AE 543 – Interview: Why Snakes AREN’T the Enemy with Ross McGibbon
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today I have Ross McGibbon, who is a snake enthusiast or would you call yourself a reptile enthusiast? You pick a team or?
No mate, snakes are probably my favourite out of all reptiles they definitely what I focus on mainly, but I’m definitely a reptile enthusiast. I guess an amateur herpetologist, I study them in my spare time.
And then yeah, the wildlife photography as well.
Well, that’s it, so the first question I have for you is where are you from and where did you grow up down under and what do you do for a crust? What’s your day your day job vs the photography thing?
Well, originally from, I’m in WA, in Fremantle now, I’ve been here for the last two years, but I’m a Queensland boy as you might be able to tell by my very Queensland accent. Yeah I grew up in kind of a lot of different parts of Queensland. The Gold Coast for 10 years and then mum shipped us out to Emerald Queensland which is a couple hours inland of Rockhampton so, country town big mining town and we ended up on a farm out there. So, a bit of a farm background and then obviously later in life joined the Army when I was 20. Joined as a firefighter and I’ve basically stuck with that career the whole time and then about three years ago I just combined my passion for wildlife photography, travelling and then reptile’s all into one sort of hobby and then just started doing wildlife photography on the side.
Far out so, were you… when I was a kid my parents used to always take me to my grandparents farm in Bendigo and there would always be… It was always dry, rocks everywhere, really flat rock so, they were the perfect kind for lifting up and finding snakes and spiders and lizards and stuff. Were you doing that ever since you were a little kid?
Well, for me it started off with dinosaurs. I was absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs and then once we got moved up to Emerald I started to realize that.. I started to be out in the bush more and I started to realize that hey, you know, these reptiles are like living versions, miniature versions of dinosaurs so, my obsession sort of quickly went from dinosaurs over to reptiles. I was one of those kids of school that was just sneaking out of class to be in the bush all the time and catching reptiles and doing this sort of same sort of thing, you know, you might have been doing as a kid just just being out the bush and enjoying, you know, whatever I could find. And then when I was about 11 years old we moved out to a farm, obviously my mum sort of started up a relationship with a guy who was a farmer and that was a big contrast to what…well firstly he had the mentality of, you know, any snake, a good snake is a dead snake.
That’s pretty much all farmers, right?
Pretty much all farmers, you know, they don’t bother learning about them, they don’t care. They just see them as a pest. They don’t see them as native wildlife and basically they kill them all regardless of whether they’re non-venomous, venomous, a legless lizard even…
Are they allowed to do that? That’s one of those questions that I hear about working, I worked at the museum when I was doing my studies and we did quite a lot of surveys, we’d have to go out into the Grampians and into the Alps here in Victoria and catch everything, and I remember quite often they were saying because they talk to farmers and they’d be like I just kill them and they’re like that’s like a twenty thousand dollar fine. You know, if you kill one of these animals and people find out about it so, what are the sort of rules with that?
Well this is the thing. There’s a bit of a grey area. So, first and foremost, all native wildlife in Australia is protected including every species of reptile including snakes. If you kill one of these snakes indiscriminately and someone has the proof to then pass on to the Environmental Protection Agency or whatever government body is in that state, if they the proof, then they can, you can then receive a fine, but there is a grey area that says you can protect your personal safety with whatever means necessary. So, people sort of take that on board and they go ” alright, there’s a loophole here, I can kill snakes because snakes are aggressive” and all they have to do is say ”oh I feared for my life, I feared for my family’s life” and they can indiscriminately kill snakes. What it really means if a snake is advancing towards you in a threatening behavior you can grab whatever’s nearest to defend yourself, that is allowed. What it doesn’t include is seeing a snake down in the chook pen, running up to the house, grabbing a gun, going down and shooting that snake just for being a snake and that’s…
Really, so, even that you can’t do on your own property?
No, so they’re protect the wildlife and that does come under, you know, the law that you can not go and kill that animal just for being there or just for being a snake, but again there’s those loopholes, and what people do on their own property is very rarely ever seen by the general public and they can get away with it. So, that’s sort of where that sort of behaviour comes about and it’s a mentality that’s taught from kids from a young age in the country. The older parents, they’re not learning anything about the natural, and I’m being very generous and I’m speaking from my experience from what my stepfather was like. They only know agricultural upbringing. They don’t really know about the natural world, their family and their generations have changed the land many years before they’ve cleared it, they’ve destroyed a lot of the natural habitat for natural wildlife and you get these snakes that feed on rats and mice like brown snakes and taipans and species like that and then they’re attracted to the home because, you know, farmers are feeding their chickens with grain, they’ve got all their horse feed and their hay, all this stuff that creates a great environment for rats and mice to breed, right? Then you’ve got the snake who used to have all this land and now it’s all cleared and it’s still trying to survive. So, it’s trying to eek out this existence in a very altered landscape to what it was, but what they’re doing is providing these great food source then that’s… those snakes can come and exploit. Plus, they’ve got so much mess and rubbish and tin lying around. They’ve got all these great hiding spots because they don’t keep any of it clean and tidy.
That was always one of those things that I was always thinking because I interviewed a guy from Queensland, from the Sunshine Coast, who was a snake hunter and he was talking about how he’d always get called out to houses and it’s always…they just leave tin and wood piles and it’s like…man, that is the perfect thing you need to do if you want to attract snakes your house, is just leave a heap of flat tin panels that are going to warm up in the day, you know, flat on the grass.
And what they don’t understand is snakes need to thermo regulate so, their whole, their home make up is designed to operate off being at an optimum body temperature so, if they can find very safe underneath the piece of tin, that then warms up under the sun and they don’t have to expose themselves, that’s a perfect shelter site for them, when they’re warm enough, they’ll come out to hunt and you just created this perfect storm to have snakes by having a really messy property, all these rats and mice running around.
So, is there there a lot of your work too when you’re out, you know, creating these videos on YouTube and taking these amazing photos? Is a lot of your work also interacting with people and trying to educate them personally on that sort of behaviour and avoiding those kinds of things to be safe around their properties and not just, you know, ”I’ll do whatever I want and if snake’s there, I’m going to Kill it”?
That is first and foremost what I started out doing on the Sunshine Coast, I became a professional snake catcher so, like the guy you were talking about, before it was my full time role when I wasn’t being a firefighter, basically on my days off. I was a full time snake catcher and we get up to 10 jobs a day on the Sunshine Coast, it’s a very populated area for snakes, not to scare anyone, it’s just a very rich biodiversity.
If you don’t like snakes, guys, come to Victoria, you’ll be fine. There’s very few of them.
Yeah, well, you know,, like yeah we’d be out educating a lot of the public on our snake calls, but it wasn’t really enough. And then you’ve got these phenomenal tools like Facebook where old snake educators used to have to go to schools and educate 20 kids at a time. Now, you know, just by creating a video on Facebook you can put it out there for the world to see and I just pull one out recently about brown snakes chasing people and explaining that, and you might have caught that one and you know that’s how about nearly 9.000 shares. And it’s had a lot of positive feedback because it helps people understand snakes because they’re very, very misunderstood animals.
Well, talking about that, why are Australian snakes so dangerous? Why don’t we move onto this topic. Why are they so venomous and why are they so misunderstood as well to get you going?
Venomous and dangerous are two different things. Obviously, everyone’s heard about how much we have such toxic snakes in Australia, but the problem is those tests have been performed on mice. So, there was a thing called the LD50 test which they did. I can’t remember exactly what year, but it was some time ago. And what they did is they tested all the snake venom on mice. And now what they did is come up a list, with a list, from those results of the top 25 most venomous snakes in the world and Australia has, you know, a good 15 or 20 of those in that list. Now, everyone thinks now that we’ve got these super, super toxic snakes, what they don’t quite understand is that those results don’t exactly correlate over to humans, they’re performed on mice. I’ll give you a good example of how it really doesn’t work in the everyone thinks it is: you’ve got the Sydney funnel web spider who can kill a human, but yet it’s venom is very ineffective on mice. So, now if you test all these snake venoms on mice, you’re going to come up with this, you know, very scary looking results towards humans and we really can’t sort of correlate the two. We can only sort of pick up certain things that does so, anyway Australia’s got this massive reputation of having all these venomous snakes, what we don’t understand is that statistics prove that we only have an average of two snakebite deaths a year, which is very low.
That’s one of those things, sorry to interrupt you, that always blows my mind when I was looking up some of the stats on animal related deaths in Australia. All the animals that you would imagine aren’t scary, are benign, are the ones that will actually F you up and kill you at the end of the day, right? Like, I think, you know I think it was like 30 deaths a year from horses. Kangaroos kill more people than sharks in car accidents. And it is weird that it’s completely skewed and that Australia has this kind of like ”oh we need to, wear it as a badge of honor all these dangerous animals, they’re deadly, watch out”, but in actual fact it’s all these other animals like dogs and kangaroos and goats or whatever that will actually kill people and not necessarily spiders, snakes, sharks.
Exactly. I was reading a big write-up on it not too long ago and I think, you know, all our venomous creatures, including snakes, crocodiles, sorry, non-venomous, all our dangerous creatures including our snakes, our crocodiles, our sharks, our very dangerous marine life, it all amounts to about five deaths on average a year and then you get something like this cute little honey bee. This introduced honeybee killing 10 people a year and, you know, you got this really skewed mentality that we need to go out and kill these snakes, but yet you’ve got all these honey bees flying around everyone’s flowers and backyards and stuff and you don’t have the parents running out in a fit of like panic killing all these honeybees like they would a snake, yet the snake, you know, gets this really bad rap in Australia.
Well, imagine them going out there to fish and chip shops and just like beating the hell out of all of those pan… like, all the dim sims and everything because they causing obesity and heart disease.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, driving the car. You know, we have around between three and a half, four and a half hours of car related deaths and that is phenomenal when you compare that to snakes. Yet, you know, there’s very little fear about jumping in your car and going down the street, you know what I mean?
Is there even a word for that kind of a phobia? I don’t think anyone has a phobia of cars, but you’ve got arachnophobia, I’m sure this phobia of sharks and yeah, it is funny how it’s kind of like irrational.
It is, it’s very irrational and that’s what, you know, as a snake educator and someone who puts a lot of time into learning about these topics, the more I learn and the more crazy people on Facebook I meet, is just staggering how many people just have this really skewed version of how dangerous, you know, our native fauna is when really all of that stuff needs to be preserved and we can put our efforts into doing more constructive things with our time instead of getting on Facebook and carrying on about how dangerous snakes are. You know, why not learn more about them so, that you realize they’re not so dangerous like a lot of the professionals do.
What are some of the misconceptions that the average person that you encounter have with regards to snakes?
Basically, I’ll start off with snakes being territorial. A lot of people will see a snake act defensively towards them and they’ll be like ”oh this snake is chasing me out of its territory. It’s taken up residence in my home. It’s marked that residents out as it’s territory and now it’s trying to chase me out of it. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go get my gun and kill it”. Now, snakes are not territorial animals. What they have is a home range, just like you or I do, you know, we live in a town, we know where our food is, we know where our shelter is, and we know where the nightclubs are we go out and find females, but, you know, if you correlate that to snake he has his home range, he kind of knows where everything is. He knows their habits, so the habits of the occupants because he’s grown up there, he or she, sorry, and they’re only going to defend their personal safety. So, when they confront a snake everyone thinks ”oh, this snake is attacking me, it’s being aggressive at me”, but what they’re doing is they’re just saying defensive behavior because it’s very important to understand that snakes look up from the ground. They see this large animal and in the wild that’s a predator to a large animal. So, anything that’s larger than them they see is a threat to them, even cars. I get these people going ”oh, if they’re not aggressive then why was it striking at my car I pulled up next to it on the road?” and it’s like the snake doesn’t have Google and it can’t log on and see the latest model for a Toyota and go oh that’s not a person. It just looks out sees something big and intimidating and it just switches into defensive mode. That’s all they do.
That was really interesting when you showed that video recently with the brown snake, right? Can you explain what exactly was going on in that video and the point of it? Because it was it was really, really interesting.
Yeah. So, for that particular video we were out filming venomous snakes. We’d come across one on the road and we got out to identify it as a brown snake. We were actually looking for inland Taipans. We were right in the middle of Australia in northeast South Australia and…
You got a death wish, you got a death wish, man.
Right out in the middle of nowhere in front of brown snakes. But yeah, we got out realized it was a brown snake. I thought I would just grab a quick bit of footage because we try and film everything we come across because you never know what the animals are going to do and how you’ll be able to use that footage to sort of educate the public later on. So, I went up behind it, my friend Richie was filming me and as I got close to it, it did a 180 and that’s where the video starts. It’s done a 180 at me, it’s advance towards me in defensive, I guess in a defensive manner, thinking that on the large predator about to hurt it. As I walk backwards and all I had to do was walk backwards I didn’t have to run, I didn’t have to panic I just walk backwards, the snake advanced towards me until it saw its first opportunity to flee and that’s what knocked down that soil crack that you can see. And that was a perfect example of how snake will act offensively toward you. Try to get you on the back foot, get you to just basically leave it alone and get away.
A lot of people mistake that behavior for chasing and they call it chasing because they believe that the snake is trying to advance towards them with intention to bite them because everyone thinks that they want to bite you and kill you and that’s just not the case. They put on this big bluff display, a lot of it mock striking and bluffing a lot of it’s even done with closed mouth, and I’ve witnessed this many, many, many times while I’ve been out filming venomous snakes and as a snake catcher I know that a lot of it is just fluff, but it can result in a bite if you do not leave it alone. So, where accidents happen is if you don’t see the snake acts defensively towards you and you keep moving around, it’s just thinking oh this thing’s trying to kill me. It acts defensively and if you are close enough they can result in a bite.
Yeah, because I’ve heard that quite often they’re not actually interested in wasting venom on things they know are predators cause there’s no real point, right? It’s a waste of venom. They’re not going to consume you and they have to create that venom again to try and hunt later.
Exactly. Pretty much, you nailed it on the head. Venom isn’t really used by Australian snakes in defense, the only time that’s really used is in things like spitting cobras and they’ve had, you know, thousands and thousands more years of large predators to deal with so, they rear up and they spit up into the eyes of your perceived predator.
Fortunately we got none of them here except…unless you go to a zoo and your Harry Potter and the glass breaks or whatever, right?
Exactly. So, you know, we don’t have to worry about any snakes spitting venom be in our eyes. What we need to be wary of is just how to act when we do see a snake and we can go on to that in a bit more, but just for the whole defensive… snake’s using venom for defensive purposes. There is no snake in Australia that can kill a human that quickly to stop it from killing the snake. So, you know, it’s venom is absolutely useless as used in a defensive manner. So, first things first. They’re not going to try and use that, but the thing is a snake is a snake it’s a long cylindrical animal and the only thing it has to defend itself is, you know, bluff type of behavior and acting assertively. And then last resort it may bite and a good a good statistic I like to put out there is the Australian brown snake, the Eastern Brown is the one that is responsible for the most amount of deaths in Australia and that’s the one that everyone fears and that’s why I did that video, but there’s a statistic they’ve collected from snakebite history that the brown snake will only envenom its victim or the bite victim around 20 to 40 percent of the time.
That means you can poke the thing between three and five times before you’ll get done.
Yeah, basically, you know if we want to make a bit of a joke out of it, you’ve basically got the odds in your favor of mocking around with snake, but to be more serious, all it does is that statistic it shows the general public that they’re not trying to use venom as a defensive mechanism, the venom is only just a byproduct of them biting and the fact that they’re venomous so, put simply that’s that’s the way it is, and yet I do have another point.
You’re good, you’re good.
Nah, it’s alright, we’ll move on, put it very very simply, they’re not trying to use them for defensive purposes. That’s what I want to say. If you are a rat, if you’re one of its prey items, then it will envenomate 100 percent of the time because it’s trying to use its venom on you, so we can all relax. We can realize that snakes aren’t trying to prey on us, they’re trying to defend their personal safety from us.
It was always crazy, I used to have a black headed Python and he was a bit of a nut job inside the cage for some reason he was very cage defensive, you get him out he was like a puppy, but in the cage, in his home and I don’t know if it was associated with this is my space and when you come into invading it, but he would always like strike, but again I’d put my hand in there sometimes and he’d hit my hand and not actually latch on, but then the moment that you put a rat in there it was frozen dead, you put it in there and he would just completely change and just be vicious as. It was interesting seeing those two different kind of behaviors between the defensive go away kind of striking, bu then when he’s actually turned on and wants the thing that he’s after.
Yeah, that’s extremely easy to explain because you’ve got this snake in a confined space so, he can’t really escape it doesn’t have that option. So, that’s where cage defensiveness comes in, the snake is cornered. He sees this big sort of large, threatening looking thing in front of it. It gets caged defensive. Then what comes in is can the chemo-reception. So, they’re very, very good at picking up scent particles of their prey items and that’s what they use their forked tongue for. As soon as you introduce the smell of that rat into the snake’s environment and switches into prime mode and that’s exactly the switch that you’re talking about.
Seeing that is frightening, especially when you know you’ve held the rat in your hand and my girlfriend at the time would be like ”oh just feed him with your hand” and I’m like screw that dude, I’m using the tweezers. If he bites, he’s not letting go.
Yeah, exactly and that’s why, that’s why a lot of keepers are at risk if they don’t use safe practices and I’ll talk about the Inland Taipan for example, it’s you know going back to that list of the most toxic snakes in the world, it ranks as number one, but the very simple fact is it’s in the middle of Australia and hardly encounters anyone. So, the only people that have been bitten by this snakes, are guys like myself who have been out there trying to photograph it or study it and then you got the keepers that keep them in captivity and they’re the types of people to get bitten. So, you got this snake with this really scary statistic that it’s the most venomous snake in the world. If you’re a mice, sorry, if you’re a mice or rats, and then no one’s ever died from it.
Really? So, no one’s actually ever died from a Taipan bite or an inland Taipan?
Well, an inland Taipan bit yeah, people have definitely died from coastal Taipans. There’s one third species of Taipan, which is called the Western Desert Taipan, just even more further inland if you’re on the East Coast, it’s over in the Great Victoria Desert. And yeah that was a snake that I went and actually found last year and wrote an article for it and got into Australian Geographic which is a great, great feat.
Less than 20 people have actually encountered that snake in the wall because it’s in such… I should say less than 20 million people involved in Western science, I’m sure the local Aboriginal people have been encountering that snake for thousands of years, but it was only known to science in 2007.
Wow, that recently?
That recently yeah and I guess that’s what was interesting the Australian Geographic because they’re like cool. We need people to go and find out more about this snake. If you’re going to go in there and take photos of it we want to know about it so…
So, moving on to encounters, have you had any obviously you’ve had a few sort of dodgy encounters, what happened? And what do you need to do if you want to get bitten by a snake? And what do you do to avoid it?
Well, when it comes to encountering snakes I obviously shoot with a wide angle lens and I get very, very close to my subjects in order to show all of the detail and show the habitat that they live in so, I can then go and use those photos to tell the story. So, I deal in close proximity to snakes, you know, for long periods of time and I get around Australia and film as many as I can. So, I’ve basically come across all of our venomous species, well, groups of animal species, brown snakes, black snakes, tiger snakes, Taipans, I’ve found all three Taipans in Australia which not many people have done so, I got a wealth of experience with Australian venomous snakes and that’s what I’m trying to specialize in, it’s my most important sort of interest. And from that I’ve derive a lot of knowledge because, and a lot of experience from having these encounters, and now it’s trying to get that knowledge out to the public because they’re just so misunderstood. So, to get back to your question of what you should do if you see a snake, don’t do what I do because I like to get very close and I like to photograph them so, don’t do that for starters. But there’s no reason why you can’t walk away from any kind of snake encounter as long as you know the following steps so, this is an area of great confusion amongst the Australian public because I get told one thing and then they get told another, but really there’s two methods you should do when you encounter a snake. If you see a snake at a distance, just leave it alone. Try and find an alternative route, observe if you’re interested.
Use a zoom lens, not a wide angle one.
Now, if you’re in close proximity to a snake, you know, you walked out of the chook shed and you’re about to stamp in on one. If at all possible the first thing you should do is remove yourself from the vicinity, but sometimes it’s too late, that snake is already way too close for you and what might happen is a snake might rear up a look at you because it’s just noticed you. This is way the Australian public need to use their best judgment in this situation. If you can get out of there, get out of there, the snake will go back to doing what it was doing. If this snake rears up and you, what it’s best to do is stay completely still because they are very responsive to movement. So, the more you move around, the more that snake is going to then get defensive and reactive. So, this is why killing snakes is such a dangerous activity and there’s statistic out there that if you try and kill a snakes with hand tools, and you and you getting sort of close to these animals you’re provoking it, you’re trying to kill it, it’s going to defend itself.
Your likelihood of being bitten just went through the roof.
And the mentality of these people that kill the snakes is like ”I’m just protecting my family” you know, what I mean? And you get this statistic out there that actually proves that because the most amount of Australians that are bitten are these adult males, trying to confront and kill the snake. So, first, first things first, if you want to survive a snake encounter, don’t try and kill it. That’s the first thing.
Call someone to remove if it’s on your property too, right?
Exactly, like, you know, this can create a little bit of a problem for people that are in rural areas. So, that’s why so many farmers just kill the snakes because they just want them to be eliminated, but the problem is it’s a band aid solution so, it’s not actually solving their perceived snake problem.
It’s pretty dumb, right? If you’ve got a heap of crap in your yard that they can live in, you’ve got heaps of rats and mice living around your house, killing one snake using it to tell the other snakes to not come in, it’s like oh okay there’s space open now no one’s living here at this address, I’ll move in!
Yeah that’s, that’s pretty much what happens. You’ve created this niche for snakes then to come and exploit. So, imagine a bit of a case study let’s say we follow a brown snake from birth. It knows exactly where all, as it grows up, it knows where the food is, it knows where the shelter is, it knows where the danger is so, it tries to stay out of your way because it doesn’t will be preyed upon. It wants to remain in secrecy so, it can hunt and then go and live, you know, in a hole somewhere and they do very, very good job of staying out of your way. So, you take that Brown snake who’s lived in that area and then all of a sudden he gets to adulthood, he gets beg and he gets noticed and farmer comes and kills the Brown snake, what happens is you remove that top predator…
Who is keeping the other 10 snakes.
From that environment, you know, he is the top predator in his environment, he’s cleaning up all your rats and mice that if they are left to breed on their own potentially can reach plague proportions and then affect your livelihood, they’re eating all your dog food, they’re eating all your crops. You know, there has been instances where there’s been plague proportions, you know, and people have been overrun by mice and I’ve even heard of a story about an old follow couldn’t get out of bed who had his ears, you know, eyes, they started to eat him alive basically because he couldn’t get out of bed. So, these type of things can happen if you start to change the land so much and remove the top predators then it brings in all the snakes, all the snakes ”oh, look, there’s a food source there. There’s so many of them. We need more snakes” so, you might have more snakes in there and this isn’t to say it’s going to happen every time, but this is basically what you’re doing by just killing a snake because you fear and misunderstand it. You just don’t know enough about the animal to go ”oh, maybe we should leave this guy around and we should take a few other precautions”. Now I’m not saying, you know, it’s great to have a brown snake around because they do pose a risk to people if those people don’t know how to live cohesively with snakes.
Especially if you’ve got kids, I imagined or dogs or…
But the thing is the whole ”I’m protecting my kids” mentality is it’s blown so much out portion because you get the odd child that is say bitten by a snake or even in worst case scenario, and this is a tragedy. don’t don’t get me wrong, but then the media got a hold of it and they blow it far out of proportion and everyone just whips into a frenzy and starts the snake hate again.
It is pretty weird, right? They would not blink putting their kid into the car.
Say that again, sorry?
Yeah it is pretty funny that we have those kinds of visceral reactions to snakes and spiders and sharks and crocodiles and yet we don’t blink if we put our kids in the car or we take our kids to a friend’s house, he’s got a big backyard pool with no fence, there’s no kind of… you don’t freak out and, you know, ”oh my gosh I need to blow up this pool” and like ”we’re going to invert this car and like set it on fire to protect the kids” and yet with snakes it’s kind of like yeah, as you say, there’s like two deaths a year which are probably both farmers or people in such, you know, restricted areas that are just so far away from the hospital that for whatever reason they didn’t make it there, right?
Well, what’s probably more of the attributing factors they didn’t know what to do once they were bitten. So, if you want to protect yourself and your family from snakes, we have these amazing medical facilities, we have antivenom, you know these are all the contributing factors that are the reason why we have such small amounts of death in Australia, but the people who who are, you know, dying from snake bites generally speaking are people we just don’t know what to do after a bite. So, this is what education comes in and this is why I’m doing what I’m doing, a; to help the species that I love, but also to help people, as I mentioned before I’m a full time firefighter, I care about public safety, so what my mission is to do is stop the conflict between our native wildlife and people so, I’m on both sides. And a lot of people sort of yeah I get a lot of hate on the Internet because, you know, what I might appear to be sticking up for snake when really I’m trying to educate people about the snake. So, then I can take that knowledge away and use it in a positive way.
You got to be careful, man. The internet is a cesspool of hate. I get it If I drop the odd F bomb or something I get a lot of people, ”you shouldn’t be saying that, mate”, and I’m thinking, well, it’s English, dude! Like, chill out!
That’s it, I’m teaching people English.
So, what happened? Can you tell us a story about when you were bitten? And how many times has it been? Can I ask that or is that one of those things where you don’t ask a girl her age and you don’t ask a guy how many times he’s bitten by a snake?
It’s actually the most common thing I get asked, because people want to know, oh, how many times have you been bitten?
Well, it’s not to look like… What’s the professor’s name? Fry or whatever, who has been bit like 30 times, and he’s like “yeaaah!!’, you know.
Here’s this people I know that have been around a hundred times. You know, like it’s a…
That’s probably what a million dollars’ worth of antivenom, you know.
You know, that one person that I’m referring to actually just wipes out bites, but you know I don’t actually recommend that, we won’t get onto that topic, but you know, he probably want to be remained anonymous, but.
All good, all good. So, what happened with you, though, when you were bitten by Australia’s most venomous snake?
Well, look, it wasn’t Australia’s most famous snake. It was a mulga snake or AKA King Brown.
Which part of the blacksnake family, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s a black snake, and they don’t have the most toxic venom, but they make up for it in sheer volume. And I was very lucky, I was always trying to rescue a small, you know, mulga snake, it was about 30 centimetres long and it was on a busy road. So, you know, whenever I’m out looking for reptiles, you know, you try and take them off the road because road trains just come along and clean them up.
So, I removed this snake from the road and look, if I was doing this job professionally at someone’s house I’d just use a welding love to grab a snake that’s small and that venomous, out in the bush, didn’t think twice, I was trying to move it off the road. Actually, removed it off the road successfully. It came back onto the road. I quickly went to grab it, but it was almost preempted my grab as I grabbed it, it spun around and bit me on the pinky finger. Now as I said before, these snakes make up for their toxicity by injecting a lot of venom as they have the biggest venom yield of any Australian snake. So, a big one is actually, you know, a bit of a worry if one of those chews on you, but this one just gave me a small defensive bite, it only got one fang in. And I basically sat there for a minute because I had a great night of photography and reptile lined up with a mate, you know, it was only at the very start of the night, it was such a hot night, there was reptiles all over the road.
You were just like ”do I roll the dice? Maybe it’s a dry bite”.
I actually sat there for a minute, but I knew, from knowing about snake venom, I knew that the mulga snake’s venom is painful. So, I sat there for about 30 seconds to a minute and then when I started to feel pain from the bite, I’m like alright let’s wrap this up and get to the hospital. Lucky for me the hospital was only 15 minutes away in the car so, we quickly applied the compression bandage which is your standard snakebite first aid.
And how did you do that?
How do we do it? So, started from a bite site, which was down on the finger so, it’s very easy, you just start at the extremity and work your way up as high into the groin or armpit as you can get and you’re rapping about a third, you’re going up about a third of the bandage each time and your, the pressure that you should use is similar to a sprained ankle, just to support it. So, all you are doing is compressing the lymphatic system, you are not coming off the blood. This is a common misconception about what you should do because people used to go and do silly things like put tourniquets on their arm, then they go to the hospital realize it was a non-venomous snake and they had to chop their arms off.
I can’t imagine how embarrassing can that be. Or I was like yeah, mate, it was a dry bite, but your arms, you know, been denied oxygen for the last two hours, so are going to have to amputate it, sorry, buddy.
Exactly, yeah. Because you didn’t follow proper snakebite protocol so, you know, I’ve been in this situation before. The friend that I was with it been in it before. We knew what to do, we knew how calm to stay and then basically he drove me to the hospital because we were in a remote location, we didn’t want to use up their resources by calling out an ambulance to us. It was just quicker and easier and better for everyone that he got me to the hospital via a car.
But you would say to other people make sure you call an ambulance.
Well, this is the thing, if you’re in a remote location what you might want to consider is meeting the ambulance. So, you know, if the ambulance has to come an hour and you have to come an hour, you might be able to meet the ambulance in the middle instead of having that ambulance come all the way out to your property which is, you know, 200 kilometers away and you’re just sitting there. So, you know, it is very important to stay immobilized when you’re in the car. So, moving is basically your enemy when you’re bitten by an Australian snake.
And that’s because it facilitates the movement of the venom in the lymph nodes, right? So, that it go… it’ll get further into your system.
Exactly. So, the venom say I’m bitten in the pinky finger, the venom has to travel vertically up my arm until it reaches my lymph node in my armpit and then it will be transferred into the blood. So, the Australian snakes have very short fangs, venom is injected past the skin. It’s trapped in the skin and that’s where the lymphatic fluid brings it up the arm into the bloodstream. So, what can happen is you can… if you do this procedure, you know, to the T and you follow it correctly, you can have vital hours before needing to reach antivenom and this is what happened to me. Bitten on the finger, went to the hospital. It was something like seven hours before I reached an antivenom because…
The hospital I went to didn’t have like snake antivenom and they didn’t have what we call a polyvalent antivenom which has all five types of antivenom mixed into the one so, yeah, it’s used if they can’t identify the snake Yeah. So, they just go ok here’s the broad spectrum antivenom, it’s going to cover all snakes. So, they didn’t have any of that. All they had was brown snake antivenom, which would have actually done some good, but it was no, it was no use. You know, I was wasn’t showing any symptomatic signs that the venom was in my system and basically the Royal Flying Doctors came to my aid and they flew me back to Perth which was a thousand kilometers by road. So, it was about seven hours before I reached antivenom and then the attributing factors that led to me not needing antivenom in the end was the fact that I’d only been bitten by a baby snake, it only gave me a small amount of venom. I stayed super calm, I knew what to do and then I didn’t move my arm not even a muscle for seven hours.
