Learn Australian English in this episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression TO CUT SOMEONE SOME SLACK like a native!
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AE 386 – Expression:
To Cut Someone Some Slack
It doesn’t take a genius sometimes to work out who are the square pegs in a room full of round holes. We’ve got a new guy, Sammy, who’s started with us. Nice bloke, and he’s a hard worker. There’s no doubt about that, but he’s hard work.
He’s going on about this bloody marriage. “Oh, is this going to go right or is that going to go bloody wrong?”. Is he going to marry her or not?
I’d say so, they’ve got a wedding!
He’s either going to marry her or not marry her. If he ain’t going to marry her, I’ll give her one.
Look, mate, I understand what you’re saying. I really do. And I am hearing you. But, mate, what you(‘ve) got to understand is that there is a smell in here that is going to outlast religion. Alright? So, can you just give me ears a rest for a minute? Just give it a break for a tick and we’ll talk about it later, alright? I’d appreciate it, mate.
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast out there for anyone and everyone learning Australian English, whether you just want to understand what we’re talking about, whether you want to sound like an Australian, this is the podcast for you. And it’s brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom, an online classroom where you can get bonus exercises, quizzes, and you complete these expression episodes as lessons. That’s getting bigger and bigger every day. I’ve been working my butt off on that recently, as I’m sure you all know. Anyway, let’s dive into today’s content.
So, that movie scene. That movie scene at the start is from a movie called Kenny, from a movie called Kenny. I wonder if any of you guys have seen the movie. Kenny, K-E-N-N-Y. So, Kenny’s a really funny movie, although it is a little difficult to understand at times, because the main character speaks with a bit of a lisp. So, he says his S’s ‘like this’. He says them out of the side of his mouth.
So, Kenny is about a guy called Kenny in the movie. He is a real Australian battler, a fair dinkum, true blue Aussie guy, who’s working hard, and (he’s) a bit of a simple guy, sort of similar to The Castle, that movie and that outlook on life.
Kenny is a mockumentary film though, similar to Razzle Dazzle, which we covered in the last episode where this movie is filmed to be a group of people following Kenny around filming a documentary, but it’s a mockumentary, because it’s fake. It’s not a real doco, and it’s kind of making fun of people who have Kenny’s job.
So, Kenny’s job in this film is that he is a plumber who takes care of portable toilets, portable loos, portable dunnies. And so, I’m going to read you the Google summary, because it had a lot of good vocab in it. Okay?
So, Kenny is about Australian Kenny Smith, who is the actor an Australian comedian Shane Jacobson, definitely check him out. So, Kenny has possibly one of the most thankless and off-putting occupations imaginable. He’s a plumber who specialises in delivering and maintaining portable toilets to a well-populated events. Mockumentary cameras follow Kenny around as he juggles his family life with his excrement-soaked travails, and eventually works his way up to the highlight of his career, a visit to the International Pumper and Cleaner Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, in the US, a gathering for renowned plumbing pros.
So, it’s a simple film. It’s a great film. I recommend you watch it, but you’re probably going to need subtitles.
Movie Scene Expressions:
And, I thought to do something a little different I might break down some of the expressions that Kenny uses in this scene, ’cause he uses quite a few, and they may have gone over your heads. You may have missed them. Okay. So, there’s about seven or eight here.
‘It doesn’t take a genius to do something’. It doesn’t take a genius to do something. This means that a smart person isn’t required to do something.
The next one.
‘Who are the square pegs in a room full of round holes’. So, this is a metaphor that he is using here to talk about people who don’t quite fit. And he’s talking about the guy that is trying to help him. That guy’s a square peg in a room full of round holes. So, he doesn’t fit through these round holes, ’cause he’s a square peg.
‘Someone’s hard work’. If ‘someone is hard work’, they’re difficult to be around, they’re difficult to work with, they’re difficult to deal with. “My parents can be hard work”, and they probably think that I’m hard work.
