Embarrassing English Errors
Embarrassing English Errors is a series I’m going to do on The Aussie English Podcast covering some of the most embarrassing errors English learners sometimes make when speaking, as well as go through exercises to help you practice and fix these pronunciation errors!
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About the AuthorI learn languages, teach Australian English, and love all things science and nature!
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By pete — 2 years ago
AE 273 – Expression: To Take the bull by the horns
G’day guys. How’s it going?
Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Episode Two hundred and seventy three.
So this is an expression episode, and before we dive into things today I just want to have a chat to you about everything, about what I’ve been up to, about what Aussie English has been up to.
So at the moment I am sitting in my room, obviously. I am recording this podcast.
It is Saturday afternoon, 2:00 p.m., and it is raining quite heavily outside.
So I had to run out there earlier and grab my clothing, my clothes, off the line, off the clothesline, because they were drying out there, and the rain suddenly started pouring down.
It started raining cats and dogs as we often say in English, and I had to run out there.
Got my feet wet. Got a little bit wet as well on the top of the head.
Although, the water tends to fall straight off my bald head.
And I managed to grab all of my clothing and bring it inside before it got too wet.
So aside from that I’ve been working at the restaurant. That’s been fun.
It was pretty busy in the last few weeks, because we had three of the Spanish speaking people there go either on a holiday or go home.
So one of my friends Carlos went back to Spain, back to Barcelona, and another girl from Chile were in Canada for a week, and a Colombian girl, Sandra, was travelling around Australia with her family.
So her family came over to see her and she’s been travelling around.
Aside from that, obviously, I’ve been working on Aussie English.
I’ve been doing quite a few videos recently, guys, where I’ve been trying to help with Australian pronunciation and different words that we pronounce differently.
So if you haven’t checked out the YouTube channel I definitely recommend that you jump over there.
Just search Aussie English on YouTube, and check out some of the more recent videos that I’ve put up.
I put up one last night on the /ɑ/ sound that we say at the end of words that end in -er, -re, -or, -ar, -a, -ure and -our.
Quite often in English they are pronounced /ɑ/, at least in Australian English with our dialect.
Anyway. That’s a nice little intro there for you guys. I should dive into the expression.
Cut to the chase. Get to the crux of the lesson today.
So the expression today is to take the bull by the horns, to take the bull by the horns.
As usual, we’ll go through and define the words first in this expression.
So “to take”. We’ve gone over this a few times in recent expressions.
“To take”, in this example “to take” means to hold, to grasp or to grab it.
So if you take something or someone by something you are holding something of theirs and leading them somewhere.
So if you took someone by the hand it means that you have grabbed their hand, you’ve grasped their hand, you’re holding their hand and you’re potentially leading them somewhere.
So you’ve taken someone by the hand.
“A bull”. “A bull” is a male cow, you know, mooooo. “A bull” is the male cow it’s the cow that has horns.
At least, I think most cows have just the males with horns.
There could be breeds where both the males and females have horns.
But typically the bull is the large male cow that has horns.
And “a horn”, “a horn” is a bony protrusion.
So something that protrudes, it comes out of the head of a bull.
It grows out of the animal’s head and other animals have horns including the rhinoceros, which can have one or two horns on its nose on its head.
Deer have horns. Moose have horns.
And then we even have animals like rhinoceros beetles, you know, those small beetles with big horns on their head that they fight one another with.
There’s (there’re*) chameleons that have horns.
These are those lizards that can change colour, chameleons.
Some male chameleons I think can have horns.
And then obviously creatures like a unicorn can have a horn.
The mythical horse that has a big horn coming out of its head.
And then even species of whales. So the Narwal is a species of whale that has a horn.
Although the horn is actually a tooth that grows through the front of its head.
And I found some cool stuff out about Narwals recently.
I might have to do an episode on that in the future.
So to define the expression “to take the bull by the horns”.
“To take the bull by the horns” means to confront a problem head on, right away, versus sitting back and waiting for it to resolve itself, or for a person to tackle it, to confront that problem for you.
And “grab the bull by the horns” is also a very similar idiom that’s commonly used.
So it’s similar, but it uses the verb “to grab” instead of the verb “to take”, but it means the same thing.
So as usual, I looked up the origin of this expression.
And the exact origins of this phrase aren’t really known.
It said that it originated from bullfighting around 1800, and the term likely alludes to grass being a safely tethered bull and not one that the matador is fighting in the ring.
