What is the English Waffle?


How to Use the English Waffle

Here, we are supporting your listening and learning by providing 'help' on the language which is used. Depending on the episode, we may focus on some or all of the following areas: Vocabulary and Features of Spoken English. 

Depends how much time we have!

The problem with much of the material produced for language learners is that it is simplified for different levels. This means it isn't the way that native-level, proficient speakers actually use English!  The more time you spend listening to English the way real people actually use it (e.g Mike & Owain!), the better the input for your natural language learning processes.

Use the transcript to help you understand what you listen to.  Look at the vocabulary and expressions and see if you use these in your English.

More information about this will appear in the blog in the future.

Check out this series of Podcast episodes for more help:

transcript: Episode 1

Two truths and a lie


Mike: I saw Total Recall in a science lesson when I was 12.

Owain: you saw it at school?

Mike: yeah in fact that should be one of my two truths and a lie

Mike: ...like driverless cars but women with three tits, I haven't seen many of them got to say 

Owain: ...but here you've got your typical electric scooters, you’ve got these little things that are just, you just stand on and they go along; you've got like something that's just like a little wheel and you have your feet go either side of it;  there’re a few other things I've seen which all of them are slightly different.

Mike:  So Owain, if I once said to you that I once fell off a running machine in a gym…

Owain: hahahahahaha!

Mike:  ...your reaction is to laugh

Owain:  I'd laugh, yeah

Mike: right

Owain:  Is this true or false?

Mike:  So, is this true or false. That's where I'm going with that.

Owain:  well look the idea is you’ve got to go through all three  all of them and I've gotta... I gotta make a decision

Mike:  you want me to give you three? Ok.

Owain:  yeah go on then

Mike: Right, so, so, I once had an eyebrow piercing, errr, is number one.  we doing two or three?  Three?

Owain:  you have to do three

Mike:  three okay

Owain: yeah

Mike: So I once had an eyebrow piercing.  I once found my cousin’s soiled underpants  underneath my granny's bed.

Owain: [pause] oh God!

Mike:  I know hahaha... it's quite foul... that one.  that one was quite foul. and and and, err

Owain:  I'm just absorbing... I’m just absorbing that one

Mike:  yeah...and the last one is...

Owain:  is your cousin going to listen to this? Sorry, go on.

Mike:  possibly possibly...and then the last one is I love celery absolutely love it can’t get enough of it

Owain: Ok. So let’s  just recap.  so first one was  you once fell off a running machine 

Mike: oh we've got four.  how have we done this?

Owain: uh,  the second one was you found your cousins soiled underpants under the bed under your under your granny's bed

Mike:  yep

Owain:  the third one you love celery

Mike:  love celery. I put celery in everything

Owain:  have I missed one?

Mike:  no, so we going to I'm going to scrap the eyebrow piercing

Owain:  oh okay yes...that was true

Mike:  that's a bonus one

Owain: that was actually true

Mike:  it was true.  I used to have... inspired by the show Heartbreak High,  I used to have a a an eyebrow piercing rather like the character Drazic. And I...I thought it was really cool. and then  I took... I went home, saw my dad, er,  shortly after I'd had it done and hahaha I'm not exaggerating,  he didn't... he refused to look at my eye,  he looked down at my feet, and  haha,  he was just in complete denial that I'd had it done for months...

Owain:  he wouldn't look at you?

Mike:  he wouldn't look at me... he wouldn't look at me... he’d avert his gaze so that he'd, um,  he did not have to make eye contact.  basically it didn't go down very well he didn't he didn't approve,  yeah,  very traditional dad

Owain:  well, I under... I understand...I... I'd probably react the same way

Mike: do you?

Owain: yeah, absolutely

Mike:  yeah, would you?...if Martin  had a piercing on eye

Owain:  absolutely

Mike:  hahaha

Owain:  well actually no….I...piercing... depends how old he is... how old were you?

Mike:  I wasn't six... I mean,  that wasn't...  don't get me wrong... it wasn't like I'd being a 6 year old and I went home...I went and got a piercing and then went home and said Dad hi...no I was more like 18... 19 

Owain: I think that's probably true as well cuz I could actually imagine you doing that...  but the...the...hahaha…

Mike:  thanks mate

Owain:  I really can imagine you doing that, er,  and I'd have a good laugh about it

Mike: um,  true... I fell off a running machine.  I fell off a running machine because I closed my eyes and wanted... I... I  didn't want to be in the gym at that particular moment... it was very hot and stuffy and I just didn't want to be in the gym...so I close my eyes  and pretended or imagined that I was somewhere else... maybe in a nice forest somewhere...um,  and of course I fell... I just...I came out of kilter  with the... with my rhythm... so I fell off the back and the next thing I know I've got three big alpha male gym guys  leaning over me and going “ all right mate do you want some help?”

Owain:  how did you feel?

Mike:  I felt very small indeed... I felt really tiny

Owain:  a bit embarrassed?

Mike:  mortified

Owain “first day in the gym mate?”

Mike:  yeah exactly,  it was totally like that: “ all right mate... you just have to press this button...it’s fine“

Owain: “this is called a running machine”...ok, yeah...and then the granny... your, your cousin's pants?...Oh God man

Mike:  yeah I was... that was not a pleasant  discovery

Owain:  why were they there?  why were they there?

Mike:  I haven't asked my cousin... I haven't had that conversation

Owain:  so you haven't talked about it?

Mike:  I haven't talked about it.  it remains a secret to this day

Owain:  until now

Mike:  until now... it's out... it's out the bag... the cat is out of the bag... I've told my mate... yeah

Owain:  well hold, aren’t we, aren’t we... going to upload this to the Internet...and um

Mike: Shit! Yeah, we are... it's out for anybody who will listen, including my cousin.  moving on... 

Owain: Ok. yep

Mike: Celery is a food that I wouldn't... I’d, I'd... struggle to eat actually.  I wouldn't...if if if... I was shipwrecked and I came off the sh... boat  and I had nothing to eat but I stumbled across a field of celery,  I'd have to think twice about eating it... because it's that bad… but I also

Owain:  what would you eat then? bugs or cockroaches or something  like that instead? 

Mike: I'd forage for, for  anything I could get my hands on

Owain:  grubs

Mike:  grubs ...exactly... because I just I just really don't don’t like the stuff

Owain:  yeah I used to I used to hate celery...my brother used to  love it... and nowadays I really enjoy it.  I like a piece of celery.  I love the crunch

Mike: do you?

Owain:  you  you dip it in a bit of salt and  it's lovely,  yeah,  yeah,  I don't know when...when that changed but now I really like it

Mike:  it's funny isn't it the changes of our taste buds... your turn... do you want a go?

Owain:  yeah okay...I'll go through these pretty quickly…

Mike: Hold on, hold on.  that deserves one of these. Very well done you got all of them right.

Owain:  was that clapping?

Mike:  it was yeah

Owain:  it sounded like somebody rattling some stones in a in a bucket... just how it sounds to me

Mike:  I'll have a word with the manufacturers of the sound machine I don't think that's that's one of them but there’s definitely a picture of some hands together

Owain:   I'd forgotten about your sound box... what's it called,  a sound box

Mike:  it's a sound machine

Owain:  a sound machine?

Mike:  yeah... it has 16 sounds

Owain:  okay well get your boos ready Cuz I think I'm going to get get this  wrong

Mike:  ok

Owain:  I can't believe... we mentioned this earlier... and I can't believe you don't remember my first thing which is...um... when... basically I went with a a group of friends... maybe about 10 years ago here in Madrid we went on a trip bungee jumping and we got all the way there and I was one of two people who got right up to the point of jumping and I couldn't do it  I couldn’t do it...that's the first one. 

Mike: Right.

Owain: The second one is that as you know I used to be a choir boy and in around about the early nineties I sang the solo of Ave Maria at the blessing of a very famous person a guy called Gordon Sumner otherwise known as…

Mike:  I don't know

Owain: Er,  Sting...Sting

Mike: Ah,  is that his name is it?

Owain: Yeah

Mike:  Sting the musician

Owain:  yeah Sting the musician exactly So that's my second one.  and then the third one, er,  is I am a green belt in Shotokan karate

Mike:  I'm speechless. Um,  all of those three could be true so…

Owain: Yeah

Mike:  that's it that's it that's a good one I mean

Owain:  what do you think?

Mike:  I'm inclined to think that you you did get to the point where you going to do a bungee jump but then you thought this isn't going to be much fun...it's not actually...I don't want to do this...I don't want to pretend I'm going to die and then go ah oh I'm going to die I’m not really  that was fun I don't think you're that kind of person I don’t think you’d get your thrills in such a cheap way... so I think that's true I think you had second thoughts

Owain: Ok.

Mike: Erm,  I also think that you sung...cuz I know you got a lovely voice I know that you were a cute little choirboy when you were younger...so I think you did sing at Sting’s..what was it?...blessing…

Owain:  yeah it wasn't his actual wedding it was at his Blessing which was in a church it was kind of like a wedding  but they got married beforehand and then had the the blessing of the wedding in church…

Mike:  did you get to hang out afterwards?  chew the fat?

Owain: I shook his hand and said hello but I'm not a great conversationalist at the best of times but as a twelve-year-old boy I was just...I didn’t actually know who he was…

Mike:  is that why we're doing a podcast?

Owain:  yeah exactly... oh yeah that's funny isn't it?... but I didn't know who he was... I didn't know whose Sting was

Mike:  right okay well that makes it even more credible I think that is correct I think that's true I think that’s exactly why I think it's true and the third one I think is false because I don't know I've never heard of this thing karate...I don't think it exists…

Owain:  you've never heard of karate?

Mike:  I know karate exist...haha... never heard of karate?

Owain:  I think it's a conspiracy,  hahaha... all this talk of karate

Mike:  I do think it exists

Owain:  it's all lies 

Mike: ...But I think that particular one

Owain:  Karate Kid, Daniel-son...It was all a fabrication

Mike:  exactly it never existed all that Karate [inaudible]...but I... tell me again what was the particular karate that you said…

Owain:  I am a green belt in Shotokan karate...I mean who wants to be a green belt in karate?

Mike:  well because I think that everybody gets that right?  I mean I could be a green belt just get given a green belt

Owain:  I don't think so... no I don't think so

Mike: No?

Owain: well you have got to start with white first

Mike:  want first is it? okay yeah... and you're talking to someone who knows nothing about...

Owain:  and then yellow and green and then...no sorry yellow then orange and then I think it's green

Mike: okay

Owain:  but I think you yeah I don't think you’d get passed yellow...you’d get onto the yellow plateau and stay there…

Mike: and stay there

Owain:  you're not a violent person Mike... as you always say to me you're a lover not a fighter

Mike:  I am it's true I am I I never got passed that Michael Jackson song to be honest it gave me words of wisdom for life

Owain:  what year was that?

Mike:  yeah before all of the yeah oh God...that's another conversation... we won't go into that...erm,  and I I think... I'm just going to go with my gut instinct so I'll say I think that particular one is...well is it?... no, I think maybe you were at someone else's christi...er, singing, because I know you've sung... you've sung in a film I know you sang in Four Weddings and a Funeral

Owain:  yep,  actually I didn't sing I just stood up...I didn't actually have to sing anything I just stood up...that was it

Mike:  don't be modest 

Owain: 2 days of filming I know what I had to do is stand up once

Mike:  yeah but you can just say to people I was in Four Weddings and a funeral and you are the shot

Owain:  yeah you can see me

Mike:  but they lip-sync you

Owain:  no I don't sing

Mike:  oh you don't sing at all


Mike:  it's just a shot of a choir

Owain:  yeah I don't know if at some point a choir does sing but...I suppose so... but I didn't sing

Mike:  right... was it  was it fun being an extra at the age

Owain:  it was a lot of hanging around...  a bit boring really... I enjoyed the money I got about 80 pounds a day...80 quid a day

Mike:  well that's a lot of money when your 9

Owain:  yeah,  yeah especially in 1992 in...92, 91

Mike: were you part of an extras agency?  did that lead to other work?

Owain:  no no they just contacted the, er,  the school because it was a  choir school and, erm,  we went up for a couple of days to London

Mike:  Okay so let me do a little bit of digging then on that  middle sort of lie... did you?  how did you get that gig?  how did you end up in…?

Owain:  just through the school...because I was at a school with a choir and they contacted the school and...

Mike:  Why did they contact... what so every film and every pop star just contacts this one choir to be like... were you world famous?

Owain:  well we were a professional choir I mean I don't know how many other choirs there are but...we did quite a lot of…  we did a lot of weddings, funerals... 

Mike: I can imagine

Owain: I got paid a fair bit of money when I was a...a child.  I don't know what happened to it actually.

Mike:  yeah hahaha

Owain:  I certainly didn't save it

Mike:  you hit your peak... at the age of 10... its decline since then

Owain:  hahaha yeah it's declined  with inflation...no that doesn't make sense... yeah okay you've got to make a decision...come on

Mike:  I'm going to stick to my original thing which was but I'm going to go true...truth truth lie

Owain:  truth truth lie...er,  I'm going to get my sound box out..[incorrect answer sound]... there you go

Mike:  oh I've got one of those...[incorrect answer sound]...