If we aren’t going to marry her, ‘I’ll give you one’. So, this is a little bit crass, but you might as well know what it means. If you ‘give someone one’, as in one, two, three. ‘One’. The number ‘one’. This is to say that you’ll have sex with that person, and it’s usually used by men to refer to women, and it’s relatively derogatory. So, I wouldn’t recommend using this, but it’s always good to understand this. If you would ‘give someone one’, that means that you would have sex with them. So, there you go.
‘There’s a smell in here that could outlast religion’. That was the reason I picked this scene. That was a really really funny metaphore again, or analogy. This analogy, ‘there’s a smell in here that’s going to outlast religion’. So, this smell is so horrible it’s going to last longer than religion will last in the world, and religion’s going to last a long time. So, that’s the analogy he’s making there. This is such a horrible smell it’s last forever.
The second last one. ‘Give me ears a rest. Give me ears a rest’. So, here he’s used ‘give me’ instead of ‘give my’. This is something you’ll hear Australians say all the time, instead of saying ‘my ears’, he says ‘me ears’. So, this is a sort of a bogan or a sort of uneducated way of saying ‘my’ people might say ‘me’. Okay? And, ‘give me ears a rest’ means stop talking for a while.
The very last one is ‘give me a break’, and that just means stop putting pressure on me about something. ‘Give me a break’. ‘Give me a rest’. And the good thing is ‘give me a break’ is a synonym for today’s expression, which is ‘to cut someone some slack’.
So, a nice segue there. That went nicely from this intro scene into today’s podcast.
So, a few announcements before we get started, guys. You may or may not have noticed that I’ve started releasing interview episodes. I’m going to try and do this more often so that you guys get exposure to other Australians to learn about their culture, to hear their stories, to be exposed to their accents. This is all in a bid to try and help you improve your Australian English comprehension so that you can understand different accents. So, I hope you enjoyed the one that I released this week on Wednesday with Stuart the snake catcher. Episode 385. If you haven’t listened make sure you go back and check that out. And you may also notice for that episode that I have recently installed a new floating podcast player bar.
So, Aykhan suggested this in the Aussie English Facebook group. He said, “Pete, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we could have a podcast player that sat at the bottom of the page on the website so that when we scroll, when we go down when we’re consuming the content we don’t have to go back up to press pause?”. That was a very good idea, Aykhan. Thank you so much mate. And I hope the new player makes life easier, especially for that interview episode. I’m yet to put it on all the other episodes, but I will try and do that as soon as possible.
Aside from that guys, each one of these interviews is going to be put in the Aussie English Classroom where you can study it more in depth, and study a 5 to 10-minute sort of snippet or excerpt from that interview, and the first one for Stuart’s interview is already in the Aussie English Classroom. So, you can go in there and study that and give it a go.
Anyway, guys, let’s get into today’s Aussie joke. Today’s Aussie joke is a bit of a long one, but bear with me.
An Australian man and his wife are sitting in the living room. The man Bruce says, “Just so you know Shirl. I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens just pull the plug”. So, Shirl gets up, unplugs the TV, and throws out all is beer.
I hope you get that one guys. The analogy there is that he never wants to end up in hospital being fed through a tube, out of a bottle, and dependent on some machine to help him breathe, but Shirl takes that as him referring to the TV and his beer. I hope you like that joke.
Alright. So, it’s been a massive intro, guys. Thanks for sticking with it.
Today’s expression is ‘to cut someone some slack’, and this ties in with the last expression from that scene at the start of the episode ‘to give me a break’, or ‘to give someone a break’. ‘To cut someone some slack’ is a synonym for ‘to give someone a break.
So, Rocio suggested this expression in the Aussie English Facebook group. Thank you so much Rocio. It was a great suggestion. And this is one that I use all the time, but we’ll get into how I’ll use that in a sec.
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First, let’s go through and define the different words in this expression.
So, ‘to cut’. If you cut something that is to separate something into two. I might cut some bread. I might accidentally cut my finger off. ‘To cut’.
