be a good listening exercise for you, and it would benefit other learners of English who really need the transcript. Learners of English – COME TOGETHER! And help each other. Send interview transcripts to luketeacher@hotmail.com

Thank you very much to people who send me messages of encouragement. I am very glad that so many people like the podcast and use it to improve their English. It’s fantastic to know that it really does make a difference to your English.

Enjoy the podcast, and if you feel like it, send me a small donation via PayPal.

Best regards!

Luke

58. Scotland / Scottish Accents (with Leslie)


Right-click here to download this episode.
An interview with a native speaker from Scotland. We talk about Scottish culture and stereotypes, and features of scottish accents.

Use this episode to develop your cultural understanding of the English language, and to practise identifying and understanding different accents.

Transcript
Here is a full transcript for this entire episode. It was contributed by listeners to the podcast using the transcript collaboration project on teacherluke.co.uk. For those listeners who contributed part of this script – thank you very much indeed! Transcribing requires time and concentration. Your work will be very helpful to other listeners and learners of English.

Luke’s Introduction – Transcript
You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacherluke.podomatic.com

Hello ladies and gentlemen. You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. My name is Luke. It’s my podcast. That’s why it’s called Luke’s English podcast. The English part of it is because it’s for people who are learning English as a foreign language. That’s right, there’s millions of you all over the world, you’re all desperately needing to improve your English, mainly if you live in countries where it’s very difficult to find native English speakers.
So, what you want is an authentic source of real English. You could listen to movies on DVD but you know there ….all those movies are scripted, it’s not really natural English. Let’s see, you could listen to the news, couldn’t you? on the radio, on the internet but to be honest most people don’t speak like that in real life. On the news they speak in a different way in a slightly unnatural way which is not really the same as the way most people in their everyday life use English. For example on the news for some reason on the news everything sounds like this. So that’s the way people speak on the news – obviously we don’t normally talk like that, do we?
But, so you want….. you are looking for of a great sort of really natural conversational English. Perhaps some British English because most of the English that you probably come in contact with through TV shows and movies and so on is American English and that’s great. I love American English. More people speak American English in the world than British English, but I know that a lot of my listeners really want to hear some British English because of various reasons. Some people prefer British English, some people consider it to be the original form English. I am not sure about that. Obviously the language changes all the time. The English that we speak in Britain is a bit different to the English they speak in America but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

Let’s see! So, those of my listeners, I am sure you are one of those people who need a good source of English to practice your listening. You also want to kind of learn more about the culture of the English language, maybe the culture of the UK, that kind of thing. You also would like to hear a variety of different accents so you can get a sense of all the different ways in which we speak English and also I am sure you want to pick up lots of really really useful bits of vocabulary – natural things.
So, you’ve come to the right place. This is where you are going to find all those things. It’s Luke’s English podcast. I do it on my own in my free time. I am an English language teacher who works in London. I’ve been teaching English for about 10 years now. I’ve got loads of experience of English teaching. I teach in a language school in Holland park in London and I teach general English, exam courses, business English, legal English and everything else in between. So you know that you can trust me as a decent source of English language teaching.
So I know if you are thinking this is amazing. Is this all free? Is this free or do I have to pay? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is free. It is completely free but bear in mind I do have to pay for the web space. I have to pay the company that hosts this website. I have to pay them every month and so I do ask people to…..if they listen to the podcast I ask people to make a donation to me just to help me cover the cost of running the website. It would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it, if I did this and actually lost money every month. Well, the fact is that I do often kind of lose money. I spend money on this so that you can get free English lessons online.
If you are a business person you’re probably thinking that’s ridiculous. It defies every sense, every kind of business idea that you have, you know, obviously the idea is to make profit. But I’m not making any profit, that’s for sure so I can’t really call this a business instead it’s a kind of …it’s an experiment, really for me and it’s a kind of hobby and a chance for me to practice….do the things like presenting, maybe using my voice on radio. That kind of thing. It’s a bit of fun, a bit of fun for me, plus I know that there are people in parts of the world like in places like India or parts of Asia, for example, where they really have no access to facilities, no access to native English speakers who teach English and all of the materials that are out there are very expensive. So I like to think that somehow I’m helping the world. People who are in a difficult part of the world, the developing countries, who have an internet connection, they can listen to this and learn English for free, which is a very good thing as far as I am concerned.

