Hey there and welcome to BigAppleSchool podcast. My name’s Sam
And today’s we’re asking what’s the craic about
So we’re going to talk about where each of us are from *wink-wink nudge nudge*. We’re gonna ask about our exposure to the different types of English, talk a little bit about the differences, different words. We’re going to think about the relationship between two countries and maybe how it’s changed pre-9/11, that unfortunate time, and what it might look like in the future in our opinion. Let’s start Gary. So, tell me, you’re not from Russia, right?
I am from the united States
Ooooh didn’t think. It’s a great topic for you then!
How intriguing! I’m from the United States, yes, the great state of Ohio and the city of Cleveland.
As a complete novice, I’ve never set foot on the US soil. What is Ohio famous for?
Well, as such nothing specific. It’s a kind of a midwestern state, meaning that’s basically it’s between Chicago and New York. It’s kinda flat land, with its kind of hills down the south of the state. It’s on the great lakes: there’s large lakes, five large lakes in the north of the country which border Canada. And I’m a midwesterner. We call it midwest even though it’s not very far of west
You make it sound like a chore, like it’s a terrible thing
No, it’s a wonderful thing. I wouldn’t wanna be from anywhere else. It’s a good place to be from. We’re considered to have normal values, we’re polite, decent, considerate kind of people.
My kind of people. That’s great.
Absolutely, Sam. Your kind of people.
So you’re neither Chicago nor… I don’t know, what were…
New York… you have to be tough. You’re in between, relaxed, nothing huge is happening but you’re getting on with it. Is there a lot of farming? In Ohio?
There is a lot of farming, yes. There’s corn… It’s not specifically an agricultural state. It’s not like Iowa, which sounds a little bit like Ohio. But there’s agriculture, it’s a large state. So there’s kind of everything: there’s manufacturing..
Yeah. But in my accent, cause I have an accent, it’s considered pretty pure Midwest: it’s not eastern, it’s not southern. So anyway… How about you? Where are you from, Sam?
I class myself historically I could say as British, for historical reasons. I’m from the UK, specifically the region of Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK but not part of Great Britain. The language, the flavor of English I speak is British, but then you could also say it’s Irish. Some people call it technically Hiberno-English, but that Hiberno basically means Ireland, but it’s because of certain slang and accent we have.
It’s part of the UK so it is British English that I class it to be whether or not everyone would agree with that. So anyway, Northern Ireland is separate geographically from the rest of Great Britain, so it’s not Great Britain but the UK. Let me ask: what exposure have you had to English from the UK?
Well, mainly I suppose through having to teach using British textbooks. I teach English using British textbooks. And some exposure through listening to BBC and.. It’s not really British English, but the Bible that I use in my church in English is the historic King James bible which is of course.. it was 1611.
And it’s called King James version because King James - the king of England at the time commissioned it or permitted it. Which is… I also have read it
I’m glad he did that. So you guys did a good thing there
It was a very important thing for me too because I grew up with that version and actually it’s a lot, for me anyway, it’s a lot like Shakespeare.
Yeah it’s beautiful, it’s really interesting. One of the things about King James bible is that if you read the dedication to it, it said: “Intended to be read in churches”. So it’s a bible with the translation that was designed through reading aloud and so the language is beautiful and that’s why the King James bible is the most quoted book in the English language, more than Shakespeare.
I’ve been told that it actually has a kind of poetic nature to it and it’s easy to memorize
It is, yeah. If something is beautiful to the ear it’s going to be easy to memorize than something that sounds like a suitcase falling down stairs
Right. So I mean, I would say your exposure to British English is limited
So, but on the other hand, for me, I don’t remember when I first heard American English. I mean I grew up with it on the TV, unfortunately or not, fortunately or unfortunately
I would say unfortunately
I was a little boy who loved the TV and I still like TV and films and TV shows maybe too much. But I enjoy… it’s a way to relax for me. As you’ll probably be aware, as I know you’ll be aware much of TV is American, much of films are American
And so I have huge exposure actually to American English. Never been to America but since I was a boy they used to.. I think my brother made fun of me because I said [zi] instead of [zed]. I said [zibra] instead of [zebra]. In the British version it’s [zebra] and so he made fun of me but I learnt the alphabet better from Sesame street than I did in school, although I had great teachers in school. So, yeah, a lot of.. from the media… I had a lot of exposure to American English. So let me ask you then – what’s your perception of British English? What do you think of it?