‘Someone’. I’m sure you know what someone is. It’s a person. Right? It’s a human being. Someone. Okay?
‘Slack’. And this means for something to not be taut, to not be held tightly in position. So, (for) something to be loose. If your rope is in your hands and it’s loose, it’s not tight, it’s slack, but slack can also mean having or showing laziness or negligence. This is when talking about a person. So, if someone is slack, they’re lazy, they’re negligent. Okay? They’re really slack.
The expression definition, guys. Let’s dive into that. Okay. So, if you cut someone some slack that is to allow someone some leeway in their conduct. So, it’s to give someone a break. It’s to do something that makes someone’s life easier, as in not bossing them around, not being mean to them, not requiring a lot from them. You’re allowing them some leeway in their conduct in their life. Another way of sort of thinking about it would be not to judge someone severely as you usually would because they’re having problems at the moment. To cut someone some slack. Give me a break. Cut me some slack.
So, I went through and looked for the origin of this expression and it seems to have maritime origins. It’s related to boats, to ships, to vessels, and it comes from the expression, ‘give me some slack’, which is when you would have two people using a rope on either side of a boat to guide it in, to moor it, and one person, when they pull tight the other person has to give them some slack. They have to let the rope go loose. And then vice versa, when the other person needs to pull, pull the rope tight, the person on the opposite side needs to let their rope go slack. And so, that’s where this would have originated. That’s where it would have come from. And ‘slack’ would have eventually meant to be lazy when it was applied to people. Okay?
And there are a few other expressions that are related to ‘slack’ that I thought I would mention, and there’s a kind of slangy, they’re slang.
‘A slacker’ is a lazy person. That guy over there, he’s a real slacker. He doesn’t work hard.
You can ‘be slack’, which means you are lazy. I’m really slack. I’m really lazy.
You can ‘slack off at a job’ or you can ‘slack off at something’. So, he’s slacking off at work. He’s slacking off at his job. That means to stop putting in hard work or effort into something, like a duty, like a job.
So, let’s go through some examples, guys. We’ll do a listen and repeat exercise, and then we’ll go through the Aussie English fact, and finish up.
Alright. So, the first example of how I would use ‘to cut someone some slack’. I’ve got a new job, I’m a surgeon, and on my first day I accidentally kill a few patients. I accidentally kill them. I knocked them off. They die whilst I’m working because of me, but it’s an accident. Maybe, if I didn’t think it was a big deal, I might say to my boss, “Can you just give me some slack, mate? Give us a break. Don’t give me a hard time. It’s my first day. Can you cut me some slack?”. And hopefully, my boss would let me off the hook. He wouldn’t get me in trouble.
Example number two. So, you’ve got a kid at school. He’s studying really hard. He’s working really hard. And he doesn’t want to go to a footy match, an AFL match this weekend, even though you, his father, really want him to go. He might say, “Dad, I’ve been studying heaps. Can you just give me some slack? Can you cut me some slack? Can you give me a break? Sorry, mate, I can’t go to the footy match.”.
Example number three. Someone’s been dumped by their boyfriend or their girlfriend. So, this has happened out of nowhere. It’s happened at the drop of a hat, and they’re suffering severe depression as a result. And they might hit the booze. They might hit the piss. So, they start drinking really heavily, maybe on their own. They go to the pubs, and they’re just drinking to try and drown their sorrows, because they don’t know what else to do. If their mates caught wind of this, if their mates realise that this was happening, they might say, “Look, slow down. Take it easy. There’s no point drinking. You’re just hurting yourself.”. And you could say, “Look. Cut me some slack. I’ve just been dumped. Cut me some slack.”.
Alright guys, let’s do the listen and repeat exercise. So, this is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, listen and repeat perfectly after me. Let’s go.