Owain:  perfect there you go...er,  you're wrong

Mike: ah, well…

Owain:  I am actually a green belt in karate...I trained at the University of Liverpool and at the red triangle, well I went a few times it was too scary to go on a regular basis, er, and  I did I did sing at Sting’s blessing,  so I've never been bungee jumping I have no intention of going bungee jumping it was enough for me to go to a friend's, um,  stag weekend  and go karting that was enough for me that was adventurous enough I've got no... skydiving bungee jumping hang gliding no interest in doing these kinds of things

Mike:  you don't have that itch to scratch…

Owain:  no

Mike:  you and me both

Owain:  yeah yeah and I think I never have... I used to like jumping around the garden and jumping over fences pretending to be a stuntman but I'm not interested in almost killing myself

Mike:  yeah in the name of fun

Owain:  yeah no no  it doesn't doesn't appeal to me

Mike:  I'm with you on that

Owain: So there we go sorry Mike

Mike:  so I got I got two...I got mine wrong...well I enjoyed that

Owain:  yeah me too me too

Mike: ...that little revelation particularly because we do know each other...we've known each other for some time so any of the obvious ones would have been really... you know if I'd said I've got two sisters and a brother

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  you know that would be really easy... Or if I said to you that I...I play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix again you'd be like, well I know that's true.... tell me something I don't know

Owain:  well I really enjoyed the one about the gym. I thought that was great I didn't know about that


Language Analysis: episode 1


Two truths and a lie

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



It’s quite foul  (1:53)

If something is ‘foul’, it is disgusting or seriously unpleasant.  

You can have a foul smell, or foul language or foul food. 

I came out of kilter (4.42)

Not properly adjusted,  not working well,  out of balance.  We will often say something is out of kilter when it is no longer working as it should be.

E.g. The computer is out of kilter. It doesn’t let me log on. 

The cat is out the bag  (5.44)

This idiom is used to mean that a secret has been revealed by mistake.

e.g. Mike let the cat out the bag about Sarah’s wedding date. (He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone but revealed the date of the wedding without intending to.)

To have second thoughts (10.25)

Maybe an obvious one, but means to change your mind about something or begin to doubt yourself.  Other languages don’t have such a literal way of saying the same thing.

e.g. I wanted to be an Astronaut growing up, but when I realised how much work was involved, I had second thoughts.

Go with your gut instinct (13.21)

This one means to trust your first impressions of a situation, or your feeling.  Follow your instincts as opposed to something supported by facts or opinions.

e.g. I went with my gut (instinct) and bought the funky yellow jacket I saw first



This episode's focus on Phonology is a common cluster which can be difficult to identify clearly in fast, natural speech.

a couple of , e.g. we went up for a couple of days to London

(14:46 - frequent three-word cluster)

“two or a few things” - In this context, Owain is being vague about how many days he spent in London, perhaps because he can’t really remember.

Phonemic script to show actual sounds:

for a couple of

/ fə rə kʌpl ə /

fuh ruh cupla

(See the top of the page or  Photo Gallery for chart of stress patterns for the whole sentence)

AUDIO : original, full speed, squeezed (not currently available)

Now listen to how this phrase sounds with citation forms (the way words are spoken in isolation):

AUDIO: copy, incl. citation forms (not currently avalable)



Mike: hi listeners this episode of the Waffle  is a little longer than the 10 minutes we're aiming for,  as we found ourselves in full on waffle mode, in the zone as our American friends call it. 

Owain: That's right yep I hope you guys enjoy listening and please visit our website English waffle dot co dot uk for the transcription of this episode  and language analysis.  happy waffling

Mike: Yeah and so welcome to the English waffle.  what's the English waffle?  we are a weekly podcast for English language learners,  designed to help you improve your listening skills,  listening to authentic conversations between two English because that's me  myself,  Mike,  and you Owain.

Owain: yeah and not only can you listen to us talking but but we are also both language teachers which means that we going to help you out a little bit with some of the language by analysing what it is that we talked about and pointing out some of the perhaps more difficult  features that you may not have understood.

Mike:  yeah that's right so perhaps you guys listen already to Eng...maybe you live in an English-speaking country where English is around you but maybe you kind of feel a little bit at sea see a little bit lost when two people are speaking at a native level speed.  so I guess that's where we started this right?

Owain:  that's right yeah and the point is at the moment we're just coming up with random topics that we would like to talk about and perhaps going forward when we get a bit of feedback our listeners can tell us what they would like to us to talk about.


Owain: Body hair is it a good thing or a bad thing?  well I think it's just a part of nature first of all (festival)l I mean I think we as animals I’m not sure if it’s (on the service) to do with the fact that we’re animals or not but we have hair, right? I mean it's quite a useful phenomenon really keeps you warm in winter, traps air in between your skin and the hair and keeps you warm in the winter  so I think it's a good thing.  what about you?

Mike:  yeah I'm glad  I have hair I'm glad I have body hair.  I quite... I perceive other people’s  body hair as attractive or not attractive that's definitely a thing for me so.  the other day I was on the underground in London and an attractive lady  happened to come in and sit (nex…’next’) opposite me  I and I kind of locked...we...you know I was reading my... why people don't look at each other on the underground.

Owain:  right

Mike:... generally.  but this particular woman I happened to just catch her eye...we locked in…

Owain:  right ok,  you locked in?

Mike:  well,  you know, there was a...there was some connection  of sorts... she smiled and all she did was just lift up very slightly her skirt,  she was wearing a long,  a long dress sorry, not a skirt,  she was wearing a long dress and she revealed ,  she revealed quite a lot of leg hair, like not just a few, not you know,  not stubble,  I'm talking like a thick  furry like a man's leg you know.

Owain:  wow

Mike:  yeah and it was quite incongruous  with... it was...it just didn’t... because she was wearing a nice flowery dress and quite feminine looking and then she revealed this hairy leg and it it's funny because your mind goes into...it shouldn't...That's the thing on reflection I was thinking why is that surprising...these are the pressures that women are under they have to shave their legs

Owain: yeah... ok so so that's a good... interesting situation and two things I think from the way you told it it sounds a little bit like she intentionally pulled her skirt up because you'd locked eyes it sounds a little bit like flirting I think we should clarify it's probably not what you were you were trying to say, right?  it was just as you sit down your skirt comes up up.and and… that’s it...

Mike: Absolutely  it wasn't a voluntary...no, sorry, there wasn’t  any seductive nature flirtatiousness going on

Owain:  no no

Mike:  no thanks for clearing that up,  that's  definitely

Owain:  I thought that I thought that was  important.  but no so this is one of the the interesting things about this whole body hair situation because on the one hand you've got our instincts when we see… and you use the word feminine... when you see a woman who's  the expectation you have is that, at least from  our point of view, that she's not going to have hairy  legs.  right... and with me when we see that she has got hairy legs,  it's not what you expect and from my point of view I don't like it I have to be honest  in this day and age it's quite a dangerous thing to say.  I don't like women with hairy legs.  I mean no sorry that sounds really bad it's not really what I want to say.  I don't find hairy legs attractive on a woman I think is the the very careful phrasing of that idea, right?

Mike: yeah but and accurate because it's not like you don't you know it's not like you hold any personal judgement against them it's just that you're not attracted to them. 

Owain:  yeah exactly  and that's a personal point of view

Mike: Right

Owain: yeah and he said Mike is it just saying it's not even something that I consciously think about it's just my natural response and as soon as I stop and think about it,  like you, I think,  well,  you know, what does it matter,  I mean,  my my wife sometimes is quite busy and she doesn't necessarily have a lot of time to stop and shave her legs on a regular basis so sometimes they get a little hairy she won't thank me for saying  this it's one of her secrets revealed but I think it's the same for many women, right? 

Mike: Yeah yeah absolutely I've got quite a bit of you know, oth(er),  life takes up quite a lot of time personal grooming is just one other thing you have to fit in

Owain: right right.  I mean we are being very reasonable here Mike and and I think that's good but, um, have you spoken to anybody else about this? have you asked about opinions?

Mike: Owain, I haven't I've let myself down

Owain:  you haven't?

Mike:  this week have not. Not managed to talk to anyone about body hair but I thought that that anecdote alone would just get me through just a little bit.

Owain:  well it's very similar to to one of my students and the story he told me about going to Canada where apparently there is a bit of a... I don't know if it's a feminist movement or or just the women for body hair movement… I don’t know if that's a thing... and he was quite surprised that...he saw this beautiful looking woman and basically looked down and saw that she had the hairiest legs he’d ever seen on a woman and he really was taken aback he was surprised and shocked and he wouldn't stop going on about it the whole class actually we spent most of the session talking about it could have been a bit uncomfortable.

Mike:  yeah yeah,  but again it's so much like how much we are ingrained into thinking something is it not? I mean the whole women body image with take for example the high street thing of getting your legs waxed,  you know your legs waxed or your bikini bikini wax I think it's called where women are getting

Owain:  for the bikini line

Mike:  for the bikini line exactly that's fairly recent thing right that wasn't going on 50 years ago was it certainly wasn't going on 150 years ago as far as we know there's no documented…

Owain:  I don't know in the UK but here in here in Spain certainly Madrid  what I understand is is that there's are real the thing here for young people is to basically have no hair at all on your body that's the that's the thing

Mike:  yeah which I find very unnatural

Owain:  yeah it's a bit weird isn't it

Mike:  isn't it I find it quite an infant infant infantilizing in other words the nature of bringing of making an adult appear to be like a child and that I find quite troubling

Owain:  ok that's interesting because I wasn't thinking along  those lines I was just thinking  that it's it's... I suppose I always think of the futuristic dystopian  films where you see people kind of of in extremes maybe everybody's got a shaven head or, you know or they've all got perfect bodies or you know because hair tends to make make you look less clean less I don't know I can't think of the word to describe it really but…

Mike:  well it does…

Owain: ... it's just simpler  isn't it 

Mike: yeah but what it does do is it it cuts out any difference because hair by it's nature  and the way we wear  hair are and the way we have hair makes  us different from each other

Owain:  yeah,  yeah good point

Mike:  so…

Owain:  no I hadn't thought of that

Mike:  I well I hadn't until you said it

Owain:  yeah, um,  yeah so I mean there is one of course one group we're not really talking about because the controversy here is to do with women so if you if you you and and I think you you mentioned this before  is that women feel that they can't have hairy legs because of people like us because we're... as we've said on this this this in this conversation you don't like it I don't like it so they can argue well because of people like us they have to shave their legs

Mike:  yeah but and and I would say that they don't have to there are there are men who like that kind of thing, you know

Owain:  are there?  do you know any?

Mike: Not among my circle of friends but I think there there must be men who are particularly looking Owain  the more I get older, you realise…

Owain:  or women

Mike: ...there are a lot of people who want...  who's got very  niche fetishes but I don't think hair is one of them I don't think  hair a hair fetish  is it?  it's just just what people want

Owain:  I don't know... no yeah I mean I I think I think

Mike:  we've got some really good vocabulary

Owain:  so so women perhaps in this this issue perhaps suffer more than men because I don't even really think about shaving my legs you know I shave very rarely actually  I kind of leave it to to couple of months after shave mine my beard that's about it  it and the group that's really really left out though  and I think are quite marginalised  and suffer quite a  lot are those  guys who don't have any hair yeah so we're going back to Mike here

Mike:  right

Owain:  he actually doesn't have any hair he's never really  had any hair on his legs he's got a few little patches  little very very slight patches  but that's it

Mike:  yeah yeah I do feel sorry for  Mike in that respect he must get cold in the  Madrid winter  no hair to keep him (thing / from ???)... but mate can I... this is it  it it's going back to our... women ultimately are the ones who are, let's say,  the victims of all this  of this in a sense and... but then I think of people who's made a stand against this, people who’ve, who are  public figures who've made a stand and against this people like in the past Frida Kahlo  do you remem… Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist…

Owain:  yeah I remember her…

Mike:  ....who famously wore her…

Owain: ... rather hairy eyebrows…

Mike:  that's right so she had hairy eyebrows…

Owain: ... they joined up in the middle right?

Mike:  that's right conjoined (holy?) eyebrows,  but she also would wear...  would have a a moustache  have a little wisp of a moustache

Owain:  oh really I didn't  realise that

Mike:  yeah and deliberately to say listen this is my femininity  this is like it's not my expectation or  the Mex… the time, you know,  the expectations of  men at the time of  how how women should have... should look  and I think I don't know I consider myself more and more a feminist  right?  in in life and…

Owain:  oh I think we should all be feminists

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  or at least some some degree of feminist

Mike:  I do think with the issue of body hair yeah I think my point is that we we we just yeah that oh god what is my point I mean I am attracted to to I'm attracted like you to to to  women with  shaved legs  for sure

Owain:  that's it so you’re you're part of the problem

Mike:  I'm part of the problem

Owain:  yep

Mike:  but then I wouldn't yeah I wouldn't insist on them having that

Owain:  ok that's a good point yeah yeah and it's certainly when you're in a relationship I don't think you can really I mean I mean you shouldn’t  you should just say  you don't want to have to shave your legs, fine 

Mike:  right

Owain:  ok?

