Category: British and American English

Shakespeare’s Phrases: What we’ve taken from the Bard

There are few playwrights in the English-speaking world that are as well-known as William Shakespeare. He is best known for writing plays including Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet.

The universal themes and the way he wrote his plays mean that Shakespeare is studied at all levels of the British educational system. This is why, in today’s post, we want to show you some well-known phrases that did not exist before Shakespeare and what they mean!

Image result for shakespeare memes

Phrases Explained

  • For goodness’ sake – From Henry VIII. We think that the phrase was commonly known in Shakespeare’s day but it meant something different. Now it’s more of an exclamation to show annoyance and frustration; back in the day, it was an expression of “For everything that is good and sacred on this earth, just…”.
  • Neither here not there – Also from Othello, this phrase is now used to say that something is irrelevant to a discussion or in general. It’s grammatically more appropriate to say “neither here nor there”.
  • Mum’s the word – Used in Henry VI pt II; it means “keep quiet, be silent, do not reveal this secret”. Mum is a Middle English word for silent. Or it derives from “mummer”, the old name for a pantomime.
  • All’s well that ends well – Taken from a play with the same title, it was a proverb before Shakespeare but he introduced it more widely. As long as everything is okay in the end, whatever you did before is justified.
  • A wild goose chase – Romeo and Juliet. This phrase is now used to mean that something that you are about to do or perhaps while doing something, that is hopeless.
  • Not slept a wink – Taken from a lesser know play Cymbeline; this phrase was a few hundred years old. The wink is the act of closing one eye so it literally means ‘I did not sleep’.
  • Swagger – Yes, Shakespeare came up with this word! Who knew?
  • Truth will out – From The Merchant of Venice, it warns to not lie because eventually the truth will be discovered.
  • There’s method in my madness – Taken from Hamlet. It explains odd behaviour by suggesting it is for a reason; that even the craziest plans are plans.
  • Wear my heart upon my sleeve – Found in Othello, this phrase indicates that someone shows their emotions openly and doesn’t hide them. In Othello’s case, you would know when he was angry or jealous immediately.

Image result for shakespeare memes

 

The punniest* word play skills: Puns

*See what I did there? Punniest...funniest...LOL

In our next instalment of typically British ways to communicate, this week’s blog post is dedicated to puns.

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Puns are generally defined as jokes that exploit the possible different meanings of a word OR the fact that there are words that sound the same but have completely different meanings, used for comedic or rhetorical effect. Puns are also known as double entendre [from Fr. ‘double meaning’], witticism, quips and word play.

These are not a British phenomenon either, not really; anyone with good language skills in any language can create puns. The internet has made it easier for all to see and understand them. And even before the Internet, some British TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s derived their humour from word play, shows such as Blackadder and Fawlty Towers.

Related image

(from Blackadder, starring Rowan Atkinson)

History

It’s unclear where the pun come from, but it has been around for a long while. William Shakespeare famously used puns and other word play tactics in his plays! Can you see how you could use these examples for comic effect – ‘sun/son’. ‘lines/loins’ and ‘ace/ass’?

The quick wit to think up a pun used to be revered as a sign of mental agility and language mastery in the Ancient times. Some believe that during the Enlightenment, the art of creating puns fell out of fashion, but since the Internet, it has made a miraculous comeback. You just need to look at memes and realise that many are puns in disguise 😉

Image result for animal puns
Image result for animal puns

Obviously, puns can be categorised: animal, objects, dad jokes, grammar, literature, maths etc. The possibilities are infinite and we’ve taken the liberty of giving you 10.

Which one do you think is the funniest? Send us some of your own or one you saw recently that you thought was funny 🙂

  1. The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.
  2. Jokes about German sausages are the wurst.
  3. I am on a seafood diet. I see food, I have to eat it.
  4. What’s the plural of baby? Twins.
  5. I donut understand puns.
  6. Don’t stop retrievin’, hold on to that feline.
  7. If Apple made a car, would it have Windows?
  8. What do you get if you cross an angry sheep and a moody cow? An animal that is in a baaaaad mooooood.
  9. The streets were oddly desserted that night.
  10. Puns are for children, not groan adults.

[SPEAK UP LONDON] 7 INSPIRATIONAL MULTILINGUAL PEOPLE

7 INSPIRATIONAL MULTILINGUAL AND BILINGUAL PEOPLE

Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration to push us forward. 

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FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2013 file photo, American actor Leonardo DiCaprio poses for a portrait, in New York. The United Nations has named Leonardo DiCaprio a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the announcement Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, calling DiCaprio “a credible voice in the environmental movement.” He also invited the actor to the upcoming UN Climate Summit planned for September 23. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File)

 

 

Language is an amazing form of communication. Especially when you are multilingual or bilingual. This skill helps you communicate better with people when you’re in foreign lands. With language, you can connect with the culture even better and understand it without getting lost in translation.

With all of the fun and excitement that comes from learning a new language, there are times when it can be strenuous and hard, especially when trying to remember certain words and phrases.