So, I know you are thinking: enough of the chat, Luke. Get down to the point, will you please. What is this episode about? Well, this one is about Scotland and the Scottish accent. Now I’m doing a series of podcasts, I’m doing them very slowly because I’ve got various other things going on in my life but I’m doing a series of podcasts about different regional accents in the UK.
So in this episode we are going to be looking at Scotland and the Scottish accent. Now, I interviewed a teacher I know who works in the same school as me. She’s been teaching English for years and years in different countries. She comes from Scotland, originally and but she’s lived in Brazil and lived in England and lived in other countries in the world. She is kind of an international person but originally she comes from Scotland and I’d say she is a pretty good spokesperson for Scotland and, you know, things like the Scottish accent and Scottish culture. So I thought I’d interview her. Her name is Leslie. She is really nice, really lovely and she’s got a lovely voice, very pleasant Scottish accent. So asked Leslie a few questions about differences between English culture and Scottish culture and asked her questions about the Scottish accent and how does the Scottish accent sound and Leslie talked about features of the Scottish accent. Obviously I can’t really say the Scottish accent because that’s a generalisation. There are actually many different types of Scottish accents and Leslie will tell you all about that in the interview. Now, I am just going to post this on the site and I don’t have time to write a transcript for it now, but I am going to post it up and when I find the time I’ll put a transcript on there. Now, I expect some of you don’t really need the transcript and you are happy just to listen. You don’t need to read all the listening you just want to practice your listening skills. Others who are listening to this probably want to read the transcript so that they understand every single word. I understand that. But since this is a free thing, I can’t always do to the hard work and type transcripts.
But let me know if you feel like you can’t really use this episode without a transcript. That’s reasonable but let me know and then I can start writing a transcript for you. So, let’s see, here is the interview with Leslie and it’s a genuine interview with a native speaker from Scotland. Here we go:

INTERVIEW WITH LESLEY – TRANSCRIPT
Conversation between Luke and Leslie:

Luke: Whereabouts are you from?
Leslie: Well, I’m actually from Dundee, which is probably the third biggest city in Scotland.
Luke: Right
Leslie: And it’s on the east coast, it’s just a bit further north than Edinburgh, about an hour really in the train
Luke: Right, okay. And…but you’re living in England at the moment
Leslie: Yes, yes
Luke: How long have you been here?
Leslie: I’ve been in London… well, this is actually my third time here, living here, but more recently this is probably year three of living here.
Luke: Right, okay. So, let’s see, I thought that I’d ask you then it’s considering you’ve been living here for a few years…I think it’s okay, still working
Leslie: Okay
Luke: Yes, it’s still recording.. ‘cause you’ve been living here for a few years now, right? what’s… have you noticed any differences between life in England and life in Scotland?
Leslie: Well, in my case it’s a little complicated because I actually left Scotland when I was about … um, let me think, I finished university there and then I came to London for the first time and I was probably about twenty-one at the time. And I lived here for a couple of years, and then I went to Brazil
Luke: Really?
Leslie: And I stayed there for twenty years
Luke: I didn’t know that
Leslie: Yeah, that’s right
Luke: Really, whereabouts did you stay in Brazil?
Leslie: Eh, most of my time I spent in Brasilia, the capital, but the last couple of years we were in San Paulo before coming back to Britain
Luke: Do you speak Portuguese?
Leslie: Oh yes, I speak Portuguese at home
Luke: Do you really? At home?
Leslie: Yeah
Luke: So your husband is Portuguese?
Leslie: No, it’s even more complicated! I met my husband in Brazil but he’s from Iran
Luke: He’s from Iran? Okay, so you speak Portuguese to each other
Leslie: We speak Portuguese to each other, ‘cause when I met him, he didn’t speak English!
Luke: I see, I see
Leslie: So we both started the relationship both speaking horrific Portuguese
Luke: Right, but now you speak fluent Portuguese
Leslie: Now we both speak fluent Portuguese and our children of course were brought up there, so they’re bilingual really
Luke: Right, wow
Leslie: but Portuguese is the language at home
Luke: Wow, that’s amazing… So, do you speak Portuguese with the Scottish accent?
Leslie: I don’t think so but a Brazilian would probably say that we are definitely foreigners
Luke: Yeah
Leslie: but I don’t speak as bad Portuguese as an English person might speak it
Luke: Yeah, okay… because…
Leslie: Sorry
Luke: That’s alright… because…
Leslie: I think basically because Scottish is a bit harder and it’s much better for Portuguese… the sounds are quite strong and so I think it makes it easier
Luke: Right, I see. Well, so, okay. So you’ve lived in Brazil for most of your time…
Leslie: A lot of my life was spent there… but coming back to Britain, I think… One thing that strikes me is that your Scottish accent never really leaves you, now I don’t know how deliberate that is. I do remember as a young person trying to hide my Scottish accent
Luke: Right. Why? Why would you do that?
Leslie: Exactly, this I can’t really work out, but I think I probably just wanted to fit in with everybody else
Luke: Yeah
Leslie: So I trying to dilute it a bit, and also I was teaching, so I had to be sure that I wasn’t teaching all my Brazilian students “a wee boy” instead of “a little boy”
Luke: Okay. That’s interesting because it kind of raises the idea of what kind of English should we teach
Leslie: Exactly – should it be the standard BBC English or are we allowed to speak the English we know
Luke: Right. I suppose, I mean, it seems that most people, most of us teachers have decided that there’s a kind of standard BBC style, RP, kind of English that we should teach
Leslie: I think you’re right, Luke, I think so
Luke: But nevertheless I think when students, for example, come to England, when they listen to people speaking English, sometimes they’re kind of shocked by the fact that they don’t understand something. And they think “I met this man in the pub and I can understand everything you’re saying Luke, but this guy – I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. I think he was from Scotland”. So they always say is that “Oh, I think he must be from Scotland”
Leslie: The people that they don’t understand, must be Scottish
Luke: Exactly, yeah
Leslie: Well, I know, I know
Luke: So I guess from the point of view of our students we’ve got at least show them all the different other variations of English that they can have come across
Leslie: Exactly, and the more they’re exposed to these differences the better it is for them
Luke: Yeah, they might choose to speak in a kind of BBC English style but they should at least know or be aware of the different styles of English
Leslie: Exactly
Luke: Okay, alright, then I guess that now we’re talking about accents, aren’t we?
Leslie: Yes, that’s what we’re doing
Luke: Is it fair when people say that there’s a Scottish accent? Like people say “Oh, I think he had a Scottish accent” Is that fair to say that?
Leslie: Well, I think it’s probably true, because even I, when I’m listening to people and I know they are obviously Scottish, I don’t necessarily know where they’re from, which part of Scotland they’re from
Luke: But you know that they’re Scottish
Leslie: All the time, and I will always recognize event a slight Scottish lilt, because it’s quite distinctive. I think the biggest difference in Scotland is the difference between East and West, and I think that’s the obvious difference, and I think most people will pick that up if they’re exposed to Scottish English in any way
Luke: Okay, so is Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh in the east end?
Leslie: That’s right
Luke: I see. ??? 13:56
Leslie: But anyone from the west, and it could be anywhere, and I never would automatically get it right, anybody in the west will always say something like ???
Luke: Okay, right.