That must have been difficult.
It was difficult, but you know I knew that that’s what I had to do. So, don’t know don’t move a muscle, don’t tense anything and the venom has got a lot more chance at staying localized to where you’ve been bitten.
And so, what happens if you were to get bitten like that by that snake, can you just wait out the venom, I don’t know if you would call it, disintegrating or anything like that, If you would a bandage your arm up in you. for whatever reason, couldn’t get to a hospital or get antivenom, would it potentially just get out of your system eventually or you’re pretty much screwed and you need to do something about it?
Well, you have to do everything you can do because you don’t know what’s going to happen. So, if you’re bitten by a snake and you’re just a member of the general public and you can’t even identify that snake, you just have to be going to snake bite first aid mode. So, you just follow, you know, the 10 or 12 simple steps in snakebite first died and then get yourself to a hospital. Now, a lot of people ask me what if you’re in the bush and you’re by yourself, because everyone’s fear things are the worst scenario possible and they’re like ”what if you’re in the bush and you’re by yourself and no one is there to help you?”. So, in this scenario it’s counterproductive to just put on the bandage and stay immobilised. If you do this and it’s an extremely toxic snake and you’ve been given a decent amount of venom, you know you know you might sit under a tree for five hours and then you are eventually going to die, anyway.
Should have brought a shovel.
So, you’re not allowed to say the shovel word around me.
Yes so, it’s counterproductive to then follow snakebite first aid to a T where they say stay immobilized, you need then get to safety, you need then get to help. So, if you’re, you know, in the bush and you’re half an hour away from home, you would need to put on that bandage, that compression bandage and then you would need to calmly make your way up to the house, trying not to keep your heart rate (up) and your limb moving too much.
Because I’m going to make that venom move and obviously also avoiding as many snakes on the way back to the house as possible.
Yeah, yeah. Don’t try and kill the snake that bit you and then get bitten several more times as well and then decide you’re going to run up to the house and by then, you know, the venom is already in your system and you have a lot less chance of surviving.
Far out, man, I’ve got so many questions for you. We’ve already gone for 45 minutes. I’ll have to get you on again and ask about cane toads and a few other things. But how did you get into the photography side of that of reptiles and everything and what have you sort of learnt about them since doing that?
Well, as I said I started with this snake catching sight of things and it just wasn’t… it wasn’t fulfilling enough for me to continue doing that when I moved over to Perth. It’s run a bit differently over here and I’d always wanted to be a wildlife photographer so, in my own unique way I just combined my love of travel photography and reptiles into one sort of passion and then it came a bit of obsession over the last few years and I’ve been spending all my spare time on travel, on camera gear, on fuel money on everything as well as launching the Instagram, the Facebook, the online shop, all the social media outlets, to then go you know, ”hey, this is all photography, I’m getting this is what you can learn by looking at a nice image of this animal”. So, but I do it all for the passion and the love of it. If I can then come back with a with a beautiful photo that someone wants to buy and hang on their wall that is, you know, quite humbling that someone wants that piece of your art in their home, but it’s a very small reason why I do it it’s just basically the cherry on top if I can educate the public with my photos and then sell a few prints which goes towards more camera gear and fuel money.
Oh, brilliant, mate! Where can people find out more about you, then? Where can they follow you?
Yeah, go check it out, guys! Definitely Facebook, man! I love the videos and that was where I first came across you. I think it was… I follow Wild Man, Damien Duffy, right? I’ve had him on the podcast, he’s a classic and he’s always like, ”wow, spewing, amazing” with your stuff, every time he gets up, I don’t know if it’s him that likes it or I like it and then I see like it starts popping up on my feet all the time, but you’ve got some amazing videos in there, mate, so, definitely keep it up and guys go check it out!
Thanks very much for having me on today, man, it’s been a great chat.
Nah, I’ll have to get you on again. Thanks so much, Ross. I appreciate it.
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AE 542 – Expression: Touch Base with Someone
It was the largest single attack on Australia soil, but for many the Bombing of Darwin remains a silent legacy.
Nobody says anything about what happened to Darwin, and Darwin was a battle. Ask the blokes who were in the ships being pounded. And as far as I’m concerned, the name should be “The Battle for Darwin”.
Jack Mulholland is one of few surviving veterans from that day. He was 20, an anti-aircraft gunner, with the 14th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, when Japanese bombs rained out of the morning sky.
G’day, guys. G’day, you mob. G’day, everyone listening to this podcast. How’s it going? How is your day going? What are you up to? And welcome to this episode of the Aussie English Podcast.
So, that’s seen at the very start there, guys, that scene was a story from the ABC News channel on YouTube, which I’m always encouraging you to go and check out, it’s a great way to get exposed to many different Australian accents as well as learn about, you know, current affairs in Australia, history in Australia, culture here, everything like that.
So, this story was about the Bombing of Darwin, and the journalist reporting on it there was Alexandra Fisher. It’s a good little four-minute story that sums up what happened and it talks about the sad fact that many Australians know very little about this event, including myself, until today, when I did quite a bit of research to talk about it in the Aussie English Fact.
So, as usual, guys, welcome if it is your first time, and welcome back if it is not your first time listening to this podcast. The podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom, which you can sign up to and try if you would like access to my 50 plus advanced English courses. There are courses in there teaching you vocabulary, teaching you about Australian culture, there are interviews with Aussies, there are pronunciation courses, accent reduction courses. There is a lot of content in there, guys, and I still don’t understand why more of you are not signing up when it is so cheap, $1 currently, to try it for 30 days, guys. So, if you would like to support me and what I do and allow me to help you improve your English as best as I can, go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com and sign up for your trial today, guys. Get in there. Okay. Get in there and use the content.
Aside from that, guys, if you just want the transcripts and MP3 downloads for this episode, remember that you can get access to those, unlimited access, when you go to www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com and sign up for the price of one coffee per month. Again, by doing so you are supporting me and the work I do here, the many hundreds of hours that I put in to the Aussie English Podcast every single month, as well as the transcription of those episodes and all the other work that’s done by people like Praveen my IT guy, as well as my wife Kel, who helps me out quite a bit. So, thank you very much to everyone who has already signed up and supporting the podcast.
Anyway, guys, today’s expression is “touch base with someone”, “to touch base with someone”, and this was suggested by Emad and Sarah. They both suggested this expression in the Aussie English Classroom. And it is a good expression. I use this quite often in business English as well as in formal English when chatting with friends and family.
But before we get into that, let me tell you a joke and this joke is about baseball, right. The expression was “to touch base with someone”, which is a reference to baseball. It comes from that. So, I thought I’ll try to find a joke related to baseball, and this one is a whopper. This one is… It’s truly horrible, but I hope you like it. It’s another dad joke, right. It’s another really dumb joke.
What did the baseball glove say to the ball? What did the baseball glove, that glove that you wear on your hand, you know, that you used to catch the ball when you’re playing the game baseball, what did the baseball glove say to the ball?
Are you ready?
Catch ya later! Jesus… Catch you later. Right. “Catch you later”, as in, I will literally catch you later on. You know, you will be going through the air after someone playing baseball has hit you with the bat and I will catch you. But obviously, we use the expression “catch ya later” to mean, “see you later”, as in, “good bye”.
Anyway, the expression is “touch base with someone”, but you can also use this as “to just touch base”. You know, you might just say, “I just wanted to touch base”.
So, let’s go through and define the words.
“To touch”. “To touch” means to come into contact or be in contact with something, right. You might touch your face with your hand. You might touch someone on the shoulder with your hand. If something falls on the ground, it’s touching the ground, right. “To touch”.
“A base”. Now, “a base”, if you look this up in the dictionary, there are many different meanings. It can be a noun or a verb, and it can mean things like the lowest part or edge of something. It can be a bass, as in, a military base, a place used as a center of operations for armed forces, right, like the headquarters. It could be also used in cooking. A base in cooking is the main or important element or ingredient to which something is added, right. So, vegetables might be the base of a soup. But in this sense, we’re talking about basses such as those in baseball, where they are each of the four stations that must be reached by someone trying to score a run, right? Each of those white squares in baseball is “a base”.
And what does the expression “to touch base with someone” mean? It means to talk to someone for a short period of time to find out how they are or what they are thinking about. Okay. And we’ll get into that in the examples.
But yes, it comes from baseball where a player who is touching a base in baseball is not in danger of being put out.
Another explanation is that a player briefly touches each of these bases when he runs around after hitting a home run, therefore, “touching base’, in this example, is briefly checking in, right. He has to touch all of those bases.
So, let’s go through some examples of how I would use the expression “to touch base with someone” or to just “touch base” in everyday English. So, this expression can be… it can be a great business English expression. I would use this in the workplace. And it can be also sort of a casual one that you would use with friends as well. Right.
But, for example, maybe you are a scientist working on a big research project at the moment. You need to get your findings for the project published by the end of the month and your project manager, the person who is leading the project, wants to meet up with you and see where you’re up to with things, you know. Have you finished your part of the paper? Maybe you have to write the introduction to this paper and that’s your role in the project, and he needs it done ASAP. So, if he needs to find out where you’re up to, he may send you an e-mail or he may swing by your office, he may come by your office, and say, “Hey! Just wanted to touch base and see where you are up to with this paper. I just wanted to touch base with you. Can we have a meeting for lunch and you can tell me where you’re up to with things? I just wanted to touch base. I just wanted to touch base with you.”.
Example number two. Maybe this time imagine that you are organising a big overseas trip with a bunch of mates. You’re wanting to go on Contiki in Europe, which is where people generally travel by bus, and they go to many different countries, right. So, maybe you’re going to Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, wherever it is. But you’re the one who’s organising everything, right. You’re the one out of all your friends who has to get them organised. You have to pay for the tickets. You have to book everything online. You have to get the money from them, book the hotels, the bus and train tickets, the tours, everything like that. That’s your responsibility. So, maybe all of your friends are all good. They’ve given you everything they need to give you, all the money, all the details, except for one of them, and you need it from that person as soon as possible, and he says, you know, “Don’t worry. I’ll get it to you when I can.”. If the deadline for when you need a pay for everything is quickly approaching, though, you might stress out a little bit, you might be freaking out thinking, “I need to get this done ASAP. I need it done as soon as possible.”, so you might call him up and say, “Hey, mate I’m just wanting to touch base with you and see if you’ve transferred the money yet as I need to pay for things ASAP, I need to pay for things as soon as possible. Sorry to bother you. Just wanted to touch base regarding the money for the trip that we’re about to go on.”. And hopefully, he has the money and transfers it to you right away so that you don’t have to touch base with him again in the future.
Example number three. So, this is a true example, right. This time I’m talking about my wife. Kel has a baby shower coming up and it’s on her birthday in March. So, a baby shower is where you celebrate having a baby very soon, right. Pregnant women who are a few months out, a few months away from giving birth, will usually have a baby shower where they invite people over, friends, family, you know, relatives to celebrate the baby that’s coming and usually by gifts. So, we’re going to organise all the decorations. We’ll probably organise all the food. And she’s had to also contacted my mother, you know, chat to her, my folks, and ask them to bring over some extra chairs as we don’t have enough for everyone. So, now we just have to wait for the day to arrive, but if some of our friends and family need more information, maybe they forget where the address is, where they’re coming for the party, or maybe they don’t know what they need to bring, they may ring up before the party, a few days before, and say, “Hey! I just wanted to touch base with you. I just wanted to double check, what do I need to bring for the party? Can you let me know what I need to bring? I just want to touch base. I just want to touch base with you and make sure that I have the right place, the right address, so I don’t get lost and miss your baby shower or birthday party.”. Okay.
So, hopefully now, guys, you guys understand the expression “to touch base with someone” or just “to touch base”. It means to talk to someone for a short period of time to kind of find out information about something, right, or it could just be to see how that person is.
So, as usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, and this is where you guys can practice your pronunciation. As I always say, you don’t have to copy my accent exactly. If you’re trying to perfect an American accent or a British accent, whatever accent it is, just say the words after me, but if you are trying to perfect an Australian accent, try and copy my pronunciation, intonation, my rhythm, everything like that, as best you can. Okay? Let’s go.
To touch base
To touch base with
To touch base with someone x 5
I just wanted to touch base with her
You just wanted to touch base with her
He just wanted to touch base with her
She just wanted to touch base with her
We just wanted to touch base with her
They just wanted to touch base with her
It just wanted to touch base with her
Good job, guys. I know that’s not easy. That is a bit of a long expression today or sentence today that I’m using, but it’s a common phrase. We’re often going to say, “Oh, I just wanted to touch base” or “They just wanted to touch base”. So, it’s a common one worth practising.
And remember, guys ,if you want to get the bonus content for this expression episode where I will upload a dialogue video with an example real life English conversation with different expressions, you’ll also get pronunciation tips and tricks, you’ll get vocab, everything else, if you want access to the one for this episode as well as 50 other different expression episodes and their content, make sure you go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com, sign up, and you’ll get instant access, guys. Okay, so start your trial today. You owe this to your English, guys! You got this.
Alright, so let’s get into the Aussie English fact, guys.
So, I was thinking about “base”. As I always do with these expression episodes, I try to tie in the subject that I talk about in the Aussie fact with the expression itself, right, because I think making those links in your head between the joke, between the expression, between the Aussie fact, will hopefully help you remember different things in the lesson, but most importantly the expression itself “to touch base with someone”.
So, I was thinking about “base”, and it got me thinking about the definition of bass as in a military base, right, the headquarters of the military some went. And it made me think of the Bombing of Darwin where military bases in Australia, in Darwin, in the Northern Territory, were bombed by the Japanese. And this was recently commemorated on TV, because it happened, I think it’s 77 years ago, about a week ago. Alright. So, let’s go through that.
So, the bombing of Darwin, AKA, also known as, the Battle of Darwin, occurred on the 19th of February in 1942. So, this was obviously during the Second World War, which was officially declared on the 1st of September, 1939, and into which Australia entered two days later on the 3rd of September in 1939, and only came to a close, only finished, on the 2nd of December, 1945.
So, at the time, Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that 40,000 members of the militia would be called up for training and a 20,000-strong expeditionary force that was designated the Second Australian Imperial Force was to be created to serve overseas. So, this is how Australia got into the Second World War.
Where is Darwin? So, Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory of Australia, and it was named Darwin after the British naturalist and father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, one of my absolute heroes, obviously, I’m an evolutionary biologist. Love Charles Darwin. And this happened in 1839, 100 years before Australia entered the Second World War, and was named so by the captain of the HMS Beagle shortly after it sailed into the harbour at Darwin.
So, why was Darwin bombed?
So, fast-forwarding a hundred years, during the Second World War, Darwin, despite being the capital of the Northern Territory was still a small tropical town with a pre-war population of not even 6,000 people. However, due to its strategic position in northern Australia, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force built bases near the town in the 1930s and the early years of World War 2. The US Army developed a plan in late-December 1941, a few months before the place was bombed, to make Darwin a hub of transshipment efforts to supply the Allied forces that had been sent to support the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies, which I believe is part of Indonesia, I don’t know if it’s all of it, but they were defending this against Japanese invasion.
