transcript: Episode 8

Sam and Julie

Interview with Sam and Julie 

Mike : Sam, I put you as your biggest strength… your arms  (laughter)

Mike : Julie, I’ve said your biggest strength is you don’t care

Julie : Hang on, I’m the one who broke someone’s arms in an arm wrestle and I don’t get my arms, what’s that all about?

Mike : So, what I mean by that… I don’t mean… a couldn’t care-less petulant throwing her toys out the pram caring.. I mean you’ve got a low level of self consciousness (pause) in the sense you’ve got a readiness to say yes to things..  

Julie : Aha

Mike : And I’ve got so many examples, but I’ll take one which is…

Julie : No, list them all, happily list them all.. keep them coming

Mike : From being the first person who comes up with an idea for a dance routine in Spain for L & E Spain, when Im scratching my head going .. ‘how are we going to entertain these kids…. how we going to get an interesting activtiy for kids who we don’t know very well, we havent got a close relationship with yet, from a school we’re working with in London.. and we’ve suggested the idea of a dance routine, and we’ve been met with pretty blank faces to be honest. I mean at best, kind of… yeah whatever, few shrugs of the shoulders, maybe the odd smile. And then you come in.. and ..  you come up with a song, and you do the routine and within 10 minutes, you’ve got 3 groups, 4 groups, running with the idea.  And for me.. that willingness to.. to just not… it’s infectious .. to say I don’t care, I really don’t care when a lot of the other kids were worried about what their peers would think about them and that sort of thing.  And you just.. took the ball, which I think is an amazing quality 

Sam: I think you used the words, I don’t care. It’s a funny way of labelling it. I know what you mean. But I think the words infectious enthusiasm is definitely in there. That’s what I’ve got for Julie. I have honest, warm and open.  So openness is probably similar to what you have to not caring .. like she’s a very open book… well, open book is probably not the right thing.. but an open person.  And she sees the best in people…  which is, I think probably her biggest strength. Wanting to see all the positives in people and focus on those rather than anything else.

Mike: I agree with that Sam!   (Julie – off mic – that’s very kind)

Mike : So question 2, what is your biggest weakness?

Julie : Well, I started last time, so one of you two should start (laughter)

Mike: alright, I’ll start.

Sam : So, I think Julie, just because we were just talking about that, and you basically confirmed that.  I think you’re very sensitive. And I think you do worry about people’s opinions too much sometimes. And the very fact that you saw the negative in that, and you said, does that mean im naïve.. you have such a warm outlook and positive outlook, but sometimes if there is something said that is maybe quite personal… you would think about it and dwell on it a bit, I would say.

Julie: Yeah, and I think..  I’m maybe a bit more…. im a bit better when it’s not in the middle of camp.. I think it’s when you’re tired and when you’re … I guess I can be sensitive, I think I am quite sensitive, but especially in a kind of pressured situation when you’ve not had enough sleep, and just the smallest thing..

Sam : Yeah , it’s…

Julie : No, I do agree with you. I think I am.. I can be quite sensitive to things. Which is funny, coz I’d also say im very confident. But then, you can be confident but then be senstive at the same time.

Sam : Yeah, and like you say. It seems to be at certain times, it’s not all the time. And probably its exacerbated… is that a word (Julie – yeah it’s a word!) by triedness and situational…

Mike : Well, I ve put down Julie that your biggest weakness is .. talking to absolutely everyone..  (laughter)   And what I mean is for some people I think when they meet you, your warmth and willingness to engage in a conversation with them perhaps can come across as too much too soon.  And I’ll give you an example.. you came to see me in London, we went to do a Language fair… was it for L & E or something else?  

Julie : I think we met ... down in london, yes… 

Mike: Yeah we went ot a Youth language fair or something along those lines.  

Mike: And we took the train back from the venue, from the Excel centre back to my house in Sydenham… and it was rush hour.. so everyone was penned in, not much room to manoeuvre around the place.. and you turned to me and you said Mike.. why is nobody talking to each other? (laughter)  And I looked at you and I said Jules, it’s london and it’s rush hour, these people have got homes to go to..   I mean they’ve been talking to…. Maybe they’ve not been talking to anyone, maybe that’s just what London does to you..  But,  you were so willing to… just start talking to people.

Julie: (giggles) People say that about London. However, most of the times, whenever ive gone down I just chat to people on the subway, what do you call it? Subway, metro,  Underground!   And I tell people about it and theyre confused.. and I’ m like people have got it wrong… people in London are great, you know you just got to make the first move..

Sam: Its an expectation. Its you know, the Scot in you, and the same with me, with the Yorkshire. If you go down to London,  its’ frowned upon. Like I was on a bus, just talking to people and then I got off the bus and said “ Cheers, drive”!  And my mate was like.. elbowing me in the ribs, “what are you like, you don’t speak to him like that”!  Its like …   But its an expectation , its… theyre not used to it ,  and so they get on with it. And you know, its just what it is. You can never understand why its like that . But it’s like anywhere, things are catching. If you’re in the north of England or in Scotland, you say hello  and you say good morning in the morning, you know. And it’s just what you do. Even southerners who move up to the north will start doing that b’cos it’s expected. It’s not specifically the people is it. It must be, you know, being in a situation and understanding whats expected, and if you keep on getting told you shouldn’t do it, it will probably be hammered home that you … (laughter) you end up not talking to people.. whereas us as tourists we love it, we love talking to people.