Leslie: That’s right.
Luke: I see.
Leslie: Yeah…
Luke: Really my knowledge of …
Leslie: But anyone from the West … and it could be anywhere and I would never automatically get it right. Anybody in the West will always say something like “oh, so you’re gonna away for the weekend”.
Luke: Ok.
Leslie: That’s the kind of sound it is. All is ee and ee.
Luke: “So you are gonna away for the weekend”
Leslie: That’s it!
Luke: Ok.
Leslie: Whereas on the East coast I think… I think… I don’t know if I’m being fair here, because I’m an Eastern person, but I think it’s a bit more musical. It’s not so much e ee, but it’s more like… more like singing. So we go up and down a little more. So we kind of bounce along and try to pronounce things in the right way.
Luke: Ok.
Leslie: So it sounds a little more pleasant to the ear.
Luke: You’re saying basically that the East of Scotland is better than the West.
Leslie: Well, obviously, Luke! This is my opportunity to get it out there!
Luke: Ok. Hm… All right. So, you could say then … East, well, East is a bit more singsong or something like that.
Leslie: Yes, it’s a little more musical, I think it’s a little more pleasing to the ear. But, of course, there are … there are people from my home city that I cannot understand …
Luke: Right.
Leslie: Because they just refuse to speak any English that anybody can recognize. And it can be horrible.
Luke: Right. So you get I suppose… There are … I mean just like there are all over the country in Scotland you get dialects which are kind of region-specific…
Leslie: Yes.
Luke: To an … to a certain extent, and when you get those extreme dialects, they can be… they are so far removed from received pronunciation that they can be difficult to understand.
Leslie: That’s right, that’s right.
Luke: And just like in any other part of the country, you get that in Scotland.
Leslie: You do, indeed. I think you would also have to say that there are specific vocabulary words which are different.
Luke: Hm, yeah.
Leslie: Mm… Just as I said before the “wee”…
Luke: Yeah, wee…That I hear… That … That’s something that I recognize in Scottish sort of dialect of whatever.
Leslie: Yes, and it seems to be becoming fashionable. I hear a lot of Americans saying it now.
Luke: Oh, yeah, yeah…
Leslie: “A wee boy”
Luke: Oh, yeah…
Leslie: It does sound a little strange when an American says that…
Luke: I guess, an … a lot of Americans kind of think “Oh, you know, I’m gonna get back to my roots. You know, you know, my great… My great grandfather’s uncle was Scottish, so, you know, I like to use “wee” cause it… It, you know, brings me back to my heritage. I can’t speak a very good at…
Leslie: Yes, but it’s true. People strangely enough love to thing that they have Scottish origins, and I’m not sure why.
Luke: I’d a friend from New Zealand and she used to say “wee” things.
Leslie: Oh, really?
Luke: And she used to use bits of sort of Scottish English.
Leslie: Yes…
Luke: But I think that may be because in New Zealand there’s a lot of… Lot of Scottish people populated New Zealand, so…
Leslie: The Scotts have gone very far all over the world. And I think anybody who has any kind of connection to Scotland will… will really appreciate it much more than I possibly would do. So…
Luke: Right.
Leslie: So it’s quite funny there…
Luke: Ok. So… All right. So… Can you give me any more examples of … accent
Leslie: Yes. I think the Scottish accent is basically… You’ve… The “r” sound when we are talking about my new dress which is bright red.
Luke: Right.
Leslie: I think a Scottish person would quite… quite normally say “bright red”. So we do roll “r”s a little. We don’t do it an awful lot. You know, you hear comedians talking about brrrright. I don’t think anybody actually ever says that, but we do do it once. Bright. We give a bit of a snick if you like.
Luke: A bit of a roll. More…
Leslie: Yeah, that’s right.
Luke: More than me. Cause I would…I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say “bright”, I’d never say “bright”, “bright red”.
Leslie: No, because it’s… it’s lot of tongue work in fact, when you have to roll the “r” to “bright, bright”.
Luke: So, that’s the one feature of Scottish tongue.
Leslie: Yes. I think so. I think another difference might be… there are four words that an English person might say in two different groups. If you look at “bath”: “every day I have a bath”…
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: “And I like to have a good laugh with my friends.” Now in Scotland we would probably not make the difference between “bath” and “man”, because we say “bath”. “I’m going to have a bath”, “I’d like to have a laugh”,
Luke: Yeah…
Leslie: And “I’ve met a man”, and “it was a trap”. So in fact that “a” sound is all the same in Scotland.
Luke: So, so in… in England we say “bath”, “laugh”, but then we say “man” and “trap”, so…
Leslie: That’s right. So you have two different sounds with “a”.
Luke: Words like… Yeah… So, it’s like in… in many parts of the North of England, as well, they did the same thing.
Leslie: That’s right. You don’t have this…
Luke: So, let’s say “bath”… “I’m gonna have a bath”…
Leslie: That’s it. And then I’m going out to the pub and have a laugh.
Luke: Yeah, I’m gonna have a right laugh with me mates and then I’m gonna go home and have a bath… But they… they wouldn’t say “man” …
Leslie: And then I’m going home and feed a man….
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: Exactly!
Luke: So… That’s actually something that divides the whole of Britain. It’s not just S… Well, it’s… I mean, it’s somewhere in… somewhere around Birmingham …
Leslie: Noth-South divide I think…
Luke: Divides the South and North of Britain as a whole.
Leslie: That’s right, that’s right, I think that’s true.
Luke: People in the South say “bath” and “laugh”, and in the North they’d say “bath” and “laugh”.
Leslie: That’s right, that’s right.
Luke: All right. Anything else?
Leslie: Ehh… Another thing I was reading about recently. Funnily enough the Scottish accent seems to be becoming a bit more fashionable than it used to be.
