In this episode of Embarrassing English Errors Ep02 I teach you the subtle difference in pronunciation of the words ankle & uncle.
Download the full PDF transcript here.
Embarrassing English Errors Ep02 – Ankle & Uncle
G’day guys, and welcome to episode two of Embarrassing English Errors. Today I’m going to run you through the difference between the pronunciation of the words “ankle” and “uncle”. “Ankle” and “uncle”.
So, these are two different nouns, and obviously “ankle” is part of your foot, where your foot meets your leg. That’s your ankle. And “uncle” is one of your parents’ brothers. So, it could be your mother’s brother, it could be your father’s brother, and that person is called your uncle. And he will quite often be married to your aunt.
Anyway, so, obviously you can confuse these two nouns and if you’re talking about your “ankle”, the part of your foot, but you’re mispronouncing it “uncle” you’re going to confuse people. And if you’re talking about your “uncle” and aunt, but you’re pronouncing “uncle”, “ankle”, you’re going to also confuse a few people.
So, what are some other words that sound like “ankle”?
And what are some other words that sound like “uncle”?
So, let’s practice the pronunciation of “ang” vs “ung”, and I’ll repeat this five times.
Ang – Ung x 5
So, now we’ll go through some real and fake words to practice the pronunciation of these two vowel sounds after certain consonants. So, don’t worry too much about these words, more use them for a way of practicing these two different vowel sounds “ang” and “ung”.
Bang – Bung
Strangle – Strungle
Flangle – Flangle
Thrang – Thrung
Mangle – Mungle
Stang – Stung
Blang – Blung
Rang – Rung
Pang – Pung
Kang – Kung
And now we can just go over “ankle” and “uncle”, the two different words, ten times.
Ankle – Uncle x 10
So, that’s the difference between the two words “ankle” and “uncle” guys. I hope this episode has helped. Um… practice it multiple times if you need to keep practicing your pronunciation. And if you have any other words or sounds that you’re finding difficult to pronounce in Australian English or English in general then please let me know on Facebook. Send me a message or comment on something and I’ll do an episode on it as soon as I can.
Have a good one guys!
If you guys enjoyed this episode of Embarrassing English Errors then make sure you check out the rest of the episodes and transcripts here. Also, don’t forget to come visit me on Facebook and let me know what you think of the podcast and say hey to the Aussie English community!
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By pete — 2 years ago
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Pronunciation: Contracting WILL onto I, YOU, HE, SHE, WE, THEY & IT
G’day guys. Welcome to this episode where we’re going to be practicing our pronunciation of the word WILL when it’s contracted. So, we’re going to be contracting the auxiliary verb or modal verb, depending on how you want to call it, onto all of the different personal pronouns in English. So, I’m sure by now you guys are getting the hang of this. We’re going to be contracting WILL onto the pronouns I, YOU, HE, SHE, WE, THEY and IT.
So, first, we’ll just go through what the word WILL is. WILL is an auxiliary verb that is used to talk about a few different things.
Firstly, to talk about the future. So, when saying what we believe will happen or is going to happen. For example, “I WILL have to take the train tomorrow.”
Secondly, to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do. For example, “I WILL help you if you need.” So, “if you need my help I WILL help you.”
And thirdly, to make promises or offers, for example, “I WILL come and see you this weekend.” So, I’m offering to come and see you or I’m promising to come and see you.
So, most basically, I would just worry about using the word WILL in terms of talking about something that is going to happen in the future. So, talking about the future tense.
So, as usual guys, let’s practice our pronunciation first by going through a listen and repeat exercise. So, you know the drill by now. First, we’re going to say the uncontracted form. So, for example, “I WILL”, and then after that we’re going to say the contracted form, for example, “I’LL”.
So, listen and repeat after me guys. Practice your pronunciation. Say things exactly as I say them. And let’s go.
Listen and repeat exercise:
I will – I’ll x 5
You will – You’ll x 5
He will – He’ll x 5
She will – She’ll x 5
We will – We’ll x 5
They will – They’ll x 5
It will – It’ll x 5
So, just as a side note, guys, you may or may not know this but when “T” in English is followed by and preceded by a vowel it’s often turned into a “D”. And so, that’s why “It will” turns into “ID’LL” where the “T” sounds like a “D”, “ID’LL”. And so, this is an incredibly common way that you’re going to hear natives pronounce “T’s” when they’re followed by and preceded by a vowel sound. So, when there’s a vowel before and after the “T” it often turns into a “D” sound when spoken more informally. So, that’s why you’re going to hear “IT WILL” turn into “ID’LL”.
So, in the following substitution exercises that we’ll go through as usual, guys, I want you to substitute the uncontracted form WILL in all of these sentences with the contracted form of “‘LL”, that “’-L-L”, “’LL”. So, I’ve added in a lot of time-related words and phrases in order to help you get used to thinking about using the word WILL. So, for example, because we’re talking about the future I’ve tried to incorporate things like “Next week”, “Tomorrow”, “In the morning”, all of these things that are referring to the future, so, a period of time in the future to help you think about using that word WILL. And so, obviously, if you’re talking about tomorrow, you’re talking about next week, you’re talking about in the morning that’s about to come and doing something then you’re going to be talking about the future. And so, more often than not you’re going to be using the word WILL.
Anyway, so yeah, as you guys know I’m a massive proponent of using nice organic context-based sentences where you can really infer the meaning of the sentence and of the words within the sentence, and it really allows you to learn and practice your comprehension a lot more organically. So, you can do it more naturally and you can get a sense of what everything means.
Anyway, let’s start this substitution exercise, guys, and as usual remember I’m going to say the first sentence uncontracted and then the second sentence contracted. So, in the case of all these sentences WILL is going to turn into ‘LL on the different pronouns.
And remember if it’s difficult just treat it as a listen and repeat exercise where you guys copy exactly what I say and how I say it if you want to practice my pronunciation. Or, if you want to up the difficulty, so turn it up a notch, make things a little bit more difficult then treat it as a substitution exercise where after I say the first sentence instead of copying that first sentence exactly you anticipate the contraction and say the contracted form, and then listen for me to say the second sentence to check you were correct. And then you can always repeat the second sentence as a listen and repeat exercise, whether or not your got it right or wrong, in order to just practice your pronunciation.
So, let’s go guys!
I will send you the information when I get it
I’ll send you the information when I get it.
You will make her angry.
You’ll make her angry.
He will buy a new car next week.
He’ll buy a new car next week.
She will call you tomorrow.
She’ll call you tomorrow.
We will never give in to the enemy.
We’ll never give in to the enemy.
They will change their minds in the morning.
They’ll change their minds in the morning.
It will always be this way.
It’ll always be this way.
I will never see him again.
I’ll never see him again.
You will get a new job soon.
You’ll get a new job soon.
He will start his own business one day.
He’ll start his own business one day.
She will never solve this difficult puzzle.
She’ll never solve this difficult puzzle.
We will send you a message later.
We’ll send you a message later.
They will tell him everything they know.
They’ll tell him everything they know.
It will only get worse in the future.
It’ll only get worse in the future.
I will have to remind him again later.
I’ll have to remind him again later.
I think you will be very successful one day.
I think you’ll be very successful one day.
Do you think he will see her this week?
Do you think he’ll see her this week?
She hopes she will win the lottery this month.
She hopes she’ll win the lottery this month.
We will never see each other again.
We’ll never see each other again.
She said they will arrive tonight.
She said they’ll arrive tonight.
It will happen when it happens.
It’ll happen when it happens.
So, one more thing you guys can do if you want to get a little more out of this episode is to go back and listen to me speaking and try and see where I’ve said words that have a “T” in them with a vowel each side of that “T”, a vowel sound, like in the word “LaTer” and I turn it into a “D” sound, like “LaDer”. So, again you’re going to hear this each time that I say “IT WILL”, it’ll become “ID’LL”. And there’s a few other words in there that also have “T’s” surrounded by vowels, so with a vowel afterwards and a vowel beforehand that may also have been turned into a “D” sound. So, this is just something extra for you guys to go back and listen to, be aware of, draw attention to, so that you yourself when you’re speaking English and you notice these words, and you want to mimic, you want to sound exactly like a native speaker, you can practice these pronunciation tips.
Anyway, that’s probably long enough for this episode guys. I’m sure you guys are getting the picture. I’m sure you’re understanding, and I really hope these episodes are helping. Keep practicing them. Keep working on these contractions because you’re going to be using them sooner or later, you’re going to be saying them day in day out when you’re speaking with natives, and you’re going to be hearing them all the time when natives speak, and they’re not going to know they’re saying them. So, keep at it and I’ll see you in the next episode guys.
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By Admin — 2 days ago
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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By pete — 5 months ago
AE 493 – Expression: Go Pear-Shaped
I was out the front mowing the nature strip and I could see a bit of attention on the other side of the bridge of people looking and taking photos, and I thought, wow, there’s something going on, so (I) went and had a squiz, and then once I saw what I saw, I thought, yeah, this is gutsy.
Honestly, it looked like someone (had) done damage to the bridge since the way it’s got the hole in it. I had no idea who’d done it. I thought, well, someone around here has got talent.
I probably should’ve got permission, but I thought, I’ll just go and have an experiment. It’s only chalk. It’s going to last a couple of days. If it rains, it’ll come straight off. I did it on the Friday, (I) thought, if it’s not washed off by the Sunday, I can go down with some water and hose it off.
Hey, you mob. How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone or wanting to learn Australian English.
Remember, guys, if you would like the transcript and the MP3s to this podcast, you can get access to all of them, unlimited access, when you go to theAussieEnglishPodcast.com, hit ‘sign up’, and for the price of one coffee every single month you will get access to the MP3s and the transcripts to download them and listen to them, consume them, do whatever you want with them, anytime, anywhere.
If you’re a more serious English-language learner and you would like to get more out of every single one of these expression episodes, then I thoroughly recommend enrolling in the Aussie English Classroom, and that is theAussieEnglishClassroom.com. Head over there, sign up, it’s just one dollar for your first month at the moment, guys. So, give that a go. And you will get all the bonus content for these episodes, the videos that go through things like pronunciation, the expressions that are used in these episodes, the more advanced vocabulary, you’ll get speaking challenges, and you can take part in the community and meet other people. We recently had a whole group of people in Melbourne here who were in the Facebook group for the classroom, they all got together and were practising in whilst together in the CBD. Anyway, guys.
With that, let’s go through the movie scene there at the start. Now, I found this on Facebook this week and it blew me away. It blew my mind. It was mind-blowing. I loved it.
So, this was the story of how this mural was painted on a bridge wall in Warrnambool, which is in Victoria close to where I live. Well, three hours away, but relatively close, you know, in the grand scheme of things in Australia. And this guy painted this mural on the wall, another guy found it and saw it, and decided that he would prefer this mural to be permanent instead of just washing away next time it rained as the mural had been done in chalk, which is what the original artist’s plan was, for this to be just temporary.
Anyway, that video will be linked in the transcript. I really recommend going and checking it out. It was an amazing video full of humour, Australian humour, and it was from ABC News. Okay? So, these guys are an amazing resource if you want to practice your Australian English by watching the Australian news. I love ABC News. You can check them out on Facebook and they also have a live stream on YouTube that is 24 hours a day. Just type in ‘ABC News’ into YouTube and you will find that. Anywhere, guys.
That’s it for the intro. A quick apology too if I sound a little congested. I have just moved back to Melbourne or to Geelong, rather, which is about 70 kilometers south of Melbourne, and I’m living at my parents’ place and they have cats, and I’m allergic to cats. It always takes me a few weeks to get acclimated to them, to sort of… for my body to become used to them, and I have to take anti-histamines in the meantime, you know, and I feel like I to sneeze all the time. Anyway.
As usual, let’s get into an Australian joke, and I’ve got a killer for you today. (I) told this one to Kel and she was like, you need to include this in the episode. Alright, here’s the joke.
Why did kangaroos hate rainy days? Why did kangaroos hate rainy days? Because their children play inside.
What do you reckon? Is it a good one?
Why do kangaroos hate rainy days? Because their kids play inside. Get it? Because kangaroos have pouches. Anyway.
Today’s expression, guys. Today’s expression is for things ‘to go pear-shaped’, ‘to go pear-shaped’. This was from Alexander who suggested this in the Aussie English Classroom. We all voted on it. Good job, Alex.
So, let’s go through the definitions of the words in this expression ‘to go pear-shaped’.
So, ‘go’. ‘Go’ can mean a lot of different things. You know, usually, it is talking about moving in a direction, right. You’re going forward, you’re going backward, you’re going to a place. But here, if ‘go’ is followed by an adjective here like ‘pear-shaped’, it’s more than it means to turn into something. So, to pass into or to be in a specified state, especially, an undesirable state. Right? So, it’s sort of like to turn bad, to become bad, to go bad. So, you might often hear things like ‘things have gone bad’, ‘things have gone wrong’, ‘things have gone awry’. Those are some collocations you’ll often hear with ‘go’, where it means to sort of change state, to pass into another state.
‘A pear’. ‘A pear’ is a sweet yellowish- or brownish-green edible fruit and it is narrow towards the stalk end above where it attaches to the tree and the wider towards the base. So, you’ll often have likened overweight men to apples and overweight women to pears, right? Because men seem to carry the weight around their stomachs and women around their hips. So, men are shaped like apples, women like pears.
‘Shaped’. The word ‘shaped’ is the external form contours or outline of someone or something, right. I am obviously shaped like a person. If you carved a rock into the shape of a love heart, maybe a heart, okay. It is shaped like a heart.
Now, we can combine words, often nouns and adjectives, into compound adjectives. Right? So, this is where you’ve got multiple words describing something and we put a hyphen between them.
So, in this case ‘pear-shaped’ means ‘in the shape of a pear’, and instead of saying ‘in the shape of a pear’, it’s much quicker to just say ‘pear-shaped’. Okay?
So, let’s define the expression. If something ‘goes pear-shaped’, this means that it goes horribly wrong, it goes awry. So, for things to go bad, for things to go wrong. That is when things ‘go pear-shaped’.
So, I was looking around trying to find the origin of this expression and it seems like there’s no clear-cut origin for it. However, the first citation appears in a book called Air War South Atlantic in 1983, and it seems like it may have been slang from the Royal Air Force. Okay? And the quote from this book was, “There were two bangs very close together. The whole aircraft shook and things went ‘pear-shaped’ very quickly after that.” To say that, obviously, things went wrong, things went disastrous, right.
So, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression, ‘to go pear-shaped’, in day-to-day life, in real life. Alright.
Example number one. So, imagine you are planning a weekend trip away with the family. So, you want to go camping somewhere, somewhere nice nearby, maybe in a forest somewhere. So, if it’s nearby me, obviously, you could go to places like the Great Ocean Road or to Willson’s Prom, Wilson’s Promontory. You guys, if you’ve been to Victoria, may have been to these places. So, you put all your camping gear in the car, your tent, the ropes, the pegs, to hold the tent down, your portable gas stove, food supplies, sleeping gear, like mattresses that are inflatable and sleeping bags, and maybe a fishing rod or two. After you pile your kids in the car and you get your wife or your husband to get in the car as well, you jump in and you head off on the road towards this destination where you’re going to go camping. On the drive, the weather is beautiful and this was the whole reason that you wanted to go camping in the first place, you know, you were hoping for really good weather and it turned out to be the case. But then as soon as you get there, the clouds cover the sky, the day becomes overcast and rain starts pouring down, right. It starts raining cats and dogs, it starts pissing down, it’s raining heavily. So, because the weather’s turned so horrible, your plans of a wonderful weekend away camping with the family have gone pear-shaped. They’ve gone horribly wrong, they’ve gone awry, your plans went pear-shaped.
Example number two. Imagine you are a soldier in the army and you have a platoon of men that you obviously are a soldier with. You guys have a mission. You’ve got to go behind enemy lines and you have to capture a certain building. Okay? So, it’s really dark. It’s dark at night when you guys have to leave. There’s no moon. You’re hoping to be able to get there under the cover of darkness, meaning that no one will see you. You can use darkness as a means to hide whilst you infiltrate the enemy territory. So, just as you’re entering the building with all your men, an enemy soldier spots you. He puts a light on you and things go pear-shaped. You have to bail, you have to escape, you have to run away as your platoon receives enemy fire, meaning that the enemy is firing their weapons at the platoon. But fortunately, you make it back alive despite the mission going pear-shaped. Things went pear-shaped.
Example number three. Alright, imagine you are a pregnant woman, right, a woman who is close to giving birth. You’ve got two kids and a husband already, obviously, and this means that, usually, the house is incredibly noisy. There’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of kids running around screaming and you find it very difficult to take a breather, to take a time-out, to have time to yourself to relax. Fortunately, this weekend, your husband’s offered to take the kids to the beach so that you can have a day off, right. You can take time for yourself and watch your favorite chick-flick, kick back, have your favourite nibblies out of the fridge.’Nibblies’ being food, something you like to nibble on, your ‘nibblies’, that’s a good Australian slang term. So, you put some chocolate out of the fridge after the kids have left with your husband, gone to the beach. You sit back, you kick your feet up, you relax, but just as the movie begins, your kids and husband rush back inside, and it turns out, when they got to the beach, there was a shark at the beach. And so, there were sirens going off, the lifesavers were there saying no one can go in the water, you can’t swim, it’s not safe. So, as a result, they all came home and your plans have gone pear-shaped. Your plans have been disrupted, things have gone bad, the situation’s turned horrible, things have gone awry, things have gone pear-shaped.
So, hopefully, by now, guys, you’ll understand and can use the expression ‘to go pear shaped’, it means for things to go bad or for things to go awry, for things to go wrong.
So, as usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise here, guys, where you can practice your pronunciation. By now, I am sure that you guys know the drill. Let’s just get straight into it, guys. Listen and repeat after me. Let’s go.
To go pear-
To go pear-shaped x 5
Good job. Now, I’m going to put this into a sentence with ‘to make’ in the past tense, like, I made…, you made…, he made…, she made…, etc., …things go pear-shaped. Okay? I made things go pear-shaped, you made things go pear-shaped. So, listen and repeat after me, guys.
I made things go pear-shaped
You made things go pear-shaped
He made things go pear-shaped
She made things go pear-shaped
We made things go pear-shaped
They made things go pear-shaped
It made things go pear-shaped
Good job, guys. Good job. Remember, if you would like to go through this exercise in more detail with a fine-tooth comb and learn all of the more interesting aspects of pronunciation in English here, join up at theAussieEnglishClassroom.com, and you will get a pronunciation video for this episode, as well as all the previous episodes, and it will really help you improve your English quickly.
Today’s Aussie fact, guys. Let’s just get straight into it. Today’s Aussie fact I thought I would talk about cane toads, and I’m not sure if I’ve talked about these before or not, but maybe you guys have heard of cane toads in Australia. If you go north, you will definitely see cane toads.
So, I recently saw a news article this week about the genome having been cracked for cane toads, meaning that the genome of the cane toad, the DNA sequences of the entire DNA of the cane toad, has been successfully sequenced now, and it got me thinking about the cane toad, and I thought I would go through a number of different facts about it. Okay? And there’ll be a link in the transcript for this article if you’re interested.