Mike:  Yeah, and I say bring it on!  Perhaps, framed in those terms it’s not really a weakness at all..

Julie : Yeah I was gonna say, that’s the nicest weakness ever, thanks mike

Sam : That’s the worse one.  You’re a suck Mike!

Mike: Moving on to Sam then, that was easy..   I’ve put your biggest weakness, your jokes .. (in brackets, TERRIBLE!) 

Mike: I have put that … its funny… cos I think your strength is coming up with ideas and then I’ve put your weakness .. too many ideas. And, it’s funny how.. that plays out in people, how sometimes their strengths can also be their weakness. And I think, maybe you have the potential to be a bit vague about the ideas that you have.  And I mean that in a …. without being able to draw on any examples to hand, which isn’t very helpful. But I think sometimes when you develop an idea and I want details.. I want… concise, tangilble outcomes from your ideas.. and maybe I don’t get them.  And I know this is the case for me… so maybe it’s a little bit of me projecting..

Julie :  Mike, can I say something really funny?

Mike: Please do!

Julie: I’ve got for your biggest weakness… not a details guy 

Mike: Right!  Ok, so it’s just me having a chat in the mirror (laughter)

Julie: Ah that;s funny, that’s funny. But then I’ve put next to that,  cos you’re free spirited and I think that goes onto a bigger conversation about different types of leader. Some people are details people, some people are big ideas people, some people are bringing it to fruition people,  so that;s quite funny


Language Analysis: episode 8

Sam and Julie

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



Arm wrestle (n) (1.53):    

sport involving two people where one tries to force the others arm down flat on a surface.

Petulant, throwing the toys out the pram (idiom) (2.03):  

we talk about someone’s behaviour as petulant if they lose their temper, and the expression throw one’s toys out of the pram is an adult expressing their anger or disappointment in a childish way.

Dwell on something (v) (5.29) : 

if you dwell on something, you think about or talk about something for longer than you should.  Usually something bad or unpleasant.

E.g.  No point dwelling on your misfortunes. 

Frowned upon (Ph vb)  (8.30): 

Sam here refers to the practice of talking to strangers on the tube in London as “frowned upon’, meaning that people disapprove of it.  A ‘frown’ is when your eyebrows come together when you are confused or angry  - the phrasal verb is quite common in everyday English”

E.g.  Talking in libraries on your mobile phone is frowned upon in UK 



Tea time

Owain: Morning Mike

Mike:  Morning Owain

Owain: how's it going

Mike:  good it's going good. things are... ah it's a really lovely day in London here

Owain:  yeah?  things are hotting up down there are they?

Mike: Well it's cold but it's sunny. Yeah I mean, we are middle of October, end of October,  and it's er,  it's pretty cold. I've just seen a fox...out the window 

Owain:  oh yeah you have a few of those around your area don't you

Mike: yeah we do do but I mean normally they are out at night and this one was up early, it was a bold brazen fox

Owain:  I was going to say, yeah, feeling a bit cocky

Mike:  yeah exactly

Owain:  yeah, er,  it's funny because you live in the city and actually the last time I came to see you I saw a fox but out here in the countryside I don't see any foxes at all.

Mike: yeah it's the urban foxes that that are out and about

Owain:  all we can see is a few rabbits and maybe some sheep... some horses some cows

Mike:  I wonder if I wonder if our listeners have foxes in their cities and towns

Owain:  that's a really good question... any listeners in Madrid will probably say ‘no’,  because I never saw a fox in Madrid 

Mike: but but any listeners in in Bangladesh

Owain:  foxes in a major city in Bangladesh, I don't know

Mike:  well we'd love to hear from you anyway

Owain:  yeah yeah I’d be interested to know…

Mike:  see if you have

Owain:  if not foxes maybe something else

Mike:  squirrels... armadillos

Owain:  whatever... whatever you've got just tell us what kind of animals you can see out your window

Mike:  exactly

Owain:  and everything, well, of course that is one of the things we're trying to do here kind of like to get a conversation going with anybody who's out there listening so, um, please write in, there's an email address which should be up on the website and we need to activate some comments don't we

Mike: We'd love to hear your thoughts yeah.  yeah so this is a podcast for you guys, aimed at lis... aimed at helping you improve your listening skills in English, we're both teachers and we come into contact regularly with English language learners and this is our podcast aimed at at helping you improve your listening skills by having a natural conversation between two British speakers.

Owain: That's it and, um,  actually today we're not just going to help you with your listening skills but we’re going to give you a bit of an insight, I hope, into um to British culture

Mike: Yeah, yeah so what…

Owain: which of course pretty pretty closely to language 

Mike: yep

Owain:  yeah so, basically I have a son, Martin, and he goes to the local school and, um, so... and at the moment on Tuesday so he's going to to extra you know,  lessons to support his phonics and his writing because last year he was in Spain and the the system is different, so they don't have such a strong emphasis on sounding out words and, you know, ki... blending sounds and stuff like that, cuz obviously Spanish isn't so complicated in that regard, um, so he's going to extra extra classes and, um, and so I picked him up at at 4 yesterday which is actually quite late because  normally they they leave at 3:15 and and at the same time one of his friends from football on Saturdays was coming out and his dad was there and so we went to the park, um, and and it must be about 4:15 I think and we're chatting and you know the boys are playing on a zipline, they've got there in the park and --  and I don't think it was one of the features of parks when I was young but, er, certainly seems to be…

Mike: a zipline?

