transcript: Episode 15

Christmas Special


Owain: Crackers, the Christmas tree, opening presents on Xmas day and things like mince pies, Xmas pudding. We can’t talk about all of them, whats the most important one for you? 

Mike: Lets talk about crackers!   

Owain:  Ok! (laughter) What is it about crackers that does it for you?

Mike: The terrible jokes. Terrible , terrible jokes inside crackers…

Owain: They’re briliant aren’t they? Is that a universal thing? Do people have crackers and terrible cracker jokes in other countries around the world?

Mike: Dunno, we’d love to hear from people ….  It was explained to me once why the jokes are so bad.. 

Owain: right, why?

Mike: B’cos they have to appeal to as wide an audience as possible..  to your grandma, as well as your nephew, so they have to be clean, they have to make sense… and basically that’s why they’re so bad.. b’cos they have to appeal to so many different people

Owain: And they end up appealing to nobody… except everybody loves a rubbish joke

Mike : But then there’s a certain appeal in the fact they are so bad.. they’re cringely bad. 

Owain: I was thinking of that exact word, they’re cringeworthy – makes you cringe.

Mike : I do like… you get different components of the cracker, you get your joke, your hat that you wear and you get a small little toy inside, which is generally useless, but sometimes quite useful, you get things like pocket screwdrivers … 

Owain: They sound like quite expensive crackers!

Mike:Yeah, actually, maybe im revealing my middle-class cracker…  (laughter)

Owain: Like nail clippers, things like that.. things you can actually use for something…

Mike : Yeah we get some er..  caviar…. and all that stuff (laughter).. no we don’t, generally we don’t!

Mike: But we do get a riddle… I’ve always enjoyed a riddle.  

Owain: You got an example? What’s a riddle?

Mike: Erm..

Owain: I’ve got one. What gets wetter the more it dries?

Mike: A towel

Owain: Yes. Well done!

Mike: So, it’s a puzzle that you need to work out with words..

Mike: I’ve got one. What flies around the world but stays in a corner?

Owain: But stays in a corner?  Erm….

Mike: A stamp

Owain:  Ah, nice one!

Mike: What’s your best thing about Xmas?  Your favourite part ? 

Owain: I think it’s the whole ritual, it’s getting to Xmas eve, always a nice cosy day at home, with the family, maybe a Xmas film on TV. Gets to the time when you get ready for bed, getting things ready for Santa, get the mince pie, the shot glass of sherry, the carrot for Rudolph, put your pyjamas on… maybe some years you go to Midnight mass at the local church, sing some carols and come home late.. but then you get into bed, and you put your stocking up, hang your stocking up… go to sleep which is quite difficult b’cos your really excited

Mike: Feverishly excited yeah..

Owain: And then you wake up in the morning really early… cos you just can’t .. your body wants you to wake up. You put your hand down and your stocking is full of presents. It’s gone from being empty to just bulging full of stuff.. and that’s the beginning of Xmas.. and then obviously you get up, go downstairs, under the tree, lots of presents,  and you realise Santa has been and your imagination runs wild..  it’s brilliant!

Mike: And what do you with the Xmas meal? Do you cook that on the 24th or do you do that on Xmas day?

Owain: Well, this year we’re going to break from tradition a little bit; we’re going to go around ot my family for roast dinner on Xmas day, but as a special experiment, we’re gonna do a roast dinner on Xmas eve as well, me and my wife and son. What about you?  What’s your typical routine?

Mike: We do it on Xmas day. My sisters kids are .. they’re right in the sweet spot of Xmas, they love the… they’re 5 or 6 yrs old, they love the… gettting presents and wrapping and stuff… getting very excited..  But we’d start preparation for the meal about midday on Xmas day, and each of us would get a task, so we’d be tasked with peeling the potatoes or chopping the brussell sprouts or basting the turkey, or whatever it is.. and drinking… early drinking… we’d have a glass of wine or glass of champagne..

Owain: What time is early mike?  What time do you start drinking?

Mike: Er… yeah 11 o clock.. something like that, 11.30

Owain: 11 in the morning?!

Mike: Yeah, it’s pretty early… it’s the one day of the year when it’s acceptable. I’m not an alcoholic… im just gonna enjoy a drink.. no-one’s gonna judge me…

Owain: I think you’ve said it mike. You’ve summed it up pretty much..  Enjoy!  That’s for me what Xmas is all about just enjoying being with the family, food and drink, presents as well, b’cos its an important part of Xmas.

Owain: And that’s it, enjoy your Xmas wherever you are, however you celebrate it!


Language Analysis: episode 15

Christmas Special

 Here are some of the bits of language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting... 





Una & Sam

Mike:  So, hello and welcome to the English waffle. This morning I am joined by Sam and Una. Welcome guys!

Sam/Una; Hello!

Mike:  We’re going to talk about football today with Sam, b’cos Sam you’re very into football aren’t you?

Sam: I love Crystal palace!

Mike: Do you? So, is Crystal palace your favourite football team?

Sam: But I also play for a team called Dulwich United; we’re not doing that well though, although we’re still in the tournament

Mike: So where is Dulwich United, for our listeners who are not from England?

Sam: Well, we play in London. In Dulwich park.  And in away matches we just go wherever the home team plays

Mike: And why do you think you’re not doing so well this year?

Sam:  Well, we’ve got a lot more players, so we have to kind of keep doing substitutes, so not all of us can play. So that’s why we’re not doing that well.

Mike: We’ve had a lot of rain in England recently, with lots of flooding and waterlogged pitches. Have you had a lot of matches cancelled?

Sam: Yes we have. But we’ve still played about 5 or 6 matches. We’ve lost 4, drawn 1 and won 2, I mean won 1. 

Mike : That’s not bad! Theres always hope!

Sam: But we did lose a match 8 nil! 

Mike: 8 nil?!  And did your heads go down?

Sam: I wasn’t .. I dodnt’ go to that match b’cos I was in Salisbury.

Mike: But you’re friends told you about it?

Sam: Yes, they said we did really badly

Mike: And in half-time, do you get Oranges? 

Sam: No, its just the water break… we just get drinks..

Mike : And Una, you are Sam’s sister!  Do you go and support Sam, do you cheer him on from the sidelines?

Una: Yeah! But he usaully does it on Saturday. And Saturday I have swimming. And Sunday I have gymnastics. But whenever I can I go to watch him…

Mike :  like a good supportive sister! Very good…. Sam, tell us about your love affair, your passion, your support for Crystal palace?  How long have you been supporting them for ?

Sam: Well, I ve been a member for 5 years. I’ve been supporting them for about  6 years tho; we go to about 5 or 6 matches a year..

Mike: What’s the best thing about going to a football match?

Sam:  We just have fun watching the players…. Last time I went to the match, lots of the players waved at me and gave me thumbs up!

Mike: That sounds fun. And does it make you want to become a professional footballer?

Sam:  Yes…. But I do have…. I don’t have training to do….. (uninteliigible..) 

Mike:  And do you think watching them play professional football help you improve your own football skills?

Sam: Yes it does!  Like when they’re running down the wing and they do a quick skill.. it kind of helps me out figure out what I can do when I play football for Dulwich united

Mike: You try it out?

Sam: Yeah, I do try it out. I do some of their skills, I practise my speed as well

Mike: And have you met any of the players?

Sam: Yes!  I went to a CP xmas party the other day.  And I got 3 of their signatures!

Mike: Cool, we call these autographs


Mike And where did they sign?

Sam: They signed on my autograph book, and also a picture of them, they signed that

Mike: So you’re not gonna lose that?  

Sam: No!  It’s safe and sound in my bedroom

Mike: Very good!  And… moving onto your sister. Una, what’s your favourite hobby?

Una:  My favourite hobby is acting. But I also like Gymnastics as well.

Mike: And where do you do gymnastics?

Una: I do it on Sunday, in Southwark gymnastics.

Mike; Is that a club?

Una: Yes, club. I do it on Sundays but sometimes the holiday club

Mike: And what’s your favourite thing?

Una: Going on the trampolines. And doing seat-drops …. And I like doing kickovers…

Mike: Can you describe what a ‘sleakdrop’ is?  

Una: A slipped…drop is a … what’s it called again??!   Whatever it’s called!

Mike: Una’s shaking her head in confusion… She can’t remember what it is.. Can you describe to the audience what it is?

Una: So you have to jump up… wait, it’s called a seat-drop!  So you have to jump up, land on your bum, then without jumping back up, you only use one bounce… so you go UP, DOWN, UP!   But you don’t go down and jump back up, your bum just bounces back up! 


Mike:  Ok, that sounds active, and maybe a bit dangerous?!! 

Una: Not so much. The trampolines are really big!

Mike:  And you mention acting… is something you enjoy a lot. What plays have you been to this year?

Una: I've been to Peter Pan Matilda and now on the 29th to see Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe 

Mike: Alright ok some very well-known plays, Roald dalh and CS lewis in there

Mike: Have you ever acted in something?

Una : yeah I did a play at my school for my Christmas play.  I did Peggy the pint-sized pirate and I was Peggy 2 so one of the main actors 

Mike : And what did you most enjoy about having such a big part?

Una: I like doing the dances because I got to dance in 2 dances .

Mike: great!  And that was dancing with all your fellow cast members was it?

