Unit 26: Our future on Mars?
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Would you follow a Thatcherite, Blairite or Stalinist leader? Would any of these be preferable to an Orwellian society? Learn more about adjectives that come from the names of famous people in this session.
Adjectives from names
Join Callum and Finn as they discuss a group of adjectives that are made from the names of famous people.
Listen to the programme!
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me, Callum.
And me, Finn. In this programme we’re talking about an interesting type of adjective.
Yes, they’re adjectives that are formed from the names of famous people such as authors, politicians and scientists. There’ll be lots of examples.
But first, here’s Ruth. She’s talking about some common adjectives from names that we use.
And listen out for the answer to this question: Which adjective comes from the name of the author George Orwell? Here’s Ruth.
Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of Victorian England and many of his books describe the poverty of that time. So what do we mean by Dickensian social conditions? And what about an Orwellian future? Have you read the book 1984 by the author George Orwell? A Churchillian speech is clearly the kind of speech made by the politician Winston Churchill. And you can probably guess which famous people these adjectives come from: a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.
So that was Ruth. And we asked you which adjective comes from the name of the author George Orwell?
And the answer is Orwellian. The suffix –ian is often added to the names of famous writers and scientists to form new adjectives.
Now these adjectives describe something that person is famous for. Orwell wrote about a nightmare vision of the future in his book 1984, so an Orwellian future or society is terrible like the one in the book, with no individual freedom.
And people sometimes say that reality TV programmes are Orwellian because they spy on what people are doing.
And I’ve heard politicians’ views described as Orwellian too.
Listen for more of these adjectives in our first clip.
INSERT 1 CLIP 1
Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of Victorian England and many of his books describe the poverty of that time. So what do we mean by Dickensian social conditions?
Now which two adjectives came from the names of famous people in that clip?
Well, there was Victorian. Victorian England means England when Queen Victoria ruled, which was from 1837 to 1901.
Other queens and kings whose names are commonly used as adjectives include Elizabethan, Edwardian and Georgian.
And with kings and queens it’s always their first names that are made into adjectives, not their surnames. Now that clip also used the adjective Dickensian. Ruth asked us what Dickensian social conditions are.
Yes, well, because Charles Dickens wrote a lot about the poverty of Victorian England, Dickensian social conditions are very poor, like those in his novels.
You could also say that a street or house is Dickensian, meaning that it is very old and in poor condition. But onto our second clip.
INSERT 1 CLIP 2
A Churchillian speech is clearly the kind of speech made by the politician Winston Churchill. And you can probably guess which famous people these adjectives come from: a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.
A Churchillian speech. Now Churchill is famous for being a powerful, determined politician and a brilliant speaker.
So, a Churchillian speech is a powerful and brilliant speech. And we also heard a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.
Yes. Freudian from Freud, the psychologist. Freud wrote a lot about the unconscious mind. And a Freudian slip is a fixed phrase that means a mistake that you make, especially when speaking, caused by the thoughts in your unconscious mind.
Thatcherite comes from Margaret Thatcher, who was a Prime Minister of the UK. Adjectives from politicians’ names are often formed with the suffixes –ist and –ite. Other examples are Stalinist from the Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Maoist from the Chinese Chairman Mao and Reaganite from former US President Reagan.
6 Minute Vocabulary from bbclearningenglish.com.
And we’re talking about adjectives that are formed from names.
And it’s quiz time! Ready? Number one: Which of these nouns goes best with the adjective Orwellian? a) an Orwellian society b) Orwellian freedom.
The answer’s a) an Orwellian society.
Good. Number two: Are Dickensian conditions a) the conditions in which Charles Dickens lived, or b) any poor social living conditions?
It’s b) any poor living conditions.
Well done! Number three: Tony Blair was a Prime Minister of the UK and the adjective from his name is like that of Margaret Thatcher. So would we talk about a) Blairist policies or b) Blairite policies?
The answer’s b) Blairite.
And that’s the end of the quiz. And there’s lots more about this and other things at bbclearningenglish.com. Do join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.
Adjectives from names
New adjectives come into English formed from the names of famous people.
They describe something that person is famous for:
an Orwellian vision of the future
a Freudian slip (something you say that shows your unconscious thoughts)
His life was a Shakespearean tragedy.
Some kings' and queens' first names are commonly used as adjectives. These adjectives mean ‘from the time of that king or queen’:
an Edwardian chair
We usually form adjectives from the names of writers and scientists with the suffix –ian:
The house was so old it was almost Dickensian.
Adjectives from politicians names are often formed with the suffixes –ist and –ite: