6 Minute English
Having a row or asking for directions?
Episode 170914 / 14 Sep 2017
If two people are talking lively and you don't understand their culture or their language, you might think they are having an argument. Neil and Tim talk about this kind of situation and teach you six items of vocabulary.
This week's question:
In which country does shaking your head mean ‘yes’, Tim? Is it…
b) Japan or
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
no hard feelings
is something you say to somebody you have argued with or beaten in a game or contest to say you’d still like to be friends
to fall out with somebody
to argue or disagree with them
a movement you make with your hands or head to express what you are thinking or feeling
saying or doing something embarrassing in a social situation
to make somebody angry or upset
showing what you think or feel
Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript
Welcome to 6 Minute English. In this programme we bring you an expressive topic and six items of vocabulary. I’m Neil…
And I’m Tim. So, we had an argument just before we started the show…
We did, Tim. But no hard feelings?
None. No hard feelings is something you say to somebody you have argued with to say you’d still like to be friends. We often fall out over silly things…
… Like who’s going to introduce the show…
… Or who’s going to choose the quiz question.
But we understand each other. That’s the important thing, isn't it? To fall out with somebody by the way, is another way of saying to argue or disagree with them. Do you know that you wave your arms around a lot when you’re arguing, Tim?
No, I didn’t know I did that.
That isn’t very British.
I know. Using gestures – or movements you make with your hands or your head to express what you are thinking of feeling – is common in some countries but not in others. Then there are some movements – like shaking your head – which mostly means ‘no’ but in some countries can mean the opposite.
That’s right. In which country does shaking your head mean ‘yes’, Tim? Is it…
b) Japan or
No idea – I’ll guess Greece. I do know that in India people shake their heads to mean lots of different things.
There are plenty of gestures you need to be careful with when you’re meeting and greeting people from a culture that’s different to your own – to avoid offending people – or making an awkward faux pas…
If you make a faux pas it means you say or do something embarrassing in a social situation. For example, our every day use of the thumbs-up signal might offend people from the Middle East.
And to offend means to make somebody angry or upset.
Let’s hear now from Business Professor Erin Meyer talking about how easy it is to misunderstand why people behave the way they do in everyday situations when we don’t belong to the same culture.
Erin Meyer, Business Professor in Dubai
A while ago I was in Dubai and one of my students, my Emirati students, was driving me home after a session and the car stopped at a light and she rolled down the window, and she started shouting at someone outside of the window. This guy was crossing the street with a big box of cloth. And he started shouting back, and she opened up the door, and they started gesticulating and shouting at one another. And I thought, wow, they’re having a huge fight, I thought maybe he was going to hit her. And she got back in the car, and I said, well, what were you fighting about? And she said, ‘Oh no, no, we weren’t fighting, he was giving me directions to your hotel.’ And I thought that was a great example of how someone from another culture may misperceive or misunderstand something as a fight when in fact they were just being emotionally expressive.
Gesticulating – what does that mean?
It means what I was doing earlier! – Waving your arms around to express what you’re feeling.
Erin Meyer was worried because her student and the man on the street were shouting and gesticulating at each other. She thought they were having a fight when in fact they were just being emotionally expressive.
And expressive means showing what you think or feel.
You were nodding in agreement, there, Tim. Which reminds me of our quiz question. In which country does shaking your head mean ‘yes’? Is it… a) Greece, b) Japan or c) Bulgaria?
I said Greece…
And that’s the wrong answer, I’m afraid. The right answer is Bulgaria. In some Southeastern European areas such as Bulgaria and southern Albania, shaking your head is used to indicate "yes". In those regions, nodding in fact means "no" as well.
I hope I remember that the next time I meet somebody from Southeastern Europe.OK, shall we look back at the words we learned today?
‘No hard feelings’ is something you say to somebody you have argued with or beaten in a game or contest to say you’d still like to be friends.
For example, “I always get the quiz questions right – unlike you Neil. But no hard feelings, OK?”