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: And in a recent survey I saw that a Scottish accent is desirable in business…
Luke: Really?
Leslie: Conveying above average honesty in the personality of the owner.
Luke: Right.
Leslie: Now, that’s an interesting one.
Luke: That is interesting… Hm, I…
Leslie: Considering the banking …
Luke: Disaster…
Leslie: Exactly! More recently with big Scottish banks collapsing…
Luke: Royal Bank of Scotland.
Leslie: That’s right.
Luke: But that’s interesting, because… yeah… I heard that too, that the Scottish accent conveys a kind of sense of trustworthiness particularly around money.
Leslie: Exactly! That’s what they say. Yes, for any financial reports or serious money matters they do prefer a Scottish accent, because it seems to promote sobriety, that’s…
Luke: But…
Leslie: And that’s a laugh in itself
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: Most people think that Scottish people are drunk all the time.
Luke: That’s … that’s a cliché or a stereotype of the Scottish is that they drink a lot
Leslie: That’s right.
Luke: But another cliché is that they er… hold onto their money.
Leslie: Oh, yes! Stinginess.
Luke: Right.
Leslie: Oh, yes. We are renowned for this, and funnily enough, I only ever heard that Scottish people were tightfisted or stingy when I went to Brazil.
Luke: Right.
Leslie: I had never heard this before.
Luke: Well, you only kind of realize it when you step outside, you know, the world you live in.
Leslie: That’s right, that’s right. And in fact, if you… if you think about it historically, I suppose, that is certain amount of truth in it, because Scottish people have always been the impoverished cousin of the English. So I suppose they never had a lot of money.
Luke: Yeah, yeah.
Leslie: So…
Luke: They kept hold of what they have in case the English came and stole it from them.
Leslie: Exactly.
Luke: It’s true, cause my … my bank, Lloyd TSB, right…
Leslie: Yeah?
Luke: They got phone -back service, and whenever I phone them up, it’s always a Scottish person.
Leslie: Is it really?
Luke: And I’m sure they’ve employed Scottish people for that reason, or may be that they might’ve done… But every time I call them they say “Welcome to TSB phone bank. And…”
Leslie: “This is Maggie speaking. How can I help?”
Luke: “How can I help you with your money, Mr. Thompson?” And it does make me think “Oh, I’m in safe hands here”.
Leslie: All right, yes. It is possibly true. And in fact I think it is true. I do… I do… Possibly, because I’m Scottish, but when I do hear a Scottish voice on the phone, I think “Oh, well, mate, just let’s stop talking about whatever we were talking about. Where’re you from? And how do you doing down here?” It is quite interesting.
Luke: Yes.
Leslie: Another … another er… wonder… I always forget until I go home, and I soon as go home I start saying it is the word “Aye”.
Luke: Um-hm. Right.
Leslie: So we use the word “Aye” all the time when we’re agreeing with somebody.
Luke: All right.
Leslie: So obviously it just means yes. So, “aye”. “Are you going to the pub tonight?” “Aye, I think I will”.
Luke: Right.
Leslie: That’s… it’s, it’s a homely word for me. And as soon as I go home I start saying it.
Luke: It’s a sort of thing you’d see in a kind of … Advertises use it, don’t they, to kind of drop an image like in advertisement for some whiskey or something.
Leslie: Oh, yes.
Luke: “Would you like a wee drop of whiskey?” “Aye, I would”
Leslie: “Och aye”. And that’s another interesting part. The … the sound of “och”
Luke: Och.
Leslie: Now English people find that very hard.
Luke: What does “Oh aye” mean?
Leslie: It just means “Oh, yes!”
Luke: Right.
Leslie: So “Och” just means “yes”.
Luke: There is a cliché, isn’t there, that Scottish people say “Oh aye, the noo”? “Och aye, the noo!” But what does that…? Do people say that in Scotland?
Leslie: No! I’ve never said it in my life and I never will! But it’s just one of these little clichés that has appeared.
Luke: So, and “Och aye” just means “Oh yes”?
Leslie: That’s right, that’s right.
Luke: Ok, ok.
Leslie: So I still keep on saying “och” quite frequently, but I’ve dropped the “aye”, but…
Luke: Yeah, so if I said to you, for example “Oh, it’s a lovely day, isn’t it, today?”
Leslie: Yes, it is, Luke, you’re right! I’ve been here too long, obviously, Luke, it’s time to go home, I think.
Luke: Ok, it’s the English way of saying it.
Leslie: Yeah.
Luke: Ok. Right. I think we’re pretty much done here. It’s very interesting to hear from genuine Scottish person, even someone who spent most of their time in Brazil.
Leslie: Exactly. I fled my home as soon as I could. But no, no… It’s funnily enough though, I do often think about going back to Scotland.
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: Having been away, and it’s only when you go back, that you see how, how beautiful it is!
Luke: Yeah.
Leslie: I mean if you think how many people actually live in Scotland.
Luke: Hm.
Leslie: The population of the UK is about sixty-five million now or more. And how many people live in Scotland?
Luke: Not many. It’s about ten or fifteen per cent.
Leslie: Five, five million.
Luke: Really?
Leslie: And if you think of the geographical size of the country, it’s not that much smaller than England, but most of it just mountains and sheep.
Luke: I mean, it’s… if you want wilderness in the UK, than Scotland is the place to go.
Leslie: Oh, that’s where you should go, that’s where to go, exactly.
Luke: And you have … you have mountains and you’ve got weather, you’ve got like… the sky is incredible in Scotland.
Leslie: Well, the sky is something to see, but the weather is not our most famous advertisement slogan.
Luke: It’s even more extreme or even more changeable than the English weather.
Leslie: Oh yes!
Luke: People come to London and complain about the weather, but that’s nothing compared to…
Leslie: Put them on a train to Scotland, Luke, and they’ll know what weather is.
Luke: Ok. All right.
Leslie: Good.
Luke: Thank you very much, Leslie. It was …
Leslie: You are very welcome, Luke. It was nice to speak to you.