Mike:  what about the face? Does Sandra have any kind of of fac... facial hair? 

Owain: um, er,  no not really 

Mike:  no ok

Owain:  I mean I think I think all women especially the older they get the more facial hair is a problem but I'm think, erm,  again we could talk about this couldn’t we facial hair is it is it a problem why why should women not have facial hair

Mike:  it's bonkers  you can't think of any reason other than well...

Owain:  not really

Mike:  no no

Owain:  no,  actually,  I can think of one reason

Mike:  yeah?

Owain:  yeah I was...here in Spain obviously one of the things you do when you  you say hello to people or you say  goodbye to people is give kisses and typically  between women they kiss each other on the cheek  and between men and women  you kiss each other once on each cheek but it's not so common for men but it happened to me the other day this...a father at at my son's school was saying goodbye and he surprised me and moved in in and did the two kisses

Mike:  leaned in... I love that…

Owain:  that was  a surprise

Mike:  I love that I mean I

Owain:  what what?

Mike: we don't kiss  but I do kiss a lot of mine friends on the cheek

Owain:   yeah what guys?

Mike: Yeah 

Owain:  do you?  oh ok

Mike:  yeah it's just a thing

Owain: oh I don't at all.  and what I realised is that facial hair is quite rough isn't it

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  and somebody kisses you on the cheek you really do get a good scratch

Mike:  that's what Sandra’s  experiencing day in day out with you the things she puts up with

Owain:  right I'm going to shave... I'm going to shave today  ok

Mike:  don't... not for my sake just saying

Owain:  not my legs just just my beard and my moustache

Mike:  so she can still snuggle up to you and keep warm in in in there in your hairy legs hairy arms

Owain:  exactly having said that maybe that's what we should do maybe we should shave our legs as an experiment and see what it's like

Mike:  well you’d certainly go swimming faster 

Owain: Actually that's a good point  you don't get any swimmers with hairy legs do you?

Mike:  not many not many

Owain: no

Mike:  well Owain I think we've had add a very... we could have...we could go on for a long  long time  talking about body hair

Owain:  I mean you mentioned Body Image as a possible topic... and and there's a lot to talk about yeah

Mike:  so perhaps perhaps next time

Owain: I think that’s…

Mike:   perhaps next time we can talk about other things  we do or things we accessorize our bodies with like body art tattoos piercings all that stuff

Owain:  ok yeah I've got some ideas about piercings I think yep... alright mate well I'll see you you next week

Mike:  yeah yeah see you next week

Owain:  have a good one

Mike: it's been a pleasure as always... take it easy

Owain:  have fun waffling

Mike:  yeah you too  happy waffling


language analysis: episode 2


Body hair

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



be taken aback (idiom) - [09:06]

she had the hairiest legs he’d ever seen on a woman and he really was taken aback he was surprised and shocked

Owain automatically accomodates (see Episode 3/Language Analysis) and provides an immediate explanation for ‘taken aback’: surprised, shocked.


I don’t know if that's a thing [08.47]

(typical expression incl. ‘a thing’ (noun))

Owain, here, is referring to some kind of established genre - a thing - or, in this case, movement.  (I don't know if it's a feminist movement or or just the women for body hair movement…

Another example: Is that a thing nowadays? 

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=a%20thing (definition 3)

'thing' is an incredibly versatile word. Check out all the other ways we use it:  https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/thing#thing_vg_2 


Features of Spoken English

 is/was wearing [04:26]

Listen to the audio clip below. Can you identify which tense Mike's continuous phrase is in?

You'll probably listen a few times before deciding one way or the other. That's what I did when I created the transcript.

See below for the answer and a discussion of its significance.

 Mike:  well,  you know, there was a...there was some connection  of sorts... she smiled and all she did was just lift up very slightly her skirt,  she was wearing a long,  a long dress sorry, not a skirt,  she was wearing a long dress and she revealed ,  she revealed quite a lot of leg hair, like not just a few, not you know,  not stubble,  I'm talking like a thick  furry like a man's leg you know. 

is/was wearing?

Did you identify which version Mike said?

...is wearing...

...was wearing...

This is what I put in the transcript, but when I listen back I'm not so sure:

 Mike:  well,  you know, there was a...there was some connection  of sorts... she smiled and all she did was just lift up very slightly her skirt,  she was wearing a long,  a long dress sorry, not a skirt,  she was wearing a long dress and she revealed ,  she revealed quite a lot of leg hair, like not just a few, not you know,  not stubble,  I'm talking like a thick  furry like a man's leg you know.  

Really it’s ‘she’s wearing’ and even Mike probably can’t say which he intended to say.

Why does this matter? Well, in order to get the gist of what he's saying it doesn't. But, in terms of using Mike (or any other native or highly proficient speaker) as a model for language learning it poses a slight problem, or perhaps, a solution, depending on your point of view. 

The problem is that you don’t perceive a clear example of how he uses the Present Continuous as part of a narrative. Any clear grammar rules you have learnt for this reasonably basic situation are put into doubt:

- Is he using a past or present tense? If you look at the other verbs in his narrative you would assume it is the past. 

- But can he use the present when telling a story about the past? (Yes)

- If he does, is it ok to switch between two different tenses? (It’s what he seems to be doing, so yes.)

The good news is that it actually doesn’t matter. As long as the key part of the phrase - a long...a long dress -  is highlighted, we don’t even notice. Most likely the only people that will spot the difference are English Language Teachers. 

is/was wearing - Clip 2

What about this time?

is/was wearing - Clip 3

And at this speed?

transcript: Episode 3

Pet peeves


Mike: What's a peeve Owain, what's a pet peeve? We’re going do a...

Owain: oh sorry, I thought, I thought, oh no sorry I’ve thought about the wrong one then

Mike:   yeah and so welcome to the English waffle. What's the English Waffle: we are a weekly podcast for English language learners designed to help you improve your listening skills listening to authentic conversations between two English speakers that's me, myself, Mike, and you Owain 

Owain: yeah, and not only can you listen to us talking but we're also both language teachers which means that we're gonna (going to) help you out a little bit with some of the language by analysing what it is we talk about and, um, pointing out some of the perhaps more difficult features that you may not have understood 

Mike: yeah that's right so perhaps you guys listen already to Eng… you, maybe you live English-speaking country where is English is around you but maybe you kind of feel a little bit at sea, little bit lost when two people are speaking at a native level speed so I guess that's where we started this right

Owain: that's right yeah yeah yeah and the point is at the moment we're just coming up with random topics that we we we would like to talk about and perhaps going forward when we get a bit of feedback our listeners can tell us what they'd like us to talk about

Mike:  yeah for sure for sure so  today's conversation we decided to talk about what are our pet peeves

Owain: what is that Mike what's a pet peeve?

Mike: yeah so a peeve is something that is maybe a bit annoying to most people but is really annoying or upsetting to you as an individual. That's what a pet peeve is isn't it? It's something that is more annoying to you than it is to anyone else.

Owain: right right yeah

Mike: I guess

Owain: perhaps we (can) come up with an example, er, I have actually prepared the wrong topic for this.  I haven't really been thinking about it actually. I'm actually not a person who has really many pet peeves at all because I'm pretty easy going, nothing really bothers me that much and I'm really gonna I'm going to take a couple of minutes now while you go through one of yours

Mike: yeah sure

Owain: while I think about what it is the really annoys me, the kinds of things that, for no real reason get on my nerves  and I'll have a think about it you go ahead

Mike:  yeah alright so, my first pet peeve is being called sir in a restaurant and particularly in a restaurant but I guess anywhere. I know to others that might sound absurd you’re like, "Mike, it's just a role that people play, they’re being polite, they’re being formal..." but for me there's something... I find it really very antiquated I suppose and I don't feel comfortable I feel really uncomfortable with with them, with either a waiter or a shopkeeper  or whoever it is calling me sir. I just want them to call me, I just...I don't know... or boss even...in England we have that kind of term ‘boss’, ‘alright boss’ There's something that just..just grates

Owain:  but that's a little different though isn’t it? Cuz ‘boss’ When someone says to you boss they are not saying it's not really connected to... it's not really a term of respect is it? it's quite informal it's quite affectionate ‘s-sii’r is different because it creates difference you've come into the particular restaurant and I'm here to serve you is basically what they're saying

Mike:   yeah no you're right I find them both annoying but for different reasons  you're absolutely right the distance that's created by being called sir no I don't like it

Owain:  yeah interesting yeah ok, um, that doesn't affect me at all I think I quite like it actually because for once in my life if I'm, er... I don't often go to restaurants where people call me sir to be honest certainly here in Spain anyway because I live in Madrid you don't get that very often you know it's like ‘hello’ ‘how you doing’ yeah ‘what do you want’?

Mike:  yeah right right much more direct

Owain:  well I mean it depends on the restaurant I suppose obviously but yeah yeah I don't I don't get that very often and and how often does that happen to you Mike?  do you get called sir and and do you do anything about it? Do you day anything? 

Mike:  I do I do do I I I've recently taken to saying I'm OK thanks  you don't have to call me sir I'm Mike... so my second peeve Owain…

Owain:  hold on hold on a minute what about me?  

Mike: oh you want one? I thought it was one, two, and three I don't know... what's the format?

Owain I think it would be yeah let me have one let me have a go ok so as you know I don't drive I've never driven  I haven't even got a licence actually and one of the things that I find really annoying... I suppose this is a  pet peeve... is walking down the street Coming to a crossing here Madrid there lots of zebra crossings  and just being absolutely terrified of crossing the street because you you  I mean it's not quite  like India  or somewhere like that but you you get to the edge of the pavement...no I think I'm exaggerating...you get to edge of the payment, you start to cross the road the car’s coming,  and I'm never sure if they're actually going to stop yeah and and they always do actually so it's completely irrational but I'm just annoyed by the fact that they will always  sometimes even accelerate  up to the crossing and then brake  or just

Mike:  yeah yeah

Owain: ...or just be looking the other way and not see you and then at the last minute  they'll look forward and and they'll break suddenly and I'm just thinking the whole time I'm do you not care that I'm crossing the road and that I actually have no idea if you're going to stop and actually once one guy shouted out the window... because he saw me looking rather distastefully at what he was doing... and he said well yeah I saw you I was going to stop and I said well yeah you know that but I've got no idea 

Mike:  yeah people, eh?

Owain:  has that ever happened to you,  or not?

Mike:  yeah no all the time and ID say it's more common in Spain perhaps having been there a bit as well  I said that we...we call them zebra crossings in England and and because they're black and white,  they look like a zebra

Owain:  I think that's what they're called here as well

Mike:  while we do sometimes have that same fear that people aren't going to stop generally they’re more I suppose a little bit more respectful of  pedestrian crossings here...so, I  I don't like the fact that coffee nowadays is is sold in pretty much every place you go I find it... I find everywhere you go So like if you're going shopping for, if you're going to the bike shop to get your bike  mended You'll find like annexed to the Bike Shop is a coffee shop or a place that sells coffee Likewise if you going to take your library book back and all you want to do is maybe sit in the library and read a book and you get told are you buying a coffee sir and that's a double pet peeve in one you get told in the library are you buying a coffee sir and I'm just like oh this is just the worst thing ever.

Owain:  two of your pet peeves

Mike:  and that happened to me last week and I said no I'm not I'm just here to read a book and they they it’s just it's just happy but I get it because businesses need to make money coffee is one of the few things that people buy  all the time I'm but what it why it's a pet peeve to me is because it  it stops it becoming special stops it becoming a treat if it's every where  so  you end up with coffee everywhere it becomes like a commodity  so that annoys me

Owain:  can we just just this was a bookshop did you say or library

Mike:  it was a library but they also have them in bookshops

Owain:  because the thing about a library is that  it's not really a business is it? 

Mike: No

Owain:  until you bring in in coffee it's not a business so you I'm surprised by that...when I go to a library and not really expecting to spend any money so I think I would find that quite annoying as well because I think if all of a sudden I had to make this financial decision when all I want to do is read a book

Mike: Yeah yeah well that's it  I mean there was other spa...there just happened not to be any other spaces in the library to sit so had to sit  in the bid which was which was owned by the cafe and I didn't even know there was a cafe in the library until I was asked do you want a coffee sir  and I thought oh god that's like two of my worst pet peeves in one but I was very nice to them listeners just saying I wasn’t rude I don't... that's probably my  third pet peeve rudeness because I think that people can be it costs nothing to be respectful and to you know to talk to people with respect I just I think that we should all do that a little bit more

Owain:  I agree Mike absolutely agree yeah yeah there's no need for impoliteness at all one of the things that annoys me is basically just the the contradiction when it comes to technology you've got a piece of technology she's thoroughly designed scientifically thought through  and then when it comes to actually using it for some reason or other  do it never does what you're expecting it to do do or something that does sometimes it doesn't and I find it difficult to get my head around and it annoys me  that a computer doesn't just do  do what it's supposed to do do every time

Mike:  can you give me an example?

Owain: er, yes, um  Mike trying to set up his microphone plugging into the computer and not knowing why it doesn't work maybe that's not a pet peeve maybe that's Mike that's annoying me not the technology

Mike:  yeah I was going to say that’s don't blame the tools mate  blame the person yeah yeah oh well technology yeah technology and our shortcomings towards it that's that's a big topic perhaps that's one for next week Owain.