Owain: a zipline, yeah you know, you sit on it and you go down like a line, you start at one end, you not heard of that?

Mike:  no I have yeah yeah yeah I'm just, um, I haven't seen them in parks in London... how cool

Owain:  yeah yeah it is really cool I mean you sit on it it's not like a commando zipline or anything they're not flying over trees and buildings or anything but... anyway they’re playing on there and I'm talking to to Gaz, who's is this other dad. And, um, and a typical typical conversation that comes up just because of the time of day, um, is meal times, and again literally he just confirms to me something that I've heard and again and again since we arrived in England maybe about 3 or 4 months ago, which... and this is actually something that people told me about again, over and over again in Spain  and, um, and for many years I... I found it hard to believe, possibly because of my my lifestyle in... in when I was living here in the UK but essentially he was saying to me ooh, we’d better go soon, and it was quarter past four, because we gotta get to dinner, it's almost time for dinner... and I said to him…

Mike:  at quarter past four?

Owain:  yeah so I said what time do you have dinner? and he said well about 5, 5:30 something like that

Mike: Wow! That seems really early to me. 

Owain: yeah yeah, er,  yeah but it's standard pretty much standard everywhere and, erm,  and obviously for you Mike in your situation perhaps just a little different being, you know, like a young hip professional living in London you perhaps follow a different timetable, I don't know

Mike: I'm going to go with hip... well I'm I'm not so young, I am the ripe old age of 40 and I'm I'll take it, I will take hip, I’m a hip professional, erm, but no, what what... my situation is different from yours in that I'm not a dad I'm a bachelor living in London and so I don't have mealtimes with anybody else, it's just me

Owain: Aaah!

Mike: That's not a cry for help, that's not a cry for help... no but it means that I decide when I eat and I'll often snack during the day, I guess, I'll eat when I'm hungry and yeah dinners dinners totally depends on what I've got on planned that evening so it might be after I've come back from something I'm doing in the evening or if I'm working in the evening late I'll eat when I get home, but dinner certainly wouldn't be at 5 or 6.

Owain:  never? you’d never have dinner at 5 or 6 oclock

Mike:  I certainly wouldn't call it dinner

Owain:  well you'd call it tea wouldn’t you, I mean that's what it's called here you go home for your tea, right?

Mike: ah, is it? I thought that was a northern thing

Owain: maybe it is when I was young we used to leave school... and it's all coming back to me... we used to leave school and get home for about five thirty and we’d sit down, have our tea, which was basically a sandwich that was our tea and that was it for the rest of the day.

Mike: right ok

Owain:  ok yeah I don't know,  was that the same for you or not?

Mike:  I honestly can't remember, I think we we I mean, I have 3 other siblings so it was a kind of... I think it... I just look back on it and think how did my parents manage to feed us you know get us all, you know, I imagine some some big dickensian family sitting around a table and having having a whole load of food on the table, just taking it while we could 

Owain: were you Tiny Tim?

Mike:  yes I was I was Tiny Tim

Owain:  except you're not the youngest  though are you?

Mike: I'm the third yeah

Owain: except you're treated like the youngest most the time aren't you

Mike: exactly

Owain: yeah well anyway,  I always th... in a way this has come... comes as more of a surprise to me than it does to the people I've I've met during my time in Spain and they used to tell me all the time, it's really early, you English people eat really early and I used to say no no that's not the case I didn't do that when I was in England and then I'm discovering that they were right and for for Spanish people anybody who's in in Madrid or anywhere else in Spain right now will be thinking 5 or 5:30 that's impossible I mean the kids very often don't leave school until 4 oclock so…

Mike: yeah

Owain: to get home to to have dinner at 5 not only would it be quite tight but, um, you know, (it’d) just be, you just wouldn't feel ready 

Mike:  yeah yeah, well…

Owain: You'd just want to be out on the street playing that that would be the main thing to do

Mike:  absolutely absolutely,  well we'd love to hear ear from your your experiences guys out there...what time you... what's your... what’re your routines...what are you... when do you guys eat lunch, dinner, brekkie, um, let's get a conversation going

Owain:  yeah, um, and where can people write in to us Mike that's the key thing right now I'm not sure if we've got it set up entirely yet, but um, email?

Mike: no, they can yeah, they can…

Owain: comments?

Mike: ... so if you go onto the English waffle podcast, that's, and you will be able to go to the contact Contact Us page and you send us y... send us your thoughts on the contact page we will pick that up by email and will post it on the website

Owain:  Great, Yep so please do, um,  do send us your thoughts,  not just about this topic but anything you'd like to talk about or you'd like us to talk about in fact…

Mike:  yes

Owain:  we're open to suggestions and, um,  you know,  we we don't have any grand plan in terms of what we’d like to share with you, just whatever comes up each week, so if you've got a topic that you'd particularly like us to talk about and and want to find out about or you'd like to know what we think about, then let us know

Mike:  yeah, alright, absolutely ok happy happy waffling...have a great day

Owain:  yep it's it's...exactly... it's time for breakfast isn’t it oh no that’d be in Spain... happy waffling mate

Mike: breakfast in England... see you later... bye

Owain: cheers bye


language analysis: episode 9


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




Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 10

Indian English - Part 1

 Mike: Research ive done shows that over than 300 million people speak it, which seems an awful lot of people, and certainly that’s more than the mother tongue English countries put together..