However, other people have argued that the idiom originates from the American West, instead of bullfighting in places like Spain, and that it found its roots in rodeos where it was common for ranchers and cowhands, so the people who grew and took care of bulls, and, you know, raised them as livestock, and then sold them.
It was common for these guys to attempt their luck at steer wrestling.
So “steer” as in the male cow, so bulls. A steer as a young one.
And it was said that the only way to really control and bring down a steer, a young bull, was to grab it by the horns, and then you could control the head.
And if a person tried to grab it elsewhere they stood the risk of being bashed or gored by the horns of the steer or the bull.
So, regardless of the exact origin there is one thing that is certain and that is that it’s a bad idea to grab a ball by the horns.
So, let’s go through some examples, guys, of how you would use this expression.
So, example one, imagine that you have worked at your job for a very long time, and you are wanting to ask for a raise.
And “a raise” is a pay increase. So you want to go to your boss…
Maybe you work as an engineer or a lawyer or a scientist.
You want to go to the boss the guy who hires you or the guy who manages you, the guy above you, and you want to ask him for a pay increase.
You work more than what you paid. You do overtime. Maybe you work extra hours for free.
You even take your work home at times, which could make your partner incredibly unhappy or stressed.
You know you deserve a raise, but you’re very nervous when it comes to asking for one.
So, you’re worried that at best your boss will say no and at worst you may lose your job.
But ultimately you chat to your partner, your wife, your husband, and they tell you, “look, just take the bull by the horns and ask for a raise. Do the difficult thing. Take the bull by the horns. Grab the bull by the horns. Confront this difficult situation head on. Take the bull by the horns.”
So, example number two, maybe you want to travel, but you are worried about leaving your home country.
So you’re nervous about living overseas, somewhere foreign, somewhere unknown, without any friends, without any family nearby.
Although, you know that there are going to be many benefits and amazing experiences that you’re going to have when you travel abroad.
Your friends and family might say, “look just do it. Move abroad. See how you go. Grab the bull by the horns. Take the bull by the horns. You can do this. It’s time to take the bull by the horns. Buy the plane tickets and just go. Take the bull by the horns.”
Example number three. Imagine that a family member drinks too much.
So, this person has become a bit of a problem, and he or her (she*) has turned into a bit of an alco, and “alco” is slang for an alcoholic.
He or she drinks a lot of alco or a lot of booze at parties, at family events.
Maybe they always have a tinnie in their hand, or a stubby in their hand.
And “a tinnie” is a can of booze or alcohol, and “a stubby” is a bottle of booze or alco, alcohol, that you hold and drink.
So, imagine that they’re always at these family events getting drunk and then causing a scene.
So they’re doing something stupid. They’re saying something stupid.
Maybe they’re not even doing that. They’re falling over or spilling things.
It’s obvious that the alcohol has become a problem.
You and your family want the person to stop and you all agree that it’s time to take the bull by the horns and mention something to this person.
It’s time to say, “look alcohol is a problem. You need to do something about it.”
It’s time to take the bull by the horns.
It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and ask this person to do something about their drinking.
So you have to confront this problem head on and tell them it’s not on. It’s not okay.
It has to stop. It’s time to take the bull by the horns.
So let’s do a listen and repeat exercise as usual guys, and we’ll do this one in the Simple Past.
And remember “to take”, the verb “to take” is an irregular verb.
So when we turn this into the Simple Past the past participle is “took”.
I took, you took, he took, she took, we took, they took, it took. It’s all the same.
So listen and repeat after me guys.
Listen and repeat:
I took the bull by the horns.
You took the ball by the horns.
He took the bull by the horns.
She took the bull by the horns.
We took the bull by the horns.
They took the bull by the horns.
It took the bull by the horns.
One little thing that I want to mention here guys as I’ve been doing recently is a pronunciation tip, and we’re going to go over this in the Aussie English Support Pack in more depth.
But in this example sentence I, you, he, she, we, they, or it took the bull by the horns, there’s a dark L that is pronounced.
And it sounds a little more like a W.
And this is obviously at the end of “bull”. And you’ll hear me say “bull” instead of “bull”, “bull”.
So that is with the L well pronounced, “bull”.
But quite often across a lot of English dialects, not just Australian English, we will sort of mute the L and we don’t pronounce it like a “Leh”.
And it sounds more like a “ew” a W kind of sound. So, “bu-w”, “bu-w”, as opposed to “bull”.
So I’ll say some sentences to show you here guys.