Owain:  yeah maybe I think technology is a big thing to talk about  yeah ok well  it's been

Mike:  yeah but well it's  been a pleasure talking to you Oast  as usual

Owain:  yep and hopefully we got some interesting language there for  our listeners 

Mike: Yeah yeah, until the next time (when) we'll talk about technology and our shortcomings towards it

Owain: yeah that's good yeah

Mike:  Alright

Owain:  alright have a good day

Mike:  you too bud


language analysis: episode 3


Pet peeves

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



pet peeve (n) [02:16]

something that especially annoys you (but may not be annoying for others)

E.g. being called ‘sir’ in restaurants (one of Mike’s - listen again to here this example)

point out (ph vb) [01:22]

To highlight something so that someone else can see it, e.g. “As we travelled around the city, the tour guide pointed out any interesting sights.” - This is quite a literal meaning of the phrase, so is actually more like a multi-word verb made up of point (vb) + out (adv). 

But, it also has a more metaphorical meaning:

to tell someone about some information, often because you believe they do not know it or have forgotten it, e.g. “Mike pointed out that a pet peeve is more annoying to you than it is to anyone else.”

(feel) at sea [01:37]

Confused, e.g. She felt at sea at her new school. In this episode, Mike is explaining the purpose of this podcast and suggest one reason why someone might listen: 

you kind of feel a little bit at sea

little bit lost when two people are speaking at a native level speed 

While he’s explaining, he quite rightly identifies ‘feel a little bit at sea’ as a choice of words which may be difficult for you to understand, and immediately, almost without thinking, he reformulates to a potentially simpler phrase, ‘little bit lost’. ‘To feel lost’ is likely to be more easily understood by more people and ‘little’ is actually redundant when you have ‘bit’.

Pron tip:

‘at sea’ - notice that Mike doesn’t say ‘at’ with an open ‘a’ /æ/ sound; he uses a neutral /ə/ sound, the Schwa (the most common vowel sound in the English language, so you should be familiar with it). Not sure what it sounds like? Have a watch here and then go back to the podcast to listen and compare.


Communication tip: 

Higher-level language users quite often ‘accomodate’ lower-level users during an interaction if they detect difficulty in understanding. One way to do this is to reformulate in the way Mike has here ('feel lost' instead of 'feel at sea'). It is quite a natural strategy for those who want to improve communication. However, some people are either not aware that it is necessary or are incapable of doing it successfully.

Look out for more examples of this in other episodes! 

get on my nerves [03:16]

To annoy someone a lot, e.g. One thing that gets on my nerves (really annoys me) is when drivers break at the last minute before stopping at a pedestrian crossing  


 I'm going to take a couple of minutes now while you go through one of yours.

See Language Analysis: episode 1 for comments on ‘a couple of’

Features of Spoken English


Mike:  yeah alright so, my first pet peeve is being called sir in a restaurant and particularly in a restaurant but I guess anywhere. I know to others that might sound absurd  you’re like, "Mike, it's just a role that people play, they’re being polite, they’re being formal..." but for me there’s something...I find it really very antiquated I suppose and I don't feel comfortable I feel really uncomfortable with with them, with either a waiter or a shopkeeper  or whoever it is calling me sir. I just want them to call me, I just...I don't know... or boss even...in England we have that kind of term ‘boss’, ‘alright boss’ There's something that just..just grates [03:23 - 04:23]

  • Repetition: “that just...just grates” - This is very often accompanied by pausing as the speaker decides what they want to say.

  • Organised as thoughts come to mind: “being called sir...in a restaurant and particularly in a restaurant, but I guess anywhere.” If Mike was writing this idea, he would have time to restructure and make it tidier and more concise: “...being called sir anywhere, but particularly in a restaurant.” Of course, when we're speaking, time is a luxury we don't have, so we have to get our ideas together and put them into words as best we can.

  • Quoting: ...you’re like - “Mike, it's just a role that people play, they’re being polite, they’re being formal...”; this is difficult to detect because the only clue you have is this phrase ‘you’re like’, which is said very fast. Even if you identify the words, you may not know that ‘You’re like…’ means ‘You would/might say something like…’

  • Not finishing ideas (trains of thought): “...but for me there’s something...I find it really very antiquated” - It is likely here that Mike didn’t finish his utterance ‘there’s something ?ridiculous, strange,...antiquated? about it’, because he felt it was going to be too strong and perhaps, therefore, not in line with his beliefs. So, he stops and starts again: “I find it…”, and this time softens his idea and hedges (see next point). Owain does the same soon afterwards: “...it's not really connected to... it's not really a term of respect” [04:34] - connected to [what?!], we don’t find out because he stops and rephrases before completing the idea with something about ‘respect’. Was that what he was originally going to say?

  • Hedging: “I find it really very antiquated I suppose” - By using ‘I find it’ he makes it clear that this is not an objective truth, but his personal opinion, which softens, and then he adds ‘I suppose’ which shows he is not 100% convinced by his own idea. This is often done naturally and unconsciously, probably to avoid confrontation in the interaction.

Real spoken language is messy. It really is. If you spend any time looking at transcripts of what people actually say in conversation when they’re speaking spontaneously, it’s often quite disorganised and, unsurprisingly, difficult to follow, particularly if it’s not your first language. 

An important reason to be aware of a lot of these features is to avoid getting distracted from what people are actually saying: the content of their utterances. Sometimes these features help the listener, for example, repetition and pausing; sometimes they don’t, for example, not finishing ideas, changing direction, or inserting additional information halfway through an idea.

transcript: Episode 4



Mike: You're getting green fingered as the expression goes. 

Owain:  I'm getting green fingered

Mike:  is that the expression?  you're getting green fingers I think is is

Owain:  I'm becoming…

Mike:  there's an expression there I don't know what it is we’ll get back to you

[theme music ]

Mike: Why don't we take naps in England? we take naps in S ...do ...you used to live in Spain, Do people still...[inaudible]

Owain: Not really not as much as people think... the tradition has kind of died out because people don't have time, you know, just like in many parts of the world you've got to get back to work  haven't you

Mike:  yeah that's the thing isn't it sort of Spanish businesses working with the rest of the world they can't say well we're just going to go for a 2-hour  siesta now we'll be back at 4

Owain:  no no I mean well I suppose in smaller places it still exists but but typically most people follow a similar... I mean maybe now they are quite strict about timing of their lunch and some some people in some companies even are pretty generous about how much time they give themselves for lunch 

Mike: well you might be wondering why we're talking about siestas 

Owain: yeah I'm wondering

Mike: Well because we had... earlier we had before lunch we went into the garden...didn't we... we entered the garden and you were telling me about the work (that) you were doing in your garden 

Owain: Yes yes I was it's a new hobby actually…

Mike:  oh yeah

Owain:  I’ve become... well basically just to explain I’ve spent a long time  living in a city and I haven't had the opportunity to to be in a garden open your door walk straight out into the garden and certainly not actually do any work in the garden and luckily or or depends on your point of view might be unlucky for some people my dad has given me the job I'm doing a bit of work as done to help him out so…

Mike:  excellent

Owain: ...so I'm there are pretty much everyday I'm going out I'm rolling up my sleeves  I've got my gloves on, I’m cutting trees down and bushes and digging up the soil weeding and it feels good.

Mike:  has he given you you has he give you directions on what he he what he wants or or you  you kind of this is your vision

Owain:  reluctantly yeah he he explain to me first of all (sounds like 'festival') he doesn't really know what he wants and he finds it very difficult for that reason to explain to me what he’d like me to do but in the end he came round, and he said...he took me around the house and then different parts of the garden and said look I want to do this here, I want to do that here so I kind of made a list of some things I’m supposed to do

Mike: That's great you're getting green fingered as the expression goes. 

Owain:  I'm getting green fingered

Mike:  is that the expression?  you're getting green fingers I think is is

Owain:  I'm becoming…

Mike:  there's an expression there I don't know what it is we’ll get back to you

Owain: I'm developing my green fingers

Mike:  that sounds that sounds more natural yet I'm developing my green fingers

Owain:  yeah that's perhaps we can we can explain that one that one in the in the behind the paywall later on at some point

Mike:  absolutely... but you enjoy gardening and maybe is this a thing that you’re...getting into

Owain:  well hold on,  we’ll come back to me, And I'll explain how I feel about the garden

Mike:  yep ok

Owain:  ok what about you though Mike? do you spend much time in a garden?

Mike:  well Owain  I as you know live in London and unless you're mega mega wealthy I mean we're talking mega bucks,  we're talking like just like...very few people have their own garden  some people have have they have a little tiny little space that they can call a garden but basically gardens of all the mega rich in London right? and so what I have is the next best thing which is a balcony on which I've got some hanging baskets and some pots  and then inside those pots, inside hanging baskets I grow herbs, a bit of few vegetables sometimes

Owain:  really?

Mike: yeah,  yeah I've grown mint

Owain: ok

Mike:  which I've put in my mojitos 

Owain: ok what else

Mike:  spice up.  I've grown some thyme like the herb, that's time t-h-y-m-e rather than time as in what ‘what is the time?’ 

Owain: right yep, that is an important distinction

Mike:  yep,  so time is a very...it's a medicinal herb that's good for or when you get sore throats when you get a cold you have thyme in your tea and it's really good

Owain:  yeah and it appears in in the song, traditional English song Scarborough Fair

Mike:  oh does it? 

Owain:  rosemary

Mike:  Rosemary and Thyme,  yeah yeah

Owain:  I can't remember it, I can’t remember the other lyrics

Mike: Simon and Garfunkel

Owain: Yep,  rosemary, sage, parsnip, no that’s not it, parsley and thyme

Mike: It definitely appears in the folk song

Owain:  it's good for you as well right

Mike:  it's really good for you

Owain: Yeah

Mike:  yeah yeah yeah so I've had mixed results, I tend to to go away quite a lot and and with... I basically tend to go away  and I  forget about the garden so I do come back and realise I've killed everything... it's not a great feeling for the ego, It's not really a great feeling all, all... 

Owain:  yeah but that's life though isn't it I mean things die so so imagine you come back, they're all dead, what do you do? you plant some more right? 

Mike: Plant some more,  yeah I think I just need to get  a little more organised  about saying, you know, asking my neighbours to water my plants  while I'm away for example

Owain:  oh yeah that would be an idea

Mike:  that would be good wouldn’t it

Owain:  that's what usually happens

Mike:  yeah,  yeah you don't you don't leave your kid alone and then come back and so oh well we'll just have another one that's not how it works is it?  yeah  mixed results... this child raising business

Owain:  interesting analogy  there Mike

Mike:  but you know it's looking after, being responsible for something else isn't it?

Owain:  well it's interesting because you're kind of taking... at you're looking at plants your little garden has something that you actually have to nurture and keep alive and it depends on you to survive and to thrive in my case it's the other way round actually

Mike: oh yeah

Owain:  my battle seems to have been essentially keeping nature in its place pretty much that's that's just in the short time I've been here at my dad's house looking after his garden I've I've realised what... how powerful nature is  is and how much work it is just to keep it in in order

Mike:  yeah in check

Owain:  in check yeah exactly and to to keep it tidy organised and and it's actually become a bit of an obsession

Mike:  yeah do you have a lot of weeds  in the garden?

Owain:  yep yeah I've been doing a lot of weeding and  that's really time consuming and and really detailed work and... but satisfying so I mean at the end of the day I’ve been out in the garden, working, using my body and I finish really satisfied and actually it's quite embarrassing to admit it but I keep going to the window and looking out and seeing the results of my handy work

Mike: Yeah why is that embarrassing?

Owain:  I don't know

Mike:  that's not embarrassing

Owain:  kind of… but satisfying

Mike:  yeah,  that's great I mean I mean gardening is a therapeutic thing isn't it... why are you laughing

Owain:  actually it does feel a bit like therapy In the sense that you're outside you're breathing in fresh air if you’re in the countryside and it it... I don't know why... actually it's a good point why is it  therapeutic? I mean it feels good

Mike:  yeah I think for me it’s about looking after something  that's that's taking responsibility for something else that's what it comes down to

Owain:  yeah... yeah yeah I don't feel  for me it's more  about killing things…

Mike:  really?

Owain: ...cutting them down yeah

Mike:  oh ok

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  yeah yeah I like gr... watching something grow

Owain:  ok well yeah alright different perspectives

Mike: Yeah, gardening

Owain:  Ok well,  yeah well what do you think this is something that you you I mean would you like to have a garden of your own like a…

Mike:  I'd love to have a garden on my own yeah

Owain:  really?

Mike:  yeah yeah I tell you what I would like is a... a garden  which I could I tell you what I wouldn't like let's start there... even if I had lots of money what I wouldn't like  is a garden where everything came on automatically the kind of automatic sprinklers  and things like that because my uncle has that

Owain:  does he?