Jai: More than the UK and the US?

Mike: And Canada, and Australia and New zealand ..

Jai: Wow.  Should be called Indian, shouldn’t be called English any more. Just Indian. Theres no language called just Indian, maybe there should be…

Mike: Yeah, interesting. So, we thought this would be an interesting topic, b;cos it shows there are so many different varieties of English, and there are lots of defining characteristics of this vareity of English, some of which are very colourful, and we thought it would be an interesting topic. 

So perhaps, Jai you could start telling us what are some of these interesting characteristics..

Jai: Yeah, well, so I think there are two categories in which Indian English falls into. In how its different from English english or American english. One is how English language itself has words which are of Indian origin , and there’s a whole list of these words like thug and pyjamas and pukka and caravan

Mike : thug and pyjamas

Jai:  Yeah

Mike: So a thug is..  what do you understand by a thug?

Jai: Well thug, is essentially what in Indian we would call a tug, was a bandit, essentially who would rob you, and that got translated or maybe was just pronounced differently by British people when they came to India, and became a thug.. and that’s now been adopted in the english language and became a thug.. 

Mike :  Yeah, so those of you who don’t know the word thug, in British english its someone who uses violence to get their message across ..

Jai: And take your stuff

Mike: And nick your stuff, exactly.

Mike:  Was that the other one?  Pyjamas? 

Jai: Yeah so same thing in Indian English, its an item of clothing, as it is here, but in India, interestingly you can call someone a Pyjama, as a form of insult, which wouldn’t fly in the UK necessarily cos no-one would understand you..

Mike: If I called someone I was pissed off with a pyjama , no… no..

Jai: Wouldn’t elicit any response.. just confusion

Mike: But you can offend someone by calling them a pyjama?  Not pyjama head? 

Jai: Nope. Not pyjama head, it’s a way of calling someone useless, you can say you’re just a pyjama, you can’t achieve anything, get anything done, you’re just a pyjama

Mike: Ha, that’s great

Jai: So these are some.. this is one category where you have words of Indian origin.. but then there are also Indian phrases, idioms.. Indian-isms… like…

Mike: Can you give us an example.

Jai: Yeah, so one is the, one of most well known ones is “do the needful”

Mike: Ok.  Do the needful?

Jai: Yeah, so it’s a bureaucratic phrase in a sense, where you tell somone to do something without actually repeating what it is that they have to if someone has to fill out a form and they have to do it in block letters, or in a particular timeframe, instead of giving them all this information, the bureaucrat will say can you just do the needful and come back to me when it’s done..

Mike: So it implies the listener knows exactly what they need to do

Jai:  Even if they don’t …  they need to figure it out…

Jai: No-one is going to go into detail of telling them you need to do this, this and this…. No, just ‘do the needful’

Mike:  Man, that cuts through quite a lot of stuff

Jai: It saves a lot of time, you know we have a huge bureaucracy in India.. and they’re short on time

Mike: Yeah, you can see how this has come about.

Mike: And what about new words.  Would this be considered a new word, taking ‘needful’ and ‘do’… combining them to make a phrase?

Jai: Yeah it s hard to say where… it maybe came from an Indian language and was adopted into the English language, you know sometimes you translate things and they don’t quite translate literally, you kind of transliterate it rather than translating. An example of this would be if someone inherits a lot of wealth … in India, in North india at least we call that person “rich from behind’ … everyone understands what is being said…. It implies they havent earned their money.. 

Jai: But if you said this in the UK,  you might be taken as you making a comment on their backside

Mike: (laughter) ; On their bum.. yeah, you are so rich from behind…. 

Jai: Cue Kim kardashian jokes… well, she is actually rich from behind (laughter), 

Mike/jai : It works for her (laughter)

Mike: Kim , if youre listening…

Mike: Yeah I mean a couple I came across and I was fond of, in terms Indian expressions, this one ‘ to prepone”.

Jai; Yes, which is a word which I think should take off across the world, really.

Mike: What does this one mean?

Jai: Essentially, it means to bring a meeting forward. So you postpone a meeting when it’s being delayed,  so you say prepone 

Jai: And why use three words when one will do

Mike: Im happy with that.  Lets bring that in

Mike : When we think of the numbers of people, the mind boggling numbers that speak Indian English, do we think this is going to catch on to the rest of the world?

Jai: Yes, and for a couple of reasons. One because Indians don’t just live in England anymore,  im living in London now and people are moving across the world so they are introducing these words, unwittingly to other cultures.. some will be adopted some won’t, which is natural in a language . And the other reason is the Indian population is still growing and there’ll be more people going to do busness in India, and in that scenario you just have to adapt to the  local language, you know.  So its inevitable I would say!

Mike/Jai:  What else? We could go through some more words..