Una: No, just a few just those who had a part -  I was dancing with my friends Polly, Leo, Jadine Hannah and Naomi Rose

Mike: I saw that play and it looked very well put together, did you have to do a lot of rehearsing?

Una: Yeah I had to go out of lessons and practice and I had to miss a bit of lunch to do my dancing and stuff... but it was fun!

Mike:. And what lessons did you learn from it for the future for your future acting?

Una: To be loud and first clear and face the audience when you're speaking,  cos if you don't face the audience the sound goes behind you and they don't get to hear it as loud and they don't know what you're saying because it's not as clear

Mike : Yeah, valuable lessons. And Sam you were in the audience? you watched your sister or not?

Sam: No actually, I couldn't because I was on a school trip that day.

Una: On the rehearsals he was on a school trip and then he couldn't come out of lesson to the play that you came to watch

Mike: but you saw your sister rehearse quite a lot didn’t you? 

Sam: yeah I heard her speaking but she didn't really do dancing or anything she did at school

Mike: Ok guys favourite actor before we draw this episode to a close?

Una: Emma watson!  

Mike:  And what did you see Emma Watson in?

Una: Beauty and the Beast she was Belle and in Harry Potter she was Hermione

Mike: And sam, favourite actor?

Sam: I m not like Una - i don;t know many actors … I'd say The Rock – 

Mike: Ok, i think i've heard of him. Does he do wrestling? 

Sam:  Yeah, but he also acts in films

Mike : And what's a film that you want to go see in the cinema or on DVD, you've been dying to see?? 

No?? Drawing a blank here…

Sam: Well, there is one that i can't wait to watch when im a bit older

Una: Is it the chucky one?  Chuck and Annabella?

Sam: Call of duty. Game of thrones.. 


language analysis: episode 16


Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  


Heads go down: (expression)

If lose confidence in something, we say your head goes down

Autograph : (noun) 

A signature of a celebrity or someone famous

Rehearsing (verb) 

When you practice a speech, or play or piece of music for later performance, you rehearse it

We talk of a rehearsal


transcript: Episode 17

Waffle Resolutions

Owain: Hello

Mike: hello Owain,  Happy New Year! 

Owain: How you doing mike?

Mike; Im good thanks. First proper week back, not day, proper week back.

Owain: I was gonna say, it’s Friday!

Mike: And I feel great… I’m living my new years resolutions!

Owain: Wearing underwear, was that one of them? Clean underwear?!

Mike: Wearing clean underwear was not one of them – wearing pink underwear was my 4th resolution, but we won’t get into that

Owain: Doesn’t make it onto the progamme?

Mike : doesn’t make it onto the list!


Owain: Perhaps we should start by explaining for those who don't know what a resolution is

Mike: Oh yeah good idea. So a resolution is a promise, really, that you make yourself to do something, a commitment you make to yourself to get something done. Yeah?

Owain: Yeah. Based on any kind of improvement you want to make in your life, right?

Mike: Exactly. What are your resolutions Owain for this year?

Owain; Ok, well, I'd say the first one is probably to start smoking 

Mike: To start smoking or to stop smoking?  (laughter)

Owain: Yeah I've never smoked and it's something everyone should try at some point in their life! (laughter)

Mike: Well as an ex smoker I'm not sure I agree with that…

Owain: No I'm only joking

Mike: I thought you might have been.

Owain: Because most people say, I’ll go to the gym, get fit, stop drinking alcohol stop eating chocolate, the usual rubbish.  Actually one of my students said today ‘ to go on holiday somewhere warm’ and I said that's not a resolution, it has to be something you do as a habit on an ongoing basis and I think we came to the conclusion both of us that that's what we do all the time anyway we’re constantly striving to improve ourselves, so New years resolutions are kind of redundant for both of us 

Mike: Ok, well I disgree. I’ve got 3 resolutions… do you mean, for both of you, you’re talking about your student and you?

Owain: Yeah, exactly.  Alright what about you? You got 3 clearly defined resolutions?

Mike: I do. Do you wanna hear them?

Owain: Go on then! Yeah!

Mike: So in no particular order my resolutions are.. to go swimming, to talk to strangers more,  to be less hard on myself

Owain: Yeah well knowing you Mike, ultra demanding that you are that makes sense!

Mike: You know..  and I've got to say mate after a week of living these resolutions life's good!

Owain: Ok, so what strangers have you spoken to this week?

Mike: Well, I actually killed two birds with one stone because I went swimming and I struck up a conversation with the receptionist at the pool and we were just, you know, she asked me about how my christmas was, and I asked her back, and we then got into a conversation about swimming goggles or something ,and she then just waved me through… she just said ‘it’s free for you’…  and so I thought, this is good just talking to strangers, you get free swims!

Owain: Free swimming, who would have thought it?! 

Mike: I’ve had 2 other conversations with strangers and both have left me feeling really happy…

Owain: Brilliant. It’s something I tend not do that actively. If it happens, it happens. But I don’t look to speak to random people.  I think it's a good one, I like that one. More people should do that

Mike: Yeah, I think so,  it builds community, and makes people happier, it's so easy to do, bring a smile on people's faces to have a chat with them


Mike: What about you. What’s your other resolution?  You’re not going to have any?

Owain: Well, I suppose I do have a resolution, in a sense, but I kind of started it before this year, so it’s not really a new years resolution. But im learning chinese!

Mike: Ah! And why might you be learning chinese, Owain?

Owain: Because im thinking of moving to China… don’t give me that look… most people look at me like that as well. What?? China?! Did you say China?!

Mike: Hey, that’s a different conversation for another episode. Why the fuck are you going to China?! 

Owain: But in terms of learning a language, I think it's just a really useful thing to have the experience of learning a language from scratch because, to help someone else do the same thing is not 100% necessary, but I think it’s really useful. 

Mike: You realise just how difficult it is?

Owain: Yeah. And do you know one of the things that i do? 

Mike: What’s one of the things that you do?

Owain: And I’ve been doing this for a few months now. . I listen to a podcast!

Mike: Kind of like the English waffle, but in chinese?

Owain: Yeah. Except it’s not designed for Chinese language learners. It’s a guy who talks about techy stuff in the US; he’s chinese but he’s moved to the US…. He’s like a developer or something like that and he talks about all different topics for example something like ultralearning, a podcast I've been listening to most likely, a guy called Scott Young and he’s talking about his book and his philosophy of ultralearning and I don't understand a single word he says..

Mike: Wow! And what’s your take out from this? Does it not damage your confidence levels?

Owain: No, not really.  B’cos I’m not expecting to. That would be insane, b’cos I don’t know any chinese . Well, when I say I don’t know, im just starting. So, all I can do is identify words I recognise, words I know them b’cos ive studied them. For me, it’s just literally sitting there listening, that’s my job try and identify anything I’ve heard before.  


Mike: Kind of like, someone who’s never listened to, let’s say classical music before and just wants to sit down, and try and adapt their ear to the classical music, and maybe pick out…. Like a clarinet, or a trombone…

Owain: Yes, Exactly!  That’s exactly what it’s about. It’s about exploring, it’s about trying to appreciate sounds, noticing repeated sounds, and rhythms as well. How the language is divided into different sections, and any sounds you hear repeatedly, and often those are the ones you’ve learned in basic chinese..

Owain: (says something in chinese)

Mike: Are you ok?! (laughter)

Owain: Yeah, so it’s just getting familiar to the sounds, the flow, the rhythm of the language. Which is kind of what you could do with the English waffle, right?

Mike: Right, yeah. If I was a listener to the English waffle, trying to improve my English, that’s kind of how I would use it.. depending on the level I had, you could certainly use it to adapt to the rhythms that we speak in natural English

Owain: Right, and that’s kind of what the 2nd half of this episode is about, idea is to have a bit of a chat about….well.. aimed at someone perhaps who’s just decided as a new years resolution, ‘Im gonna improve my listening skills in english this year’; maybe you’ve been recommended this podcast or you’ve just stumbled across it online and you think, how can I use the English waffle?


So, our idea now is to… just give you a bit of advice, really, if you’re out there wondering, this is two guys talking, what do I do with this?

… do you want me to go first, Mike?

Mike:  Right, let’s just shoot the breeze!

Owain: So, … I’ve got about 3 things, that as it stands at the moment you could do with the website.  First of all, it’s just to develop the habit of listening regulaly . We try to get an episode out once a week… something new once a week. Just listen! Get the gist of what’s been said if you can… if not just like me with my chinese podcast, just listen to it, get exposure to the sounds. Even if you’re quite a low level, it doesn’t matter too much, so long as you’re not expecting to understand.. 

2nd thing, perhaps, if you have more time, go look at the transcripts, b’cos we get a transcript ready… it’s really there to help you check what you’ve been listening to… if you go back afer you’ve listened to an episode or you’re in the middle of an episode and you hear something, and you think oh, don’t really know what that is, go and look at the transcript and maybe that will clear that up for you. Pause it, go and have a look, listen back again and you think, ah, now I get it.. it’s clear in the transcript. And then even once you’ve listened to an episode, go back and listen to it again, all the way through, with the transcript.. I think this is a really simple, pretty effortless way of working with it.

And then, perhaps the 3rd thing to do after that, is to look at the explanations of the vocabulary that we post online in the Lang analysis section. At the moment, that’s all there is, keep it simple!   