Mike:  yeah he does Yeah he has a really... big garden in France in his house  and he takes great pride in showing me that everything's done on a timer and it's all technology and it starts everything for me the Joy I've been in the garden is getting...working with your hands and getting out there air and getting a bit dirty

Owain: but it's a lot of work though  I can  I can understand your uncle he may I mean perhaps a few years ago he may have started the same idea yeah I'm going to do it myself everyday I'm going to be out in the garden I... just like my dad he's he's like it's just too much can't deal with it all because as as I was saying before it's kind of a  battle... the garden keeps coming back and…

Mike:  right ok

Owain:  and you you can't leave it untended because it I'll just come back, it’ll grow, weeds’ll come back,  trees grow out of control  they start destroying your greenhouse etc etc I mean nature is alive and kicking and and you leave it to its own devices and it'll take over

Mike:  yeah yeah so maybe it's a it's a it's a gap between what I think how it's going to be and the reality 

Owain:  yeah I suppose that's great thing I mean you are idealistic you think, you know, this is this is is the idea of having a garden is pretty powerful and…

Mike:  it's a bit like having a dog like I know the idea of having a dog  is better than the reality really…I’ve accepted that.

Owain:  really?  have you thought about it?

Mike:  yep yeah oh yeah yeah I’ve thought about that a lot I don’t know why finding a funny 

Owain: I can't imagine you having a dog

Mike:  I'd love to have a dog

Owain: Yeah?

Mike: You’re kidding me

Owain: what would you call it

Mike:  I don't know I'd have to have a look at the face first... the name fits the face doesn't it but I think having a dog sounds... and everything about having a dog conceptionally is great... they are the most loyal creatures, they give you... they make you feel great, everyone who says that they have a dog, it’s like, it’s like you’ve done, it’s like you could’ve come ho...you could’ve had a day in which you maybe you know you weren’t very kind to someone or maybe you didn’t pay your bus fare or whatever it is, all these things  highly unlikely in my case but you come back and your dog give you the best welcome as if you like the best human being ever everyday because that's what dogs do

Owain:  yeah yeah... they do some other things as well don't they

Mike:  and um...what do they do?

Owain:  well I'm just thinking about my garden I'm thinking about how...what a mess  that dog would make of my garden...

Mike: You could train it...

Owain: selfish I know

Mike: no not selfish at all

Owain: ...digging, burying bones, shitting in the garden,  you know,  there it is, it's ruined 

Mike:  yeah for your garden

Owain:  for my garden

Mike:  yeah, it's true actually I hadn't thought... the the... the botanical garden against the dog the dog he's going to go mental isn't it the dog’s just gonna think that’s something to play with but I think yeah

Owain:  yeah well I think before before you know we going to the topic because you know pets is a whole other  story isn't it like children

Mike:  yeah the benefits of pets over children and vice versa that'd be a good one let's do that

Owain:  alright well…

Mike:  I saw our friends over at Rock and Roll English has... have  done one on... on have done a podcast on dogs…

Owain:  Really?  Really?

Mike: ...on our furry legged friends, so it's yeah it's  hot.  for me,  I'm on a dating website... no no this is relevant to the topic…

Owain:  dodgy dodgy Segway

Mike:  yeah the Segway is this every... it's so it's so common to find women who reference their dogs and like who... yeah who say  if i(t) … You'd better like dogs otherwise this isn’t going to work

Owain:  who would have thought it

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  oh well I suppose yeah yeah it's an important point

Mike:  so…

Owain:  so well I think on that note Mike we’ll…

Mike:  we've gone from gardening…

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  ...to dogs

Owain:  yep

Mike: ... to dating... briefly

Owain:  which is all related  to gardening if you think about it

Mike:  yeah haha,  is it?

Owain: well you might want to go on a date and then go and sit in the garden  

Mike: Yeah ok

Owain: ...with your date

Mike: Yeah or the…

Owain: it's a stretch  I know but...

Mike: stroke the dog in the garden with your date

Owain:  it's a good job we didn't get on to talk about cats then isn't it

Mike:  yeah, well it's been a pleasure as always on the English Waffle  we'll waffle on about something else next week 

Owain:  alright Mike, good to speak to you

Mike: you too... happy waffling

Owain:  happy waffling


language analysis: episode 4



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



Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 5




Owain: Ok Mike hi

Mike: hello

Owain: how are you doing?

Mike:  good I could do with a nap

Owain:  oh you’re going straight in, are you? Ok

Mike: I mean, you asked me how I was

Owain: I thought we could  just talk a little bit about where we are today,  tell everybody what we're going to talk about and remind people what we're doing here

Mike: yeah I mean that links in to why I want a nap 

Owain: Oh ok sorry go on then

Mike:  because we are at your dad's house in Leicester, we had lunch about an hour and a half ago and you cooked me lunch

Owain:  which is a  novelty

Mike:  first time

Owain:  f*** off

Mike:  well no it's not the first time but…

Owain:  we'll bleep that out sorry

Mike: ... well we've been in different countries because you've been in Spain I've been in London and... and it's not often we get to see each other which is great.  but we had lunch then we we were going to record something and I just a wave of tiredness came over me I wanted to go upstairs and have a nap

Owain:  what has that got to do with the topic for today

Mike:  well topic of today is perfectionism so has very little to do with that at all

Owain:  you don't really need to be a perfectionist to have a nap

Mike:  no no you don't maybe the ideal of being... of having a perfect day and  saying you know being perfectly productive and...the pressure 

Owain:  ok good hold that thought. Let's just talk about what we’re doing here for those... remind the... some listeners who  perhaps can't remember who we are. My name’s Owain .

Mike: and my name is Mike

Owain:  and what are we doing here  Mike?  what is this?

Mike:  well,  this is a podcast  designed for English language learners who want to listen to native level native conversation between two speakers, informal we're just chatting as we would maybe in a pub or in a frie... we just happen to be in a room together and we're just going to have a conversation and that's really... the  conversation is based on that,  any language that emerges from that we will be able to comment on on our website because we’re teachers

Owain:  right exactly as a couple of language teachers with years of experience we can  identify, hopefully, some of the parts of the conversation that may be a bit more complicated and give you a bit of help with that. So, without more ado is that is that...?

Mike:  without further ado

Owain:  without further ado

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  goodness me, erm,  thanks,  and without further ado, what are we talking about today?

Mike:  well , the idea of perfectionism, generally, perfectionism being that tendency to want to have everything perfect

Owain:  right and as you said we've we've been discussing one area which is particularly susceptible to perfectionism and the pressures of psychological pressures of being perfect is learning a language and not just learning a language but actually using the language which is the ultimate objective obviously

Mike: yeah  certainly among my students that's a common thing it's that stu...a lot of them tend not to want to say things because they they just they want to be a bit they might be a bit it kind of self aware of their accent or the... maybe they'll be using the wrong words…

Owain: yeah which they probably are  a lot of the time

Mike:  yeah

Owain:   to be fair... it's kind of unavoidable

Mike:  yeah but it shouldn't stop people from you know it's that ultimately what what is language and what are we doing here when communicating so if you...if you start off with  the mindset  that you're, that you have to be perfect and whatever that perfection means to you but if you start off with that mindset you, you're losing sight of what's important which is your message to be conveyed

Owain: Actually yeah yeah and I think that's a real problem when you're in a formal learning situation, you're doing a course or you’re having language lessons because you're really aware the whole time  that you're trying to improve and you're trying to learn the language.  good example of... from  my own experience of not having those constraints is basically being in a situation where either you use the language or  or you don't do what you gotta do. So, I had a job  in Spain where I didn't use any English at all, it was all Spanish and essentially I was aware most of the time that I had I had quite a few problems with the language and the great thing about it is... that  you are constantly learning and actually a lot of things that happen to you turn into quite funny stories. So, one time I had a chat with some of my colleagues and they told me about something  that I'd been doing for weeks.

Mike: Oh right what was that?

Owain:  and... and so I interviewed,  I worked in human resources, I interviewed people and in the office we had a room where, a meeting room, where I take them to do the interview,  you and there was a particular area around the table and interview room where the air conditioning kind of blew down quite powerfully  and it was quite uncomfortable to sit there. so what I would always do do what's the one then and they look maybe don't want to sit there are going to sit on the other side because the air conditioning and it was quite... there was a stream of air that comes down  and I would always say to them: cuidado con la chorra - or something like that

Mike:  what does that mean?

Owain:  I think it's something sexual or, you know, kind of male, phallic 

Mike: oh right ok

Owain: ...reference, I'm not sure I can't remember  but... and I should have been saying something more  along the lines of: cuidado con el chorro

Mike: Ok so just a difference in the gender

Owain:  yeah I  mean that may be wrong  now I can't remember exactly,  but when when my colleagues told me about it, they had a good laugh and and from then onwards  I said it  correctly at least I hope I did

Mike:  yeah because you associate that time you know you remember that time very well

Owain: er,  didn't you didn't you mention an example about the train or something? you…

Mike: Well yeah recently I was in I was on a train talking to my  French friend  and the oh well the train under a  tunnel and also the signal went and I rang her back I left a message actually on the one of those audio show messages and I said: pardon, je me suis coupé...l’appelle, je me suis coupé - and what I intended...meaning, or my intention was to say, that the call got cut off,  but I ended up (I think) saying that I had cut myself 

Owain: Right so she was really worried

Mike:  so she was really worried, she called back, you ok? Are you bleeding?  no no, so it was... it was...and from then I kind of remembered what the... that was that was I'm not going to make that mistake again you know

Owain: what?  cutting yourself?

Mike:  cutting myself... yeah phew…

Owain:  yeah so that rather bloody mistake... yeah

Mike:  yeah

Owain: ok yeah so I mean,  main message is basically…

Mike:  go make mistakes  in language learning

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  and almost gravitate towards them you know which sounds a bit odd but actually the more you se...the alternative of not making mistakes is clamming up and not saying much  which you know

Owain:  fail fast

Mike:  fail fast yeah absolutely

Owain:  yep

Mike:  fail fast,  so that's that and it... perfectionism doesn't exist in life anyway  well sorry  perfectionism certainly exists but perfection I'd say it doesn't exist it's a concept that shouldn't exist.  maybe we strive f...aah, I no don't know,  no I get myself in knots here I get myself in knots  I think what I'm saying is that as a language...learning it's really good to embrace mistakes and he go out there and and to sort of take it’s not even risk taking it's just to be open two people

Owain:  and actually I think the older you get the easier it is right because…

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  yeah you kind of realise that…

Mike:  nobody cares... 

Owain: no

Mike: nobody cares about you. I think that's a big realisation

Owain:  yeah yeah actually it's true nobody... you're pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things and well think about all the mistakes you've made in your life how important have they been, really? I mean you've said stupid things many a time, did it affect you in any great away?

Mike: well…

Owain:  well you say stupid things all the time  don't you

Mike: yeah,  I don't...I can't...I'm thinking of something that I didn't say that was stupid but yeah, what's your point?

Owain: erm, that it's not the end of the world right yeah

Mike:  it's not the end of the world, no, not the end of the earth as my brother used to say

Owain:  it's not the end of the earth?

Mike: yeah, he’d say it's not the end of the earth

Owain: well, that's a mistake isn't it?

Mike:  yes it is because it's…

Owain:  or do people say that?

Mike:  my brother does

Owain:  he's the only person who says that?

Mike:  as far as I know yeah the only person in the whole world who says it's not the end of the earth , but yeah…

Owain: it's not the end of the earth

Mike:  so no it's not the end of the Earth

Owain:  I like that actually

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  I  might use that myself yeah right, um, ok, um, yep, um,  so yeah have you got anything else to say about... I mean I think we could almost say that was the perfect episode for our podcast

Mike: Perfect episode on perfectionism yeah so yeah until next time

Owain:  yeah take it easy man

Mike:  take it easy man

Owain:  waffle on

Mike:  and none of that perfectionism stuff

Owain:  yeah avoid that

Mike: Avoid that that like the plague

Owain: yep


language analysis: episode 5



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



Features of Spoken English


transcript: Episode 6

How green are you


Owain: Good morning

Mike:  good morning. How are you?

Owain:  I'm fine thanks how you doing?

Mike: I'm also very well yep I did over sleep this morning

Owain:  oh dear

Mike: yeah,...

Owain:  why?

Mike:  I did it was all that...it was the anticipation  of of reflecting on how green I am I forgot  set my alarm. I forgot to use technology you know to...to... to because I did... this probably isn't the reason why I overslept obviously... but I did read that you have to... to putting your your devices your electronic devices on standby isn't particularly green

Owain: yeah

Mike:  yeah I definitely do that

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  so what I did yesterday was consciously turn off my phone, power off

Owain:  brilliant yeah

Mike:  besides which I get I got a better night's sleep actually thinking that there wasn't any technology in the room

Owain:  right,  right,  right

Mike:  so…

Owain:  so yeah it's funny  because it makes a lot of sense you leave  your phone on standby it's it's doing something the whole time right using electricity, maybe less but it still operating isn't it

Mike:  that's right and I did...so we both did this question anyway, didn’t we?