Well I would think that most Americans admire British English, especially if it’s, you know, sort of the Oxbridge variety in all
We admire that. That seems to us.. We feel a little bit, I don’t know, inferior when we face that.
Yes, that very proper and the lovely accent and all of these things which we don’t have.
So we respect it and.. but I would have to say that in practice I’d rather speak American English. Just because it’s so… it’s the action, so to speak meaning that it’s because of the influence of media and everything else. It’s very dynamic and it’s always changing as well as British English I’m sure, but anyway we respect it
Well, language is a fluent things, isn’t it?
Very much. And if I can diverge a little bit there are some new words in the recent five ten years, and there are still getting new words like skyping is now a verb you know. Things like that. And texting and other not so new things maybe, but all of these things have become words that we use every day which, when I was young, a little bit younger, there was no such thing, even in my day, at my age there are new words in my lifetime, so it’s quite amazing.
It’s kinda like every week actually it seems.
Yeah, it seems. And I should also say that actually there’s a perception... there’s a kind of feeling that British English.. what can I say… Queen’s English – how the Queen speaks – it’s kind of that dream. If you can speak like that – your English is perfect. And there’s a perception that’s the only correct English.
But how I feel is that you shouldn’t be ashamed of your accent although my accent isn’t strong when I speak with you but you shouldn’t be ashamed – I don’t think I need to be ashamed of it or embarrassed by it cause like you, even though I’m from Britain, or the UK actually, I have a very different accent from the Queen for example. But to me it’s important, it’s part of your individuality, it’s not actually an issue. And there’s lots and lots of flavors of British English actually.
Yes, I can tell that from listening to – I listen to a podcast called ‘In Our Time’ by BBC and there’s often.. they have academics – they talk about different subjects and from different places – from the University of Aberdeen and all of these and the variety of accents is unbelievable. It seemed broader than the variety in American accents
It could well be because I know even in our little region of Northern Ireland there are a variety of accents. And you can travel two hours by car, you can travel across, up, down, left, right of Northern Ireland and yet there are quite a few different accents just in that little place, so.. and in England,
I mean, a lot of people think there’s just one – or might be guilty of assuming there’s just one English accent and it’s not the case at all. If you speak to someone form England they’ll inform you that it’s very much not the case. And even in London there can be a wide variety of accents. So, I want to talk a little bit about different words I have. So, can you describe diapers?
Well diapers are cloth, well they used to be cloth or now paper wrappings
Well yeah pampers – that.. we would still call those diapers. Even though you’d probably call them pampers that you put on a baby because they’re not good about controlling themselves – they’ve a lot to learn! They’re small and.. including how to handle themselves.
They could embarrass you in public if they don’t wear diapers
Almost definitely. Or in private – they’ll embarrass you in private, wherever they are they’ll embarrass you. That’s what we call those diapers
And in the UK they’re called nappies. Have you heard that word before?
I think I have actually heard that. Even in American use I think, I think
Maybe it’s not explicitly the UK
I think it’s maybe carried over to the US somewhere
I’m just wondering what it is in Australian English. If anybody knows you can write below in our podcast what it is in Australian English, I’m curious. I don’t know. Sometimes they favor the British version, and sometimes the American version. Chips – what are chips?
Now I would say that chips, potato chips are fried slices of potato, sold in bags or you can make them at home. Actually I think chips, it’s a commercial product only.
And they’re very very sliced thin
So, for us, when we hear the word chips, we think about crisps. And it’s a very very thin sliced piece of potato, and the word chips has a different meaning for us. So we’ll come back to it in a second, but crisps are chips, чипсы in Russian if you can bear my bad accent. Very different from crisps, very different from chips for us. But we still, of course, understand чипсы are chips. French fries?