So, these bases were also used by Allied forces, forces from the UK, forces from America, as an air ferry route designed to allow planes to avoid routes through Japanese mandate in the Central Pacific for bomber reinforcement of the Philippines. So, the planes were obviously trying to keep away from Japanese forces. They didn’t want to be shot down.
As World War Two continued, the Japanese expanded throughout Southeast Asia, and they captured places like Ambon, Borneo, and Celebes between December 1941 and early-February 1942.
The Japanese had scheduled landings on the island of Timor, which is part of Indonesia today, and they’d scheduled them to go ahead on the 20th of February with a subsequent invasion planned for the island of Java in Indonesia. In order to protect its landings that the Japanese military had already made from Allied interference and prepare for the scheduled landing in Timor, it decided to conduct a major air raid on Darwin. In the two months leading up to these air raids, all but 2,000 from Darwin were evacuated and Japanese submarines laid mines in the waters around Darwin greatly impeding the coming and going of Allied ships.
On the 10th of February, a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft overflew the tiny tropical town of Darwin and identified an aircraft carrier, five destroyers, and 21 merchant ships in Darwin harbour, as well as 30 aircraft at the town’s two airfields. Things were starting to ramp up.
The air raids.
Two raids took place on the 19th of February. Just before 845 a.m. in the morning, four Japanese aircraft carriers launched 188 aircraft with the main objective of attacking ships and port facilities in Darwin Harbour.
Despite a Christian missionary on the nearby island of Bathurst spotting the planes and sending a message by radio to the Royal Australian Air Force, they mistakenly judged that the aircraft must have been 10 US aircrafts that were returning from Java to Darwin at the time. As a result, no sirens were sounded before the raid and the forces at Darwin were caught completely off guard and with their pants down.
At 958 a.m. the Japanese raiders began to arrive over Darwin and attack the harbour ruthlessly for about 20 to 30 minutes. Eight Allied ships were sunk and 22 labourers working on the wharf were killed instantly as it was bombed.
Despite relatively intense Allied ground fire during the bombardment, the Japanese losses were minimal with as few as five aircraft and three crew members lost in the first raid.
The second raid comprised 54 planes, which flew much higher this time at about 5.5 kilometres up in the air, arriving over Darwen minutes before midday at 11:58 a.m. This time the sirens were blaring loudly on their arrival with the swarm of 54 planes separating into two groups, which approached the base one from the south east and the other from the north east, and as the two formations arrived at the same time they dropped their bombs simultaneously.
The onslaught was brief and the Japanese aircraft departed by 12:20 p.m..
297 people are estimated to have died in the bombing raids including both military personnel and civilians, and a further 400 people were injured. A total of eight military vessels were sunk during the attack, with a further 15 damaged, and two merchant ships were sunk off Bathurst Island.
In the months that followed, Darwin was repaired and rebuilt, and they mounted an even more credible defense involving counter strike bombers, radar, and searchlights.
By the end of 1942, the tide was beginning to turn against the Japanese as they began to be pushed back out of the islands that they had taken in what is now Indonesia and Timor. And to this day, the bombing of Darwin remains the largest single attack on Australian soil.
Anyway, guys, I hope you like this episode. I hope you learned a bit about Australian history during the Second World War here, and about, obviously, the largest bombing that has ever taken place in Australia.
Thanks for joining me, guys. I really do appreciate your time and I’m glad to be here and helping you improve your English. I’ll see you in the next episode. Catch ya!
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AE 541: HOW to PRONOUNCE Past Participle -ED Endings in ENGLISH
My God! So hot today, guys!
I’m in this studio and it is hot. It is hot. So sorry if I get a little bit shiny during this episode. Anyway, guys, welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I am Pete, your host and today I want to help you learn how to pronounce words, verbs, ending in ED. Ok? There’s three rules. They’re easy Let’s do this!
Alright, so there are three rules in English and that is because there are three different pronunciations of ED in English for these past participial words, right?
Why three rules? What the hell? Why are there three different ways of pronouncing these words? The reason is because the ends of the words, the end of the verb onto which you put the ED, the sound that is made there determines how the ED is pronounced ok? And mastering this is going to help you sound much more like and native when you speak English.
Ok, so the three different sounds are
You guys probably already know this, but we need to learn when and why to put them in certain places. Ok? Alright, so rule number one, guys, rule number one is that when a verb, in the infinitive of a verb ends with a vowel sound or a voiced consonant you need to put /d/ on the end of it, right? and /d/ is a voiced consonant, you should be able to feel vibrations in your throat and they’re voiced, vowels here and obviously the consonants, because there are vibrations in the throat so, you can check that by putting your hand here when you say the words. So, for example:
Alright, rule number 2. So, now when you have a word that ends in a consonant that isn’t voiced there’s no vibrations in the throat that the sound that you have to use is an unvoiced consonant unvoiced ending, unvoiced consonant. So, for example:
It’s not voiced, no vibrations
Laughed ha ha ha ha laughed
Alright! And the last rule, the last rule is that when a verb already ends with one of those two sounds that T or the D we need to add a vowel in there between those two sounds so, that it sounds more natural when we say these words and we put the schwa in there. Ok? So, for example
Good job, guys! So, that’s really all there is to it. That’s all she wrote. That’s all there is to it! So, recapping, let’s go over things again. Rule number one: you need to put a /d/, a voiced /d/ sound on the end of a word that has a voiced sound at the end there can be a vowel or that can be a voiced consonant for example:
Rule number two was we put a /t/ sound
On the end if the end of the word is a consonant that isn’t voiced, no vibrations, for example:
And then if the word already ends with a /t/ or a /d/ sound, a T or D we need to add a schwa and a /d/ sound on the end, for example:
Alright, great job! You’ve done really, really well. Now, let’s do a little quiz here, guys. So I’m going to say a bunch of words, I’m going to say the infinitive first and I want you to convert this into the past participle, see if you get the pronunciation right, and then after that I’m going to say the past participle so you can check if you nailed it, ok? So let’s do this!
Great job, guys! Now, I know these will suck. They are hard to learn, but practice makes perfect. Keep going over these things, keep doing these pronunciation exercises and that’s the best way to learn them subconsciously so, you don’t have to think is it an /ed/
Is it a /d/ is it a /t/? Do these exercises. Now, if you want to go through the hundred top verbs in English where we do this exercise, you want to get the bonus content to this video, as well as my other 50 advanced English courses go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com you can sign up and try it for a month and you will get instant access to all that stuff, guys this is a great way to improve your English.
Quickly, other than that I am Pete the host of the Aussie English podcast if you’re not listening to this podcast already, you can download it via any application of your choosing, just do a search for Aussie English on any podcast app and download your first episode today for free and start levelling up your English.
Thanks for joining me, guys. I really appreciate it and I’ll see in the next one. Peace!
Oh my God, guys. Such a hot day. Looking forward to winter. It’s funny in Australia. You get like, at least here in the South, you get a summer that’s long enough, that just starts disappearing into winter and you’re sort of like, yes! Finally winter and then winters sort of long enough that you want summer at the end again.
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AE 540: 1 Tip to Level Up Your English
What’s going on, guys? Welcome to this video of Aussie English, today I want to talk to you, not about guns, but about an awesome, awesome way to improve your English. Ok? So, this is a sneaky little idea that I’ve had for a little while and I have finally summoned up the courage to do it in Portuguese.
Anyway, let’s get into it! Damn, it was loud!
Anyway, so the idea is to start your own YouTube channel, right? You guys might be thinking ”what the hell are you talking about?”, but for a while I have thought about doing this with Portuguese and I finally did that the other day and I wanted to tell you about my experience and why I think and how I think this is something important that you could do to improve your English, ok?
So, my story, I obviously am married to a Portuguese speaker from Brazil and I have been learning Portuguese ever since I started doing Jiu Jitsu. So, probably about five years now, maybe a bit more on and off, although, only more recently did I start really taking Portuguese seriously and actively studying it and trying to speak it in the house as often as possible with my wife and we’re doing this because we’re having a kid. We’re having a son in about three months, in June, and I want him to learn Portuguese so, he can communicate with his family back in Brazil and I want us to be speaking Portuguese in the house so, you know, he can learn English elsewhere, we’re in Australia. So, he’s going to have plenty of access to English, but not as much to Portuguese, anyway.
I’ve tried many different methods for learning Portuguese and try to improve my Portuguese and a big thing that I found that has helped me at least I’m obviously, as you’re watching this on YouTube, I’m incredibly motivated by creating content to help other people on YouTube and so, like you in English, I struggle quite often with trying to find interesting ways of studying Portuguese. You know, I read books, I watch TV shows, I watch YouTube videos, I read blogs, I get on Reddit, I talk to people, but not all of them are that interesting and it feels more like hard work than it does something enjoyable, right? And you don’t want it to become a chore. You want to enjoy the studying process. So, the biggest thing is obviously when you’re studying English my advice is always what do you enjoy doing in your native language, whether it’s reading watching TV listening to podcasts etc. that you can then do in English and switch that across? Right? So, I really like podcasts, I create a podcast called Aussie English, obviously I like podcasts, so I listen to a lot of podcasts in Portuguese or at least I try to, I like to watch a lot of TV series so, instead of watching these in English, I’m trying to do that in Portuguese. Now I’m watching The Mechanism at the moment, O Mecanismo, about corruption in Brazil, and so I’m constantly trying to find ways of doing what I already do in English and what I already enjoy doing and converting this into Portuguese because I want to spend as much of my day as possible in Portuguese, right?
That is the way that you get to a very deep level in a language, you can’t kind of treat it as a little hobby where you only do a little bit here and there and then stick to your main language for the majority of the time. I was watching One Language Teacher recently and he was saying you need to spend more than 50 percent of your time in the language you’re learning and for you to become competent and very proficient in that language you need to spend more than 50 percent of your time in that language for five years or more. And obviously this is just a rough thing, but he was trying to show that it is a serious commitment and that it takes a lot of time and this is why I think it’s so important to, obviously, find things you enjoy doing and doing them in the language you’re trying to learn, instead of like me, quite often going back and looking for the materials I like in English. You know, it’s easy to fall back on your native language, but yeah, anyway so, onto YouTube.
What I did recently was I decided to bite the bullet. I decided to finally do what I’d been planning to do and start a channel in Portuguese where I only speak Portuguese or at least I speak Portuguese, but I teach English in this channel, right? And so, obviously, I’m passionate about teaching English. I’m passionate about YouTube and online education. I’m passionate about learning Portuguese and speaking Portuguese and so, an obvious way of combining these things was creating a YouTube channel. So, what did I do?
Well, I’m already making videos in English, right? Teaching you guys stuff in English so, for the ones that I at least write a transcript out for, a script, I plan them ahead of time, I have a subject, I have the points about what I going to talk about, I decided that I would do this for Portuguese as well. Now, when I make a video in English teaching you on Aussie English, I’m going to try and do the equivalent, at least, you know, not these kinds of videos, but for the videos where I have them planned out I’m going to do it in Portuguese as well.
And I found this really, really, difficult, but really rewarding and very productive because I have to think about the subject I want to teach, I have to write the transcript in Portuguese, I have to then check the writing that I have written to see that it’s, hopefully, as correct as possible, although, obviously, I have Kel here who I can do that with, you can do this online with websites like Lang 8 where you can upload any writing to have corrected by native speakers. That’s Lang 8. I’ll put a link below. There are plenty of other websites too, like iTalki or Go Speaky, where you can find language partners to do exchanges with and obviously you could get them to correct your work. So, there’s plenty of ways of doing this for free. That’s why that’s not an excuse, ok?
And even if you get it wrong even if it’s not perfect which a lot of my stuff, or a lot of, I’ve done one video! My first video was definitely not perfect, but it was as close to perfect as it can be and so, that is what I think is really helpful for me and my Portuguese. I have to plan the video, I have to write the video, I have to correct the writing and then I have to film it and so, that process is definitely not the same as this process, where I can just think off the top of my head, I can just talk, I do very few cuts. In Portuguese I make a lot of errors. I mispronounce things, I use the wrong grammar. I have to repeat things, I forget what I am trying to say, it is difficult, but it is very rewarding and when I got my first video published the other day where I was teaching 10 slang terms in English it came out so much better than I was expecting and I only got good feedback from people, I think partly because Brazilians are so nice. So, they were very kind, you know, saying you speak incredibly well, they’re not very critical, they’re not very horrible so, thank you so much Brazilians, you guys are lovely, but yeah it was really encouraging and it made me want to do more and more and more. And it’s something that I really enjoy doing. So, it’s not a chore.
Alright, so finishing up the video, how do I think you guys can apply this when learning English yourselves? I think you guys can all make a YouTube channel. If you have a phone, I’m filming on my phone right now, if you have a phone you can film, audio, I have this cheap little mic here. You don’t even need a mic, really you can record audio and video on the phone without any other extra devices. You can upload it to YouTube on your phone. So, my point here is the technology is not a barrier to making a YouTube channel. We all have access to what we need in order to make a YouTube channel. Obviously, you can spend more money and improve the technology you have, but to begin with that’s not that important.
Secondly, I think that it will help you improve your English if you are teaching English in your own language. So, that’s one way of doing it, you could think ok, my native language is Mandarin Chinese or Cantonese Chinese, right? I want to create a channel where I teach the English that I’m currently learning, right? Maybe I’m showing Australian English, maybe I am interviewing Australians and translating the interviews into my native language. So, there’s plenty of ways where you can make those videos bilingual and so, you can bridge the gap, right? Between, obviously, learning that language and not necessarily being really proficient and doing most of it in your language, but still talking about English and you can go all the way to creating the video primarily in English. So, yeah I think you guys can definitely do that. It doesn’t have to obviously be teaching English, it can be about any kind of hobbies that you have, any interests that you have. Maybe you get on YouTube, you create these videos and you don’t even publish them publicly. You could have them private, but the process of making the videos is what I think is really going to help your English, right?
It’s that time to reflect and think about what you want to talk about, to plan what you want to talk about, to then have to talk about that thing and speak and practice your speaking skills and then editing it all, you know, analyzing it again, “what can I do better? What could I do next time? What did I do really well? and I should give myself a pat on the back”. So, that’s it, that’s effectively it, guys.
I think you could all start YouTube channels if you want tomorrow, if it’s something you’re interested in, if you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Bite the bullet, do it, right? It’s really rewarding and I assure you the feedback you’re going to get from people is by and large going to be positive. I rarely, rarely, rarely ever get comments criticising me, saying that I’m a horrible person and my Portuguese is horrible, my channel socks. It never happens, right? People generally aren’t horrible. They want to support you. They want to help you. They want to give you a pat on the back. They want to encourage you. So, that’s it for the video, guys, gone to about 10 minutes here. I hope it helps. I hope it’s interesting and I would love to know what you think in a comment below and tell me what would you start a YouTube channel about? If you could start a channel today, ok? Anyway, Pete, from Aussie English, thanks for joining me and I’ll see you soon. Peace!
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AE 539 – Interview: How a Brazilian Moved to Australia and Became an English Teacher with Sávio Meireles Lemos
AE 539 – Interview: How a Brazilian Moved to Australia and Became an English Teacher with Sávio Meireles Lemos
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today I have a special guest and hopefully I can say your name right: Sávio Meireles Lemos, right?