Owain:  yep, yep

Mike:  questionnaire on  on How green are we

Owain:  yeah yeah,  so er yeah shall I tell you

Mike:  I want to hear your score

Owain:  yeah interesting

Mike:  I want to hear your school... yeah yeah

Owain:  well basically I think I've realised that I am essentially an accidental ecologist

Mike: Oh

Owain:  yep yeah cos I'm pretty green I'm pretty green

Mike:  and and why does that surprise you?  because from the outside looking in I would say you you lead a pretty pretty green lifestyle anyway so... why why

Owain:  no, no no it wasn't a surprise it wasn't surprised but  people from the outside in may think, well, this guy is obviously really conscientious he must be some kind of activist or you know or a real environmentalist and it's not true at all I'm not, I don’t really spend that much time thinking about the environment actually, er,  it's just the way my life is, er,  I think it's probably got something to do with being poor or  something to do with...um,  actually something to do with living in a city most of my life,  which is...not, perhaps not a typical thing for somebody who loves nature right?

Mike:  no and counterintuitive 

Owain: Yeah yeah exactly although there are some people who would say... certain authors  who who I've read who would say actually the best thing we  do could possibly do do for the environment,  as a species living on this planet,  is to withdraw into megacities and leave it alone.

Mike: right I've heard that as well is that we're doing more danger to the... (we) doing more damage rather to nature by by being in the countryside and living in the countryside than we are in the big cities.  do you want to start then by talking about this study... what's the…? It was a questionnaire isn't it

Owain:  yeah I... to be honest I didn't look at the details I know it's from the World Wildlife Fund... but I didn't read anything about it

Mike: that's right, yeah

Owain: because I only did it this morning while I was drinking my coffee this morning

Mike: ok

Owain:  drinking my coffee  made with quite a high-tech coffee machine probably uses a lot of energy... it's not mine

Mike:  yes, yes no and  and this is it we we fall into pitfalls everywhere we we look I did this morning I made my cup of tea and I live I live with one of the person in the flat but he'd long gone to work since... he’d gone to work a lot earlier... so I made my cup of tea and then I realised that I filled the kettle up pretty full which I didn't need all of that water I just needed a fraction of that water to make myself a cup of tea and I thought oh no I failed, failed again at being green 

Owain: Yeah yeah

Mike:  should we sort of explain to our listeners why we're gonna why we're talking about this now like what the context of this is

Owain: oh yeah I was gonna ask you about that actually because you went to some important event to do with the extinction of the human race

Mike: yeah,  that that minor minor thing…

Owain: yeah how’d it go?

Mike:... of climate catastrophe…

Owain:  yeah yeah

Mike: so I went on Friday to my first demonstration that was none Brexit-related I've been to quite a few you to protest about Brexit and to make my feelings known…

Owain:  oh that's interesting yeah

Mike:... that I'm not happy, erm, about that but it was my first one going to to an environmental protest and…

Owain:  wow, that's quite interesting isn't it given that... so you're saying that when you were at university and stuff like that you never went to any environmental demonstrations…

Mike: I never did

Owain: Or you weren't thinking about  back it then

Mike: I really wasn't Oast I really wasn't I was... I suppose in many ways I was (a) pretty typical student quite apathetic,  smoking a lot of weed and being just  generally being just not not not caring about the environment at all

Owain:  right right ok yeah

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  that that I don't know why that doesn't doesn't sound like you Mike,  such as sensible mature adult I'm surprised

Mike: it's taken a few years to obviously to mould me into to the fine mature... the individual that I am now

Owain: anyway, you’re going to tell us about the event what what happened?

Mike:  yeah so a hundred thousand people turned up at Trafalgar Square which is the heart of  London and we went to to the Houses of Parliament and there there was a number of speakers who addressed the crowd on the climate catastrophe that were living in, 

Owain: right 

Mike: and it was it was particularly interesting for me to hear  the leaders of the opposition and the leader of the Green Party we have a really we have a woman the leader of the Green Party whose name is Caroline Lucas…

Owain: ok

Mike: ...and she gave [06:53] a really rousing speech

Owain:  right ok,  and so what's what's the story what's the what's the concern, oh well obviously, I know the general concern but why now is it so so critical and so important what was the what was the gist of her speech?

Mike: right the gist of it is that we are  we are no longer living in an age where we can recycle and kind of do... act...live a green lifestyle that will not be enough because in order to cut carbon emissions to an acceptable... to a level that’s agreed by by the, erm,  the countries in the UN I think it is we need to to we need to  all of us take radical action

Owain: ok yeah

Mike: And that’s yeah

Owain:  that's interesting because in the…

Mike:  and that's not just…

Owain: In the quiz that you sent me from the World Wildlife Fund the...my result was quite interesting  because without even really trying I'm pretty environmental but even in my case I think I'm only 50% of the way there I think is what it told me... so I'm I'm about I'm...at the end  there's  this graphic of of your footprint compared to the world and compared to the UK.  so, compared to the UK I'm about half the size and that's pretty much the same as the world average so I'm I'm pretty similar to a lot of these countries are in the  world where they don't really have much in the way of cars, technology…

Mike: do you  own a car?

Owain: erm,  no,  no not yet I will soon hopefully

Mike: uh?  you gonna get one?

Owain: uh, yes but before that I need to get a licence

Mike: ah, ok 

Owain: so I'm really green I've I've never driven, which is kind of weird for most people

Mike:  yeah I mean it’s obviously considerably  better for the environment if  you don't drive but  you can...you still emit carbon dioxide by going on a tube or a bus or a train it’s just considerably less...

Owain:  I've got to go somewhere, haven’t I?

Mike: you've got to go somewhere

Owain:  yeah yeah can't stay at home all the time

Mike:  no, your wife would kill you

Owain: No no she's never here she's always off doing something...um, yep, so, but, erm, Do you drive Mike? have you got a car? 

Mike:  nope, I don’t own a car, I cycle to work mostly

Owain: ah, very nice. So you don’t use the Underground?

Mike: I do occasionally use the Underground if the if the job is far away, but for the most part, I I will er bike to work. Where I let myself down is by flying, you see, because I fly quite regularly.

Owain: Ok, we’ll come back to that ‘cause I just wanted to say that I think I remember you skateboarding to work, for a time, is that right?...Was that you?

Mike: er, that was probably mean when I was about 21 yeah, long time ago...yeah

Owain: ok, I thought it was when you were living in Greenwich, or wherever it was…

Mike: ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, actually, yeah, when I was tennis coaching

Owain: not that long ago

Mike: still 10 years ago, but yeah, er I think because that was through a park so it was really easy it was just, there was no…

Owain: Right, right, what? was it like one hundred metres?

Mike: yeah

Owain: ok...ok so yeah, so so, tell us about your flying then Mike; do you do you…? Is it a flight a month, or…?

Mike: No, nowhere near as that, but when I did this questionnaire and I typed in the the flights that I’d taken over the course of the past twelve months,...

Owain: right

Mike: ...I’d had [10:38] one long-haul flight which I’d taken to visit my brother in Mozambique at that completely skewed my...my footprint

Owain: yeah, how far, how far was that? Because I when I put...the distances I wasn’t really sure...I didn’t I didn’t take the time to look up how far we’re (were/are?) talking about, but I was imagining from Spain to the UK was about two thousand kilometres or something like that. Is that about right?

Mike: yeah, something like that, yeah, exactly, so so…

Owain: 2,000...3,000

Mike: ...to...a flight from Europe to Africa is is...double that at least

Owain: yeah, yep

Mike: So, yeah, by flying, by flying it really does...it makes you considerably less green

Owain: Ok, so how many flights do you take a year, in that case?

Mike: er, well, last year I took four short-haul flights and then one long-haul flight.

Owain: ok, so not not too bad.

Mike: No, I’m not...

Owain: you’re not, you’re not a jet-setting businessman…

Mike: no, absolutely not…no

Owain: you’re not going on holiday every week...

Mike: no, no...the English

Owain: ...although it does seem like that sometimes...actually, but, yeah...oh yeah, what are you doing this…”I’m off to Mozambique”...oh...what you doing this w…? “Oh, I’m just going off to Spain to walk in the mountains.” 

Mike: oh, oh how the other half live, you know, yeah

Owain: so yeah and in in my case, I suppose, I used to, the last sort of fifteen years I’ve been flying (a) couple of times a year, I suppose. On a good year when I could come and see my family, when I was able to come and see my family, um, twice a year, it would be four flights, but typically I think it’s been more usual for us to do one flight a year, so...so two flights: the return...the outward bound and the homeward bound flight, which isn’t bad

Mike: [inaudible]...not bad at all, and I think until...until they make train travel - they, the people who run these countries - until train travel becomes considerably cheaper it’s often, it’s often prohibitive for us to...to look for an alternative to air travel, so...it’s a tough one

Owain: That’s interesting actually I was...I was talking to a guy at um my son’s school - he goes to the primary school in the village here - and um, he was saying that he goes on holiday to Germany...by train, which was...and he said it’s not that expensive (if) you book it in advance and [13:18] I haven’t heard of anybody doing that, going on holiday to Germany on the train. 

Mike: ok, that’s interesting, that’s really interesting

Owain: yeah

Mike: I’m just, you know, I look at UK train travel versus plane travel and they’re the same for...if... it’s sometimes cheaper to take an aeroplane up to Glasgow for example than it is to take a train, which doesn’t seem right.

Owain: No, no, but it’s about supply and demand, isn’t it?

Mike: If we’re trying to...if we’re trying to incentivise to take an aeroplane, to take the train rather, we need to address the cost, but anyway...What do…the...Do you have a dishwasher at home? 

Owain: Yep...do you?

Mike: And do you use…? I do, yeah. Yeah, cuz I think...for some people who...yeah I think some people would say that having a dishwasher is, is not very environmentally friendly compared with hand-washing your dishes. And I…

Owain: Really?

Mike: ...to those people, I’d say they’re wrong, yeah.

Owain: (Well), yeah, I...as I understand it one of the...most important things about having a dishwasher, apart from the fact that you [14:25] don’t have to stand for hours at the, at the sink washing dishes, is that it’s much more efficient, isn’t it? In terms of how much water it uses and…

Mike: yeah

Owain: a...a...actually, I bought one when I was in Spain and it was probably the best thing I’d ever bought.

Mike: Right yeah

Owain: And I wasn’t even thinking about the environment. I was just thinking about me.

Mike: yeah, yeah

Owain: Which...which actually is great, isn’t it, I mean, the more things I think that we can do selfishly but that just happen to to benefit the environment the better…

Mike: yeah, I g..., I g…

Owain: If things were…

Mike: I got a feeling that graph doesn’t really work in our favour. I think you’re an odd one for being an accidental...following your whims and your desires and ending up more...and ending up greener. I don’t know how you do that.

Owain: yeah, I mean, I think it’s just settling for less.

Mike: Absolutely. But check this out. This, this...I, I read an absolutely staggering statistic…

Owain: yep

Mike: ...which, which completely blew my mind; it’s insane. And it’s this...it’s if every family in the UK…

Owain: yeah

Mike: ...cut out red meat consumption,...

Owain: Ok, yeah

Mike: ...like, bacon, sausage, whatever…

Owain: yep

Mike: ...for a plant-based alternative, just once a week, once a week,...

Owain: yeah, yeah

Mike: ...the environmental impact, right?...would equate to 16 million less cars on the road.

Owain: Wow! Annually?...I suppose…

Mike: Er, annually, yeah, yeah, yeah

Owain: Wow!

Mike: Does that just not blow your...I mean, just giving up [16:01] a bacon sarnie a sausage whatever with your family. We’re not going to eat red meat today; we’re going to eat an environme...a plant-based alternative...I mean, hello…

Owain: yep, yep

Mike: Let’s get people doing that.

Owain: Yeah, that’s quite a...quite a statistic, although it does make you wonder where that comes from and how they work it out and...but yeah

Mike: Sure. I mean, this is the thing with these statistics, a lot of the time they preface them with saying “according to a study by Oxford University, and and they always put the Oxford University or some other, you know, highbrow university in there, as if that’s kind of completely free from scrutiny, you know

Owain: yeah, yeah…

Mike: it’s uh

Owain: (well, you know what’s) interesting, that was...that was the first question on the on the questionnaire, um, you know, your dietary choices, um, and yeah, I mean it’s...I think it’s one of the reasons a lot of people give for not eating meat nowadays is that it’s, um, really bad for the environment and, I mean I don’t think about that too much, to be honest, but um it’s a useful er fact. What I really need, though, is is some evidence, like, if somebody challenges me on it and says, well, actually yeah I don’t think that’s true, what...what, you know, I don’t have the ammunition to...to, to fire back and say, well actually, yeah, check this out.

Mike: Right

Owain: yeah, I mean I could I could tell them that statistic and they’d go “oh yeah sure”...

Mike: Right

Owain: ...and then I’d say, yeah, maybe you’re right, maybe...maybe it’s not true 

Mike: Right

Owain: I’m not a very good defender of…(environmental choices)

Mike: No, it’s...it’s, but it’s...it’s really difficult I think there was a very good book out called ‘How big is your banana?’

Owain: I’ve got it, yeah

Mike: You’ve got that? Ok. (well) you would recommend that?

Owain: Yeah and my banana is tiny. 

Mike: It’s tiny...oh good...I’m glad...

Owain: I think we’re talking about the same book, right?

Mike: I think we’re talking about the same book. Er, yeah, I mean, another really amazing statistic that...that I read was that one of the biggest sources (dources?) of carbon footprint is - you’re not gonna like this one Owain -  

Owain: oh no

Mike: ...is having a child.