French fries… they’re thicker and also potatoes
More three-dimensional, right?
Yeah, they’re three-dimensional and big chunks, thick, and long but thick – that’s what we call French fries
And they’re thicker than.. Do you prefer thick chip.. I mean, thick French fry?
Thinner ones. I think that… judging on McDonalds and Burger King which I know maybe is a bad thing to judge from – they’re thinner than the traditional French fry in the UK which in the UK, you probably know, are called chips. So, very confusing. We call them chips and the other we call crisps, but interestingly, I hope it’s interesting – I worked in McDonald’s in my own town – a small town. And there are McDonald’s everywhere in the UK of course and there’s KFC and Burger King and Subway
We’re spreading sunlight everywhere we go
If people have money there, we will go and sell them
Yeah, you will, you will.
you’ll make us fat, absolutely. But we can do it on our own
You will make us rich and we will make you fat
We do it on our own anyway but McDonald’s does help
So in the McDonald’s where.. local people work there, as I did when I was younger and local people go in and it’s all British people or Irish maybe, some Irish people too. And we’ll go in and we’ll automatically change to American English and we’ll speak with our accent and we’ll say “Can I have a big mac?” and “Can I have fries?”, “Can I have a coke?”
And if we go down the road to the chip shop, we call it chip shop which is a fast food restaurant, we will ask for chips. We won’t talk about French fries
I guess, part of that influence is, well, the culture, but also the fact that we know about American culture. But everything’s written in the American words you know. It’s French fries, it’s not chips
Sure sure sure. There’s a word for that in language and I can’t think of it right now where like black people – when black people are with black people they’re talking one way and they’re doing like thiiiis, but when they go to business they’re like ‘Oh sir thank you very much’, they’re talking like white people and there’s a word for doing that, the process of shifting from one persona to another and so when you’re in the American environment like McDonald’s then it’s American language…
It’s strange because literally there were no Americans there. No Americans in the restaurant: a local person owned it, all the managers were local people and we just had this kind of agreement to speak American. And interestingly too, if I can.. my first day at McDonald’s was a shock because they said: “ okay make this burger and then put it in the bin”, right? And for me, and I’ve written it down here for you, a trash can.. Imagine someone comes to you and says: you’re working in this UK restaurant, you’re making a burger and when you’ve finished, put it in a can. Put it in the trash can.
Yeah, we’d say put in the trash. But yeah
Yeah, put it in the trash. So that was what they were saying to me effectively. When you say put it in the bin I’m like “What? I’ve just made a fresh burger, why would I put it in the trash?” You know it.. for me it was like.. a bin is a place for trash, for rubbish, what we call rubbish, so it was like “really?” and I had to pause him and say “Stop right there. What are you talking about?” As it turned out, and I learnt that day was a bin is a container in American. Am I right? It’s a container in American English.
Right. I’m glad.. they could have a very money-losing day.. as the new recruit throws away burger and burger
Busy busy lunchtime and I’m just throwing it in…
So why aren’t people eating these?
He wants to do a good job on his first day and so every burger goes into the trash.. just a failure in training
Tell me what a biscuit is. I’m really curious, because I’m not sure I know this
Okay. Biscuit is in American understanding a biscuit is kind of a.. it’s a rather large I guess baked think, baked goods
It’s not sweet, it’s kind of doughy
And soft, yes. But crisp on the outside. So often it either goes… it can be a breakfast food or it can go with like chicken and biscuits – that’s the thing in the South. It’s the southern... It’s a little bit regional
It’s not everywhere in America
No.. it’s part of southern cooking and country food, biscuits
Do you.. it sounds strange to me to be honest – I don’t know if we have it. Is it like a scone? Have you heard of the word scone?
I have heard of it, yeah. Scones. But I don’t even know what they are which is my ignorance
You’re gonna learn something.
I need to learn something
And I’ve learnt something already. A scone is a very sweet..
