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Mike/Owain [00:00:00] Bog standard. Ooh hoo! Bog standard. How...? Bog standard. What? What does that mean for you?
Owain [00:00:09] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle, a podcast aimed at advanced English language learners who want to improve their listening skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and, in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a tip...particular topic. In this episode, Mike and I are talking about idioms. It's pretty simple, really. Mike brings an idiom, asks me if I can explain it, and then if I can guess it's origins (pron should be ORigins, not oRIgins). Where does it come from? And then I do the same with my own idiom. Make sure you listen to the end of the conversation for more information about the English Waffle website, transcripts and quizzes to help you support your own listening. Let's get waffling.
Music [00:00:56] Welcome to the English Waffle where we'll talk about random stuff, we'll take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough, why listening to The Waffle is an entertaining way of sharing with you foreigners the things that British people say, whoo, so join us on The Waffle and strap yourself in for 10 whole earthly minutes of English listening.
Owain [00:01:25] Essentially if something's bog standard then it is nothing special, it's it's you may...you buy a computer, for example, you might say to your...your friend, well, yeah, I got a computer the other day. What kind of computer? Oh it's just your bog-standard PC.
Mike [00:01:45] Yeah, no frills attached.
Owain [00:01:47] No. Exactly. Yeah.
Mike [00:01:48] That's it.
Owain [00:01:49] Yeah. Er, interesting one.
Mike [00:01:51] So where do you think 'bog standard' came from?
Owain [00:01:56] Yeah.
Mike [00:01:57] Do you think it is a new phrase? Have we used it, like, is it is it, like, something that goes back a 100 years, 200 years, 300 years or more recently than that, do you think? So I should point out that moment. I know the answers to this because I'm sitting here with Google. Owain doesn't.
Owain [00:02:15] Oh, I thought...
Mike [00:02:16] But the tables will turn.
Owain [00:02:17] I thought you just, you just knew without having to look it up. I thought it was just part of your vast...
Mike [00:02:22] Reservoir of knowledge.
Owain [00:02:24] Reservoir of knowledge, yeah. No...um, Well, I, obviously, bog the fir[st]...that word 'bog', the first thing I think of, the association I have, is with a toilet.
Mike [00:02:36] Right. Yeah. So the English word 'bog'.
Owain [00:02:38] It's the first thing I think of.
Mike [00:02:39] Is a is a slang word, isn't it? For toilet.
Owain [00:02:41] Yeah.
Mike [00:02:42] We'd...maybe not in...used in America but we'd certainly use it in Britain.
Owain [00:02:45] Yeah. Yeah.
Mike [00:02:45] We'd say I'm going to the bog.
Owain [00:02:47] Yeah. Yeah. But then the next thing I think after that...and I'm not sure if this is related to the toilet meaning of the word, but I think of a bog as in an area of marshy land and the countryside.
Mike/Owain [00:03:02] As well. Yeah. Yeah.
Mike [00:03:04] So the bog is, as you say, an area of wetland around...
Owain [00:03:09] Right.
Mike [00:03:14] er...typically, yeah, like a gr...small pool of water, isn't it, a bog. Yeah?
Owain [00:03:19] Um, yeah. So where, how, quite how that means something ordinary, I mean, you could relate...you could...the connection with the toilet, maybe, it's not very good. It's not very nice.
Mike/Owain [00:03:30] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah / is, is / Yeah. So that is one theory. You got, you got.. / Yeah ok.
Mike [00:03:35] You got fifty percent of the theory. Fifty percent of the...there's two the two theories as to the origin of that expression bog standard. One of them is a toilet. Nah, it's not very nice, is it...just, you know, it's bog standard.
Owain [00:03:49] Everybody got to have a toilet.
Mike [00:03:50] Everyone's gotta have one. Yeah. Yeah. We don't really go too...
Owain [00:03:54] You don't really want one, you don't want a golden one or anything, do you?
Mike [00:03:56] You don't want a golden throne.
Owain [00:03:59] Yeah. Okay. And where's it come from?
Mike [00:04:03] So the second the second theory is that it came from this expression of 'box standard'.
Owain [00:04:11] Oh.
Mike [00:04:11] b-o-x standard and eh....and was mispronounced.
Owain [00:04:14] That's interesting. Yeah.
Mike [00:04:16] So something was box standard would be something that came in the box. And and coming...it's like products that were coming straight from the box.
Owain [00:04:26] So what you've got there, it's really interesting, because that's very relevant for, actually, the podcasts and for the listeners. This happens quite a lot with...when...in connected speech when you're joining words together. Obviously, the /k/ sound has kind of been weakened to a /g/. So instead of having that strong sound, /k/ it's quite, quite a fricative, isn't it. You've got quite /g/ right the back of the by the back of the throat.
Mike [00:04:55] Yeah. And that might have over time have been.