Jai: So shifting is an example of a word used in both countries, but used differently. So in India when we move residences we we don’t say we’re moving, we say we’re shifting., b’cos we are, well the joke is that there’s such litle space in India you cant actually move , you just shift along.  But everyone understands what you mean when you say you’re shifting in India. If you say it here in UK, it sounds like a dance move.. or a dodgy person… 

Mike: Yeah, we have the word shifty, meaning slightly dodgy

Jai: Also we have the phrase, kindly adjust which us a way of saying,  if youre in a train or a bus and youre right up against someone and theyre not making space for you, you just ask the person to kindly adjust…. Its kind of an apology mixed with a request, mixed with a shrug

Mike: Ok

Jai: So its like we’re in this situation, we just have to deal with it, can you just adjust and I’ll adjust and we’ll get through it

Mike: Yeah, cos we all know that British English and culture tends to be infused with an apologetic bent to it, so we’d probably say ‘sorry, could you please, would you mind, moving along…  too many words..!   And I think many of our listeners can identify with this .. how we are so indirect with our language in English… whereas in French, Spanish, you just say “move, please”!  Maybe without the please!

Jai: …. And it saves, time, saves energy . But if you do that here people will be taken aback, offended slightly, I think.

Mike: Yeah, this is it. We have a hugely polite framework which we operate in, language and otherwise.

Jai : Which really helps in a city like london, b’cos if that wasn’t there, it would just be chaos

Mike: Yeah

Mike: Well, that’s our 10 minutes up.  Goes real quick… thanks for coming on the podcast Jai!


language analysis: episode 10


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



To nick someone’s stuff  (verb)  :  to steal something

Cut through (Ph. Verb) a lot of stuff ;  make something easier

Mike here uses phrasal verb to talk about making life easier by using the phrase ‘do the needful’

Catch on (Ph. Verb) : become popular 

Mike wonders if some of Indian English phrases will catch on (e.g. become popular) by the rest of the world

Unwittingly (adj) : without being aware, unintentional

E.g  ‘many users unwittingly expose their personal details to strangers online’

Dodgy (adj) ; dishonest or unreliable

Most of the time we use this to refer to people, but sometimes we can use



Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 11

Indian English - Part 2


Mike: So hello again Jai. 

We talked about Indian English last time, and we thought we'd have a bit more to say, so we'd carry on talking about it

Jai: it is a growing language in itself as more and more words keep getting borrowed, translated, misused, inappropriately used, so if you do this podcast 10 years from now you'll have a whole new list of words to talk about.

Mike: So can you give us an example of misuse

Jai: Pass out. When you graduate from a University or a College in India you don't tend to say I've graduated from such a place you say I've passed out from such a place

Mike : So in English you'd say you fainted, you passed out. Pass out means to faint

Mike: But it doesn't mean you've fainted from the University...

Jai: No, tho you might have done as well!

Mike: I tell you which one i like, if your teacher is stressing you out at school in India you'd say my teachers sitting on my face, which is apparently a direct translation of Hindi.

Jai: Is it? I've never said that, so i've learned something today as well..

Mike: I'm pretty sure, fairly sure. I read this, I think it was the Independent newspaper, who did an article on Indian expressions

Jai: I wonder if the expression was actually 'the teacher is sitting on my head'

Mike: That's the one!

Jai; Yes, this is a direct translation. You say this about your teacher or your boss, if they're just constantly, essentially, what do you say in English 'on your case', in India you'd say 'sitting on your head;

Mike: Thats' great, odd expressions coming up. Anything else?

Jai: So many, i mean when you ask people their names, you often ask 'what is their good name"

Jai: I think this is done, b'cos there are caste connotations with asking someone their names and people might be offended, as it reveals what religion, caste, what faith they're from. So you'e kind of implying you're not interested in their background

Mike: Ah, so now you're back to politeness and how India has taken on some of the polite constructs we've got in British English

Jai: I think so, and i think thats happened b'cos the relationship between Britain and India is v different from the relationship between Britain and Europe. In one case, you're learning a language from a country that's ruled over you for a couple of centuries, so its a top-down filtering of language. And in the other case, if you're European or from somewhere else in the world, you're learning the langauge of a parallel or equal culture. So i suppose, in India its a case of needing to learn English to survive, whereas in other countries it's a case of wanting to learn

Mike: yeah, complimenting what you've got... that's interesting.

Mike: So, British and Indian English, what other words you've got down on your list?

I had the word pundit, which is someone who offers an expert opinion on something, football pundit or political pundit. I've got the word bungalow..

Jai: So, in hindi a pundit is a priest. 

Mike: Like a guru?

Jai: Well a guru is slightly different, a guru is someone who gives advice whereas a pundit is essentially a priest and will tell you what to do. A pundit is in charge, of ceremonies, whereas a guru will give advice, he's a mentor

Mike: And we've adopted this , so you can be of guru of anything ; mortgages, etc

Jai: It's quite appropriate actually in terms of football, it being a religion in a sense

Jai; Bungalow, well this is quite interesting for people who've grown up with English as a kind of 2nd/1st language

Mike: Bungalow, for those who dont know that word is a house with just the ground floor, there's no second floor 

Jai: Ah, thats; the case in the UK. But in India, its a massive house with a massive garden, could have a second floor..

Mike: So, completely different.

Jai: Yeah, totally different. Same word. Like i was saying growing up, you dont know the origin of words. I always thought it was an Indian word, but I think it comes from the Indian word bungla.. which is similar, and that means a house. So the Indian version of the word still means small house, but the English version of the Indian word bungalow, means big house.. 

Mike; What else … you’ve got jungle. Is that an Indian word?

Jai: Apparently yeah. I suppose it makes sense,  what you’d call forest here I don’t know what the difference between a forest and a jungle, is it a matter of scale?