Do you pronounce it [skon]?
Well I pronoune it [skon], some people say [skoun]
Yes. And I say [skon] but other people would say [skoun]. I’m not sure if it matters, I don’t think it does. They say it doesn’t matter as long as you’re understood. So it’s a sweet bread and it’s not crunchy on the outside but it can be a little bit – you know it’s baked, so it can be a little bit browner on the outside. Nice and soft on the inside, but traditionally they’re sweet, but not super sweet like chocolate or some cake or something. Often we cut them open, they’re particularly kinda hand-sized I guess. And often they include fruit, I mean raisins or cherries
In them, yeah. Baked in them. And even sometimes little bit some mars bar something like that. If you’re extremely…
Yeah that’s extreme. Extreme scone
They’re great. Very luxurious. But you cut them open, cut them in half I mean and put on some butter or margarine and sometimes we put on strawberry jam or another type of jam. And even there are specific places in the UK where they love to put on cream or clotted cream it’s called. And I mean if you’re gonna do it wrong, do it right. It’s not healthy, but it’s very delicious and with a cup of tea or in my case coffee it’s great. It’s a perfect thing actually. It’s not too sweet usually unless a mars bar in it.
For most people it’s a morning or lunch-time thing.
It’s like an accompaniment to tea or coffee. It’s really what it is. If you go to like a café or tea room that’s what you’ll get. You’ll often get a scone. It’s not like a compulsory thing, but it’s really always there for you. They’re great, really. I recommend them. But I guess it’s not what you mean when you say biscuit though. It’s not quite the same
No no. Biscuits wouldn’t be sweet. They’re a little bit greasy, they can be a little bit heavy, they’re really good. And the idea’s that you can put gravy over it, if… that’s the equivalent of the clotted cream as far as being terrible for your health and putting on weight and all those things that Americans do so vigorously
Not just Americans I promise you
If you’ve never visited the American south, you don’t know it.
You don’t know what weight problems really are
We’d better not say… We don’t want to offend anyone especially not big guy from the South.
Cookies, yes. What are cookies?
Tell me, what are cookies?
Cookies are little baked things that you pour them onto a cookie sheet and they’re печенье they’re like cookies
Yeah, crispy. They can be kinda soft or whatever. They’re different textures
And is there anything inside them?
Not usually. I mean sure you can put like chocolate chips or nuts or.. there’s all different kinds of cookies
And you got oreos, and you got all kinds
Yeah, like commercial yeah
Biscuits they’re called in the UK
Those are called biscuits?
Those are called biscuits.
So our cookies are your..
I think I sorta knew that
Interestingly actually, we have both in the UK. It’s kind of a paradox. We have cookies and we have biscuits. But usually, traditionally in the UK the cookies are bigger. They’re sold in like American style. So they’re bigger, they often have chocolate chips. Probably not what you would automatically assume as a cookie, but when we think of cookie in the UK we’re thinking of the bigger.. you know, subway cookies.
Something like that. So a bigger cookie traditionally for..
Like you would buy in coffee shops, Starbucks
Do you have Starbucks where you are?
Of course you do, because you have money..
We have money and we’re willing to spend it
And you’re willing to spend it, you let us in and we’ll give you coffee and we’ll take your money, okay, that’s how that works, there’s a pattern here
Okay. And we’ve got a car hood – it’s called a bonnet in the UK
Yeah, that’s the front of a car. A car trunk, am I right?
… Is the boot in the UK. So we call it a boot – not a boot that you wear but a boot where you put your shopping. A faucet is a tap where you get your water or wash or whatever. What you call a truck we call a lorry. Although we know the word truck and might use it accidentally. If you don’t mind.
Trash… we don’t use trash, but we know it, we’ve heard it. We call it rubbish or more formally litter.
But we in normal speech, we’ll say rubbish. And then of course you’ve got the rubbish bin which we’ve talked about in McDonald’s – I was a little bit confused.