Owain [00:04:59] Yeah.
Mike [00:05:00] How interesting.
Owain [00:05:00] Well, interesting, well...what would be interesting is to know when it was kind of coined because, obviously, spelling hasn't always been so stable. You know, when we spell things.
Mike [00:05:10] Right.
Owain [00:05:11] Was it...was a recent...?
Mike/Owain [00:05:12] That I don't know. I'd have to do more research. OK, yeah. Yeah.
Mike [00:05:19] But in the purposes of the episode, we're going to go up to you now. You got an idiom for me.
Owain [00:05:23] Well, I have, yeah and actually this is a good one because I [mean] er bog standard I don't know how frequent it is, but I haven't I haven't heard anyone say it for years.
Mike [00:05:30] Good one. That's a good measure of it. So to say how frequently used these idioms are. Yeah, have you...have you not heard it used [...].
Owain [00:05:38] Not for years, I mean, I've been in the country for years so maybe [that's]...
Mike [00:05:41] Okay. So I'd say that was...I'm going to give like a...rate of ten being very frequently used, one being kind of something that you'd hear 200 years ago almost or something that your granny would use. Er, I'd put that up as a seven actually. I'd say it was fairly high.
Owain [00:06:00] I think one of the...
Mike [00:06:02] Yeah, you know, I've bought this computer, but it's just a bog standard one. It does, it does the basics (Owain: Yeah). It's bog standard.
Owain [00:06:08] OK, yeah, I mean, it's quite interesting because I think people's perceptions of what is quite frequent very often are completely wrong. So and...and differ between...depending on who you talk to so...Ma...maybe we'll have to will have to look that one up. But my one. (Mike: Yeah) I think this is quite common, especially in media when I'm listening to podcasts, I'm listening to people being interviewed. I hear this quite a lot and it's when push comes to shove.
Mike/Owain [00:06:38] Oh, yeah (Mike) Yeah? (Owain) Yeah (Mike) Ok, which...it's pretty common, right? I mean, what do you think it means, Mike?
Mike [00:06:49] For me, when push comes to shove, it means, when everything is being t..., when when when we've talked about everything, it's kind of like, at the end of the day, when push comes to shove. It's like we we talk the talk. We've done...let's get to the action now, when push comes to shove. (Owain: Interesting. Okay. That's...) That's what it kind of means to me.
Owain [00:07:14] Yeah, pretty much. That's that's essential... I think I had it wrong. I. I had in my mind, I thought of kind of a a moment of conflict, physical, physical violence maybe where essentially you start with pushing and things gradually escalate to shoving, which is...which as we know, a 'push' can be quite gentle, a 'shove' is quite a strong push.
Mike [00:07:38] Yeah, shove is when you really use a forceful push isn't it.
Owain [00:07:44] Yeah. Yeah.
Mike [00:07:45] You shove something, normally someone, you shove someone.
Owain [00:07:48] Yeah. So I...s...I for a long time I thought that meant that once things get serious...and then I suppose what I think about the context, it is about what you actually do isn't it. So you're absolutely right, it is about, first of all, talking about stuff, but then moving on to the idea of what what you going to do about it. (Mike: Mm hmm) When when it actually comes time to do something....
Mike [00:08:14] So where does the origin of that come from? My mind goes in to perhaps the idea of a fight like, wow, like er like it when when when we're stopping kind of tickling each other, pushing each other, when's, when's that going to become more esc...escalating into into a conflict. Yeah. (Owain: Yeah).
Owain [00:08:37] Well, it's interesting. It comes from, um, 19th century African-American usage, so it's um...
Mike [00:08:45] I was not expecting that.
Owain [00:08:46] So it's quite old and it's mainly colloquial. So it's not it's not something that was written down for a long time. And as you said, you know, it's when action is backed up by words, sorry, action. No, it's saying, it's saying that action must be backed up by words. But anyway, this is...it comes from, comes from the US.
Mike [00:09:01] And where would you say the...on the le...on the scale of usage, where would you say push comes to shove comes...[...]?
Owain [00:09:07] My own experience, I mean, I don't know about everyday life. I certainly haven't really heard anybody in my...meeting people in the village or the college. I haven't heard anybody's using the phrase, but but I've heard quite a lot on the me...in the media. Yeah (Mike), yeah (Owain), yeah (Mike), yeah (Owain).
Mike [00:09:23] What what what [...], you know, Brexit negotiations come to...when push comes to shove, what's going to be the effect of Britain leaving the UK, for example. When all of the the...the chat around it is...is died down. That, for example. So, well, we hope you find that interesting, the two...the the history of two idioms in Britain. Let us know what you think. And we'd like to hear from you if you have any idioms in your language, your native language that you'd like to share.
Owain [00:09:58] Happy waffling!
Mike/Owain [00:09:59] Yeah, see you later guys (Owain). See you later. (Mike)