“I’m not ab-ew to”, see I said I’m not “ab-ew” instead of “I’m not able”.
“I drove into the poo-w”. I said “poo-w” instead of “pool”.
“I drank a lot of mi-wk”. I said “mi-wk” instead of “milk” with the L sound there.
“He had a litt-w bu-w”. “Litt-ew” instead of “little”, and “bu-w” instead of “bull”.
And now I try and do a sentence with all of these.
“I wi-w be ab-w to see the bu-w in the litt-w poo-w that was fu-w of mi-wk”.
So I’ve tried to use dark L’s, as they’re called, the W sound in there instead of, “I will be able to see the bull in the little pool that was full of milk”.
So we’re going to go over this more in the Aussie English Supporter Pack guys.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. Just a quick mention if you guys want to upgrade your learning, if you want to learn faster, I really recommend signing up to the Aussie English Supporter Pack.
It’s a dollar to try it for a month.
In this episode, we’re going to have a vocab glossary and table, listening comprehension questions for this entire episode, a substitution exercise going over the phrase or verb “to turn into”.
We’re going to go over slang related to drinking.
We’re going to go over the dark L that sounds like a W for pronunciation and connected speech.
And then in the grammar exercise we’re going to compare the Simple Past with the Perfect Past.
If you sign up to this, guys, you’re going to really upgrade your English learning.
You’re going to learn a lot faster.
You’re going to have more access to me online, and be able to interact with me so that I can help you learn even faster.
So, I really recommend that you give it a go, guys.
If you have any questions feel free to message me on Facebook or email me and I’ll chat to you soon.
I hope you guys have a great week.
See you later.
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By pete — 1 year ago
AE 328 – Expression: The Tip Of The Iceberg
G’day guys! What’s going on? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
Obviously, by the sound of my voice you can probably hear that I am better.
I don’t have the cold anymore.
I’m sure if you go back and listen to the last expression episode you will be able to tell pretty quickly that I was pretty tired, under the weather, and a little bit down in the dumps, meaning that I was a little bit depressed as a result of having the cold, having the flu, that I had last week.
So, hopefully now you can hear that I’m a little bit peppier.
I’ve got a little bit more oomph in my step, a little bit more spring in my step.
I’m feeling better. I’m feeling great. And I am ready to do today’s expression episode.
So, we’re lunchtime, Saturday today, and I just gave a private lesson. I had a coffee.
So, I’m also a little caffeinated. I’ve had a bit of a coffee.
I’m, you know, pepped up and ready to go. Few announcements this week.
I have relabelled the Aussie English Support Pack, or what was formerly known as the Aussie English Supporter Pack as the Aussie English Classroom.
So, let me know what you think of that guys.
I’m unsure if it’s going to be a little confusing with the Aussie English Virtual Classroom, which is the Facebook group, but the Aussie English Classroom is where you get all of this bonus material for the expression episodes every week.
So, you get these weekly lessons where you get heaps of exercises, bonus MP3s, the detailed PDF Transcript sent to your email, as well as getting access to that on the website so that you can practice your English, your Australian English, your grammar, spelling, vocab, expanding your vocab, pronunciation, phrasal verbs, all of that stuff in your own time and at your own leisure.
So, remember, you can sign up for that. It’s 1 buck, it’s one dollar for the first month.
So, that’s four lessons that you get for just one dollar.
Sign up, give it a go, and let me know what you think, guys.
Give me feedback. I’m always trying to improve these things.
And, my ultimate goal with the Aussie English Classroom is to equip you guys with extra lessons that will take you further in your English faster so that you can learn anywhere in the world, at any time, on your own, and advance as quickly as possible.
So, I’m always interested in any feedback that you guys have for me.
And, come and chat to the members who are working in the Aussie Classroom who are signed up to it.
Come and chat to them in the Aussie English Virtual Classroom on Facebook.
Aside from that, I’ve been working on the lessons that I release during the week, the smaller ones that I’ve been doing on a daily basis.
Chris suggested that I set this up as a transcription kind of exercise for you guys to work on in the Facebook group.
So, if you want to practice your Aussie English, especially with these shorter episodes, I’m now opening it up as a Google doc, a Google document, that you can all work on together in the Aussie English Virtual Classroom.
At the moment, it’s open to everyone so that you can give it a go and play with it.
Although this might become just for the Aussie English Classroom members who’ve signed up in the future, because I’m going to also go through and correct what it is that you guys do, what it is that you achieve, in these sort of transcriptions.