Mike: Er, I don’t know. When I think of jungle I think of wild animals, I think of the Jungle book and I think of heat.

Jai: And what about forest?

Mike: I think of.. I don’t think of heat. Jungle makes me think of the tropics

Jai: Right but theyre both made of trees…

Mike: Yeah, right but I suppose location. Where is the jungle? I don’t think of jungle being in Europe

Jai: Right, interesting, why not?  If I described a forest in the UK as a jungle, what would be different about it?    I don’t know, im just thinking out loud..

Mike: Er, amount of trees.. when we use the word jungle, ‘its like a jungle in here, it’s very thick.. at least I do… 

Jai: See this is the thing, the Amazon, is a rainforest?

Mike: Ah, but yeah the rainforest is humid… its rains a lot… tis…

Jai; So it’s not a jungle?  This seems quite arbitrary

Mike: (laughter)  Ok, we’ve gone down a rabbit hole here

Jai: So, theres also some words meaning the same thing, theyre just pronounced slightly differently.. like Avatar

Jai: Everyone knows what avatar means, in india its used for the gods and godesses and their various incarnations

Mike: A lot of gods..

Mike: I’ve got the word ‘cushy’

Jai: Cushy, yes which comes from…

Mike: which refers to something in English which is easy, you have a cushy job which means you probably get paid quite well, for doing not very much ..

Jai; And I think that comes from the word cushy, which means happiness

Mike: Ah, is that right.  Cushy, in Hindi means happinness?

Mike: You see all these little connections, the way language works, isnt it funny..

Jai: Yep. But equally… a lot of these words might not have orginated in India. Thye might orgianlly have come from Persia, and some words like veranda which are actually Portuguese in orgian, apparently, im not an expert.. but so im told

Mike: Yeah, so they’ve travelled, they’ve gone through places.. they’ve settled, but the origin of that word is quite hard to locate..

Jai: Absolutely, I mean, suppose all these words traditionally come from Sanskrit, or Latin, or some of the original langauges and those languages come from other languages, but veranda for example came from Portugal, to India, got adopted into the local langauge and then came into English. So its gone from Europe to India, and back again .

Mike: Well Jai, its been fascinating to talk to you, as it always is.. 


language analysis: episode 11


Indian English - Part 2

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



Pass out (Ph v) :  means to faint.  E.g I nearly passed out because of the hot weather

Arbitary (adj) : means based on random choice, rather than reason or system.   E.g  The way they chose the hotel they stayed at was arbitrary, they just picked one.

To go down the rabbit hole  (idiom) : An expression from Alice in Wonderland, it has come to mean to enter into a topic of conversation that is seemingly more complicated the more it develops. E.g Talking about Brexit and why UK is leaving Europe is like going down the rabbit hole 

Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 12


Owain and Mike waffle on in this episode about the news, footballers, and what you might find down the toilet bowl.  



language analysis: episode 12



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



Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 13

Ju Jitsu - Part 1


Owain : Hello and welcome to another episode of the English waffle.  Today we’re here with my brother, Doug.   Hi Doug!

Doug : Hi

Owain ; As you can hear he’s very excited to be here – his first time on the English waffle… and he’s here to talk about a really typical English pastime, ju-jitsu.  Is it a typical English pastime?

Doug: No, I don’t think so, I think probably more people do Brazilian jiu-jitsu in Britain than traditional ju-jitsu, as it were, the Japanese ju-jitsu, albeit westernised Japanese ju-jitsu.

Owain: More people do Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

Doug: Yeah, I’d say so. It’s very on-trend as they say, Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the moment.

Owain: Ok, for me I don’t know the difference between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and normal ju-jitsu, may... in a moment maybe perhaps you can quickly explain but even before I get to that I’m just curious about why you would do ju-jitsu at all.  What’s the appeal?

Doug: It’s er… it tests you in every way you can think of really, It’s a physical test, as you might expect,  it’s a martial art, so you do physical training for it.  Including, at our club you do high intensity training for a portion of the warm-up & obviously the move in themselves are physically testing. You have to move your body and move other people with strength and balance and things. So the physical side is good.  Mentally, it’s very testing cos you have to get your head around different techniques;  it’s a very broad martial art so there are hundreds of  techniques when you can include different variations on a technique

Owain: So for example, I did a training session the other day, which was kind of a one-off  lesson with your sensi actually 

Doug: Was it a seminar?

Owain: Yeah, it was a seminar. And one of the things we looked at was pressure points – is that quite a big part, a technique used?

Doug: Yeah, for the first black belt of Ju-jitsu, you have to do an anatomy test. So you have to know various anatomy things,  names of bones, pressure points, organs, that’s part of the grading..

Owain: Your vasicular  …. ?   Where’s that?

Doug: (laughter) - -What’s a vasicular?  

Owain: I don’t know!!

Doug: Cos obviously these are strike points

Owain: So, have you got a favourite? If you wanted to knock me out, where would you hit me?

Doug: Your corrotids..

Owain: Corrotids?

Doug: Corrotid arteries. Provide oxygenated  blood to your brain. So, obviosuly if you stop the flow of oxygenated blood to your brain, your body shuts down, and you go unconscious, b’cos your body goes into survivial mode, it wants to retain brain function,  so it shuts down and you have to be revived.

Owain: So, if you wanted to find a Corrotid?