Alright, cane toads. So, cane toads are a type of frog and they were introduced into Australia, they are an invasive species in Australia. They are not natural. They aren’t endemic here.
They’re about four to six inches long when they get to fully-grown size and they can weigh up to about four pounds, so close to two kilos, which is pretty impressive for a frog, and the females actually end up a lot larger than the males, and this may not come as a surprise, because females are, obviously, the animal that produces all the eggs. The males produce the sperm. The females produce the eggs. So, they’re egg producers and layers.
Once fully grown, the females can deposit up to 30,000 eggs in a single night. That’s crazy. And it only takes three days, 36 hours, for these eggs to hatch into tiny tadpoles. This is obviously one of the reasons these guys are such successful invasive species.
So, these tadpoles slowly grow their back and their front legs, usually the back first then the front, and they transform into froglets, young frogs, after only four to eight weeks.
They can live up to 10 or 15 years in the wild and up to 35 years in captivity. That’s four years older than me. Crazy!
Cane toads are highly poisonous, though, they’re very dangerous, and produce a toxin in the glands on the back of their neck so that if anyone picks them up or bites them, attacks them, often this toxin, when pressure is put on this gland, is released, it’s spat out of the frog and it can kill really quickly. So, that’s why there’s such a danger to native animals, especially, animals that hunt them.
So, the cane toad isn’t native to Australia. We established that at the start. And it was ignorantly introduced into Australia in 1935, so 83 years ago, by a man named Reginald Mungomery. So, he brought these over to Australia in a flight from Hawaii where he picked up a 102 of these cane toads, 51 males and 51 females. And this guy was supposedly trying to fix the problem of cane beetles, cane grubs, that were destroying sugar cane crops in northern Australia. So, these insects were eating the crops and he thought, you know, I’ll get some frogs. Obviously, frogs eat insects, and we’ll let them go, and hopefully this will sort out the cane beetle problem.
The problem was that the frogs can’t jump very high, right? So, they became beetles at the top of the cane, the sugar cane, which can be metres high, and the frogs don’t get up that high.
So, these toads were initially released around Cairns and Gordonvale and Innisfail, in Far North Queensland, and shortly after this ‘the march’ of the cane toad began. And this is known as the ‘Invasion Front’ in Australia. I remember this at school always being spoken about. Where the cane toads at now? Which cities or towns are they about to get to?
So, the march of the cane toad moved at about 10 kilometres a year until the 1960s when it significantly began to pick up pace, it began to speed up. By 1945, the cane toads had reached Brisbane, which was 1,600 kilometres south of where they were first released. They started knocking on the doors of people in Byron Bay in New South Wales in 1965. And by 1984, they were stealing the cat food from unsuspecting kitties in the Northern Territory. And in 2009, they finally marched across into Western Australia on the far west of the continent.
So, until today, the cane toad is one of the most catastrophic ecological disasters to have ever happened in Australia, much worse than any other introduced species. Whether it’s rabbits or foxes or donkeys, the cane toad has been devastating.
Despite this, scientists are still hopeful that they can fight against the cane toad by coming up with unique ways to control cane toad numbers. Although, we’ll never be able to completely eradicate the cane toad, hopefully, studies such as the one I mentioned at the start, where the genome has now been completely sequenced, will allow scientists to identify weaknesses in the DNA of the cane toad or maybe in diseases that affect the cane toad, but don’t affect native animals, and they can use these to exploit the cane toad and control their numbers in the future.
So, my question for you today is one: have you ever seen a cane toad in real life if you’ve been to Australia? And two: have you seen the awesome cane toad documentary Cane Toads: An Unnatural History? So, I recommend checking out that doco. It is amazing. And it is full of Australian humour and you will learn a lot about… not just Australia and Australian culture, but also about the cane toad too if you check that out.
Anyway, guys, that’s enough for today. I am struggling, I am very congested, and I’m going to have to edit this episode a lot to get rid of all the coughing and repeating of myself. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing week, I hope you’re enjoying yourselves, and I chat to you soon. See you, guys.
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