Owain: oh god

Mike: I know...so, so, so [18:20] here am I, in my saintly aura because I’ve abstained from reproduction and…I mean I’m not sterilised or anything, but I...I, you know, have so far and and and so here am I, I’m saving the planet!

Owain: Well done Mike.

Mike: Well, thank you.

Owain: What would you recommend I do now then?

Mike: Oh…

Owain: Shall I take him back?

Mike: ...yeah,...yeah this is not working out for me, it’s not working for the planet....where does it…? Where do we…?

Owain: I’ve made a terrible mistake.

Mike: yeah...the returns sections

Owain: yeah, it’d be funny if he listens to this when he’s older and he’ll think, Dad, what...how could you talk about me like that?

Mike: ya, but I think, I think, you don’t need to...because you’re such a...you’re a, you’re an eco warrior by default, Owain, you’re just...you’re an example to us all.

Owain: I’m a natural.

Mike: You know, an accidental...I love that, you’re an accidental ecologist

Owain: accidental…

Mike: The Accidental Ecologist…

Owain: ...ecologist

Mike: That’s great.

Owain: accidental environmentalist, maybe

Mike: Fantastic!

Owain: Yeah, well, listen mate, I’d love to talk about this all day. Maybe we can do another one on this, but I’ve actually got plans today.

Mike: You’ve got plans!

Owain: I’ve got...it’s a special day to today, yeah…

Mike: Now, why is it a special day? Shall I just dig myself into a…

Owain: I know you’ve forgotten…

Mike: ...big hole.

Owain: ...yeah, yep, yep...as, as Sandra, my wife, has reminded you, just now, it’s my birthday today.

Mike: Happy birthday Owain!

Owain: Thanks, thanks.

Mike: Happy birthday, I’m, I’m...I mean, I tried to conceal it this, this long. I tried to make it out that I didn’t know, but it was all a f...it was all a hoax.

Owain: Oh was it, oh really?

Mike: yeah, yeah, yeah...so around about now you’re gonna be getting a delivery of flowers and chocolates and all that sort of stuff…you know

Owain: Oh lovely! Just what I wanted 

Mike: Hey, was that a knock on the door? Was that? Was that...a knock on the door? Mate, have a lovely day?

Owain: Cheers mate.

Mike: You only turn forty once, um, it gets better and better and better, life starts at forty

Owain: Well, yeah, I’m off to have lunch with my mum and my wife and my brother, so that should be nice.

Mike: That’s, that’s...you’ll have a lovely day.

Owain: Yeah, yeah, cool. Alright mate, well, maybe we can talk about this again next week. Not my birthday; we can talk about, um, what’s this...this, the extinction of the human race? 

Mike: Yeah, that minor topic, yeah, that, that...we can pick up where we left off, if there is still a planet

Owain: If we’re still here...ok, yeah

Mike: Ya...there was, there was a fantastic, um, slogan on... written on one of the pieces of card at the march, which was the lyrics from the Louis Armstrong...Louis Armstrong song, What a Beautiful World, and it’s said, um, you know, sometimes I think to myself, what a beautiful, and then dot dot dot...Oh!

Owain: haha...oh

Mike: ...as if to imply that there is no planet anymore and, you know…

Owain: Well, i(t)...maybe we shouldn’t quote from that song though because it does also say, we have all the time in the world

Mike: No, that’s correct

Owain: yeah, which isn’t true

Mike: yeah, that’s sending out the wrong message, we don’t have all the time in the world, so everybody listening around the world, go be green today, do something green to save the planet.

Owain: Yep, exactly, exactly...settle for less, like I do

Mike: That’s it. Consume…but, and yet gain more. That’s the thing: settle for less and gain more.

Owain: Beautifully put Mike, yeah, lovely...alright well

Mike: Ok

Owain: have a good day…

Mike: You too

Owain: and um good to sp...good to speak to you

Mike: You too Oastie. Take care!

Owain: Alright Mike. Take care!

Mike: Bye

Owain: Bye 



language analysis: episode 6


How green are you

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


 a really rousing speech [06:53] - adjective-noun collocation

Mike: ...the leader of the Green Party we have a really we have a woman the leader of the Green Party whose name is Caroline Lucas…

Owain: ok

Mike: ...and she gave [06:53] a really rousing speech

 rousing means ‘full of energy and enthusiasm’ 

let oneself down (...by + verb-ing) [09:39] - phrasal verb

Mike: I do occasionally use the Underground if the if the job is far away, but for the most part, I I will er bike to work. Where I [09:39] let myself down is by flying.

to disappoint someone by failing to do what you agreed to do or were expected to do:

  • You will be there tomorrow - you won't let me down, will you?
  • When I was sent to prison, I really felt I had let my parents down.


long-haul [10:38] - adjective [ before noun ] 

(opposite: short-haul - “Mike: er, well, last year I took four short-haul flights

...I typed in the the flights that I’d taken over the course of the past twelve months, I’d had  [10:38] one long-haul flight  

travelling a long distance:

  • long-haul flights/routes/travel Increases in UK domestic and long-haul flights offset slower growth in European air travel.
  • a long-haul airline/carrier/trucker


blow your mind [15:28] - informal expression

Mike: ...I read an absolutely staggering statistic…

Owain: yep

Mike: ...which, which completely blew my mind; it’s insane.

Definition: to produce a very strong pleasant or shocking feeling (https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/):

  • I read this tip the other day and it blew my mind. (Source: diynatural.com)

Frequency: LOW - see the i-Web World Web Corpus: (https://www.english-corpora.org/iweb/)

a bacon sarnie [16:01] 

Mike: Does that just not blow your...I mean, just giving up [16:01] a bacon sarnie, a sausage whatever with your family. We’re not going to eat red meat today

Definition: a sandwich with a bacon filling

Notice that Mike repeats the phrase ‘blow your mind’ but doesn’t finish it. For most native-English speakers or proficient users, the logical next word would be ‘mind’. For any not so proficient English users the previous mention and the context should give you a big clue. 


 Inversion - to add emphasis

here am I [18:20]

Mike: ...Another really amazing statistic that...that I read was that one of the biggest sources (dources?) of carbon footprint is - you’re not gonna like this one Owain -  

Owain: oh no

Mike: ...is having a child.

Owain: oh god

Mike: I know...so, so, so [18:20] here am I, in my saintly aura because I’ve abstained from reproduction and…I mean I’m not sterilised or anything, but I...I, you know, have so far and and and so here am I, I’m saving the planet!

Owain: Well done Mike.   

Inverting the subject (I) and the verb (am), makes Mike’s statement more emphatic; it sounds more forceful and should get the listener’s attention.

Features of Spoken English

Tails - The subject comes at the end as a ‘tail’. There’s usually a pronoun or nothing in its place at the beginning.

In this case, ‘that’ (here, operating as a ‘demonstrative’ a kind of determiner) refers to ‘going on holiday to Germany by train’ which was mentioned just a moment ago, but Owain intuitively feels that the reference is not clear, so adds the tail (going on holiday to Germany)

[13:18] I haven’t heard of anybody doing that, going on holiday to Germany on the train.

More examples:

  • They never keep their promises, the government don’t.
  • (They) need a lot of help, those children.

Squeezed chunks - some native speakers can be difficult to understand because they are lazy at times and don’t enunciate words clearly. These are typically not content words (verbs, noun), but function words (prepositions, articles, etc) which add nuances to the language.

There is a particularly good example of this below where one of our wafflers (naming no names, Owain!!), speeds through the words below:


apart from the fact that you [14:25] don’t have to stand for hours at the sink washing dishes

The speed at which the words fly by between ‘fact’ and ‘stand’ means that ‘don’t’ is not clearly identifiable. It would be quite reasonable to doubt whether the utterance (a spoken word, statement, or vocal sound.) was meant to be positive (that you have to) or negative (that you don’t have to)

Factual inaccuracies

...written on one of the pieces of card at the march, which was the lyrics from the Louis Armstrong...Louis Armstrong song, What a Beautiful World…

Of course, many of the problems with understanding the people we listen to have nothing to do with us. This is a good example of us talking about something without realising we’re making a mistake.

It’s not ‘What a- some native speakers can be difficult to understand because they are lazy at times and don’t enunciate words clearly. These are typically not content words (verbs, nouns), but function words (prepositions, articles, etc) which add nuances to the language.

transcript: Episode 7

Place names

Owain: Hello!

Mike: Hello! Hello!

Owain:  How’s it going?

Mike:  so Owain...er,  it's going well,  yeah,  yeah it's going well,  I've had a good day so far it's coming up to 4 o’clock which is tea time

Owain:  yeah is it? 

Mike:  it is for me... yeah?

Owain: I thought that was 5... that's what all my Spanish students used to tell me, it's 5  in England, isn't it?

Mike: I think... I'm pretty liberal with my tea times. I'd say there's a... there's a window between 4 and 6 actually make that 3 and 5... yeah

Owain: yeah because I would only have my 3 o’clockeses at 3:00

Mike:  what's a 3 o’clock?

Owain: 3 o’clockeses?  you've never had 3 o’clockeses?

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  yeah did you ever have elevenses when you were younger?

Mike:  no, what's elevenses?

Owain:  goodness me.  did you live in the UK you when you we…young?  no you didn't did you 

Mike: no, you no I didn't

Owain:  well, it’s a snack you have at 11 o’clock 

Mike: ah

Owain: hence the name “elevenses”

Mike: right so, a glass of milk and a biscuit...glass of milk and a b...?

Owain: Maybe yeah or a bit of squash  and a raisin or something like that... depends... no,  a biscuit was nice yeah

Mike:  well... so many possible segues, Owain, so many segues, but…

Owain: Really? I can't think of any…

Mike: ….but for me... Oh I can... I've got one already you mentioned biscuits and…

Owain: oh yeah

Mike: today's conversation is about unusual place names and I was gonna extend that two unusual street names

Owain:  oh no

Mike: yeah,  yeah because there's a street in, erm,  just down the road from where I live in South London called Kit Kat Street.

Owain: No really?

Mike:  yeah I promise you

Owain: Really?

Mike:  and I love riding down it it always brings a smile to my face

Owain:  yeah that's a... I wonder where that comes from... Kit Kat

Mike:  I don't know there's the there's the…

Owain:  but does it come before the chocolate bar or after the chocolate bar

Mike: I'm going after

Owain: You think they named the street after the chocolate bar

Mike:  no I'm going to go before...the absurdity of what I've just said suddenly hit home I was like ‘no’ that's just absurd

Owain:  Pity Me Pity Me

Mike:  well here you go Pity Me is that your segue into unusual place names? 

Owain:  well I was just chatting to my dad before and just asking him about you know...just came up in conversation actually,  you know,  strange names and he mentioned one in... near Durham somewhere ...a town called Pity Me…

Mike: mmm, that is an unusual... 

Owain: Yep

Mike:  an unusual name

Owain:  and I th... I asked him, well, how do you spell it? Because I thought it can possibly be literally ‘pity me’ and it is. It's P i t y, another word,  Me, m e, yep 

Mike: um, and so what’s...did he did he ...did he know the story behind the derivation of that?

Owain:  no, no ...I didn't ask...didn't go any further... (he) just gave me a list of of a places...another one in Cornwall called ‘morzle’, ‘morzle’

Mike: ‘morzle’?

Owain: Yeah that was my reaction...I went oh ok what's that...what's that then?  and actually if you saw it written down it would be ‘Mousehole’, but because the locals (kind of) speak funny

Mike: yeah

Owain:  it's morzle

Mike: aaah, so it is unusual. I mean I, I...I guess it's easy to forget that names, not only place names, but also our names,  like Christian names and surnames, they all have a meaning in their own right, don't they?

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  so for example Owain,  any noun has a meaning, in effect [05.10], 

Owain: sure

Mike: ...We've just, you know, we've just kind of lost it over time I suppose,  or lost the importance of, say,  ‘Owain’... what does ‘Owain’ mean? I haven't got [ inaudible]... what does ‘Owain’ mean?

Owain:  dark river

Mike:  does it really?

Owain:  yep

Mike:  oh ok, in Celtic

Owain: (in) Welsh apparently, well (alright?) yeah probably originally from Celtic yeah,  I don't know if it... if it's now in Welsh or (it's) just what my mum, my mum always told me, I don't know if it's true...you know the kind of stories your parents tell you

Mike:  yeah dark bubbling brook river,  yeah that's great

Owain:  yeah,  yeah yeah,  yeah

Mike:  yeah, erm, well,  yeah, so so I guess...cuz,  so so our discussion today was about or is about unusual place names

Owain: yeah and this was one of yours, wasn't it?  why did you come up with this Mike? I hadn't really been thinking about this,  but... what's the... where does this [ come from]?