Doug: You’d go just there at the side of your neck

Owain:  Doug just poked me in the neck with his finger, and I felt something…

Doug: Well, those are the pressure points .. .so when you get to Black belt,  you start using weapons.  And one of the weapons is the kubatan (?) I’ve never come across  a weapon with as many names as the kubatan; we also refer to the kata that we use as the yarawa kata (?) ; but ive heard other names for the kubatan; it’s a little stick that a lot of people have on their key rings… it’s got a roundy-pointy end and it’s got comfortable grooves to grip with and it’s primarily for the activation of pressure points..

Owain: he’s gonna hit me again!!  (moans) 

Doug: You can activate the pressure point on the top of your heart,  your biceps, your corrotids, your temple..

Owain: Hold on a second, hold on.. You just said some people carry them around on their key-ring ; you’re talking about ju-jistu practictioners? 

Doug: Not just ju-jitsu practictioners , b’cos obviously pressure points ae not exclusive to ju-jitsu

Owain: So any martial artists who deal with pressure points, may carry around these things on their key-ring

Doug: Well, yeah, I suspect… some people pick them up. You can get them for about 70p from a martial art shop, and theyre a rigid item that some people might find as self-defence useful outside of dedicated martial arts training.

Owain: ok, so you don’t have to be doing a martial arts, to know about self-defence… perhaps you live in a dangerous part of the country. And I suppose this brings me to another question, do you need to learn a martial art in modern day Britain?

Doug:  No, You don’t need to (laughter) …. tho it can’t do any harm, well it literally can  (laughter)

Owain: Well that’s the whole point of it, or is it?

Doug: Not for me.  One thing, I like about it,  well something I like about the ju-jitsu club that I go to is that it’s not got the air of machismo that a lot of martial arts clubs seems to have. Some places, karate clubs, kickboxing, boxing gyms, you go and you can taste the testosterone in the air… the deap-heat..

Owain: I can imagine that’s rather unpalatable..

Doug: (laughter) yeah…  but b’cos it’s a traditional martial art, what sprang to mind is family orientated,  I mean there are exclusively… senior, grown-up sessions, but it’s family spirited..  So, it’s not about the size of your biceps, or whether you can kick someone through a wall,  do you know what I mean..  

It’s not like…. I think of Joe Rogan, who’s a big fan of sort of, very masculine kind of violence..

Owain: Does he kick people through walls?

Doug: I think he could, yeah, Ihe used to do Taekwondo when he was young &  I’ve seen videos of his kicking. It’s very impressive 

Owain: Ok, well, so lets just say I’ve just arrived in the UK, and Im thinking of doing self-defence or martial arts for other reasons like self-discipline etc, how can I get involved?  Give us a quick idea of where to look, how did you get involved?

Doug: Well, I like ju-jitsu, so I’d suggest you learn ju-jitsu.

Owain: no bias there!

Doug: As we mentioned earlier, it’s westernised japanese ju-jitsu as opposed to brazilian ju-jitsu which is largely ground-fighting, and was developed for competition.. So, westernised japanese ju-jitsu, I’d just look on the internet, to find where you can do it.

So let’s say you moved to leicester, or just west of leicester you could google Leicester ju jitsu instead of jiu jitsu , you’d find the club that I go

Owain: You’ve lost me a little bit there…  

Doug: Well, the latter is in the centre of Leicester and it’s slightly different

Owain: Well, a shameless plug there, but we will include the website in the notes..

Owain : With that,  thank you very much Doug for coming along

Doug: it’s my pleasure  



language analysis: episode 13


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


Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 14

Ju Jitsu - Part 2


Owain: Welcome back to the English waffle!  We’re here again with Doug, who has already done one episode. Thanks for coming back Doug!

Doug:  That’s alright. I was just wondering about my status. Am I a special guest or just a guest?

Owain: No, not any more . This is your second time, so you know, youre part of the team.. not really.. 

Doug: Thanks!

Owain: But we had so many people we had writing in to say they loved the first part, we thought we’d bring you back!

Doug: Yeah, ive mastered lots of different types of handwriting… b’cos they’re all me!

Owain: Ah I see what you mean!  No, they don’t send letters… they send messages!

Owain: Anyway, this week were going to talk about ju-jitsu again, but some different aspects. Doug is actually a 1st dan black-belt?  And how long have you been doing it?

Doug: 8 years

Owain: 8 years! Bloody hell, that long!  And obviously you havent always been interested in ju-jitsu, you started quite late, right? 

Doug: Yeah, as you know, b’cos we did it together, I did Judo as a child .. judo comes out of ju-jitsu, but, yeah I’ve always wanted to seriously do a martial art, but it’s always been a bit down the list of financial priorities, …. I’ve always been too busy with work and things..

Owain: So why did you get into Ju-jitsu, b’cos obviosuly we live in quite a safe country in general. Do you need to learn a martial art in modern britain?

Doug: It depends. No, obviously you don’t need to . There are far more dangerous places to live.  But… no, you don’t need to do anything (laughter).. you don’t need to drink tea, but it’s nice!  And it helps you as a person, doesn’t it, tea and martial arts!

Owain: Name a few things that practising Ju-jitsu does for you?

Doug: It helps you to be physically fit, as it trains your body. It also trains your mind, as you’ve got a lot of techniques to learn. Also you have to develop an understanding of how these techniques work, so there’s a degreee of physics…  

Owain: Oh yeah?