57. Birmingham Accent / 12 Phrasal Verbs with the letter ‘A’ (with Neil Waters)


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I’m joined by my old college friend Neil Waters in this episode. First we talk about the Birmingham accent, and then we teach you some useful phrasal verbs.

This is not a full transcript for the conversation with Neil, but below you can read some notes about Neil, Birmingham accent, the phrasal verbs and their definitions.

My friend Neil – he’s an old friend. We’ve known each other for 17 years, we went to college and university together, and we’ve played music in several bands. Neil lives in Birmingham, which is an area in the middle of England, about 200 miles north of London. The area around Birmingham is called The Midlands, although some people in London consider it to be in The North of the country!

The Birmingham accent. In the midlands people tend to speak with a certain accent which is specific to that region. There are a few types of Birmingham accent – someone from Wolverhampton sounds a bit different from someone from Solihull, but most of them share the same basic features.

People often say that the Birmingham accent rises and falls a lot. People in Birmingham also pronounce the “a” sound in words like “grass” “bath” and “laugh” using the short /æ/ sound (like in “cat”), which is typical of accents from areas in the north of England. In the south people pronounce “grass” “glass” “half” etc with a longer /a:/ sound (like in “car” “far”).

The best way to understand what the Birmingham accent sounds like is to listen to people from Birmingham speaking. I will do a podcast with real examples of the Birmingham accent for you soon. In the meantime, you can do searches for famous people with Birmingham accents (Ozzy Osbourne – lead singer of Black Sabbath, Jeff Lynne from ELO, comedian Jasper Carrot and comedian Frank Skinner). Listen to them and they way they speak. Can you hear the accent?

12 Phrasal Verbs:

Here are the phrasal verbs Neil and I talked about. They all come from pages 1 and 2 of the Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary, which is an excellent and very useful book. All the phrasal verbs begin with the letter ‘a’.

1. to aim to do something – “With this podcast we’re aiming to make something really useful for learners of English” = to try to achieve something

2. to aim at something – “We’re aiming at making a really useful podcast” = to try to achieve something (same as 1. above)

3. to act something out – “we’re going to act out some phrasal verbs for you” = to perform the actions of a word, speech or story / to express your thoughts by performing them

4. to amount to – “What is this podcast going to amount to? This podcast really amounts to a great collection of recordings for learners of English” = to become a particular amount / to become something

5. to allow for something – “The whole journey should take 5 hours, and that’s allowing for delays” = to include something when you’re making a judgement