Mike:  All of what you’ve said is great and I’d echo that. The only thing I might add would be to say… why might this be more useful than say listening to any other audio on the internet with English speakers, or indeed English text books, is that a lot of the material that you get in schools when you’re learning English is going to be scripted , so you’re going to get a conversation that is not very real, it’s going to be slow, but it’s not going to be how real conversations play out in real life. So when Owain and I are talking ,we’e going to have interruptions, we’re going to talk over one another a lot.. there’ll be times when you won’t understand what’s being said, but that’s a good thing, don’t worry about it!

Owain: Exactly. I think that’s the key word, unscripted conversation. It’s pretty much what people struggle with, if you’re watching the news or something it’s a lot easier..

Mike: So, just another thing to say, would be to say in the future we’re thinking of adding some exercises to the website, where you can practice some language exercises, and we also have a blog where you can read about other things related to English, in English, so you can practise your reading skills in English..

Owain: Yeah, I recommend checking that out.  There’s a new article coming out..?

Mike: Yeah, there;s an article coming out this Saturday, yeah tomorrow.

Owain: Look forward to it. What’s it about, Mike?

Mike: Er, that would be a spoiler.. .the listners will have to go.. including you Owain! 


language analysis: episode 17


 Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  


Kill two birds with one stone (idiom) :  

to achieve two aims at the same time with one action.

E.g. When I go to Madrid to see my friend, I’ll also check in on my colleages at the European office of my company. That way, I’ll kill two birds with one stone

Who would have thought it?!  (expression): 

Owain here uses this to show his surprise  Mike got a free swim just by talking to the receptionist. 

Learn a language from scratch (expression): 

to learn something from scratch is to learn from the beginning, with no previous experience.

Let’s shoot the breeze! (informal exrpession): 

Mike here uses this phrase to mean ; Let’s chat about something in an informal way

Spoiler (noun): 

From the verb to spoil (to ruin), this is used when you are revealing the ending of a book, joke, or film for example. “Spoiler alert - if you haven't seen Sunday's episode, stop reading now! 

transcript: Episode 18


[00:00:02] Hello and welcome to another edition of The English Waffle. Today, I'm joined by my brother in law, Dave. Hello Dave! 

[00:00:11] Welcome to the Waffle. How do you feel? You feel excited?

Dave: Thrilled. (laughter)

Mike: I thought you might be… that’s suitable levels of enthusiasm. 

Mike : [00:00:23] So, Dave, you're Irish. I am too

Dave : Technically.

Mike: Officially.

Dave; We’re happy to have you. 

Mike :[00:00:31] Thank you. That was actually going to be one of my questions was, in the wake of Brexit, 100,000 British people have claimed Irish nationality. And I'm one of them because of my paternal grandmother. 

[00:00:46] And yeah, so I am nationally and officially Irish, but I don't have any emotional connection to Ireland. And yeah, I'd feel pretty bashful, actually. Pretty coy. Pretty.. I wouldn't bring up bring it up with Irish people that I was Irish. But I do to anyone else…

Dave : [00:01:06] But you will when you're in a queue in an airport and there's a longer queue for people without an EU passport. Then you're saying I'm Irish. And we have spies everywhere. So I think that means you have to give your passport back. 

[00:01:24] So one of my questions is, will Ireland welcome its Brexit refugees? In your opinion? 

[00:01:31] I think people are delighted. I would say that you've always been Irish. You've just been in denial. 

[00:01:41] We are happy to have you and any of your children who end up being good at sport and eligible to play for our national teams. 

Mike: Okay good.

[00:01:49] And my second question, having never set foot in Ireland myself. But I’m going to for the first time this year..

[00:02:02] So will Guinness taste particularly delicious for me? 

[00:02:11] Do you like it anyway? 

[00:02:12] I do like it. I do like Guinness. But I’ve heard It's different when you go to Ireland. 

[00:02:17] I think it's changed. So I've been living here for about 16 years now. And it used to be hard work to find a good pint of Guinness. And very easy to find a terrible pint of Guinness 

[00:02:29] Now it's unusual to find a terrible pint of Guinness, though. So usually they're fine. Perfectly good. In London anyway. But you would never get a bad one in Ireland. 

[00:02:43] So there is there is a difference. Okay. More the bar staff know what they're doing and are more patient than over here

[00:02:50] Okay. Interesting. Yeah. Because it takes a while to pour a Guinness. One of the the things that is circulating on Twitter the other day was a thing about the questions that British people should be able to answer if they if they want to claim their Irish citizenship. 

[00:03:11] I think it was anyoneshould be able to answer If they want to claim their Irish citizenship! 

[00:03:17] And looking through them, I score very low marks on this because I just don't know, as I said earlier, I don't have any emotional or intrinsic connections being Irish. I just nominally am. 

[00:03:31] So your sister went through a similar questionnaire and scored zero. 

[00:03:39] So my first one is please explain why the national news is broadcast exactly one minute after 6:00 p.m?. The only reason I can think of for that is superstition, that if you broadcast on six o'clock it will bring bad news or something..

[00:04:00] Depends on if you class Catholicism as a superstition!

[00:04:05] So I think I was going for something maybe with the six and the devil. 

[00:04:10] Again, it's to do with Catholicism. Yeah. So it's six o'clock every day. 

[00:04:16] . On Irish TV. And I guess it should be probably in churches and homes across the country. There is the Angelus, which is a set of prayers which take one minute to say. 

[00:04:31] And so on RT1 which has got the main news broadcast at 6 oclock there is the Angelus which is basically one minute of bongs. 

Mike: Like the Big Ben bong?

Dave: Yeah, A minute long. And then the news starts at 6:01. So It's called the 6:00 news. 

Mike: Good answer. I’ll accept that!

[00:04:45] I'd like to pick up why the Angelus has actually lapsed quite badly in my Catholicism. But that is definitely the reason 

[00:04:54] I'm sure it's lapsed in quite a few Irish households. 

Mike: Ok, five examples of where and when you can apply the word yoke

[00:05:06] I can think of one. 

[Dave) Go for it . And spell this word? 

[00:05:10] Yeah. So yolk is spelt y o k e. 

[00:05:14] So not like the yolk of an egg which is Y. o. l k

[00:05:16] Oh. Oh okay. Oh shit. Oh right. Okay. That's it.. that's my one instance

Mike:  I call myself an English teacher. Don’t know why. I thought yoke that was the yellow bit of an egg. 

[00:05:31] I think you're right. Yolk is spelt. The yolk in the egg is y o l k isn't it. 

[00:05:39] No, I think we're both wrong. 

[00:05:42] Both have acceptable spellings. Dave’s doing a quick Google search to find out the spelling. 

[00:05:48] Okay. There you go. Right. Right. Okay. So you have no examples? No. 

[00:05:52] I have zero usage of the word other than maybe a slang term for a joke like …You know, it was a good joke. 

[00:06:02] So. I guess when you look in a dictionary, you can give different usage of a word and it would often say the primary use is..

[00:06:14] So probably the primary use of the word yoke is a thing

[00:06:21] So we're speaking into your microphone on a table. Yes. So we're speaking into that yoke on the table. 

[00:06:27] Oh right. Okay. So just speak into that yoke Mike, and we’ll be fine. 

[00:06:34] Not the egg yolk just into the yoke. Okay. 

[00:06:37] Or you know, if you're trying to do a bit of DIY and you get your tool box out and someone else is helping you you could go pass me that yolk over there 

[00:06:46] Right. Okay. And that’s used fairly widespread, is it? quite common usage?

[00:06:53] I’m trying to think if my mom would say yes, she would. Yeah, I think that's fairly well used. 

[00:07:01] And so then, five examples of the word thing. That would get pretty boring. The other use case I can think of for the word yoke is ecstasy. So if someone was clubbing and taking pills you could say theyr’e on the yokes. So yeah, theyre my two examples.

Mike: Okay, so pills, ecstasy and things. Very good. 

[00:07:35] It looks like we might be interrupted by my sister coming in, but that's okay. The other example I have was. A question or an interaction that might take place on the following lines… One guy might say to another. “Are you going to take the dog for a walk at all? And the reply would be, I'll do that now in a minute. The question being. When will person A take the dog for a walk : now, in a minute or other?! I'm confused.

[00:08:16] So yeah I’ll do that now in a minute is how its used. 

[00:08:21] And so when I was, say, six, seven, eight years old, I fancied myself as a bit of a smart alec, we’d be visiting my grandmother's house and talking to my aunts lived there then or certainly were around every Saturday morning and they’d use that phrase a lot and I would say, but you can't do it now in a minute. You can either do it now or in a minute.

[00:08:46] And they’d tell me to get lost!! So yeah I’ll do it now in a minute is… like… accurate answer is other. 

Mike So I've got three examples of English words that have come from Ireland originally, which may or may not surprise you. One is the word brogues. 

[00:09:17] Okay. The shoe. Supposedly first made in….spelt B.R.O.G.U.E.S

[00:09:26] So the Irish for shoes is 

bróg which is BRO and a fada or acute accent. 

[…… the other one is from the Gaelic word mouth, we have the English word gob. 

So gob is an informal way of saying your mouth. So you might hear… Shut your gob! from school kids. 