So, the team here at Speak Up London, thought it best to show you people that you can aspire to. We will be introducing you to 7 Inspirational Multilingual people.

You can and will learn the language you’re set on learning, and these inspirational people are proof of this. Don’t give up, when you’re so close to reaching your goal.

 

 

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1.) Leonardo DiCaprio

Languages: English and German

 

Leonardo DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles to an Italian/German father and a German mother. Leonardo often visited his maternal grandmother in Germany, where he was able to learn and practice his German.

 

 

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2.) Johnny Depp

Languages: English and French

 

Johnny Depp was born and raised in was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. Depp is of mostly English ancestry, with some ancestors from elsewhere in Europe. He is descended from a French Huguenot immigrant, Pierre Dieppe.

 

 

natalie-portman

3.) Natalie Portman

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, German, Sign Language.

Natalie was born in Jerusalem to an Israeli father and American mother. She grew up speaking Hebrew and English, but also knows conversational French, Japanese, German, and Spanish.

 

koko

4.) Raden Mas Panji Sosrokartono

Languages: 24 languages and 10 Indonesian tribal languages.

Sosrokartono is considered the most genius man in Indonesia, beside President Habibie. He mastered 24 languages and 10 Indonesian tribal languages. After the first world war ended, he became head of translator for League of Nations.

 

 

dikemebe

5.) Dikembe Mutombo

Languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Tshiluba, Swahili, Lingala, and two other central African languages.

Mutombo is a former NBA player and is able to speak English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Tshiluba, Swahili, Lingala, and two other central African languages.

 

 

timothy-doner

6.) Timothy Doner

Languages: English, French, Hausa, Wolof, Russian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Pashto, Persian, Mandarin, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch, Xhosa, Kiswahili, Hindi, Ojibwe, Kinyarwanda, and Creole.

Timothy was only 17 years old when he was featured in the New York Times for his ability to speak over twenty languages to various levels,

 

 

elizabeth1england

7.) Elizabeth I

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Latin, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish and Irish.

 

Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two and a half years after Elizabeth’s birth.

 

 

 

We hope that you get some inspiration from these people, and that their linguistic skills push you further to learn a new language.

 

 

 

 

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[HALLOWEEN] SCARY STORIES FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES

SCARY STORIES FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES

 

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Cultures all over the world are filled with different foods that we have never tasted before, clothes we have never worn before, and stories that we have never heard before.

But, have you ever thought about the urban legends that fill different cultures and the scary creatures that fill people with fear? Well, here is a list of the scariest stories of different cultures from around the world. Right on time for Halloween right?

 

 

 

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1.) The Slender man
Origin: USA and The Internet

The Slender man is a thin and silent stalker who is commonly known for stalking and abducting children. He is extremely thin and tall, with a blank face.

He stalks his victims at first, and whilst you are sleeping he will kidnap you. He will ask you a random question and if you get the answer right, he will break both of your arms and legs.

But, if you get the answer wrong, he will pull your heart out of your body.

 

el-saco

2.) El Viejo del Saco

Origin: Chile, Cuba, Mexico

This story is based on a true crime that occurred in the village of Gador, Spain in 1910. The crime was committed by a man named Francisco Ortega who had tuberculosis. He was very sick and went to seek help from a healer.

The healer said he would be healed if he drinks the blood of a young child and uses the blood as a body-rub to rub on his chest. Francisco kidnapped a 7-year-old boy, placed him in a cloth sack, and eventually drank his blood.

The legend of El Viejo del Saco comes from this dark true story. El Viejo del Saco kidnaps misbehaving children and eats them.

 

 

 

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3.) The Banshee

Origin: Ireland

The banshee is said to be a bad omen and a sign of someone’s death. When a person hears the loud screeching of a banshee, shortly after, they will die a horrible death.

Legends of the banshee seem to have originated in Ireland.

The banshee is also often said to be seen before a tragic death. Banshees are sometimes depicted as ugly old hags. They can sometimes transform themselves into a beautiful young woman.

 

 

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4.) The Weeping Woman

Origin: South America

The tale begins with a woman named Maria who drowns her children in a river as revenge to her unfaithful husband.

Filled with sadness about what she had done, she ends her own life.  Maria was not allowed to enter heaven because her children were not with her.

Some legends say that The Weeping Woman will kidnap other boys and girls who resemble her own children and will kill them.

She appears by the lakes and rivers screaming the words, “Oh my children!” Anyone who hears her saying these words will die soon after.

 

 

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5.) The Tokoloshi
Origin: South Africa

The Tokoloshi is a zombie of short stature. These Zombies can be created by removing the eyes and tongue out of a dead person. Life is breathed into the zombie with a special white powder.

They live in the houses of witches and are known for stealing milk from cows and bringing harm to people whenever its master asks. They are usually small, brown and hairy.

 

We hope that these Halloween stories haven’t scared you all too much. Have a great Halloween guys, and retell these stories to your friends and family, to frighten them.

 

 

 

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