That’s right, Sávio Meireles Lemos.
It’s always harder. I can never decide whether to use an Australian accent when introducing people or trying to use a Brazilian accent.
That’s fine, man, either way it’s fine.
So, man, how did you… just tell me a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Australia? Because I thought you got a really interesting story that I wanted to share with people today so, I thought I get you on the podcast. How long have you been here? How did you end up here?
Yeah, yeah this is my second time in Australia so, in 2011. I made the move to Australia from Brazil and I ended up staying here for five years, almost. Between 2015 and 2018 I was kind of back and forth between Brazil and Europe. I’ve got friends and family in the south of Europe, Portugal, Spain, France and then you know, last year I applied for a visa to Australia and then, you know, decided to come back here and start a life from scratch, all over again.
Far out. So, that happens quite a bit. Like, I hear… I don’t know if it’s a common, a common thing with Brazilians, but some of my wife’s friends have definitely moved around different countries like…one of her friends Joana, if she’s listening, she came to Australia for a year and she went back to Brazil. Now she is living in France. Is it a common thing for a lot of Brazilians to try and go abroad nowadays?
I would say so, yeah. I think given the political situation, the economic situation, Brazilians they tend to find different options as for their lifestyle or profession in also as an experience to live overseas, even if it’s just for a few months. Yeah, I think most of my friends they’ve done that before and I think most Brazilians would be willing to do that in the future as well, especially if they can’t find a job in their field in Brazil, if they’re not happy with their lifestyle. Yeah, I think nowadays it is much easier than before to move to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland.
So, what sort of preparation did you have to do before coming as well? Because obviously your English is at an amazing level now, what was it like before you came and were you focused on preparing yourself with regards to language and with regards to work or did you kind of just wing it, jump in the deep end and you just like ‘I’ll worked it out once I get there?”
That’s a really interesting question. When they can just for the first time, in 2011, I could barely speak English, my English was really basic. I didn’t have much money, I had like a thousand bucks in my pocket, but I wasn’t happy with my lifestyle in Brazil. I used to be a business man. I used to work in the travel industry in Brazil, had a small travel agency and I decided to just, you know, close the company, sell my car and come to Australia. So, I didn’t have much time to prepare myself. I didn’t have, you know, much knowledge on the country. Obviously, you know, I did my research beforehand, but it was more like an adventure. I like to think that I am challenge driven person so, I was willing to live, to lead a different lifestyle. Obviously, an English-speaking country would be the best option to me. That’s why I came to Australia. I had a 14 weeks English course, you know, health insurance, three days booked in a backpacker in the city here in Sydney.
So, you had the course already organised here in Australia or did you do that before coming out?
Yeah before, before, because obviously I had to come on a student visa. And at that time the shorter time, the shorter student visa possible was this 14 weeks English course visa.
And so, how did you find that, learning in a classroom?
Was kind of a… to me a really unusual situation because I was obviously sharing the class with, you know, Indonesians, you know, Thai people, Colombians, Brazilians and yeah it was a struggle, I’m not going to lie. At first it was really difficult. I started working in construction as well, something that I had never done before and also having to, you know, deal with all those things. Studying, working to pay the bills and also trying to have a little bit of a social life. So, yeah it wasn’t easy.
Was it a big shock? Was that were you expecting to have to sort of juggle that many balls in the air when you first planned to come to Australia or did you kind of think ‘Ah, I’ll just do my course, I’ll find an easy job it should be crusie, should be easy”? What was the sort of idea in your head before you got here?
Yeah, I wouldn’t say I was a big shock because I had been to New Zealand before that. You know, I spent three months in New Zealand travelling in 2008 so, I was kind of… and always had this, you know, travel bug myself. So, it was more like an adventure. You know, I was coming from, you know, a different country, I was working, you know, 12 to 14 hours per day. I was a businessman in Brazil and then all of a sudden I was just being an employee here, you know, working and receiving the money, but not not taking many problems, not having to deal with many responsibilities as I used to so, I was kind of… looking, looking back now, was kind of easy in terms of just doing the job and getting paid in, you know, trying to learn as much as I could about the language, the culture. Making new friends also, but yeah it was different, it was something different to have to, have to learn how to navigate through a different society.
What was that process like? Was it something that happened passively or did you actively have to put yourself out there to learn more about the culture, to meet people and to really dive into the language? Because I think that’s a big, a big issue that a lot of listeners probably have when they get to Australia they, quite often they get a very good passive skills like they get really good at listening and reading, but their speaking lags behind and they also find it hard to meet people because, again, they don’t necessarily go out there actively trying to do it all the time because it’s a lot of effort. Was that what you found and did you have to kind of give yourself a kick in the butt to keep being active and trying to improve and meet people and socialize?
Good question. Actually, Pete, when I arrived here, I hit the ground running. Yeah, I had to put myself in really difficult situations in order to learn in a faster pace. So, at first, I decided to leave with Brazilian’s because I needed to find work.
You needed that stepping stone, right?
That stepping stone, that’s right. So, I lived for six months with Brazilians in a surburb called Brookvale, here in Sydney. So, I was sharing the house with ten others, only two bathrooms, sharing the room itself with two others.
Ten others! Far out! You would have saved on rent.
Yeah, yeah, I was paying like 100 bucks a week at that time.
But then once I kind of got the hang of it and say I was feeling a little bit more comfortable with the language and also navigating through the, you know, the city itself. I decided to move to a different house and live with Australians.
That’s the biggest step, I think. A lot of people get sort of stuck in that rut, right? They get to Australia they end up living with people from Colombia or Thailand or Brazil, you know, the same nationality effectively and then they get to a point where they probably can survive on their own, but they never pull themselves away from that situation. What advice would you have for people that are in that sort of a situation? Would you suggest that they try and keep thinking about how to get away from people from their nationality so, that they can advance quicker even if it is uncomfortable?
Yeah, I think that’s the right mindset. It’s not easy. I think we humans, we tend to do easy things to be more comfortable, but yeah, man, I think people have to keep in mind that if you want an easy life here, at the beginning is not going to give you much learning, you know, you’re not going to immerse yourself in the culture and the language, also I don’t think we can be too, we should be too extreme. I can live with Australians, but still you hang out with Brazilians, still go to Brazilian restaurants, you know, catch up with friends every now and then, but this step to move to an Australian house I think it made a huge difference in my life. I remember, I got to a point where I would go out, in Manly Beach, let’s say with two Aussie friends and two Brazilian friends. The Brazilian friends perfect English, fluent English, but if I wanted I could speak with the Australian guys and leave them out of the conversation. Obviously, I’ve never, I never did that, but just as an example, if I wanted, just by using phrasal verbs, idioms, slang and that kind of knowledge, I think it’s quite hard to acquire in the classroom.
Yeah, exactly, the stuff that’s used, right? And I found that with Portuguese, as you know I’m learning Portuguese, and it’s one thing to learn with a book and learn all the official stuff, but it seems like every time I have conversations with people I learn, on my Gosh, ok, you don’t actually say it that way when you speak, you contract these things, you would never use this, you know, sort of formal phrases and stuff and then the situations and everything and so, yeah it is funny how much more you learn when you just dive into these situations. The other day we went down the Great Ocean Road here with two of my friends from Sao Paulo, in Brazil as well, but they live in Melbourne and we just spent the entire day in the car with my wife and they were all speaking Portuguese and I had to try and keep up, but it was just so much more of a… I don’t know, an immersive kind of…that’s how I can do immersion here in Australia. So, what did you do with regards to finding friends and socialising? Because I know that that is something that requires much more of an active kind of… I guess plan, right? You can’t really think ”I’ll get a job, I’ll go to school and then friends will just appear” Australian friends, right?
Yeah, yeah, you’re right, you’re right. At first Pete, I used to go to those meet up gatherings.
The language meet ups?
The language to meet ups. As a matter of fact, I learned Spanish, Spanish in Sydney.
Oh really? You didn’t learn in Brazil? Far out.
Yeah, I spent more than a year going to a meet up here in Sydney, at the CBD. To hang out with Spanish speakers and, you know, practice the language, and obviously on the side, I was studying by myself, reading books, watching movies and so on, but yeah, on that Spanish group I made a lot of friends and we organize another one down in Manly Beach with other friends, Aussie friends and then that’s when everything started, but I think you’re right, you have to put yourself actively in those situations. Otherwise, it would be hard to find friends. You got to be more active and yeah, I think Sydney has a, you know, it’s the options for social interactions are endless here. You can go out every day of the week if you want to.
So, what would you say if you had some friends, whether they were from Brazil or not, they’ve just arrived in Australia, they have, you know, conversational English where they can communicate, they may not be perfect, they may not be anywhere near native level, but they can get along. What would be the suggestion you’d have for them if they said today what do I do to make friends?
This for just a number one. Subscribe for that platform meetup.com, and try to find like minded people, to try to find those, you know, small groups of people where they are discussing things that you like, let’s say, you know, English language, running, whatever, healthy food.
Explain more, what is meetup.com exactly? For those people who may not know.
Yeah, I believe meetup.com is the biggest social network when it comes to small communities on the planet. So, whatever you want, let’s say, I’m into technology and I’m going to find meet ups, you know, different kind of, kinds of groups here in Sydney, only to, you know, talk about technology to the type of language, let’s say Python or, I don’t know, WordPress, dancing clubs, you know.
Yeah so, it is, it’s endless, you can find people who are pursuing any kind of hobby or even career related stuff and that they tend to get together on a regular basis and you can sort of sign up to go to those things, right?
Yes, absolutely, that’s right. Absolutely. Another advise that I could give to someone who, you know, let’s say arrived here a few days ago or weeks ago and are trying to meet friends, I’d go to the church if you’re a religious person, you know, there are a number of churches in Sydney where Brazilians get together.
They all congregate there, do they?
Yes, yes that’s right. So, they ended up meeting people, making friends and organising or other social activities to do together.
Brilliant. And what were the biggest hurdles with you with language and how did you overcome those?
I’d say was the pronunciation. The Australian pronunciation, even though I love it nowadays, but back in the day I remember wasn’t easy, wasn’t easy at all because I think grammar you can kind of, you know, hit the books and start studying every day for one or two hours and at the end of two ot three months it’s going to be, you are going to have covered most of it. Vocabulary, you can expand your vocabulary in a matter of, let’s say, six months, you can be pretty good at it. However, I think pronunciation would be a big issue especially if you’re dealing, which was my case, working in a factory with 60, 65-year-old Australians.
It wasn’t easy.
It’s not easy for us.
So, what did you do in order to improve your pronunciation? Was that something that you tried to keep actively working on the whole time that you were working on your English or is it something you just worked on in the beginning? Because that’s something that I have a lot of students asked, they’re always like ”do I need to worry about pronunciation? What should I be doing in order to improve pronunciation?”. So, what advice would you have for English learners with regards to pronunciation and how important it is and how to improve it?
I think it’s massive, pronunciation is massive. At first, just by the fact that I moved into an Australian house and started working for an Australian company, I was kind of absorbing passively the pronunciation patterns, but I also, even nowadays, man, every day I study pronunciation, every day I’m practising, I’m really… I like to observe people talking, right? And every day I go to a different coffee shop and there, reading my books or having coffee, but I’m paying attention to what people are saying to each other, I’m fascinated by, you know, culture and languages and pronunciation is a huge part of it so, I love it. Also, I think people they can do online courses. There are a number of specialists on the subject out there and I’m not one. I’m not one of them, but I can recommend a few of them. There is a guy called Pete.
Shameless plug, that’s it, far out! So, what was it like leaving Brazil and travelling the world? Did you have sort of a certain preconceived notion in your head about what New Zealand or Australia and these other places were like before you left Brazil and did it prove to be the case or did it prove to be something completely different when you actually put your feet on the ground and found out what Australia was like or New Zealand was like first hand? What was the kind of cultural differences an adjustment, what was it like?
Yeah, I think, I think we all do. You know, we do have those preconceived ideas about places and people, I tend to not travel with the mindsets of you know, I tend to not travel with a lot of expectations, that’s what I want to say. I like to go to the place open minded and meet new people and learn from them. That’s what I did in New Zealand in Australia, Asia as well. Europe, in particular, you can learn a lot when you drop down a preconceived ideas and judgments in, you know, try to learn as much as I can and also try to give back to the community, to try to get back to those people. Things like instead of staying at a hotel and staying, you know, at some local’s house. There are a number of platforms on the Internet as you know where you can find those people. That’s basically how I travelled to around Southeast Asia and meet new people and live with them to learn as much as I could about the culture and also to give back to them.
So, were there any things that sort of shocked you or, you know, big lessons that you learnt?
Oh yeah, yeah absolutely, absolutely. I think one thing that you’ll find out once you start travelling solo, is that poor people financially, let’s say, disadvantaged people they can be so kind to you and so nice. They can help you and contribute to your journey in so many different ways and levels. It’s amazing! And on the other hand, you can see that people, some other people, they are in a different condition financially wise and they can be greedy and really unhelpful at the same time, but again I’m not here to be judgmental. When I travel especially in Asia, I tend to go in to stay in really poor communities, far from the fancy suburbs. I think I can always learn with those experiences.
It’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? That was something I noticed when I went to Indonesia and just how in the big cities there was a lot more….probably like Australia, like any society, you have people who are much more self-involved and worried about themselves and tend to be more greedy and want something from you, but then as soon as we went out into some of these more rural places in Sulawesi on the big island in Indonesia, right? Where they have lots of mountains and these tribes and groups of people who rarely ever see white people, quite often you go there and they have nothing, you know, like clothes, food and somewhere to sleep and that’s about it, but they were like the happiest, nicest people you would ever meet and that was, that was a massive eye opener for me. I had no idea. It made me appreciate how much possessions don’t really mean anything at the end of the day with regards to happiness. You don’t go there thinking, you know, these people are going to be really sad and unhappy because they have nothing. You actually end up going there and you’re like ”holy crap!”, they’re making jokes, laughing. They just want to hang out. They want you to come over and see their friends and family and introduce you to everyone and they want to spend time with you constantly, whereas it is pretty funny how we think we have it really good in these sorts of societies with all the disposable income that we have, but as a result of that you kind of ended up, you end up more isolated because you don’t have to rely on anyone else, you know, that was definitely a massive lesson for me that I learnt from that trip out there.
Absolutely, I like, just going to say that I like the note at your backdrop there, ”vixe maria”
Kel leave stuff around the place just written in Portuguese all the time, she is always teaching me these weird expressions like, what was the other one? ”êrra diaxo!”.
Where is she from in Brazil?
She’s from the Northeast so, she’s from Mararanhão, São Luís.
Yeah. So, it’s funny. That’d be like… I guess, coming to Australia and meeting someone from the Kimberley, right? Someone from a very far away community from the average Brazilian and so, they’re always like ”oh your accent! Your slang” it’s almost like she’s a foreigner even though she’s from Brazil with the people that she meets most of the time.
Yeah. Nice, nice. Not far from my city, I’m from Fortaleza.
Ah, no kidding! That’s right, I think you told me that, right? And that’s further to the east, right?
So, what is Brazil like or what was it like growing up there? Because I’m always…this is almost a selfish, you know, part of the interview that I wouldn’t know more about culturally what sort of what was it like growing up in Brazil?