[00:10:15] OK, so that one I can't explain. 

[00:10:17] Because for me… so in Ireland every one who goes to primary school studies Irish, you’re in primary school for 8 years, then it's a mandatory subject through secondary school, so like the BAC in French, it’s a mandatory subject you take it all the way through for 14 years…

And then if you're like me, you'll never speak it again! 

[00:10:40] So I don't remember the use of the word gob. For me bhéal is your mouth . 

[00:10:47] ……

And if you're telling someone to shut your mouth it would be Dún do bhéal!


[00:11:06] The third one I have is the word galore. Galore made famous by the James bond character, Pussy Galore

[00:11:15] Yeah. . Famous Irish name galore! 

[00:11:21] Galore. Meaning a lot of something, right?

[00:11:31] Yeah, okay . So I was having to think that. I think I just got it. So we've got a phrase ‘galer’ and I'm trying to think how you would use it. 

[00:11:42] Yeah. bhí go leor liathróidí coise ann meaning there were loads of footballs .. 

I could be wrong. Im kind of speculating 

Mike: Ah speculation is good.

Dave; So another interesting one is have you ever heard the phrase to put the kibosh on someone. 

[Mike] Yeah

it's like to kind of curse them.

Mike: To give them a jinx?. 

Dave :Yeah. It's a bit like that. And that comes from Irish cop vos, which is like a death cap. So like, I think, whenever there was a funeral or a wake it would be a cap you’d put on the dead person 

[00:12:40] That was interesting. I always thought that was Indian in origin for some reason. 

[00:12:45 So it’s spelt very differently. So I guess phonetically. 

[00:12:50]. Yeah. The other one I had written down, which was. I don’t know from some website Irish isms ro soemthing, was the expression a few scoops going to go for a few scoops tonight

Dave: That’s not just Irish, is it? 

Mike: Ive not heard that one. 

Dave: So a few scoops meaning to go for a few drinks. 

I cant translate it, to anything else. Scoops are specifically pints. 

[00:13:16] Which doesn't really make sense because you scoop something that's solid. You’d scoop an ice cream or you'd scoop some stuff… I don't know. 

I always thought of it as a solid 

Dave: You'd occasionally hear someone who's had a few scoops say scoops. 

[00:13:36] I'm not sure of the origins of that, but yeah, it's pints.. 


[00:13:57] Is there anything you take with you… the language you use in Ireland, is it dramatically different or not really or is it just peppered with a few words or expressions you might use..

Dave : Not really. I’d say the main difference is pronunciation of TH. As in the word THE

[00:14:21] So something I used to get the mickey taken out of me . You become a bit self conscious of it…

[00:14:28] So, the word the I’d probably pronounce “D E R” 

[00:14:32] So in Cork where I grew up there was this newspaper called The Examiner which I’d say DER Examiner. And you become self conscious of it … you’re aware of it… then I become so self conscious of it, you end up putting an H after a T where it doesn’t belong. 

Mike: Because you feel people don’t understand you?

Dave: Yeah, or you just get a funny look or somebody just laughs.. 

Mike Oh mate. Sorry. Sorry on behalf of the whole of the English population that we laugh at you. Sure we’re laughing with you Dave!

Dave: The other thing that used to drive my old flatmate mad, well she’d laugh and find it funny was ending a sentence with the word so. 

Mike ] Oh yeah. 

Dave: I'll do that, so


[00:15:34] Yeah but that's putting so at the end of a sentence or an utterance and say nothing after 

[00:15:42] Yeah, so like I will see you later, so 

[00:15:44] What the fuck does that mean? It's just an Irishism. 

Dave: It’s a bit like…. I guess it's like using so instead of then.

[00:15:56] Yeah, I will see you later. So that gives me time to do something else before I see you. As opposed to I’ll see you later… so… 

Mike: … And it’s only ever said I’ll see you later , so.. or other instances ?

Dave: Oh loads..

Mike Well it's been an entertaining little walk through the Irish language 

Dave: Not sure how it helps people learning english!!!

Mike I am sure, I'm sure that it will be entertaining for someone to tune in. So as usual. You can visit the website for the transcript of this conversation. And we will be back next week with a guest who's goong to talk about the Siberian railway with Owen. So until then, please visit the website for full transcripts and language analysis. 


lisaclarke -

Assorted pens in the Irish color scheme. 2004.

language analysis: episode 18


 Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  



Bashful (adjective)

Not wanting to draw attention to yourself ; shy ; self-conscious.

E.g Everything you need to know but was too bashful to ask in a crowded room

Coy  (adjective)

Reluctant to give details about something,  you find makes you self-conscious

E.g The woman was coy about saying her age. 

To set foot (verb)

Means to go into a place 

E.g. He refuses to set foot in art gallery 

Get the mickey taken out of you (idiom)

Means to be teased or mocked (usually in friendly way)

E.g. Here Dave reveals that he gets taken the mikey out of for the way he pronounces the word ‘the” like ‘der’.  

transcript: Episode 19

Travelling by Train

Owain [00:00:00] Good morning. Welcome to another episode of The English Waffle. This morning, I'm here with John the Joiner. Hello, John. I don't actually know your your second name, but we don't need to go into that anyway. 

John [00:00:10] Yeah alright. No problem. 

Owain [00:00:12] John, I met at my son's local school and we started talking about...I can't remember why we started talking John. What was the reason?

John [00:00:20] I just asked you how you how you were getting on, how your son was getting on at school. 

Owain [00:00:24] That's right. We were in the park, weren't we. 

John [00:00:25] In the park, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Nice sunny day. 

Owain [00:00:28] That's it. Yeah. 

John [00:00:29] Which it isn't today. 

Owain [00:00:30] No. And one of one of the the the earliest things that we discussed, I think, was your love of train travel. 

John [00:00:40] Train travel. Absolutely, yeah, yeah. 

Owain [00:00:41] Tell us about that John. What's that all about? 

John [00:00:42] Yeah. Always... always been a big fan of trains. Ever since I was really, really young when I was when I was 17. I went on the trains all the way across Europe. All the way down to Turkey and then over to Istan...then back all the way across and down to Marrakech... 

Owain [00:01:01] Right. 

John [00:01:03] an 18 year old, 17 18, I think I was 18 while I was out there actually. 

Owain [00:01:06] Yeah.

John [00:01:07] ...but that was an absolutely fantastic trip. Sort of sleeping on the trains with a good friend of mine. Really, really good. Very, very enjoyable. 

Owain [00:01:15] Right. 

John [00:01:15] And a great you know, it's a great way to see all of Europe. 

Owain [00:01:20] Yeah, yeah. 

John [00:01:20] And really experience what it is all about. 

Owain [00:01:23] Yeah. 

John [00:01:23] Yeah. I mean, even before that I was a big fan of trains. I'm not so much into the technical side of it. So if you ask me what locomotive is or what..., you know, who built this carriage, I wouldn't know but... 

Owain [00:01:32] Right, ok. 

John [00:01:32] In terms of... 

Owain [00:01:33] You're not a trainspotter? 

John [00:01:34] Not trainspotter in any way, shape or form. But I do very much prefer you know, I love the whole the whole, I love the whole process of train travel. I love, you know, buying the tickets. I love going...connecting trains, you know, pitching up in the middle of a big city just for a connection and things like that. And just seeing lots of... You see far more of places travelling by train than by travelling by plane. 

Owain [00:01:56] Right. 

John [00:01:57] And you can travel some astonishing distances as well, you know? 

Owain [00:01:59] Yeah, tell us about that. What was it was the furthest you travelled on a train? 

John [00:02:02] The furthest I've travelled so far is I've been to Istan...Istanbul on the train and then the oth...the one longest journey I've done without...the one longest journey, but with connections was I went from Brindisi in the south of Italy... 

Owain [00:02:20] Right. 

John [00:02:22] ...up to...all the way up through Italy, across France, down through Spain, down to Algeciras. And so and so that was that was and that was sort of done inadvertently really we just we just sort of we didn't really look at the map too much and we just, well, we'll head up there. And by the time we realised what we done, it was like three and a half days later. And we're still still.. 

Owain [00:02:43] So, you were travelling for three and half days on the train? 

John [00:02:45] Kind of, yeah. So we got off at Milan, I think, it was it was a long time ago. I think we got off at Milan, bought literally got off, bought a slice of pizza and a coffee and got back on the train. 

John [00:02:56] And then I think we did. I think we then stopped at possibly stopped at Madrid possibly. 

Owain [00:03:03] Right. 

John [00:03:04] And got again, got off, got a coffee and a pastry and back on. So it was sort of pizza in Milan and pastry in Madrid. 

Owain [00:03:12] Okay. So I mean, so I'm getting the idea that you are a fan of trains. You like travelling. And so certainly when you're younger you have a lot of time. 

John [00:03:22] Yeah. 

Owain [00:03:22] And it doesn't really matter how long it takes to get from A to B, but nowadays surely I mean you don't have time get on a train go on a long journey. Isn't flying just a more practical option? 

John [00:03:34] I mean flying is is infinitely more practical than the travelling train, but but infinitely less enjoyable, you know, you know, if if you are I mean, I don't think there's anybody who hasn't... who's... I don't think every single person who has flown more than, say, four or five times in their life. 