Doug: Well, yeah bio-mechanics.  If I’m learning a lock or a throw, if I want to have a strong understanding of it, I need to know why it works or doesn’t work. It’s all about levers and fulcrums, whether I put my arm in this particular position, is that going to give me a more effective technique than if I put my arm in this position ..

Owain: Ok, this all sounds very cerebral and theoretical.  I wonder if a lot of people listening who’ve spent many years trying to improve their English skills, specifically English, can relate to that.  There’s an element that’s all about learning rules, and very often when it actually comes to putting this stuff into practice, you realise it doesn’t always work.  Does this kind of thing happen in Ju-jitsu?

Doug: Well, it’s why you do training, isn’t it?  Im sure it’s the same as learning a language. You break it down in training, you consider it in training, and you analyse it in training, so that the execution of it in reality is uninterrupted and doesn’t require any thought.  It’s that idea of when you start learning something, whether it be a language or a martial art, you are unconsciously incompetent, so you don’t know how incompetent you are..

Owain: Unconsciously incompetent?  Yeah, I feel like this a lot of the time (laughter)


Doug: And that’s quite a large phase, being consciously incompetent, to different degrees.  

Owain: That’s a relief

Doug: And once you practise and practise, you become consciously competent. And at that point you are still analysing, still questioning, deciding about how to do something, and you’re still deciding on how to do something, or what’s right or wrong, and you’re still taking coaching and such… but you’ve yet to reach the pinnacle, which is unconscuious competence and you do something without thinking.. so it’s second nature, as people like to say.  And there’s a good parellel  between language learning and martial arts, where… we speak English most of the time, without being conscious of it, b’cos it’s our native language. But if I tried to speak any other language, I’d be consciously incompetent, perhaps intitially unconsciously incompetent!

Owain: Well, I think maybe that’s the difference with language learning. You’re pretty much always consciously incompetent, b’cos you’re aware of what you’re trying to do and most of the time it makes you feel terrible, b’cos you’re trying to string a sentence together, and you feel like an idiot…

Doug: At least you finally realise! (laughter)

Owain: So, if I wantred to get into martial arts, what would I do?  Maybe I’ve just arrived in the UK, or Im thinking of coming to the uK to study martial arts, tho that would be a bit strange… you’d probably go somewhere else

Doug: Depends on what martial arts you want to study. I read a great book called Shu gong, about a man from Great britain who went t o study Kung-fu with a master from the Far East.  Very interesting book, I’d recommend.

Doug: But if you were coming to Britain, to learn a martial art, you’d just find your local club, wouldn’t you. Google it!!

Owain: Thanks Doug, really helpful (laughter)

Doug: Sorry, what I meant to say was.. you have to go to the ancient temple, find the lost scrolls and then follow the directions… to find the secret way..

Doug: Well, if you want to be a practitioner of ju-jitsu, youre a jujitsuka; I’m sure there’s a proper word for a student but im not sure what it is; the instructor is the sensay; where I train we do use some Japanese words, but we’re not heavily into.. we just don’t have time!   Which is a terrible thing to say for a traditional martial arts club, and I’m sure there are ju-jitsu masters who are turning in their graves  

Owain: They don’t have time to do things properly!

Doug: But this is why I refer to it as westernised Japanese ju-jitsu.  

Owain: Well, that would be a big ask, to combine leraning the martial art and the language at the same time?

Doug: Well, we do say Japanese phrases, incorrectly…  But, a lot of the time people haven’t come to learn Japanese, they’ve come to develop personally, learn self-defence, get out of the house…

Owain: Get out of the house?! (laughter)  On that note, it’s almost time for you to get out of my house.. so if you are interested in reading more about ju-jitsu, where can we find more information?

Doug: Just google it?

Owain: Oh, right, just google it!  The definitive word from Doug..  



language analysis: episode 14


Ju-jitsu Part 2

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



be physically fit (adverb + adjective) - [4.02 min]

Meaning: Healthy and strong, especially as a result of exercise (fit - adj.), relating to the body (physically - adv.)

In this episode: "It [Ju Jitsu] helps you to be physically fit."

levers and fulcrums (plural noun + and + plural noun) - [4:39 min]

Meaning: This may initially sound like an expression but the reference is actually literal: 'lever' - a long bar that you use to lift or move something by pressing one end; 'fulcrum'

the point at which a bar, or something that is balancing, is supported or balances.

In a martial art, instead of using bars to move things, you use limbs (arms and legs) to move your opponent.

In this episode:  "If I'm leraning a lock or a throw and I want to have a very strong understanding of it, I need to know why it works or doesn't work. And it's all about levers and fulcrums. Whether I put my arm in this particular position, is that going to give me a more effective technique than if I put my arm in this position."

second nature (idiom) - [7:15 min]

Meaning: If something is second nature to you, you are so familiar with it that you can do it easily without needing to think very much about it.

In this episode: Doug also uses the phrase 'unconsciously competent' to describe the stage in skill acquisition where you act at a high level of competence without thinking. 

"You've yet to reach the pinnacle which is unconscious you do it without thinking...and you,  you''s second nature, as people like to say."

jujitsuka (noun) - [9:37 min]

Meaning: A student of Ju Jitsu 

In this episode:  "If you want to be a practictioner of Ju Jitsu you're a jujitsuka."


Features of Spoken English


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