And I actually see if you say throw something, we’d say just put it in the trash can or put it in the waste basket rather than… you put paper in a waste basket, you put other stuff into maybe a trash can. But you’ve bin it, right? you say bin it.
Yeah a bin can be a verb in fact, but we usually just say put it in a bin
One other about words: do you use the word lift or elevator?
And I’ve… I tend to use the word lift especially because I’m living in Russia now because I know lift is kinda like the Russian one, so… So I use the word lift but I suppose in the past I would’ve used either, you know, lift or elevator - didn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter. So, you’re from the US, I’m from the UK. Can you tell me about the relationship between our two countries? How do you think it is?
Well I think historically the relationship has been always very close I think. What is it called? Special relationship. In American we call it… There are meaning that is kinda of an unusual, different relation historically right. America was colonies of Britain
Yeah, unless you go too far back
Until the war of independence
That’s what I’m saying yeah. We won’t go all the way back there
We won’t go all the way back there, right. Relations have not always been perfect. Anyway, since… in the recent past the relations have always been very close, I think probably bounds of language and culture and so forth. And I think that still holds – our president right now seems to want to change a lot of relationships with everybody for some reason and.. but I think the relationship is still unusual for historical reasons
Do you think the US has other similar relationships? I mean, what about Australia or.. France or… Canada?
France it’s been difficult… maybe with Canada. There’s, you know, very close.. you know there’s a huge trading.. kind of an almost.. not one culture but more of a shared culture
And the language is even closer
Yeah, the language is closer
Not that we don’t speak the same language, but.. They have the same words like diapers I guess? It’s the same…
I think so, yeah. And maybe that’s where I heard nappies – from one of the comedians
And how has America changed since 9/11? Eleventh September 2001
Well, I haven’t been there very much. I’ve been here. I was there for three years in two-thousands in the Big Apple by the way, I was living in New York and, speaking of BigAppleSchool. I think that the changes after 9/11 have gotten a little bit less important – except that of course the concerns about terrorism – that remains right as getting out of the airplane is complicated.
Much more complicated than it was before and I think there was a tremendous shock after 9/11 and it shook the country up very much. Brought people together for a while and now that is no longer the case.
Speaking from the UK perspective – it was... Well when I first saw it I didn’t know what I was watching to be honest. But when we really started to understand.. I was still quite young – when we started to understand what was happening it was shocking and it was a big big thing and still.. in history will be.
Yeah, no question. It’s just the immediate effects of it. You know one of the things that happened after 9/11 was that the country really came together – like, everybody. Somebody just attacked us, you know. And that causes you to pull together you know, but the country’s really kinda pulled apart right now, you know, the politics are really divided. And so that effect particularly is natural – it’s hard to find what unites people.
18 years on, it’s not the same
A lot of time has passed, yeah
How has the relationship between the UK and the US changed? Has it changed since 9/11?
I think, you know, if anything, it certainly is in the aftermath – directly after, you know, Britain was.. the UK and the US were very very close partners and we were in certain wars that maybe everyone regrets to different degrees, right. But we were very close partners in those… and I don’t know that anyone feels that it was totally the right thing to be doing
There are some, can we say conspiracies? About 9/11, about the war, but whether or not they’re true. How do you envisage the future between our two countries? What do you think the future looks like in your humble opinion
In my humble opinion… Well I’m trying to be as humble as I am… Just give me some time. I would assume, I would hope that our countries would remain very close and I kind of regret some of the foolishness that seems to be happening right now, you know, where the relationship is kind of strange and that’s because of the personalities involved, it’s unfortunate
As for me I think it’s more of a political thing. I don’t think it’s felt by British people..
It absolutely doesn’t affect what any American thinks about the UK but it’s just the personality involved.
Okay so that was the craic about the US and the UK. So we thought about the language, the differences in the vocabulary, the kind of exposure we’ve both had to it. I’ve had a lot more because of media, which is widespread, what’s it called? Globalization, Americanization in the world and about the relationship we have between our two countries and what it might look like in the future. That was the craic about the US and the UK.