Owain [00:03:53] Yeah. 

John [00:03:54] Who hasn't experienced being either stuck on a plane that is delayed stuck on a plane that hasn't even taken off. 

Owain [00:04:00] Right, right. 

John [00:04:01] Or stuck next to somebody who you really don't want to be sitting next to. Yeah. And so the great thing about a train journey is is if that... is if you find that you know you're delayed or you wanna go get something to eat, you get up and walk and go and get something to eat. 

Owain [00:04:16] Yeah. 

John [00:04:16] You know. You know, the worst case scenario, if you decide that you you really don't want to carry on your journey, you just get off the train. Because it stops at regular intervals and you can just get off. Whereas if you try getting off a Boeing 747 in mid-air you tend to have a longer holiday at her Majesty's pleasure. 

Owain [00:04:34] That's right. Yeah. Yeah. And you'll be quite expensive to get you home. 

John [00:04:38] Yeah, absolutely, if they can't get home, (do you know what I mean). 

Owain [00:04:41] Okay. Well so yes, quite clear that there are disadvantages to flying by plane... 

John [00:04:46] Yeah. I mean it's quicker. 

Owain [00:04:47] Aside from the fact that... 

John [00:04:49] I'm mean it's far quicker and actually it's mainly these days it's far cheaper. 

Owain [00:04:52] Yeah. 

John [00:04:53] But it's just you know, you can't really you know the two things don't compare. 

Owain [00:04:57] Yeah. 

John [00:04:57] You know, it's like you know, especially if you go on a long train journey, a really long train journey, you can see you see countries and continents change as you move across, which is already interesting to see, you know. And so, you know, you see things like you see the architecture change, you see the methods of farming change, you see types of vehicles change, you know, often you can see people, you know, if you go you know, you can see people change as you move across. And that's very interesting. It gives you a much more, a much more in-depth view of a country. And also the social, social side of it as well as is that is that, you know, a lot of people you get if you're if you're a sociable person and you and you enjoy speaking to people. 

Owain [00:05:47] Yeah. 

John [00:05:49] It's a great way to do things like that because you... There's always people getting on. There's always someone who has a hand with a bag. 

Owain [00:05:54] Yeah. 

John [00:05:54] Or someone you know, there's an old lady wants a hand with her bag to get out, there's somebody getting on with a pushchair or somebody who's spilt a drink and needs a hand to clear it up or something like that. 

Owain [00:06:00] Right. 

John [00:06:01] So there's always ways to interact, whereas on a plane, people, generally speaking, sit front and centre, looking down, desperate, praying, praying for it to, A, to land or, B, to get there as quick as possible. And I just want to get off. 

Owain [00:06:15] Okay, so... 

John [00:06:15] So I'm quite disappointed sometimes when the train actually arrives, you know, I'm thinking, ah, I'd like to stay on a bit longer. And so... 

Owain [00:06:23] Ok, well, thinking about the train arriving, you have got a couple of, well, well, first of all, so the trips you've been on, so you've been I think you've told me you've been to Germany. You've obviously been to to...round Europe a fair few places. 

John [00:06:32] Yeah, yeah I go quite often... Me and my son quite often go to to Germany on the train. We go to go friend lives in a little a little town called...near Bad Münstereifel, which is about 40 kilometres from Cologne. 

Owain [00:06:48] Okay, so Bad Münstereifel. 

John [00:06:50] Bad Münstereifel which is a fantastic little place. 

Owain [00:06:51] Yeah. 

John [00:06:53] And and my son quite often travel over there on the train. 

Owain [00:06:56] Right. 

John [00:06:57] And from the Midlands in Britain to Cologne is about maybe if...maybe about five hours total travelling. 

Owain [00:07:08] Right. 

John [00:07:08] And everyone says, oh, blimey, five hours and you think but by the time you driven to an airport, by the time you've got on a...gone through security. 

Owain [00:07:15] Yeah. 

John [00:07:15] By the time you've sat on the tarmac. 

Owain [00:07:17] Yeah. 

John [00:07:17] You know...the time... And then by the time you've then got to the central city from...on a budget airline. 

Owain [00:07:22] Yeah.

John [00:07:23] Forty miles away. You know you...very quickly, you know, you find you....the time's pretty comparable. So. Yeah it's um... 

Owain [00:07:31] Yeah. Okay. And so trips coming up? Where are you going next?

John [00:07:35] Yeah. So, so next trip is uh is on the Caledonian Sleeper which is end of next month. 

Owain [00:07:42] Right. Where's does...where does that go? 

John [00:07:43] We're going from London, Euston to Edinburgh. They've got some brand new trains which were, I think they were introduced towards the latter part of last year. Always been a journey I've wanted to make. Caledonian Sleeper's quite a sort of famous train. And so they just launched...relaunched them. And so we'll...we're going to travel up as a family. 

Owain [00:08:06] Oh nice, okay. So that's four of you. Yeah. 

John [00:08:09] Yeah, yeah. So they've got some sort of family deals where you can buy you buy a buy a cabin for two adults, two children. And it works out. I think it was. I think was 225 for the one at one one journey,... 

Owain [00:08:25] Right. 

John [00:08:25] ...for one carriage or 250 for two...for two compartments. So it was... 

Owain [00:08:31] So what you gone for? 

John [00:08:31] Two compartments. So it cost another twenty five pound to have ...for four people go as opposed to two people to go, which made a real difference. And they got on-suite showers, private on-suite showers, private bathroom, get breakfast included, cooked breakfast including... 

Owain [00:08:47] Goodness me. Okay, so it's...

John [00:08:48] Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:49] ...pretty comfortable, really. 

John [00:08:50] Oh I think so. Yeah. I mean you sort of...the... we're just going to try it out and see what it's like. And from Euston to Edinburgh that train leaves ten to midnight. 

Owain [00:09:04] Right. 

John [00:09:04] But you can get on I think at about ten o'clock at night and you can go and have a meal in the restaurant car before you...the train moves and there's also a lounge you can go in at Euston before. So if you want so you can make it a bit more of an exten..., you can get there a bit earlier. 

Owain [00:09:18] Right. 

John [00:09:19] And then when you arrive into Edinburgh, you get about half an hour after the train arrives to get off. 

Owain [00:09:23] Okay. 

John [00:09:24] And so we leave the train roll...the train is moving from ten to midnight. 

Owain [00:09:29] Right. 

John [00:09:30] ...till half past 7:00 in the morning. But we can get on at ten o'clock at night and get off at eight o'clock in the morning. So it makes it a bit more extended. 

Owain [00:09:38] Okay. Yeah. You get a little bit longer on the train and... 

John [00:09:39] Yeah, yeah, just a bit more enjoyable. You wanna, you wanna... take, you know, you know you wanna enjoy the journey and stuff like that. And then, I would have got the sleeper back, but I was overruled by senior management. And we are...we are we're getting a a day train back. So. So just in case it isn't enjoyable. 

Owain [00:09:58] Okay. 

John [00:09:59] So, yeah, so... 

Owain [00:10:00] So not everybody's so confident as you about the the sleeping over night on the train. 

John [00:10:06] Me and my son would travel by by local train all the way to, you know. 

Owain [00:10:12] No, no beds or anything. 

John [00:10:12] We'd travel all the way to Delhi on on a local train, whereas so I think my wife and daughter would...they, they remain to be convinced yet. 

Owain [00:10:21] You did or you would (travel to India)?. 

John [00:10:22] No, I would. 

Owain [00:10:24] You would? 

John [00:10:25] Yeah. 

Owain [00:10:25] Ok, maybe that's a trip coming. 

John [00:10:26] Absolutely. 

Owain [00:10:27] Well, John, it's been great to talk to you about trains. 

John [00:10:29] Yeah. 

Owain [00:10:29] I think we're going to invite you back for another episode. 

John [00:10:34] Okay. 

Owain [00:10:34] I'd really like to hear about your plans to go to Russia. 

John [00:10:37] Yep, absolutely. 

Owain [00:10:38] If if if you've enjoyed that episode about trains and you wanna hear a bit about John and his plans to go by train to Russia, then tune in again for the next episode. Thanks very much. John, thanks for coming in. 

John [00:10:50] No problem. My pleasure.

Owain [00:10:51] And, um, see you next time. 

John [00:10:52] Thank you very much.
Suzanne Schroeter - "Tracks..."

Suzanne Schroeter - "Tracks..."

language analysis: episode 19


 Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  


There has been a slight error with the transcript times for this episode. You’re going to have to use your maths skills to find the location of specific sections.

Add on about 1 minute and 10 secs to the times in the transcript to find the relevant section in the audio file.

Sorry for any inconvenience!

joiner (n.)

[00:00:00 + 1:14] John the Joiner

Meaning: a skilled worker who makes the wooden structures inside buildings, such as doors and window frames

senior management (n.)


  • Literal: the highest level of managers in an organization, immediately below the board of directors. - "the proposal was accepted by senior management"
  • Idiomatic: refers jokingly (‘tongue in cheek’ - see Episode 20) to the person in a relationship which takes the final decisions. In this case, John is referring to his wife and her decision not to travel back  

[00:09:39] but I was overruled by senior management. 

trainspotter (n. person)


  • a person who collects train or locomotive numbers as a hobby.
  • Idiomatic (negative): a person who obsessively studies the minutiae of any minority interest or specialized hobby.