Man, I grew up in Fortaleza in a really simple suburb, right next to the stadium, to this soccer stadium. So, I was, you know, my my childhood was filled with activities on the streets, playing soccer. Hanging out with the mates from the suburb, going to the stadium to watch the soccer matches, the football games.
If you guys don’t know, Brazil likes football quite a lot.
It’s almost a religion. I t.
I think I’ve heard those sorts of sayings, right? You can say anything about Jesus, but don’t you dare say anything about my football team.
That’s right, that’s right. And also, a huge part of my childhood and teenagerhood was going to the countryside, because my parents they come from the countryside. So, every December and July, the school holidays, we would drive 600 kilometres to the south of the state.
Jesus, how long did that take?
It used to take about…almost 10 hours by bus.
Because the road, they used to be pretty crappy, pretty, you know, destroyed, but nowadays by car it would take six hours.
Far out, though, that is a big distance. So, do you find that a lot of Brazilians, the families at least, are spread out across the country or do you guys tend to sort of all live in the same area where, you know, first arrived in Brazil? Because I’ve had groups like, I know Kel’s family all live in Maranhão and that’s one of the first places, I think, that the Portuguese settled, right? When they got to Brazil, whereas some of the other people I know who live in Fortaleza have family in Sao Paulo or in Curitiba, all the all these places in the south, and so they spread right across the country which is kind of similar to Australia where a lot of us will have family members in big, you know, I’ll have friends and family in Queensland or in Western Australia or in Tasmania, is it the same kind of thing where people and families are spread out all over the place in Brazil nowadays?
I think so. I think so, I think most of us have family spread out all over the place, taking myself as an example, I’ve got relatives in Brasília, São Paulo, Rio, Florianópolis, Joinvile, you name it!
And also, overseas, I’ve got a few cousins and uncles in France.
So, what would you say if we were to compare Brazil and Australia? What’s something that Brazil can learn from Australia and that Australia could learn from Brazil?
Good question. Good question, I think we can learn to be more organized.
Brazilians you mean or Australians?
We, us, Brazilians we can learn to be more organised to be with you guys, more focused, I think the English culture is kind of interesting to me because you guys are not as warm as we are, as South Americans, but you can be really friendly and, you know, I’ve met some amazing people in Australia and I don’t believe we need to have many friends, you need to have good, you know, loyal and, you know, people in your life, but I would say relationship wise I find it fascinating that Australians they hang out, they help each other, you know, really, really cool people without the necessity of be over, you know, sticky or over warm in a sense.
Man, what’s the plan for the future? Are you hoping to stay in Australia and keep teaching English because you work as an English teacher, right? At the moment, amongst other things I’m sure, what is the ultimate goal or do you want to keep travelling and end up in some other faraway land?
Oh, that’s a tricky question. It is not easy to answer that because as much as I love Australia and I love being here and living here, I’ve got, you know, so many friends, I’ve been in so many good places and experienced so many things here, that I feel a strong connection with the country and with people. Also, for the first time in my life I am teaching English at a high-level school, it’s one of the most reputable schools in Sydney and that helps me a lot, that gives me that edge, that’s, you know, a place to go and work and learn, every day I learn and things because I work with the best, with the best teachers.
How did that end up happening? Because I’m sure that most listeners will be thinking “what the hell? How did a guy who didn’t speak English very well before in 2011 end up teaching English at one of the most reputable schools in Sydney?”, Like, what was that journey and then would you recommend that to other people?
Absolutely, absolutely. I think we tend to carry some assumptions with us and those assumptions they don’t help at all. I’m a huge advocate of breaking assumptions, you know, questioning assumptions. So, when I… before I came just Australia for the second time this year I phoned a few friends here, right? And I told them, ”listen I’m going back to Australia, I have just applied for a visa, just waiting for the immigration to grant me the visa, but the plan is to go there and to work as an English teacher”, because I was already working as an English teacher back in Brazil.
Actually, I’ve been working for over four years now and I asked them ‘”do you think it’s possible to find a job at an English school?” and I asked three or four different people and they all gave me the same answer. They said ”Listen, Savio, I think you could try, but it won’t be easy because, you know, there is no shortage of English people coming here, New Zealanders, South Africans, the locals also… it won’t be easy”.
I think one of the things though that they forget right is that you can have access to someone who can speak the language at a native level, but who may be an incredibly horrible teacher because they have no idea or understanding, like if you went and asked my sister or my mother ”can you tell me how to use the Gerund in this past tense or whatever?” they’d be like ‘what are you talking about?”, they don’t have any idea about how to explain it, they can just do it, whereas someone like you and people listening to this podcast have spent years going through the process of actually learning it, which is an expertise in and of itself, right?
Absolutely, absolutely. And yeah, one thing is knowing how to speak the language and other thing is knowing how to teach the language. Myself, for instance, I can’t teach Portuguese.
Yeah, well, that’s it, right?
I say that to Kel all the time, I’m like ”how can I say this? What’s this word?” and she’ll be like ”I don’t know, look it up on line, I’m not a teacher I just do it!”. And the most annoying thing I think is when I say I’ll learn a grammar rule, like an example would be like you would Tu Estás, right? If you’re going to say TU and you want to conjugate that, you would say Estás, but they never say that, they say tu está and it’s just like what the hell? There are all these grammatical rules you learn and then you speak and she’ll be like ”no, no, that’s weird. You actually use this incorrect version and now you sound natural”.
Exactly. Exactly. But another thing that I asked these guys was what if I want to teach English as a private teacher?
Because obviously Sydney is an expensive place to live. They can’t charge, let’s say, less than 40 bucks and then they said ”oh, wow, really? Because, you know, Savio, some of the teachers here, they’re private teachers, they are native speakers and they don’t charge 40 bucks for an English class, they charge less than that”. I think the competition is growing. That’s why you know prices are going down. And I was like “really? Alright”. And then the question was… because, at the time, I was teaching private lessons in Fortaleza, in my city, but I don’t I don’t sell, you know, one class, you know, isolated, I don’t sell, you know, one class and that’s it. I sell a package, at least 12 lessons. I told them ”listen, I’m not going to… I’m going to sell a package of 12 lessons” and then they did the math and then they said ”so, what you’re saying is, you’re going to charge 480 bucks to a student? Students don’t have money, Savio, Forget about it”. Long story short, I arrived here and started doing my research and talking to people and ended up validating all my three assumptions. Validating, exactly the opposite of what they told me. Nowadays, I teach at an English school here, I charge more than I expected, more than I thought at first. So, I don’t sell only one English lesson, you know, one off. I sell 12 lessons cycle. It’s been working now to me, I think I’ve been able to help a lot of people and to provide high level quality lessons. Obviously, it’s a learning experience. Every day I learn something new, with the other teachers at school or with my students as well. I’m extremely grateful to my students. They all come from a different place, from a different background and they’ve been able to help me also to improve my craft.
So, you have any repeating kind of questions or issues that come up with these students and therefore tips that you keep giving over and over and over again to them when you’re teaching them?
I think they tend to take to different… on a different way. They are always concerned about work, even though they… all of them, they’ve been working here, they’ve got good jobs, but they’re always trying to work in their field, which is not easy, you know, especially if you are in elementary or beginner English speaker, but also there are some of my students who… they’ve been working for these companies for one or two years and then be offered the sponsorship.
The sponsorship visa.
And then they’ve got everything that it takes to apply for the visa, but they don’t have the English level to do the IELTS test.
Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask. So, you have a lot of them who have to end up doing the IELTS and the PTE and that sort of thing, do they?
Yeah, yeah. Nowadays I’m only working to students to improve their English level, with general English, English for business. Whenever somebody comes to me asking for IELTS lessons, I recommend them to a more qualified person.
Well, that’s the biggest problem, isn’t it? With like learning IELTS, it’s two parts: you have to learn how to pass the exam and you know fulfil the criteria that they’re going to ask you to sort of fulfill, but also you need to have a good level of English and a lot of teachers are just like ‘look, I can teach you English, but I don’t necessarily know how to nail every nitty gritty bit of the exam and the really important things to focus on”.
Exactly. So, do you know much about IELTS and PTE and have you noticed that more people are doing PTE than IELTS, because that’s something I keep… all of a sudden, I have all these students asking me to help them with PTE over IELTS. So, a lot of them are now saying ”oh PTE is the one that’s easier, it’s easier to do, it’s cheaper sometimes as well” and yeah, I was wondering, have you noticed a similar kind of thing?
Yeah, yeah absolutely, I think nowadays people they tend to… they are leaning towards the PTE, in a sense it’s easier because you are doing the test in front of a computer, is not a human being, you know, assessing you, it’s a computer. So, I believe in a sense it’s easier, but I don’t know man, to be honest, I’ve never taken those tests, I did, at the time, actually I’m a former student of this school that I’m teaching now.
Brilliant. So, you were there for years and then obviously that was, that was helpful on your resume, was it? Showing them the marks, you’re just like ”let me teach you now”.
No, that wasn’t the case, but I did the Cambridge course, the Cambridge preparation course, but only three months, back in 2013. So, yes, I kind of know one or two things about Cambridge, but IELTS I’m hopeless, yes.
Far out, man. Well, finishing up. How can people find out more about you and are you taking on any students at all via Skype or anything like that? Do you want to put yourself out there at any listeners who might want private lessons with you too?
Well, man, I’d love to, I’d love to if I had the time.
Ah, ok, you’ve got to get in the line, guys.
Yeah, I came… my full capacity, 12 students. I’ve been working with 12 students so, that’s why I can’t take in more students. Take on, but if people want to find me just Sávio Meireles Lemos on Instagram. I’m there pretty much every day, you know, filming things and talking to people in trying to add value to people’s lives, especially Brazilians who all aspire to live overseas, you know, who can…. who wants to have a different experience outside of Brazil to learn English so, I’m kind of providing and putting out content along those lines.
Brilliant! Well, Sávio, thank you so much for joining me today.
Thanks, man. It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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AE 538 – Expression: Tie Up Loose Ends
The dingo. Icon of Australia. Noble survivor in a tough land.
Dogs can go three weeks without a drink. They’re not getting their water out of a dam. They’re getting their water out of blood and fat reserves they’ve got in their body.
The dingo has inserted himself into the ecology. It’s the type of country they are absolutely perfectly built for.
Do we need them to balance our environment?
We can recover threatened species and ecosystems simply by allowing the dingo to do what the dingo does.
They’re always going to be treated as the enemy. I believe our only option is to destroy the dogs.
G’day, guys! How’s it going?
Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English as well as anyone trying to get their English from intermediate and advanced to beyond.
Okay, guys, if you want to get the transcripts and the MP3s in the bonus content for this podcast go to www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com. And if you would like to get access to my 50 plus courses, for English obviously, advanced English even faster work on pronunciation, learn more expressions, everything like that, to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. And remember, guys, I am updating the website soon. I’ve got Praveen, my IT guy, working on it. He’s putting the two sites together. And we’re going to hopefully turn this into an app in the near future this year too. So, stay tuned for that. Anyway.
Intro aside. The movie scene there at the start, that little clip, was from a documentary by ABC called Dingo: Wild Dog at War. Now, guys, if you don’t know what a dingo is, this is the wild dog that is found in Australia, and it’s a bit of a contentious issue as to whether this is a native species or a non-native species. It’s classified as both, I believe, depending on where you are in Australia. Anyway. That documentary is absolutely amazing. So, check that out. Just do a search for “Dingo: Wild Dog at War”. I just finished watching it, myself, and I learnt so much about Aussie wildlife, as well, dingoes! Dingoes rule. But we’ll get into them a bit more in the Aussie English fact today. Alright.
So, let’s start guys. As always, I have a joke for you. Okay? Buckle in. Sit down in your seat. Get ready. Here comes the Aussie joke, although, it’s just an English joke it’s not really Australian-oriented this week. Alright. Here’s the joke:
Why don’t scientists trust atoms? Why don’t scientists trust atoms?
Because they make up everything. They make up everything.
So, do you know the phrasal verb there, guys, “to make up”, “to make up”. If you make something up, it can be that you compose that thing, right. Like, so, many atoms, one of the tiniest forms of matter, if you do physics or chemistry you’ll know about atoms, they make up everything, meaning they compose or constitute everything that exists, right, like, I am made of atoms, my pen is made of atoms, the Earth is made of atoms, you know, oxygen, calcium, carbon, everything like that. That’s an atom.
But the other meaning of “to make up”, if you make something up, it’s to invent a story, to lie, right, or to create something. So, if I tell you a story and I made that story up, the idea is there that I lied, I fabricated the story, it’s not real, right.
So, why don’t scientists trust atoms? Because they make up everything!
Anyway, guys, the expression today is “to tie up loose ends”, right, and you’ll often hear this as “to tie up some loose ends”, or you might hear the verb “tidy up” some loose ends. Okay?
So, this was from Djib. He suggested this in the Aussie English Classroom. As we go through each week and get everyone to compile their expressions, we then vote on them, and Djib one this week. Good job, mate.
So, let’s go through the definitions of the different words in the expression “to tie up loose ends”.
So, “to tie something up”. If you tie something up, you interweave it, or the ends of two things, right, so that it is in the form of a knot, right. So, if I put my shoes on, I tie my shoes up, I tie the shoe laces in my shoes. And I’m turning this into a phrasal verb with “up”, “to tie up”, meaning to completely tie, right. I tie up my shoe laces, maybe there’s a cord that I have in here somewhere, I don’t know, there’s a cord here on the table, if I tie that up to keep it out of the way, I’m into weaving it.
“Loose”. “Loose” means not firmly or tightly fixed in place. So, detached or able to be detached as well. So, if you’re wearing a belt, and the belt around your waist isn’t very tight, it’s loose. If you are tying down some stuff on the back of your ute in your car, right, imagine you’ve just bought a new fridge, you put it in the back of your car, you want to tie it down, you don’t want the ropes that you used to be loose, because they won’t hold that fridge in place. You want them to be tight, not loose.
The last word here is “end”. “An end”. An end of something is the final part of that thing. So, you’ll have an end of a rope, right, or the end of a shoe lace, the end of this podcast episode, the end of a road, the end of a movie. I’m sure you guys know the word “end”.
So, let’s define the expression, and it’s a great work place expression. This is some really good business English to use this expression “to tie up some loose ends” or “to tidy up some loose ends”.
So, what does the expression mean? It means to deal with minor consequences of a previous action, to tidy up, to finish up, to completely finish something, to complete something. Or you could say that it is to complete the parts of something that you were doing or have done that have not yet been completed. Okay? To tie up some loose ends. So, I guess, the best example I could give you is you’re trying to tie up your shoe laces, you get halfway through it, and then you have to tie up the loose ends, right. You have to finish what you’re doing.
So, the origin of this expression. Well, literally, “loose ends” is referring to row or string or cable, right. Some kind of long cord. And if a sailor, for example, needed to prepare his boat for departure, he has many things to do, one of the minor details is making sure to tie any untied strings on the boat up, right. He has to make sure all of the loose ends are tied up.
So, you’ll hear this expression in business contexts, as well as some more informal conversational English context as well. People at a company might talk about tying up loose ends of a work project, right, if their finishing work, okay. And it’s been used since the 1800s, so this is one that’s been hanging around for a while. Alright.
So, I’ve already given you a few examples, but let’s go through three examples of how I would use this expression in day to day life. Okay.