Mike: Because I... I passed... I went... this weekend I went. on a singing retreat.  I went to sing down in Kent which is the... the, which is the South East of England, so a county in the South East of England and we...we went to, erm, a sort of centre where where we...about 20 of us stayed for the weekend…

Owain:  right

Mike:  and it was in a place called Appledore

Owain: ah  ok, ah that's a nice,  that's a nice name

Mike:  yeah and on the way there,  are my train passed through several places which were named after food things so I think we passed  through a place called Hamstock and then the train terminated a place called Rye, rye is the ingredient in beer, isn't it, rye and uh... whiskey rather...rye? Is it rye in whiskey?  isn't it... and, er,  and it just got me thinking about unusual place names and I've been to several in my li... in my time

Owain: yeah

Mike: in the UK

Owain: go on then, give us, give us... what's the most unusual place name you've seen?  or where where have you been with the most unusual name?

Mike:  yeah, so every time I go to see see my parents, who live in Wiltshire,  the county of Wiltshire,  which is near Stonehenge, near where the famous rocks are, we pass through a village called Nether Wallop

Owain:  Nether Wallop

Mike: Two words: nether and wallop

Owain: Ok, let me...let me see if that if that brings some...what that brings... what that conjures up in my mind as I... ‘cause,  first thing I think of is ‘nether’,  which for me…

Mike:  yeah

Owain: ...is like lower, like the lower part of something and then I think ‘wallop’, and interestingly,  it makes me think of being kicked between the legs

Mike:  yeah,  yeah that's....[so you put the two together]... 

Owain: aaww! he gave me a right ‘nether wallop’

Mike:  exactly, so  so combining the two words together you think I've just been hit...I've been given a kick kick in the ... between the legs as a man

Owain:  right yeah cuz, wallop  essentially is like er, to wallop someone, or to give someone a wallop is like a hit, like, or a strike,  or something right yeah

Mike:  yeah it's a fierce strike isn't it

Owain:  actually,  actually that's a word I haven't even thought about for years - wallop! - god he walloped that one! didn’t he? [08:18] 

Mike: Yeah

Owain:  yeah, if you are at a cricket match or a football match

Mike: yeah, so, so have you ever, or...be talked about... could you use it in, like, er  Arsenal where walloped by Man United at the weekend?

Owain:  as in they just completely destroyed them?

Mike:  yeah they were beaten heavily

Owain:  they walloped them, I dunno,  would you? sounds weird to me.  would you say that?

Mike:  I wouldn't…

Owain: no

Mike: ... but I think maybe older generations would

Owain: give someone a walloping?

Mike:  yeah, they were walloped

Owain: Actually,  just, just for our listeners, that has...I’ve just used that in three different forms now: to wallop as a verb, a wallop as a noun, and then a walloping as another noun

Mike: yeah

Owain:  yeah there you go

Mike:  English, eh?

Owain:  versatile word yeah, uh ok, well,.. 

Mike: so that... what about you?

Owain:  yeah that's that's the strangest  place, name place, you've been... that's a very good one: Nether Wallop. I don't know I couldn't really think of this except today Sandra and I went on a bus to Leicester and one of the [09:38] places we go to on the way, and  I don't know if we actually went through it or whether we just saw a sign to it but it's called Unthank Newtown. 

Mike:  no way

Owain: which is a bit weird isn't it yeah Unthank Newtown, so…

Mike: Wow! So you've been...  Newtown,  whoever he is, or she, was was thanked for something

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  and now we're... people are being encouraged to take that thanks back 

Owain:  that's what it sounds like doesn't it yeah, yeah...Could you just go down, go to the next village please and and, um, just unthank Newton,  yeah I'm not…

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  I'm not happy with this service anymore…

Mike:  yeah those apples that he gave me are mouldy... to the core

Owain: What was that... what was the name of the place you went to this weekend? Apple what? Goody Apple? Goody…?

Mike: Appledore

Owain:  that sounds like, just like...it makes me think of something from Lord of the Rings like where the hobbits must live... you know

Mike:  yeah,  yeah down in Appledore

Owain: aah, I've just been down to Appledore, it's it's bit like the good version of Mordor isn’t it

Mike:  yeah,  sounds positive, doesn't it

Owain:  yeah

Mike:  sounds like a place that you wanna...you’d want to hang out in Appledore

Owain:  yeah somewhere in Middle Earth where where Frodo comes from 

Mike: yeah

Owain: yeah

Mike: Anna... another one was, erm, I went to once on holiday down in Cornwall was a place called Westward Ho! and it has an exclamation work...an exclamation mark at the end of the word ‘Ho’...Westward Ho!

Owain: Re, what...so officially... officially it's an exclamation. that's  written on all the signs?

Mike: it's the only place in the UK that has as an exclamation mark at the end of its... at the end of its place yeah...at the end of its name

Owain: wow,  now you see if I saw that that as I was going down the road,  I would think that was vandalism, I think, uh, some some 

Mike:  you'd think it was graffiti

Owain: ...some funny bastard’s put an exclamation mark on the end there…

Mike:  yeah yeah

Owain: ... yeah until I saw the rest of the signs,  then I might figure it out

Mike:  yeah yeah,  no I think it's something to do with pirates...

Owain: yeah

Mike: [11:58] And and, you know, cos it's at the end of the... at the end of the coast and that whole...Ho! being an exclamation of arrival at somewhere

Owain: Yeah cos it cos it makes me think of the thing...oh, sorry, what am I saying?...what someone might say: Westward Ho! and come to think of it I've never I've never really thought what means, but…Shall we go westward?  is that what it means? what does it mean someone is coming from a westward... direction 

Mike:  yeah I think it's going somewhere, like,  westward let's go Westward Ho!...westward let's go towards... let's go westward 

Owain: Yeah, like the ThunderCats, right? Didn't they go...Ho? [12:44]...no, no?

Mike: We are living up to our name of of a waffle now we really are.

Owain:  this is this is s...go on

Mike:  so I'd I'd I am always... speaking of thunder there's there's just some rumble of thunder in the background now as I as I speak it's all gone very dark where I am in South London.

Owain: ooh, nice

Mike:  but we...language of the underground and the tube stops I passed every single day always give me some... something to think about.  so I think places like Canada Water,  which is a stop not far from where I live…

Owain:  yeah I've been through there

Mike: and I think, I think it's...  it's nowhere near Canada and there's no water what's going on? and the other one is, I mean there’s several, but Shepherd's Bush always, always gives me a little giggle.

Owain: why? 

Mike: Well, be... just cos I conjure up an image of a shepherd and, er,  and Shepherds Bush for our listeners is a place in West London where the definitely not any shepherds anymore, erm,  and just the two words together ‘shepherd's’, ‘bush’ it's just funny isn't it? 

Owain: Why? Because shepherds can't have bushes or what? 

Mike: Owain, you, you...I'm going to move on...you're so suggestive... so yeah yeah, um,  yeah [14:24] and then finally there's the the giggling one of Cockfosters…

Owain: oh, yep, yep

Mike:...on the Piccadilly line, which is quite a posh venue, in fact, it’s quite well-heeled area of London, but…

Owain: yeah, what…

Mike: ...for obvious reasons we have a little giggle when we say the word Cockfosters

Owain:  yeah it's just one of those words that makes  everybody laugh: cock... yep

Mike:  yeah

Owain:  and anything combined with it,  it yeah, yeah, erm,... 

Mike: yeah

Owain: Obviously,  it's probably comes from you know show some kind people who who would foster cocks as in cockerel, right? They would take them in, any stray cockerels that found themselves without a home...these people would probably come along and foster them. So, they would be called cockfosters.

Mike: But why would they... yeah no, I think that's a very good... that's brilliant Owain, but er...I've got two problems with that.  why would... no I’ve just got one and it's not really a problem, it's just a question to, to... what what...Why would a place suddenly get a name for that practice or was that practice unique to that place?

Owain: I...don't ask me. Don't ask me I didn't make it up. These things just happen naturally, organically. Who knows, who knows? In the mists of time, th, th...it’s...the reasons have gone. 

Mike: Yeah

Owain: But, I di…, when you said here’s one to giggle at I...it made me think of probably one of the funniest names that I remember from when I was young and I think we we once went there with my older brother and my parents to see a school; and the school was called Giggleswick or the town was called Giggleswick

Mike: I've been there

Owain:  and er... have you?

Mike:  in Yorkshire

Owain:  is it? I can't remember it was is it in Yorkshire? yeah?

Mike: yeah, it's in North Yorkshire, yeah

Owain:  ok, yeah, yeah that's always a funny one 

Mike:  very good one;  Giggleswick yeah

Owain:  Giggleswick -  where do you live? Giggleswick

Mike: I bet is you have a right laugh there...there's another place in England called Dull...d u l l

Owain:  yeah,  you you've been looking at the same websites I have

Mike:  maybe... Giggleswick, well because Giggleswick is...What I did was write down all of the places that I've actually been to

Owain: yeah

Mike:  Appledore, Nether Wallop,  Giggleswick, Westward Ho!

Owain: That's a pretty good list

Mike:...was on there, yeah, and er…

Owain: Westward Ho!?  was it?  wasn't it a different one?

Mike:  Westward Ho! is the place that…

Owain:  oh it was Westward Ho! Ok

Mike: yeah, down in west, westward ho...erm, But I think we've just had a good little chat about place names Owain.

Owain:  yeah yep

Mike: do you?

Owain:  we could go on obviously

Mike:  we we could go on,  but what I'd encourage every listener to look at their own countries and look at places which are... which have curious names and they just make good stories, they make good conversation starters you know (chatting?) around the dinner table: “I went to this place today…” I think it's a good starter for ten. 

Owain:  well and often they're unexamined aren't they?  you know you have these names and you just oh we've always called it that and you then actually think about the name and you think oh  it's a bit weird isn't it

Mike:  yeah why is it that place yeah yeah

Owain:  yeah anyway so yeah

Mike:  so yeah that's it so er…

Owain: Next time...What are we doing...what are we going to talk about next time?

Mike:  what are we going to talk about next time?  we're going to talk about... what were we going to talk about?

Owain:  ...what you did in Nether Wallop

Mike: All the times I’ve...what I did Nether Wallop after having gone through Middle Wallop and lower Wal... and er...What's the first one?  it's Middle Wallop, Lower Wallop and Nether Wallop. Honestly those three…

Owain: really?

Mike:  yeah you go off the A303 and you drive through those three places

Owain:  ok well yeah we're not going to talk about this week now because you told us about that

Mike:  we're not going to talk about that...er... we're gonna talk about

Owain: Oh, yeah, I, I…What was it?

Mike:  oh yeah we’re gonna talk about why English is a...

Owain:  yes

Mike:  a very polite language 

Owain: and I thought it might be nice to get Sandra in on this one... I've asked her.  we'll see what... what will see if we can organise it for next week... if it's ok with you

Mike:  fantastic!

Owain:  because I think she's got a few things to say about this so…

Mike:  brilliant!  well she would be a very welcome guest and er... which reminds me we're going to start to have guests on  so it's a very exciting development for the English because we're going to have erm, yeah, just thought it would be interesting to get somebody else on who can... who... to to... 

Owain: Who might have something...might have something interesting to say…

Mike:   ...who might have something more interesting to say ...exactly

Owain:  there you go... ok well with that

Mike:  ok

Owain: yeah great...good speak to Mike

Mike:  you too

Owain: speak to next week

Mike: always a pleasure

Owain: yep

Mike: keep waffling on

Owain: take it easy

Mike: alright

Owain: waffle on

Mike: take care buddy...bye! 



language analysis: episode 7


Place names

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


 well heeled (adj.)

[14:24] and then finally there's the the giggling one of Cockfosters on the Piccadilly line, which is quite a posh venue in fact quite well-heeled area of London


in effect  (adv.)

[05.10] “Mike:  so for example Owain,  any noun has a meaning, in effect…

You add in effect to a statement or opinion that is not precisely accurate, but which you feel is a reasonable description or summary of a particular situation.

That deal would create, in effect, the world's biggest airline.



  didn’t he (Pron: did nee / did’n’ee) - [08:18]

/dɪd niː/

Owain:  actually it's a word I haven't even thought about for years - wallop! - god he walloped that one! didn’t he

one of the (Pron: wannathe…) - [09:38]

/wɒn əv ðə/ (pron in the episode)


Other possible variations: /wɒn ɒv ðə/ (next word starts with a consonant (e.g. places) 

or /wʌn ɒv ð/ (next word starts with a vowel, e.g. easiest)

one of the places we go to on the way

Features of Spoken English

Sometimes you really look at what people are saying and it is total nonsense. Most of the time we don’t notice, but when you write out the exact words we use, it can be a real mess. I find it hard to believe some of the stuff we come out with while we’re waffling. 

Here’s a great (or terrible!) example:


A whole minute of absolute nonsense from 11:58-12:44. Rest assured, any comprehension issues have nothing to do with your language skills and everything to do with our mental processes.

Mike: [11:58] And and, you know, cos it's at the end of the... at the end of the coast and that whole...Ho! being an exclamation of arrival at somewhere

Owain: Yeah cos it cos it makes me think of the thing...oh, sorry, what am I saying?...what someone might say: Westward Ho! and come to think of it I've never I've never really thought what means, but…Shall we go westward?  is that what it means? what does it mean someone is coming from a westward... direction 

Mike:  yeah I think it's going somewhere, like,  westward let's go Westward Ho!...westward let's go towards... let's go westward 

Owain: Yeah, like the ThunderCats, right? Didn't they go...Ho? [12:44]

Can you find any others? If so, please write in to let us know.

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