6. to ache for something – “People are aching for a podcast with such fantastic useful vocabulary!” = to want something or someone very much

7. to account for something – “She was unable to account for the missing $5000 dollars. She couldn’t explain where the money was” = to explain the reason or cause for something

8. to add up to something – “what this podcast really adds up to is a fantastic resource for learners of English” = to become a particular amount / to have a particular result or effect

9. to add something up – “If you add up all the podcast, you’ll see there is a lot of useful content there” = to calculate the total of something , (“the facts don’t add up” = the facts don’t make sense, like a maths equation that doesn’t produce the right number)

10. to agree with someone – “I totally agree with you” = to have the same opinion as someone

11. to allude to something – “I’m not going to explain that, I’m just going to allude to it” “She alluded to the problems she’s having at home” = to mention something in an indirect way

12. to act up – “Neil didn’t act up too much” “The kids acted up all evening, it was a nightmare” = to behave badly

That’s all folks!

If you have any questions about that, send me an email. luketeacher@hotmail.com

56. British Accents and Dialects


Right-click here to download this episode. 
First in a series of episodes about accents. Learn differences between accents from the UK. This is information that all learners of English need to know!

Click here to listen to my previous episode about British and American Pronunciation.

Here are the notes which I used to record this podcast episode. It’s not a transcript, but I do read from these notes during the episode.

Accents and Dialects:

I’m going to do a series of podcasts about accents. I’ve already done one about British and American accents, but I think accents are fascinating and a lot of fun so I’m going to do more. They are also very important for you, because:
-You need to be aware of different styles of English
-You shouldn’t listen to just ONE style of English because there’s a wide range of ways to say the same thing
-You need to be aware of the different sounds in English and what they mean
-You need to choose the accent you want, and then copy it
-You need to be able to understand different accents when you hear them

One of the most interesting things for me about accents is what and accent can tell you about a person. When I hear someone speak, their accent immediately gives me lots of associations. Just the sound of someone’s voice might tell me; their social class, which part of the country they are from, if they’re from the town or countryside, what their background might be, what their attitudes might be.

Obviously we shouldn’t judge people by their accents, and these are just pre-conceptions but the point is, I get all these associations but learners of English don’t. They can’t tell if someone is from the north or south or what social class they might come from. Native speakers usually can.

I’m interested in bridging that gap between what a native speaker knows/understands about accents and what a learner knows/understands.

Firstly, what is an accent and what is a dialect. A dialect is the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people. An accent is the way in which a language is pronounced. So, dialect is differences in vocabulary and accent is differences in pronunciation.

Secondly, how many accents can you find in the UK? There are lots! At least 10.

How many accents are there in the world? Again, there are lots. Between different English speaking countries, and also within those countries. There are lots of ways of saying the same sentence in English!

Is it true that there is such thing as a British accent and an American accent? It’s not true that there is just one American or British accent. There are so many in America and so many in Britain but you can group accents as ‘British’ because they share many features and come from Britain. You can do the same for America too. But there is not just 1 British accent or 1 American accent.

There are general differences between British and American accents, and I’ve been into this before in previous podcasts. Click here to listen to my previous episode about British and American Pronunciation. . The differences include the /t/ sound, the /r/ sound, the /ɑ/ sound and the fact that American English often sounds more nasal.

If we focus on the UK we can see lots of different accents that are linked closely with different regions and cultures in the UK.

The standard accent which is used by the BBC World Service, Oxford & Cambridge dictionaries and the commonly used phonemic chart is called RP (received pronunciation) or BBC English. This is a standard form without a specific region. It’s traditionally associated with educated people who speak ‘correctly’. These days we’re more politically correct so any accent is ‘correct’ but RP is considered to be clear and non-region specific. I would say that it is more common in the south. I would also say that I speak with an RP accent with a few traces of accents I have picked up, particularly the Birmingham accent, because I lived there for a few years.

Then there are regional accents. I can’t go into great detail, but I will run through a few. There will be more podcasts in which I play you real samples of these accents. Here’s a list of different accents from the UK: Cornwall, Bristol (South West), London, East Anglia, Midlands (Birmingham), Wales, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, Newcastle, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland.

In the next few episodes I will play you extracts of different accents and highlight their features. Hopefully you’ll get familiar with a range of accents.

An interesting video in which an actor goes around the map of England, doing the different accents:
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8k7ajlq0eI&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D