Example number one. Imagine you’re a businessman, you’re a banker, or some high up exec, right, an executive, and you’ve decided to leave the financial world and buy a farm, move out into the country and grow some sugarcane. So, you got sick of the hustle and bustle of city life, the stress of business, and you want to go and retire to a country… somewhere quiet in the country and, you know, kick back and relax. Before you leave, though, you have to organise your work, so that when you hand over your position to whoever gets your job, the transition goes smoothly, without any hiccoughs or confusion. So, your boss might say to you, “Can you make sure, mate, that you tidy up any loose ends at work before you leave for the farm? Can you tie up all the loose ends in your job? Organise all your work. Complete the parts of everything you’ve been doing that you haven’t yet finished. Make sure everything’s done and dusted. You need to tie up any loose ends at work.”.
Example number two. Imagine you’re running some errands or you’re doing some shopping one day and you bump into a mate whilst you’re doing so. You know, you walking down the aisle with your trolley, you’re putting Vegemite and fairy bread, and whatever other Australian thing into the trolley, and you see your mate walking down the aisle, and because it’s been awhile, you haven’t caught up with him in a long time, he asks you over to his place. He says, “Oh man! We haven’t caught up in ages. Did you want to come over tonight, sink a few beers with me, we can have a meal, we can hang out, we can watch the footy, whatever? Let’s just catch up.”. And you tell him, “Oh man! I’d totally be up for that. I would love to do that. But I’m running a few errands. I’ve got some stuff at home that I have to finish. I’ve got some chores to do. So, I’ll head over to your place later on, but I have to tie up some loose ends first. I have to go home and finish the tasks that I was doing, I have to complete those tasks, I need to go home and tidy up a few loose ends to tie up a few loose ends.”.
The last example here. Imagine you’re a criminal. You’re in an organised criminal gang, right? Could be the Mafia, but be whatever. I’m not in one, so I don’t know that much about them. But imagine you’re a criminal in a gang, you’re the leader of this group, you deal drugs, you deal weapons, and whatever other kinds of dodgy stuff that gang criminals deal in. You’ve got a huge deal coming up with a rival gang, you know, you guys are selling cocaine or AK 47s to one another or whatever, but before you can do so, you know that some cops have been keeping an eye on you. They’ve been tailing you. They’ve been trying to investigate your criminal activities, and try and stop you from committing any crimes, right. But you know you have to deal with these police officers before this deal can go ahead. So, maybe that means making them disappear, i.e. kidnapping and murdering them, right, and then burying the bodies somewhere hard to find.
So, you might tell the other guys that you’re doing this deal with, “Look, we’re still on for the exchange. It’s still going to happen. If you’ve got the money, I’ve got the product. But first, I need a tidy up some loose ends. I’ve got to tidy up some loose ends before we can do this deal. I need to tie up some loose ends. I need to finish this unfinished work, i.e. getting rid of the cops.”.
So, hopefully now, guys, you understand the expression “to tie up some loose ends”. Remember, it is a great one to use at work when you have finished tasks that you need to finish before you do something else. I have to tidy up some loose ends.
So, as usual, let’s get into the listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you can try and mimic, you can try and shadow, my pronunciation here if you are working on your Australian English accent. If you are not working on that accent, all good, use your accent, but just say these sentences after me, and maybe focus instead on things like intonation, rhythm, and emphasis. Okay. Let’s go.
To tie up
To tie up some
To tie up some loose x 5
I’m just going to tie up some loose ends.
You’re just going to tie up some loose ends.
He’s just scared to tie up some loose ends.
She’s just going to tie up some loose ends.
We’re just going to tie up some loose ends.
They’re just going to tie up some loose ends.
It’s just going to tie up some loose ends.
Great job, guys. I know that’s not easy. That was a bit of a long sentence there in the second part of the lesson and repeat exercise, and I know that there is a lot of connected speech going on between these words, and there’s a lot of letters disappearing, right? Did you hear “just” or did you hear “jus(t)” when I said one of the phrases like, “I’m just going to tie up some loose ends”. And did you hear the D in “ends” or did you hear no D, and instead, it sounded like “en(d)s”. “I’m just going to tie up some loose ends.” Interesting, huh?
Remember, guys, if you want to learn more about this stuff, get into the Aussie English Classroom. At the moment, you can sign up for your trial period of 30 days for the price of just one dollar. Guys, I do that because I believe in the course. I know it’s going to help you. There are 50 plus English courses in there designed to get your English to an advanced level, so go check that out.
And for this episode and the previous two episodes, I’ve been creating dialogues, right, so examples of natural conversations with expressions, slang, really good vocab that you’ll hear on a day to day basis, and I’ve been putting these in the Classroom to complement these episodes and give you… just give you more awesome English to learn that you’ll here in real life from Aussies and from other native speakers.
Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie English fact, guys, where we’re going to chat all about dingoes and then I will let you get on with your day.
So, dingoes, guys. What are dingoes? Have you heard of dingoes before? Let me give you a hint. *Awwwwooooo!*. So, dingoes are a subspecies descended from the grey wolf as are domestic dogs, though, dogs and dingoes are still considered to be the same species, Canis familiaris.
Their distribution covers most of the mainland of Australia, although, you are much less likely to come across them in the southern parts of Australia, and they are actually absent from some of these areas including the island of Tasmania in the south east.
What’s the difference between dogs and dingoes? Now, I just said they are the same species, but they’re different subspecies, which means that they have different features whether that’s morphological, behavioural, or even genetic, that distinguish them from your average dog. So, they were effectively a population of dogs, that once diverged, came to Australia maybe a few thousand years ago, a significant amount of time ago, and they’d been on their own since, at least, until recently. And as a result of being the same species as dogs, domestic dogs, they can actually interbreed with wild dogs in Australia, which has led to the majority of dingoes, unfortunately, being hybrids and not pure dingoes, at least, on the mainland. Pure dingoes, though, are found in some very isolated areas of central Australia, the Pilbara region in W.A., and on Fraser Island in Queensland.
So, how and when did dingoes arrive in Australia? And this is the stuff that gets me really passionate and, I don’t know, it just it tickles my fancy. It makes me interested. This is what I love learning about. So, until recently, it was believed that dingoes arrived in Australia between 8,000 and 4,000 years ago. So, that is much, much, much, much, much later, much more recently, than when aboriginals first got to Australia. So, they would have been here in Australia from about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago, for the majority of that time they were alone, and then, more recently, they had pet dogs arrive and adapt to this environment.
So, despite that number 8,000 to 4,000 years being given, recent work using carbon dating on the oldest dingo bones that have ever been found has estimated their age to be only 3,500 to 3,000 years old, so, even more recently potentially that they arrived in Australia. And subsequently, they estimated the arrival of dingoes to be as recently as 3,500 years ago or 1400B.C. And then, they rapidly spread across the Australian mainland.
Interestingly, the other recent research that was done in the last year or two found evidence of a migration of people from South India dating to about the same time 2217B.C. to be precise, which is a slightly earlier date than the older dingo bones ever to be found were dated to. Given their striking resemblance to wild dogs found in India, it seems plausible that these Indian migrants may have brought the dogs with them and introduced them to the people in the environment Down Under. And interestingly aboriginals share DNA with these Indian migrants. So, they actually got to Australia and merged with the indigenous Australian population that was there. However, there are similar dogs found in New Guinea and Indonesia, so the true origin of the Australian Dingo remains unclear. What we do know is once they arrived they spread quickly via Aboriginal groups that use them for things like hunting, protection, a source of warmth at night, and also obviously, as man’s best friend.
So, why are dingoes important for the Australian environment? This is a contentious issue Down Under. The Australian ecosystem adapted to the dingo following its introduction to the Continent, although, a number of native species went extinct in the process on the mainland the most notable of which were the Tasmanian Tiger or the Tasmanian Wolf or Thylacine and the Tasmanian Devil, and they were restricted on the Tasmanian island where there were no dingoes. And unfortunately, at the start of the 20th century, the Thylacine went extinct, as you may or may not know. But fortunately, we still have the Tasmanian Devil.
So, nowadays, there is some controversy as to whether dingoes should be considered native animals or non-native animals in large part because of their hybridising with wild dogs and their predation on farm livestock, which leave many farmers fed up and frustrated with what they should do. In some places where dingoes are considered non-native animals, anyone actually has the right to be able to hunt and shoot them with no repercussions. However, scientists have been doing a lot of research recent years and they say that whether we like it or not dingoes are here to stay and they are a very important part of the Australian ecosystem, and they represent a top predator on the food chain in the ecosystem. So, they have an important role in controlling other introduced feral predators like feral cats and the European red fox, which if left to their own devices with no dingo there. could grow in numbers, out of control, and kill many more native animals as a result, and drive them to extinction. So, leaving the dingo in place may actually allow the recovery of many threatened and endangered native animals in Australia by controlling these pests.
So, finishing up, guys, my question for you is, have you ever seen a dingo in real life whether in the wild or at a zoo? And secondly, do you think that they should be left to their own devices to roam freely in Australia, or do you think that they should be removed once and for all?
Thanks for joining me, guys. I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope you’ll check out this doco on dingoes. I hope to see you in the Aussie English Classroom as well. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you soon. Peace.
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AE 537: 18 Confusing Words: Australian vs American English
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I am Pete your host, and today I want to teach you 18 words that will confuse Americans, if you’re an Aussie in America, or will confuse Australians, if you’re an American in Australia. Let’s go.
Number one is “Barbie”, right. “A barbie”. I wonder if you guys know this word. See if in Australia you said to someone, I would love to have a barbie, they’re going to think you want to have a barbecue. Now, that could be the implement, or the machine itself, I guess, it’s not really a machine. The device. The device. That’s what I’m thinking. The device. We’re going to think device. Barbecue device in Australia. But in America, if you said, I want a barbie, they’re going to think you’re talking about that little doll that children play with. Although, to be honest in Australia, we still call those barbies as well.
Number two, and this is a good one, although in Australia, there are dozens of words I would say for this thing. “Bathers”. “Bathers”. If you said to someone in Australia, mate, have you seen my bathers? Have you seen my bathers? They’re going to think swim suit, right. It could be a woman’s bikini, it could be a one piece, it could be a man’s speedos or budgie smugglers. Just take it easy Tony Abbott. In America, ‘bathers” would refer to the people bathing. So, they would refer to it as… I don’t even know. I guess, they would say “swimsuit”, right, or “speedo”. And then when they put that on and jump in the water they are now bathers. Although, we would say in Australia, the bathers are wearing bathers.
Number three, guys. “Billy”. “Billy”. In Australia, “Billy” is what you use when camping to heat up the water. “A billy”, right. And some people may also refer to a bong, right, people who smoke bongs will also refer to that as “a billy” sometimes too. In America, they use this as a name for someone usually called William, which can be shortened to Bill or Billy. Billy.
Number four. “Blue”. “Blue”, “Blue”. In America, this is blue. In Australia, this is also “blue”. However, in Australia, you can have a blue with someone, which is to say you can have a fight with a person. So, me and my missus, we had a bit of a blue the other day, but it’s okay we kissed and made up. We’re on good terms now, but we had a bit of a blue. We’d also use the expression “to come out of the blue”, which is referring to the sky, meaning to come out of nowhere. Woah! Dude, you came out of the blue. I didn’t even see you there. “Blue”.
Number five. “Cactus”. “Cactus”. Now, if I told you guys, I went to the gym, I worked out really hard, but no I’m cactus, what would you think I meant? Maybe I was driving my car home from the gym, it broke down, and now the car is cactus. “Cactus” can mean tired. I’m cactus. Woah! I’m wrecked. I’m so tired. I’m cactus. But it can also mean broken or not working. The car broke down and it’s cactus. However, in America, this will only refer to the plant, a cactus, that you will find in the desert, right. So, the cactus over there is cactus.
Number six, guys. Number six. “Chewie”. “Chewie”. In Australia if you say to someone, mate, have you got any chewie? I really want to eat some chewie. You’re talking about chewing gum. Chewing gum. Have you got any chewie? You’ll see that in Australian English a lot. Barb-IE, right. We put a -IE or -Y on the ends of words. “Chewie”. Whereas, in America “Chewie” refers to a certain character from Star Wars. Chewie, right. Chewie. Chewbacca.
Number seven. Number seven, guys. “Doodle”, “doodle”. Now, this might get you in a bit of a bind in Australia, this might make you get a bit embarrassed if you come here and say, I’d love to do a bit of a doodle. Although, we would know what you meant, “doodle” is quite often used by young people in Australia, especially little kids, to refer to their penis. Okay, their “doodle”, right? “Doodle”. Whereas, in America, “doodle”, to do a doodle or to have a doodle or to doodle, is to draw, right, to draw something small and just play around with a blank piece of paper, then just doodle around. “Doodle”.
Number eight. Number eight, guys. “Hottie” or “Hottie” if you want to say like an Aussie. Use that T-flap. “Hottie”. “Hottie”. We often use this for hot water bottle, right, hot water bottle. So, if I’m cold, it’s winter, and I want to hit the sack, but I want to take my hot water bottle, I want my hottie. Have you seen my hottie anyway? Have you seen my hottie? Americans will use this to refer to someone who is incredibly attractive. That guy over there, he’s a bit of a hottie. And that girl, she’s a hottie as well. Australians, we use that as well, although, that is an American influence in Australia.
Number nine. Number nine, guys. “Knock”, right, in America, “to knock” is to do this. “To knock”. You knock on the door. We use that the same way in Australia. But if you knock something, although, that could mean that, you know, you’ve bumped into it, in Australia, it means to put something down, to say that something is horrible. Like, hopefully, you guys won’t knock this video. Hopefully, you don’t think this video is horrible. Hopefully, you won’t knock it in the comments down below. “To knock something”. To pay it out, to make fun of it, to say it’s horrible. “To knock it”.
Alright, guys, number ten. “Mate”. “Mate”. Now, most people will know what “mate” means. I’ve got a mate and his name is Billy. I’ll see you later, mate. This is what we used to either refer to someone who is a friend or as a pronoun to say friend, buddy, “mate”. In America, this will mainly be used, as far as I’m aware, to talk about reproduction. Two animals that have sex, they mate right. They may mate for life. They may just mate one time. “Mate”.
Number eleven. “Oldies”. “The oldies”. Now, in Australia, if I talk about “my oldies”, I’m talking about my folks, I’m talking about my parents. Have you met my oldies? “Oldies”. Whereas, in America, if I were to say that, it would mean the old music, right. Have you guys heard those oldies from the 70s and 80s? Are you a fan of the oldies? Do you like that kind of music? I loved the oldies.
Number twelve. Now, this will come as an obvious one. “Oz”. “Oz”. And Americans always say this incorrectly. They always say “Ossy” and not “Ozzy”. Okay. Aussie. Aussie or Oz. If you are from the land of Oz, you are from Australia. In American English, they think of the Wizard of Oz the film. The Wizard of Oz. That’s the film with Dorothy. She clicks her heels together. She gets lost in the tornado. I think she’s got a dog called Toto. That’s OZ. In Australia, Oz is almost AUS-tralia, okay.