"the idea is to make the music really really collectable so the trainspotters will buy it in their pathetic thousands"

Owain [00:01:33] You're not a trainspotter?

John [00:01:34] Not trainspotter in any way, shape or form.

in any way, shape or form (adv. - expression)

Meaning: in any way at all

“I have never been involved in any way, shape, or form with criminal activities

John uses it to emphasise that he is definitely not a trainspotter:

Owain [00:01:33] You're not a trainspotter?

John [00:01:34] Not trainspotter in any way, shape or form.


at Her Majesty's pleasure (idiom)

Meaning: detained in a British prison.

"his sharp practice cost him a term at Her Majesty's pleasure"

Actually, here we have a good example of a breakdown in communication between speakers. I misinterpreted what John said. I think I confused the meaning of ‘at her Majesty’s pleasure’ with the result of getting off the plane while in the air: falling to your death. I hadn’t heard the expression for a long time and had obviously, in the moment, forgotten what it referred to.

So, when I said ‘expensive to get you home’ (see below), I was thinking of repatriation ( the return of someone to their own country). I’m not sure whether John noticed this mistake, but he, politely, didn’t say anything. 

  • John [00:04:16] You know. You know, the worst case scenario, if you decide that you you really don't want to carry on your journey, you just get off the train. Because it stops at regular intervals and you can just get off. Whereas if you try getting off a Boeing 747 in mid-air you tend to have a longer holiday at her Majesty's pleasure.

  • Owain [00:04:34] That's right. Yeah. Yeah. And you'll be quite expensive to get you home.

  • John [00:04:38] Yeah, absolutely, if they can get you home, (do you know what I mean).  

Features of Spoken English


A lot of the language we use when we’re speaking is not that complicated. 

The reason it is difficult to understand for you (i.e. a non-proficient English language user) is that it is extremely fast and it is made difficult to perceive by the features of Spoken English (see the examples below) 

  • Filled pauses: er, erm (confusion with articles ‘a’, ‘the’)
  • Fillers: well, you know, I mean
  • False starts: see below
  • Repetition: see below
  • Contracted forms: ‘we’d’ = we would
  • Ellipsis: A: Do you want to come with me? B: Yes, I really want to. (...come with you.) - The words in brackets are not needed because A has just said them.

Filled pauses

John uses the filler ‘you know’ all the way through the conversation. You can use the PDF of the transcript to search for examples of different fillers, which you will see repeated during the conversation.

[00:04:57] You know, it's like you know, especially if you go on a long train journey, a

really long train journey, you can see you see countries and continents change as you

move across, which is already interesting to see, you know. And so, you know, you see

things like you see the architecture change, you see the methods of farming change, you

see types of vehicles change, you know, often you can see people, you know, if you go

you know, you can see people change as you move across. And that's very interesting. It

gives you a much more, a much more in-depth view of a country. And also the social,

social side of it as well as is that is that, you know, a lot of people you get if you're if you're

a sociable person and you and you enjoy speaking to people.


‘sort of’ here doesn’t really mean anything. Sometimes using 'sort of' (or kind of)  conveys the idea that the speaker is speaking 'approximately', not precisely; informally rather than formally. This is not a conscious strategy. It is just part of the way some speakers speak. 

[00:01:07] ...but that was an absolutely fantastic trip. Sort of sleeping on the trains

with a good friend of mine. Really, really good. Very, very enjoyable.

False starts

[00:00:20] I just asked you how you were getting on..., how your son was

getting on at school.


[00:02:45] Kind of, yeah. So we got off at Milan, I think, it was it was a long time ago.

I think we got off at Milan, bought literally got off, bought a slice of pizza and a coffee and

got back on the train.

Contracted forms

Sometimes, native-English speakers need to clarify whether they have heard a contracted form or not: ‘we’d’ = we would (see below). So, don't be surprised if you also find it difficult to iidentify these details.

John [00:10:12] We'd travel all the way to Delhi on on a local train, whereas so I think my

wife and daughter would...they, they remain to be convinced yet.

Owain [00:10:21] You did or you would (travel to India)?

John [00:10:22] No, I would.

Owain [00:10:24] You would?

John [00:10:25] Yeah.

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transcript: Episode 20

The Trans-Siberian Express

[00:00:00] Intro + Music

Owain [00:01:16] Hello and welcome to another episode of English Waffle. We're here again with John. And if you remember last time we were talking about his love of train travel. 

John [00:01:28] Absolutely. 

Owain [00:01:29] And you're back. John, thanks for coming in again. 

John [00:01:31] No problem. Pleasure. 

Owain [00:01:32] We're going to talk about one of the trips that you got planned to...I think it was for October, but you've postponed it now till February. Well, you tell us where you're going John. 

John [00:01:40] So I am, uh, I am going to travel from Nuneaton, which is in sort of East Midlands, sort of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham area. I'm going to travel from Nuneaton to Vladivostok. 

Owain [00:01:52] Vladivostok! 

John [00:01:52] train, by train only. 

Owain [00:01:55] What, John?! How...? That's a long way to go. 

John [00:01:58] I think...I think it's about ten and a half thousand kilometres. I think, or ten and a half thousand miles, something along those lines. It's a it's a very, very long way. 

Owain [00:02:07] OK. So, John, why...obviously we know you're a fan of trains. 

John [00:02:10] Yeah. 

Owain [00:02:12] Why Russia? 

John [00:02:16] Russia, of course, is a is a is a country that's always in the news at the moment. And I think one of the things that often is, is that is that perhaps the true story of what countries are like isn't often reported really accurately. And so really the only way to find out what a country is really like is to go and visit it. And I think to fly in, fly out is a quick way. You only see the part of the country that has been sort of prepared for tourists. And I think I think really it's it's to travel all the way...the whole width of Russia by train would be just a great way of seeing the country. Every part of it really. 

Owain [00:02:58] Right, okay, so what what what is the impression most Brits will have of Russia, do you think? Is it is it dancing bears playing instruments? Things like that or...?

John [00:03:06] I...I think there's. I think there's. I think there's just a view. I mean, there's obviously...there's obviously the the image that's portrayed quite often is of a quite austere country with quite authoritarian, with a lot of rules and everything like that. But a couple of people I've spoken to went out during the World Cup, said that it's the reality of it is very, very different... 

Owain [00:03:26] Yeah. 

John [00:03:26] the perception that a lot of people have. And so it's that, you know, that that would be if I was to take a stereotypical view of it, that would be the view that people would have. But I mean, there's plenty countries I've been to that people have a completely different view of. You know, for example, I've been to Poland quite a few times. 

Owain [00:03:45] Right. 

John [00:03:46] And a lot of people have a, have a very sort of influenced view of what Poland would be as a country. 

Owain [00:03:55] Yeah. I've seen in the news that politically it's quite...problematic.

John [00:03:58] Yeah. I think there is sometimes, yeah, I think sometimes you have to. I mean a bit. I mean I think sometimes you have to separate yourself. You know, obviously there are countries in the world that I wouldn't travel to, on principle. So, so there are certain countries with certain attitudes and certain ways of behaving that would prohibit me from travelling to them, because I would I wouldn't want to see...But I mean, you know, what we always should remember is, is that there a our political system here may be viewed by other countries as being kind of extreme or being, you know, anti-democratic and things like that. So there is that kind of view that can be, you know, our perception of another country can be echoed by a perception from another country of our country. And so, yeah, I mean, it's it's I'm there to sort of see the country and not to see the...I mean, I don't know, I don't think that that. I don't think that visit to see Mr. Putin is included in my train ticket. 

Owain [00:04:58] You're not going to... 

John [00:04:58] I'd be delighted if he's there, do know what I mean, you know, I mean, you know, we can go and wrestle a bear or... 

Owain [00:05:03] Do you think he likes trains? Does he travels a lot by train, or...? 

John [00:05:06] Well, it's the Trans-Siberian is the is the absolute jewel in the crown for Russian transport, if...I'm led to believe. 

Owain [00:05:14] Okay. 

John [00:05:14] I hope I haven't been misled. 

Owain [00:05:15] Well, yeah, let's look at that. So what are you what are you expecting from the trip? What are the things you're looking forward to most? 

John [00:05:19] Okay, so so what I'll...the, sort of itinerary will be is... 

Owain [00:05:23] Yeah. 

John [00:05:23] ...I travel from Nuneaton to London. 

Owain [00:05:25] Right. 

John [00:05:25] ...on a local train. And then I go on the Eurostar from London to Paris. 

Owain [00:05:31] Right. 

John [00:05:32] And then I'll go to sleeper train from Paris to Moscow, which takes a couple of days. 

Owain [00:05:38] Nice, right. 

John [00:05:38] And then I shall go on the... I'm keen to go on the I think it's the Rossiya train, which is I think is...I might be wrong on this. I think it's. I think it's the double O two train. I think th...there's a double O one, double O two, double O three, double O four... 

Owain [00:05:55] Right. 

John [00:05:55] And I think they're all the Rossiya trains which are the...which are the real ones, you want to get on. 

Owain [00:05:59] Okay. And when you say real, these are not designed for tourists? 

John [00:06:04] Oh no, no. 

Owain [00:06:04] These are actually for people who just travel through Russia. 