And so, Chris is from Brazil.
He was the one who suggested this and helped me organise it, and is the head of the group doing these transcriptions for the podcast.
Aside from that too, we’ve got the Video Library up for the Aussie English Classroom members.
So, when you sign up you get access to the online Video Library.
This is where I upload all the bonus videos that I have and videos from live classes.
So, you get access to now hundreds of videos that aren’t on YouTube.
And, if you enjoy the classes that I give on Thursdays, I put these classes up, the whole thing on YouTube, for everyone to see, but then I divide the classes up into the questions that are asked and into the different sections that I cover in the actual class itself.
So, I divide them up into a heap of different videos.
They’re a lot shorter and easier for you to search through and skip to the more interesting bits and look at the questions that are asked and more easily navigate the videos.
Anyway, so that’s for members as well. I’ve talked too much.
Let’s just dive straight into this expression episode today guys, and the expression is going to be “the tip of the iceberg”.
“The tip of the iceberg”.
And, sometimes you’re going to hear this as “it’s just the tip of the ice” or “that’s just the tip of the iceberg” or “this is just the tip of the iceberg”.
So, as usual, let’s go through and define the words in the expression “the tip of the iceberg” or “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“Just”, “just” is only. This is only the tip of the iceberg. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
So, it is emphasising the fact that it is only the tip. It’s only the tip. It’s just the tip.
“The tip” of something, “a tip” or “the tip” of something.
“The tip” of something is the point or pointed edge or end of something.
So, imagine that you have a knife, if you poke the end of it you’re poking the tip of the knife.
If you touch the end of your finger, you’re touching the tip of your finger.
If you climb Mount Everest, all the way up to the top of Mt. Everest, you’re on the tip of Mt. Everest, you’re on the top of Mt. Everest, you’re on the very top pointed edge of that mountain.
So, “the tip” of something is the pointed end of something.
“An iceberg”. “An iceberg” is a large floating mass of ice that has detached from, say, a glacier or an ice sheet in Antarctica, for example, and has been carried out to sea.
So, it’s a large floating mass of ice from a glacier or an ice sheet.
And, you could think of the thing that sunk the Titanic ship.
That was a really large iceberg.
And so, you can get these in the Northern Hemisphere.
You can get them also in the Southern Hemisphere near Antarctica.
That is “an iceberg”. So, to define the expression itself.
When you’re talking about something just being “the tip of the iceberg”, it’s talking about something only hinting at or suggesting a much larger or more complex issue or problem.
So, for example, imagine that literally icebergs have 80 percent of their mass, maybe even more, below the water.
If you can only just see the tip of the iceberg, if you can just see the tip, it’s (that) you can just see the top above the surface of the water.
The other 80 percent of the iceberg is below the surface of the water.
So, you can only see the tip, the top pointed part of the iceberg.
But we can use this metaphorically or figuratively to mean that we can only just see or we’re only just referring to a small part of a much larger and much more complicated issue or problem.
So, let’s go through some examples as usual, guys.
So, example number one.
Imagine that you go over to a lady’s house and this lady you know really likes cats.
You know, she could be obsessed with cats.
We call these ladies “old cat ladies” or “cat ladies”.
You know, the kind of women who really really like cats and tend to have a lot of them as pets.
So, you go to this lady’s house.
You see one or two of the cats in front of the house, and you say when you knock on the door, you know. “Oh that’s no big deal. You’ve just got one or two cats. You’re not really a cat lady.”
She could say to you, “Ah… that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That is just the tip of the iceberg. These one or two cats in front of the house are just the tip of the iceberg.”
And then, she opens the door and you see another 10 cats in the house.
So, those first two cats were just the tip of the iceberg in that they were just the start of the much larger issue, I guess you could say, that was the fact that she had another 10 cats inside.
So, those first two were the small part of a much larger thing, which was that 12 cats in total.
Example number two. Imagine you visit a guy in jail and you ask him what he’s in for, so, why is he in jail.
Maybe he tells you that he robbed a bank and you could say, “Oh, ok, just that? That’s all you did?”.
And he might reply, “Well, actually, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I also committed grand theft auto, meaning I stole cars, larceny, extortion, blackmail.”.
Maybe he even murdered someone, to throw that in there for good measure.
So, he could say, “Well, robbing the bank was the tip of the iceberg. It was just the beginning of all the other crimes that I had also committed.”