Number thirteen. “Rage”. “Rage”. If you… if something is all the rage, it’s amazing, it’s awesome. This new band is all the rage. We may also use this verb to mean that we’re going to go party. We’re going to go to this band and we’re going to rage. But, we will also use this to mean to get incredibly angry. So, this guy, I raged at him. I lost my cool, I got really angry, and I raged at this guy. However, in America, “rage” is just the emotion frustration, anger, “rage”.
Number fourteen. Now, this is one’s a bit of a rude one. In America, if you were to say “root”, they’re talking about the part of a tree that is underground, right, or at least usually mostly underground. Sometimes you see them. “A root”, right. In Australia you said, I want a root, you’re talking about sex. I would like to have sex. I want a root. Or you could use this as a verb, I’m going to root someone. Okay. So, don’t confuse those. It does still mean the part of the plant, but it also means to have sex as slang in Australia.
Number fifteen. “Scratchie”. “Scratchie”. Now, we use this as a noun in Australia to mean a ticket that you can buy, that’s usually for gambling, right, like the lottery, and you scratch the ticket to see if you’ve won, right. You get a few things in a row. Oh! I won ten bucks! “A scratchie”. “A scratchie”. Whereas in American English this is just scratchy, right. I’ve got an itch and I’m a bit scratchy. Maybe I’ve got a sore throat and my throat is a bit scratchy.
Number sixteen is “stuffed”. “Stuffed”. Man, we have a lot of different ways of using this in Australia, right. So, if you get a chicken for Christmas, or turkey for Christmas, and you put stuffing inside that chicken or turkey, you have stuffed it. Americans would use it the same way. However, we will use “I am staffed” to mean I am tired. We can also use this for to be in a lot of trouble, right. Oh, man you are stuffed! You are stuffed! And we can also use it as a polite form of the word “fuck”. We can say, “Get stuffed!”, right. “Get stuffed!”. But in America, they’ll say, I am stuffed, to mean they are full. They have eaten a lot of food. Oh, I’m stuffed. “Stuffed.”.
Number seventeen. “Tea”. In Australia, now, “tea” can be the drink, right. “Tea”. The Brits drink tea, the Americans, I’m sure they drink tea, in Australia, we often drink tea, but in Australia, we may drink tea at tea. We use “tea” to talk about dinner. Do you guys want to come over for tea? I’m having some tea tonight. Did you want to come over and have some tea, and then after dinner we can have some tea. “Tea”. In America, this would just refer to the drink. “Tea”.
All right, number eighteen, and this is a pearler, this is a keeper, this is a funny one, this is a stereotypical one. “Thongs”, okay, “thongs”. In Australia, are flip flops. You put them on your feet, you go to the beach, maybe you go to a barbie, but thongs are the things that go on your feet. And they probably are called that because they look like what Americans call thongs, which we call G-strings, which is the kind of underwear that women wear that…. you know the on the underwear. “Thongs”. Okay, so there’s a point of difference here in Australia.
All right, guys, thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoyed that episode. I know you’re not going to use that on any kind of English exam or anything, but if I’m entertaining enough for you to watch me and listen to English, practice your English, good on you and I am happy to help.
If you would like to learn more advanced English, make sure you go to www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com where you can listen to my Australian English podcast. It’s for anyone learning Australian English, but also advanced English as well, guys.
And if you would like to get access to my 50 plus English courses, make sure that you go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com and start your trial today.
I’ll see you in class. Have a ripper of a day. Catch ya!
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AE 535 – Expression: A Fly on the Wall
Well, this is Outback Australia. Look at these flies.
Yeah, try not to eat too many, ‘cause if you get stuck, I think you’d get a feed off of these fellas.
Eventually, you get used to them and you don’t blink. That hasn’t happened to me yet. I still blink.
I don’t think they’ve got anywhere to go. (It’d) be a good place to test fly spray.
Anyway, Outback Australia.
G’day, you mob. How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
Man, I have just gotten back from whisking Kel off, taking Kel, driving Kel to the station. So, I get to do that a few times a week as she goes off into Melbourne, which is about an hour and a half’s drive from here. Although, we don’t drive the whole way. I take her to the station. She gets on the train. The train takes it to Melbourne. She crosses the road and she gets to class. So, she’s up there at business school at the moment studying. Anyway.
So, I hope you guys are going well. Welcome to the Aussie English Podcast. If it’s your first time listening, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here. Thank you for joining me. If you are a long-time listener, thank you for joining me once again.
So, this is the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. But if you want to up your English in general, it is a podcast that focuses on advanced English, so you won’t hear me dumb things down, you won’t hear me speaking incredibly slowly, apart from maybe in the listen and repeat exercises.
Remember, guys, if you would like to sign up to the podcast to get access to the transcripts and MP3s, you can do so at www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com. Just for the price of coffee a month. And if you would like to get access to my 50 plus online courses in the Aussie English Classroom, you can try that at the moment for just one dollar for your first 30 days. Go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com.
And there’s a bit of news, there’s a bit of news, guys. I have my guys working on merging these websites. So, before we get into the episode, I’ll tell you a little bit about that and what I’ve got planned. I want to merge these two websites together so that they’re all in the same place. (I) Don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier. And then, I want to turn this into an app that you can use on your phone. So, you’ll be able to listen to the podcast directly and you’ll also obviously be able to sign up to get the transcripts and the MP3 downloads as well as sign up to the classroom too all through this app. So, that is coming this year. I’m not sure when. I going to do my best to get it done ASAP, but you’ll just have to wait and see. Anyway.
With all that aside, guys, big intro. Thanks for putting up with it. Let’s get into the expression episode today.
So, the video at the start there was from Gavin Clark’s YouTube channel. There’ll be a link in the transcript if you want to go check out his channel and have a few views. And it shows how numerous and invasive the flies in outback Australia can be. They have no sense of personal space. If you come to Australia, especially in summer, you’re going to be swatting your face, you’re going to be giving “the Aussie salute”, as we call it, quite a lot.
Anyway, let’s dive into an Aussie joke. And I had to tie this in with flies today for obvious reasons.
What do you call a fly without wings? What do you call a fly without wings?
Are you ready for this? Hold your sides, hold your sides, because it’s going to be funny.
What do you call a fly without wings? A walk. A walk.
Do you get it? Because a fly flies, and if he can’t fly, he can’t fly anymore, obviously, he’s got no wings, so he is “a walk”, because he has to walk. Oh my gosh! So, terrible! So, terrible but hopefully you guys like these ‘punny’ jokes, right. These jokes that are funny because they are puns.
So, today’s expression is “to be a fly on the wall”, and it was suggested by Vivian in the Aussie English Classroom group. So, good job, Vivian. It was a great suggestion. And she won by a landslide. She won. Everyone voted for her expression. So, I’m happy to be doing it.
So, let’s go through the words in the expression, okay. A fly. *Bzzzz*. A fly. I’m sure you guys know what a fly is. It’s a flying insect in Australia. There are heaps of different kinds of flies. They normally land on poo, on your food, in your face, everywhere, and they’re trying to, like, suck up moisture with their sucking mouthparts, right. That is a fly.
‘On’. I’m sure you guys know the preposition ‘on’, right. My hand is on the table. It is physically in contact with and supported by a surface. ‘On’.
The last word here a noun, ‘the wall’, ‘a wall’ is a continuous vertical brick or stone structure, right, something that encloses an area. It could be land, it could be the walls in your house, right, (they) are enclosing a room. But that is ‘a wall’.
Alright, let’s move on to the expression. So, have you guys heard the expression “to be a fly on the wall”, right. If I said to you, “Man! I would love to be a fly on the wall.”, do you think you know what that means, right. If you’re a fly on the wall, if we say that you are a fly on the wall, it means that you would like to hear what is going to be said or done without being noticed, right. So, it’s to be an unnoticed observer of a particular situation. And we’ll go through some examples of that in just a sec.
But expression origin wise, it alludes to the position, right, of being on our wall as a small fly and being freely able to observe some kind of situation without being noticed. And it dates back to about 1920-1921 when it was used in America in the Oakland Tribune, which I assume’s a newspaper, and they said “I’d just love to be a fly on the wall when the right man comes along.”.
So, let’s go through some examples, guys. Imagine, example number one, that you are an architect or an engineer or a scientist, right. You have a job, you have a career, as one of those. You’re working hard to advance your career. You know, you’re putting in the extra hours, the extra… you’re going the extra mile, you’re putting in a lot of extra hard yakka, right, meaning working hard, you’re working really, really hard, and your manager or your boss, the people above you, have a meeting each week to discuss their employees and discuss what needs to be done that week. So, you don’t get invited to that meeting, but if you wanted to go, you might say to the other employees, to the other architects, engineers, or scientists, “Man! I would kill to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. I would kill to be a fly on the wall and be able to hear what they’re talking about or to see what they’re doing, right, but without being noticed. I wish I could be a fly on the wall.”.
Example number two. Imagine you’re out with your mates, you’re having a drink, right. You’re sinking some piss, as we say, which means to be drinking some alcohol. So, you’re at a pub or you’re at a party or you’re at a barbie hanging out with your mates and you get a call from your missus, right, from your wife, from your girlfriend, from your better half, from your partner. She is raging up at you because you meant to be home with her for date night, but you forgot and you went out with your mates and you started drinking some beer with them. So, you hang up the phone and you say, “Look, guys, I’ve got to bail. I’ve got to go home. My missus is really pissed. She’s really angry and I need to hang out with her tonight or I’ll be sleeping in the dog house, right.” That means I won’t be in the bedroom with her, I’ll be sleeping somewhere else because she’ll be so angry. So, when you leave, your friends might all turn to one another and say, “Man! I would love to be a fly on the wall when he gets home. I would love to be a fly on the wall when he opens the door and she loses it. You know, I would love to see what’s going to happen between those two, all the drama, everything that’s going to go down, I would love to see that but without being noticed. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.”
Example number three. Imagine you are a coach of some kind of sports team, maybe a footy team, right, AFL footy, Australian Rules Football. Imagine you’re a coach and you’re trying to train your team with a bunch of new training techniques, you know, different kinds of drills, in order to sharpen their skills up and give them a better chance of dominating this year in the footy season. So, other coaches from other teams hear about this. They hear about your plans through the grapevine. They’d heard it through the grapevine, right. You know, they hear it through a whole bunch of other people, and they want to sneak into the stadium and see what you’re doing, to learn what you’re doing, to see the techniques you’re using in order to learn from them and beat you, right. Fortunately, they can’t get in, but I’m sure they’re all thinking, “Man! I wish we could be flies on the wall to be able to see what he’s doing, right. We would love to see what he’s doing, we’d love to take his ideas, to steal his ideas, to flog his ideas, to learn from them, and then beat him this season.”.
So, that’s it, guys. Hopefully now you understand the expression “to be a fly on the wall”. If you say you wish you were a fly on the wall, it means you wish you were an unnoticed observer of some situation, some particular situation.
So, as usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise where you guys can practice your pronunciation, and then after that, we’ll smash out the Aussie English fact and I’ll let you guys finish up your weekend, okay. Let’s go.
A fly on
A fly on the
A fly on the wall x 5
I’d love to be a fly on the wall.
You’d love to be a fly on the wall.
He’d love to be a fly on the wall.
She’d love to be a fly on the wall.
We’d love to be a fly on the wall.
They’d love to be a fly on the wall.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall.
Good job, guys. Good job! There’s a lot of connected speech going on there with some contractions as well. And remember, I’ve just released a course in the Aussie English Classroom about spoken English where you will learn heaps and heaps of different contractions, how to contract words, how to use connected speech, in order to sound more like a native speaker, but also to tune in your listening comprehension so you can hear when native speakers use those kinds of contractions or connected speech, right. “I’d love to be a…” “I’d love to be a…”. So, anyway, let’s get into the Aussie English fact and finish up.
So, today I wanted to give you the lowdown on flies in Australia. ‘The low down’, that is like information about them details about them. The lowdown on flies in Australia. And I’m also going to tell you how flies will help turn poo into birds. That’s right. They can turn poo into birds.
So, no summer barbecue in Australia would be complete without a certain uninvited guest who always shows up before the meat even hits the barbie and begins to sizzle, and has you giving the great Aussie Salute to keep them out of your eyes, ears, and mouth. The Australian fly. However, there isn’t just one type of fly. There are estimated to be more than 30,000 species of flies in Australia more than enough species to make sure every single cubic inch of Australian airspace is occupied whether in the desert, rainforest, or at the beach.
Despite the extensive fly diversity in the Land of Oz, in the land Down Under, you’re only likely to come across four different groups of flies, which aren’t necessarily all equally as annoying. And these groups are: the bush fly, the housefly, the blowfly, and the mosquito. Yes, the mosquito is in fact a species of very specialized fly, right. The mouthparts of mosquitoes have obviously changed to become much more about injecting, well, piercing, and then sucking blood.
So, why a fly population skyrocket in summer. This occurs because of the warmer temperatures, which really speed up the life cycle of flies as well as other insects, obviously. So, it allows their numbers to explode into fly-swattingly irritating proportions. Their life cycle from egg to maggot to pupa and to adult is only between 7 to 14 days usually. So, imagine when that speeds up, right. Imagine how many can breed and how quickly their numbers can increase.
How long have flies been pissing off the average Australian? Well the earliest records show that from the moment Europeans set foot on the Land of Oz in Australia they were wholeheartedly welcomed by millions sweat-thirsty flies invading their eyes, ears, mouths, and any part of their body that they could get their suckers on to. Their aptitude at being a formidable nuisance was instantly noticed by Captain Cook who discussed them as being “horrendous”. Needless to say, though, Indigenous Australians would have been thinking, “Yeah, mate! No shit Sherlock! We’ve had to deal with these pesky things for 40,000 years or more.”.
Although, I am sure most of you think flies are incredibly irritating and you wish they would just buzz off–Get it? “Buzz off”.–they’re actually an integral part of the Australian environment and without them, we’d be up to our necks in poo.
So, what would happen tomorrow if flies just disappeared from Australia? Well, I’ve been a number of year thinking, “Pete, they’d probably just cross the ocean from Indonesia or Papua New Guinea from our neighbouring countries and repopulate the country within a few weeks.” Yes, okay. You got me. Well done. But let’s imagine that their return was indefinitely put on hold. Their absence would lead to a number of unpleasant and unforeseen issues.
So, there’d be a cascading effect on the food chain, right? And it would sort of be a cascading upwards effect, because flies are at the bottom of the food chain. So, you may not realize it, but flies are actually an integral part of the ecosystem because they feed so many other animals like spiders, reptiles, frogs, and birds, and other insects, and those animals would all be affected and they may die off. Animals that feed on these flies would all die if they no longer had food.
As this famine started picking up pace and more and more bodies started dropping–“dropping like flies” you might say–there would be no flies to lay their eggs on the carcasses of these dead animals as well as the poo that these animals had deposited prior to kicking the bucket, prior to dying. And normally, these eggs would hatch into larvae, into maggots, and then consume the poo or the rotting carcasses of these animals, and then themselves grow into nice juicy flies that can continue the cycle of life as they get eaten by birds or spiders, etc..
So, that is why flies in Australia may be an incredibly irritating pest, you may have to swat your face a little bit when you get here and it’s summer time, but they are definitely an important part of the ecosystem in Australia, and we should all be thankful that we have flies here, because without them, we’d be up to our necks in poo.
Anyway, guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I hope you have an amazing weekend. I hope to see you in the Aussie English Classroom. And I hope to see you next week as well. Peace out.
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