John [00:06:05] These these are...Yeah. These are these are...Yeah. These, they're sleeper trains, and everything like that, but they're not the ones that've been taken out of commission, turned into five star hotels and rolling across country side now with people serving silver platters. They will be the real genuine proper trains. 

Owain [00:06:20] So none...none of these five star hotel trains for you. No comfort. You just want the bog standard... 

John [00:06:26] Absolutely. 

Owain [00:06:27] ...train that everybody travels on. 

John [00:06:28] And as, and as...'cause I'm going on my own. 

Owain [00:06:30] Yeah. 

John [00:06:30] I think there are there are there are three levels of of travel on th...the main leg of the journey goes from Moscow to Vladivostok and that takes six nights, seven days. 

Owain [00:06:41] Wow! Ok. 

John [00:06:41] I may break the journey at a place called Irkutsk, which is near Lake Baikal. I may break the journey there, but I'll have to see how I get on with that. There are three levels of travel. There is there is first class, there is Kupé, which is a second class. And then there is what's called I think...Platzkart I think is how you pronounce it which it's third class. 

Owain [00:07:02] Okay. 

John [00:07:03] So first class has two berths in one room. 

Owain [00:07:05] Right. 

John [00:07:06] Second class has four berths in one room and third class has 54 beds in one room. 

Owain [00:07:11] Okay. So just to cover berth is like a bed. 

John [00:07:13] Yeah. Yeah. Berth. Yeah. 

Owain [00:07:14] Yeah. 

John [00:07:15] So...but you get sheets provided there is...a samovar on each carriage. Which... 

Owain [00:07:20] Sorry? A what? 

John [00:07:20] Samovar. Like a hot water boiling water dispenser. 

Owain [00:07:22] Oh right. 

John [00:07:23] So you get one of those. There's two attendants for each carriage. So...

Owain [00:07:27] Okay and they kind of, they... 

John [00:07:29] They...keep the's the pride of the Russian train network and so they keep it clean. Very proud to travel... 

Owain [00:07:35] They keep it...they keep it clean like... 

John [00:07:36] Clean and tidy. 

Owain [00:07:36] Do you order food from them and stuff as well or...?. 

John [00:07:37] There's always a restaurant car on there. 

Owain [00:07:38] There's a restaurant car. Okay. 

John [00:07:40] I'm in training already. 

Owain [00:07:42] In training? 

John [00:07:42] In training. Absolutely. To, you know, to physically prepare myself for the journey. 

Owain [00:07:47] Oh, okay. So physical training? 

John [00:07:48] Yeah, yeah, I started...I started on a quarter bottle of vodka a day and I'm moving up now next week I should be on to a third of a bottle. Apologies for any...if any offence has been's a stereotypical view. 

Owain [00:08:01] Well, I think that I as you know, John, I teach English to a few Russian and... 

John [00:08:06] Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:07] They're aware of the perceptions we have of Russians. And just to confirm for any stu...of my students are listening, John, is...that's a bit tongue in cheek, isn't it? 

John [00:08:18] Absolutely. Yeah, I'm joking. Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:19] You're aware that most Russians only drink...a bottle a day. 

John [00:08:23] Yes, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. But we can't...we need to establish what size the bottle is. (Do you know what I mean?) Whether it's a miniature or whether it's a, you know, a magnum. 

Owain [00:08:32] Actually, actually, seriously, though, are you are vodka fan? Do you drink vodka at all? 

John [00:08:36] I drink a little bit of vodka. I drink a little bit. You know,... 

Owain [00:08:37] I can't stand it, to be honest, I'm not a fan. 

John [00:08:39] Well, you know, you and a little bit of vodka and lime, vodka and apple juice is nice. 

Owain [00:08:43] Ah ok. Maybe I've got the wrong mixers. 

John [00:08:43] Chilled vodka. 

Owain [00:08:47] Okay, well, and obviously one of the things you'll be looking forward to is seeing how they drink their vodka in Russia. One other thing you might be looking forward to is putting into practice a bit of your Russian, that you're learning, yeah? 

John [00:09:00] Yes. So I am I am I am attempting to learn some Russian which which is so I can I can say something like 'zdravstvuyte'. 

Owain [00:09:07] Ah ok. What does that mean? 

John [00:09:09] Hello. 

Owain [00:09:09] Oh, okay. 

John [00:09:11] So, it's 'zdravstvuyte'...'menya zovut John...ya anglichanin'. I think. I think that is...I think that is: 'Hello, my name is John. I am English.'. 

Owain [00:09:23] Oh, ok, perfect, yeah. 

John [00:09:25] And it's it's a very long time since I've done any...I've been involved in any education. 

Owain [00:09:29] Yeah. 

John [00:09:29] And, um, one of the things that became rapidly apparent when I was researching into this journey was the fact that significant parts of Russia speak no English at all. 

Owain [00:09:38] Yeah. 

John [00:09:39] And a lot of people have said that they struggled on the train journey because they found nobody who speaks any English. 

Owain [00:09:44] Right, right. 

John [00:09:44] Or nobody who wants to speak in English. And so if I speak Russian, I think it will certainly make my journey a bit more enjoyable. 

Owain [00:09:52] Well, I'll tell you what, John, I mean, you are probably unusual in that you are actually making the effort to learn...I mean because you started, you started a few months ago, right? 

John [00:10:03] Yeah. Yeah. So I've done about 10 weeks of it. So I can sort of order a few drinks now. I can count to 20. I can I can sort of asked people where they're from. I can ask where things are. I can..I don't get everything right...yeah, yeah. I don't get everything right in terms of tenses and phra..and, you know, the genders on words and things like that, but I'm hoping to have enough to be ab... I'm hoping to...I'm hoping to get pub Russian. 

Owain [00:10:30] Yes. 

John [00:10:30] So that I'd be able to have a drink with somebody and have a general conversation. 

Owain [00:10:34] And then and after that after you've talked about weather maybe or something and where you come from. 

John [00:10:39] Yeah. 

Owain [00:10:40] Just kind of smile and nod. 

John [00:10:41] Yeah, absolutely. You know what I mean. But it's should make the journey a bit more enjoyable. 

Owain [00:10:44] Yeah, no and it's fantastic. And I think I think it's a great advertisement for British people in general, because I think we're famous for not really bothering to learn any languages really so I think it's fantastic.

John [00:10:57] We were born with a natural advantage of speaking English. 

Owain [00:11:02] Yeah. 

John [00:11:02] From from birth, which is a huge advantage worldwide. 

Owain [00:11:05] Yeah. We're really lucky actually. 

John [00:11:06] Absolutely. 

Owain [00:11:06] We can go round the world with very little effort, except to places, of course, where we're expecting to be able to speak English and then find that nobody understands a word we're saying and we certainly don't understand what they're saying. 

John [00:11:17] No. Absolutely. So. So. Yeah. So I'm hoping that the Russian comes in handy. 

Owain [00:11:20] Okay. So would you say goodbye in Russian? Thanks and goodbye. 

John [00:11:25] 'Spasibo'. 

Owain [00:11:26] 'Spasibo'. 

John [00:11:26] I believe that's right. 'Dasvidaniya'. 

Owain [00:11:29] 'Dasvidaniya'. So 'spasibo', 'dasvidaniya', John. 

John [00:11:32] 'Spasibo', 'dasvidaniya', Owain. 

Owain [00:11:32] Okay. Thank you and one last...good to...have a good trip. Do you know how to say it?. 

John [00:11:38] I haven't covered that yet. 

Owain [00:11:38] You haven't covered that yet, well, may...that's something to look up. Okay. Thanks, John. 

John [00:11:43] No problem. My pleasure. 

Owain [00:11:44] Cheers. Hope...hopefully we'll have you on again sometime. 

John [00:11:45] Absolutely. No problem at all.


Simon Pielow

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

language analysis: episode 20


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Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 21

Brit Pets


Mike [00:01:10] Hello Owain! 

Owain [00:01:12] Hi Mike. How you doing? 

Mike [00:01:14] I'm good, thank you. How are you? 

Owain [00:01:18] I'm fine. Yeah. Yeah. Any any any swimming today? Any strangers, meeting strangers? 

Mike [00:01:26] I did I went swimming. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Every day at the moment. I'm living my resolutions, I talk to people on the train today and I did I went for a swim, which is great. It was great. 

Owain [00:01:38] Nice, nice. Good. Well, what we talking about today? 

Mike [00:01:47] Well, if I said to you, Owain, a lovely lamb casserole and cottage pie with broccoli and fresh potato, some smoked salmon and peas. These are all dishes for humans, right? 

Owain [00:02:04] Some humans. Yeah, I suppose. Yeah. If you like that kind of stuff. 

Mike [00:02:09] Yeah, wrong, wrong. These are actually typical items, typical food dishes that you'd see in your average British supermarket... 

Owain [00:02:22] Yeah, of course. 

Mike [00:02:22] the aisle that that is for dogs and cats, a.k.a. the pet food aisle. Yeah. 

Owain [00:02:32] What? 

Mike [00:02:32] Because. 

Owain [00:02:35] Okay. 

Mike [00:02:36] For real. Yeah. Cause there are 60 million odd people in the UK. Okay. 27 million pets. Let me break that down for you a little bit,. 

Owain [00:02:50] Right. 

Mike [00:02:50] So you've got. 43 percent of households in Britain have a pet of some description. There's seven point three million dogs. Seven point two million cats. There's a lot of cats and dogs, 14 million of them running around, scampering around, barking, growling, purring. Apart from dogs and cats, we've got fish, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, birds, all of them. They've all been domesticated and they're all in one in Britain... 

Owain [00:03:27] Not flying around? 

Mike [00:03:27] 43 percent. Some are.

Owain [00:03:29] No birds flying around though are there. 

Mike [00:03:31] There are some. Yeah. Some people prefer not to have them in cages, you know. So they let them run...they let them fly around the house. But you can imagine there's a lot of "feather-idge" and a lot of the mess. So I think my point, Owain, today is that it's fair to say that other cultures, some of whom might be listening to this episode, are fascinated, sometimes baffled and sometimes pretty revolted. How much British people embrace th...their pets into their lives and into their homes? You know, in a recent study, 15 percent of British people said that they loved their pets more than their partner. 

Owain [00:04:19] So... 

Mike [00:04:19] That's a worrying statistic. 

Owain [00:04:21] I...What did you say? They they love that pets more than their partner? 

Mike [00:04:26] That's right. 

Owain [00:04:28] How many people? 

Mike [00:04:29] That's right. 15 percent. I'll give you another statistic. One in seven people said that they'd leave all of their wealth to their pet in their will. Sixty percent, 60 percent of people say... I've got more...60 percent of people say that we should get compassionate leave. If our pet dies, if a pet, if a pet passes away, we should be able to go...the employer should have to pay for us to have a period of compassionate leave. 

Owain [00:05:05] How? How much? How long? 

Mike [00:05:08] Does it. Does it matter? I mean, surely, surely... 

Owain [00:05:16] Well, if it's an hour...if it's an hour, yeah, I'd be...I'd be okay with that...three weeks, I don't know. 

Mike [00:05:21] Yeah. You know, and check this out, likewise, like people are also wanting to push through the idea of "peternity" leave, "peternity" leave, opposed to the 'paternity' leave. Yeah. Yeah. This is real. This is real. 

Owain [00:05:42] Oh my god. 

Mike [00:05:43] So when taking on any furry companion, people would like to have some some some sort of paternity leave, some me time. I mean, the list goes on. So, Owain, Do you...Do you have a relationship with a pet? Do you have a pet in your life? 

Owain [00:06:03] I'm not currently taking on any pets and I have had pets in my life. When I was a child I had cats and dogs, you know, the usual...rabbits, guinea pigs,, sorry, I tell a lie, not guin...hamsters. I think they all...they all end up dying in the end, which is kind of part of the reason for having pets when you're young, you know, teaches you about death, but as an adult, I...most recent pets I've had were about the early 2000s and nearly 20 years ago. Daisy and Humphrey, who were... I kind of adopted them from my my girlfriend. We we lived together and... 

Mike [00:06:49] Okay. What animals were they? 

Owain [00:06:51] They were..they were cats. So, Humphrey a bit of a nut case, he fell out of a window, I think, once was never the same again. And, er, Daisy who just liked to set her...Yeah, Daisy who liked to set her fire on...her tail on fire, which is...which is not fun at the best of times when it's a white...a pure white cat. It doesn't doesn't look great. So... 

Mike [00:07:14] That's not going to end well. 

Owain [00:07:15] No, no, no. But I lov, lov...I loved it and I loved having them and I was quite glad when I lost them, 'cause they were a pain in the neck sometimes. 

Mike [00:07:24] Okay. 

Owain [00:07:24] How about you, Mike? Have you had...Do you got any pets? 

Mike [00:07:31] Yeah. I used to have cat..., er, do... two dogs. I grew up with two dogs in the house. I had a dog called Scrumpy who was a Yorkshire terrier. 

Owain [00:07:41] I think you've told me about him. 

Mike [00:07:41] ...and, and I had a little not so little, I had a black Labrador dog called Samantha, which is not a very dog-like name really, but it was a rescue dog. 

Owain [00:07:53] Not really. No. 

Mike [00:07:54] No. Some of the things that I thought... 

Owain [00:07:58] She was, she was called Samantha because she was a rescue dog. 

Mike [00:08:01] Oh, yeah. No, because we tried to rename her. We tried to rename her in an attempt to, you know, make a less human like, I suppose, because Samantha is quite a common name for a human. 

Owain [00:08:14] She just doesn't respond to anything else? 

Mike [00:08:15]'s common. Yeah. She wouldn't respend...respend? She wouldn't respond. She wouldn't respond to any... 

Owain [00:08:22] Peternity. 

Mike [00:08:23] ...Nickname, diminutive of Samantha. Sammy, we tried Sammy. We tried Simmy. Sam. Nothing. Yeah, it's tail....her tail, her tail wouldn't wag. So. Yeah, I mean it... Some of the more unusual things about these are a love affair with pets. Just made me laugh really when I was researching this topic. 

Owain [00:08:48] What? There's more? 

Mike [00:08:48] But you know that there's such a dent...There's a doggy dentist. You can take the dog? 

Owain [00:08:52] Yeah, I doesn't surprise...I ha... 

Mike [00:08:54] Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:54] Yeah. Doesn't surprise me. I've seen.... I've seen, I've seen doggy hairdressers. I mean, if you if least teeth, teeth are quite important, you know. But if you're going to take your dog to a hairdresser, then of course you're going to take it to the dentist aren't you. 

Mike [00:09:09] Yeah. Yeah. So you get you get you get days at the office, where you can take your dog in these days. It's very common. 

Owain [00:09:18] You get days off from the...from the office. 

Mike [00:09:20] No not not days off. No. You get, you get to take your dog into the office. It's like take a dog into the office day. That's very common. 

Owain [00:09:28] Is it?! 

Mike [00:09:29] Yeah, it's very common. 

Owain [00:09:31] Really. 

Mike [00:09:31] But you know, you can...that's why other countries think we're mad. Absolutely mad. Because in Mozambique, for example, in Mozambique, where my brother lives, dogs aren't allowed into the house. It's very common for a dog... 

Owain [00:09:45] RIght. 

Mike [00:09:45] be outside barking at traffic and gardening...guarding, guarding the property. Because that's what, that's what... 

Owain [00:09:55] Are they, are they pets...really? Are they considered pets, though? 

Mike [00:10:00] Yeah. Well, yeah, not in the same way as what we've considered pets, right. Yeah. Yeah. I'm down with some things, I mean, people giving food to dogs in restaurants. That's not really my cup of tea. Don't really agree with that. 

Owain [00:10:15] I haven't seen that. 

Mike [00:10:15] But I do think that pets are a brilliant way of combating loneliness on a serious note, I think is really good,. 

Owain [00:10:23] Right. 

Mike [00:10:23] Yeah. So I see the benefits of, er, you know, my friend was telling me that she had a dog that lived lived in her in her neighbours house and her neighbour was a very old lady with Alzheimer's. And this dog called Olympia, which is a strong name for dog. It used used to used to help this old lady and just keep her company. And... 

Owain [00:10:51] Ah, like Lassie, eh? 

Mike [00:10:51] ...whenever she played... 

Owain [00:10:52] Right. 

Mike [00:10:54] Yeah, whenever she played the piano, apparently she played the piano and the dog would just...would bark in, like, when th...when she finished playing the piano, it was like she was applauding. Except instead of... 

Owain [00:11:06] Wow, wow! 

Mike [00:11:06] ...instead of clapping, she'd applaud. Yeah, she'd, she'd...

Owain [00:11:07] Well, that says, I mean, I mean, dog...dogs...the interesting thing about dogs is they do appear to be pretty intelligent and you can kind of build a relationship with them. I mean, obviously, we don't know what they're thinking necessarily, but...or whether they've got that what degree they're, they're conscious. I mean. I mean, they're conscious. But how much they understand. I mean, how intelligent are they. We don't really know. But they seem to be getting it. You know, they seem to be quiet with whatever's going on around them. 

Mike [00:11:34] So do you think... 

Owain [00:11:35] Sometimes more than more than humans. 

Mike [00:11:38] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. More than me on a...on a Thursday night after...some teaching or even a Wednesday night, like it is today. I think, I mean, would you would you....Do you think that dogs can recognise? Can you know they'll appreciate a...a dinner that's made up of organic steak and all the rest of it? Do you think they said they say go, 'I'm so glad'? Yeah. 

Owain [00:12:04] Not really. Not really. No. No, I think they probably think, ooh, food - smells good. 

Mike [00:12:11] Yeah. 

Owain [00:12:11] Yeah. I'm gonna get...I'm going to eat this as quick as I can because I'm starving. 

Mike [00:12:14] Yeah. I think so too. 

Owain [00:12:15] I've been running around in the the park all day. 

Mike [00:12:18] Yeah. Well, mate, that was a j...a little journey into our pet...onto into the British love affair with pets. We'd love to hear from you guys. If you have any pets in your country, in your house. And we. And if so, what your what what what's what are your pet stories? Please write into us and tell us some pet stories. Until next time. 

Owain [00:12:43] Yeah, yeah. 

Mike [00:12:43] Happy waffling! 

British Pets

DaPuglet (Tina)

Honouring My British Heritage

language analysis: episode 21


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