So, that the robbery of the bank was the tip of the iceberg, and the rest of the iceberg, metaphorically or figuratively in this sense, is grand theft auto, larceny, extortion, blackmail, and murder.
So, it’s everything else then.
Example number three.
Maybe you have picked up a book in a store that you’re going to read.
It looks pretty big. It turns out to be Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire.
So, you read the first book of this really really big series.
As we all know it’s pretty long.
And, maybe you just thought that it was going to be a lot harder to read, that it was going to be a lot longer, and you say to a friend, “I’ve read this book. It’s no biggie. It was incredibly quick. I finished it. What was the issue? Why was this such a big deal?”
And, he might say, “Ah, mate, there’s another five or six books. That was just the first one. That first book was just the tip of the iceberg. The first book was just the tip of the iceberg.”
There’s still all these other books that in the metaphorical or figurative sense are the rest of the iceberg hiding below the surface of the water.
So, that’s it guys. Hopefully by now you understand what “just the tip of the iceberg” means.
It is only a hint or a suggestion of a much larger or more complex issue or problem or area, thing, whatever it is.
So, as usual, let’s dive in and do a listen and repeat exercise here, guys, where we can practice our pronunciation.
And then, I’ll go through some of the pronunciation and connected speech tips from the sentences that we use in the lesson and repeat exercise.
So, I’m just going to say this phrase guys.
Listen and repeat after me and practice your pronunciation.
Listen & Repeat:
Just the tip.
Just the tip.
Just the tip of the.
Just the tip of the.
Just the tip of the iceberg.
Just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Good job guys. Good job.
Notice when you go back there that I said that more naturally as I would as a native English speaker.
I didn’t pronounce all the letters, and a lot of them were kind of pushed together.
We’ll go through two aspects of the pronunciation and connected speech used in that phrase right now.
The first aspect or the first tip that I want to draw your attention to is the fact that when we say the word “of”, if it’s followed by a consonant sounds, so “of the”, you’ll notice that “the” starts with “th-“.
If of the word is followed by a consonant we drop the F, and we just say “OH” or “AH”.
So, that’s why you hear “tip AH the iceberg” instead of “tip OF the iceberg”.
It’s just the tip AH the iceberg. Tip AH the iceberg. Just the tip AH the iceberg.
That happens quite a lot in English. So here for example sentences.
Listen & Repeat:
Obviously, The tip AH the iceberg. The tip AH the iceberg.
The Edge AH tomorrow. The Edge AH Tomorrow.
A lot AH people. A lot AH people.
And, heaps AH time. Heaps AH time.
So, notice that with all “of”.
This’ll happen quite a bit, and you’ll sound a lot more natural if you start learning to turn “of” into “OH” or “AH” if the next word that follows “of” starts with a consonant sound.
The next point that I want to make is that the word “the”, when it is followed by another word that starts with a vowel sound, quite often we will link these two with a Y sound.
And the pronunciation of “the” or “the” turns into “the”.
So, for example, I don’t say “the iceberg”, because I kind of have to stop my voice there.
The iceberg. I say “the iceberg”, “the iceberg”.
And, I link with a Y kind of sound. The_y_iceberg. The_y_iceberg.
So, here are five examples, guys, where “the” is followed by a vowel, and we link it with a Y sound. Yeh, yeh, yeh.
Listen & Repeat:
So, that’s a really good point as well.
Any time you have the word “the” followed by another word that starts with a vowel sound, iceberg, animal, elephant etc., we’ll link “the” with a Y to the next vowel.
The_y_iceberg. The_y_animal. The_y_elephant. The_y_ant. The_y_octopus.
So, that’s today’s episode guys. I hope you enjoyed it.
Remember, if you want bonus exercises and bonus material for these expression episodes so that you can learn even more thoroughly, go even deeper, and advance even more quickly in English, make sure that you sign up to the Aussie English Classroom at www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com.
Sign up a dollar for your first month. You can unsubscribe at any time.
It literally just costs you a single dollar for the first four lessons. So, give it a go.
And if you have any suggestions, if you have any feedback, send me an email or send me a message.
I want to make this the best resource online for learning English, the best resource for learning Aussie English, and in order to do that I need your feedback.
So, with that guys, I hope you have an absolutely awesome weekend.
And, for everyone looking forward to the next episode of Game of Thrones that’s coming out on Monday.
It’s going to be epic! S’gonna be epic!
Anyway, guys, we can chat about that next time. See you later.
Sorry I drank so much coffee this morning and I’m all pepped up.
Catch you later, guys!
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