Listen & Repeat:
To cut him
To cut him some
To cut him some slack x 5
I’m gonna cut him some slack
You’re gonna cut him some slack
She’s gonna cut him some slack
He’s gonna cut him some slack
We’re gonna cut him some slack
They’re gonna cut him some slack
It’s gonna cut him some slack
Great job, guys. And remember, if you want the entire break down of all the connected speech and pronunciation that’s going on in that listen and repeat exercise, you can get it when you sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. It’s one dollar for the first 30 days get in there and it will really upgrade your Australian English pronunciation and connected speech.
All right, guys. Let’s smash out the Aussie English fact, and then we’ll finish up for the day.
So, today I sort of wanted to talk about immigration, but obviously I can’t cover all immigration in Australian history all in a single episode. So, I looked in to the early immigration in the 1800s and this tied in with the Gold Rush. So, we’re going to talk a bit about the Gold Rush as well.
‘A gold rush’ is when everyone rushes to a certain place when gold has just been found. So, this happened in Canada, it happened in America, and it’s also happened in Australia, and it happened in the 1800s. Okay? So, we had a gold rush here when gold was first discovered in 1851, and it was first discovered near Bathurst, which is in New South Wales. And then soon after that, it was discovered in places like Ballarat and Bendigo in the state of Victoria. So, these are towns which you may have heard of and you may have been to if you’ve come to Australia before. And they still have a lot of gold rush history that is used to attract tourists.
So, I live in Victoria. I’ve been to Ballarat and Bendigo before, and there is a lot going on there related to the Gold Rush even 160 years later. So, this gold rush occurred right after the major worldwide economic depression in the mid 1800s, and as a result there was extensive migration to Australia. Loads of Europeans came, there were North Americans who came, because they had obviously just finished with the gold rush there. So, they were sort of trained up for this. They knew what to do and they wanted to keep making money doing what they knew how to do. And we also had a lot of Chinese migrants who came to Australia in the 1850s. So, this might be the first wave of non-European migrants to have come to Australia. And to put it in perspective, when the Chinese migrants came they made up about 3% of Australia, of the Australian population, during this period.
Some more interesting facts about migrants. 2% of the population of the British Isles emigrated to New South Wales and Victoria. So, they left England, they left Britain, and they came all the way over here. 2% of their population. And the population of Australia in 1851 was around 440,000 people, of which 77,000 were Victorians. So, ten years later though, to put that in perspective, the Australian population had grown to more than 1,100,000 people, so it had more than doubled, and the Victorian population had increased from 77,000 to 540,000. So, an increase of seven-fold. Seven times the amount of people in 10 years. That’s insane. And it’s crazy to think that the population of Australia more than doubled in that period from immigration.
So, this growth was crazy, and it was mainly driven by migration due to these gold rushes. So, in this time, between about 1850 to the early 1900s, Australia wanted loads of skilled migrants, and we started getting other Europeans as well from places like Germany. And compared to today, it was actually a great deal more expensive to get here, because the only option, there were no planes, your only options were to come by boat. And so, you had to buy a ticket. It took weeks, it took months potentially, and so the Australian Government actually subsidised skilled migrants. How good is that, guys? Imagine that, getting paid to come here, or at least getting a bit of a discount if you decided to come to Australia.
So, they paid for skilled migrants to come to Australia in order to encourage them to make that long arduous journey all the way from Europe or China all the way to Australia. And the interesting thing is that these subsidies were kind of manipulated or changed. They varied based on the number of immigrants that when needed during these different stages in the economic cycle.
Anyway guys, that’s the Aussie English fact for today. (A) bit of history about migration and the Gold Rush in the 1800s. There’s a lot more to cover with regards to migration and with regard to the Gold Rush, and I’ll try and do that in future episodes.
But thank you so much for joining me today, guys. If it’s your first time joining me, thank you so much. Sit back, grab a cuppa, and get used to the Aussie English podcast.
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Anyway, I’ve been rabbiting on too much. Thanks for your attention today, guys, and I hope you have an awesome week. (I’ll) chat to you soon.
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