That’s not a very realistic example, Tim… But I’ll let it go. Number two – ‘to fall out with somebody’ means to argue or disagree with them.
“I fell out with my best friend at school. We didn’t talk to each other for a whole week!”
That must’ve been a serious disagreement, Tim! What were you arguing about?
I can’t remember. It was a long time ago. Number three – a ‘gesture’ is a movement you make with your hands or head to express what you are thinking or feeling.
“She opened her arms wide in a gesture of welcome.”
Or the verb – “I gestured to Neil that we only had one minute left to finish the show!”
Is that true, Tim? You’re nodding your head – but we should also quickly mention ‘gesticulate’ which means to make gestures with your hands or arms!
A ‘faux pas’ is saying or doing something embarrassing in a social situation. For example, “I committed a serious faux pas at a party last night – that I’m too embarrassed to tell you about!”
Oh dear, Tim. I hope you didn’t offend too many people – ‘offend’ is our next word – and it means to make somebody angry or upset.
Well, you’ve given us a good example already, Neil, so let’s move on to the final word – ‘expressive’ – which means showing what you think or feel.
“Tim has a very expressive face.”
Thanks! Another quick example – “I waved my hand expressively to signal to Neil that it was time to finish the show.”
Taking my cue from Tim, that’s all for today. But please remember to check out our Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages.
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The price of vaccines has escalated and some poor countries are struggling to prevent children from catching certain life-threatening diseases, says Medecins Sans Frontieres. Listen to Rob and Neil’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150219 / 19 Feb 2015
Will thinking computers be the end of humans? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150212 / 12 Feb 2015
About 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica this season. But should they be going to a region with such a sensitive environment? Listen to Rob and Neil’s conversation and learn some new vocabulary.
Episode 150205 / 05 Feb 2015
At a time when more people compete for fewer jobs, are you sure you present your skills and abilities well to a potential employer? Listen to Rob and Neil's conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150129 / 29 Jan 2015
Going to a party where you don't know anyone? Listen to Rob and Neil's advice and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150122 / 22 Jan 2015
We use computers for everything nowadays. Are we forgetting our own abilities - and losing our talent? Listen to Rob and Neil's discussion, and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150115 / 15 Jan 2015
Smoking in cars with children might be banned in England. Listen to Neil and Rob's chat and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150108 / 08 Jan 2015
Is bullying just an attempt to give a bad name to what is part of human nature? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150101 / 01 Jan 2015
What would you put in your time capsule? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141225 / 25 Dec 2014
When enemy soldiers sang together in WW1. Listen to Rob and Finn’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 141218 / 18 Dec 2014
The London school where students speak 42 different languages
Episode 141211 / 11 Dec 2014
Laughter isn't always the best medicine, says research
Episode 141204 / 04 Dec 2014
Are your pictures, documents and videos safe online? Listen to Rob and Finn's chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141127 / 27 Nov 2014
Nowhere to park? How the sharing economy is changing the way we use our space
Episode 141120 / 20 Nov 2014
How can science fiction help the world? Rob and Finn discuss a project which aims to inspire through stories of a bright future
Episode 141113 / 13 Nov 2014
Why is eating meat bad news?
Episode 141106 / 06 Nov 2014
Do real-life superheroes exist or are they just cartoon characters?
Episode 141030 / 30 Oct 2014
Rob and Finn discuss the World Health Organisation's recommendations on e-cigarettes
Episode 141023 / 23 Oct 2014
Should we eat less sugar? Listen to Rob and Neil and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141016 / 16 Oct 2014
Is learning English getting easier? Find out what's new
Episode 141009 / 09 Oct 2014
Why do we buy so much food and not eat it all? Learn more about food waste
Episode 141002 / 02 Oct 2014
Is it right to sleep at work? Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
Episode 140929 / 29 Sep 2014
Is the way we see famous people a new thing? Learn about the first 'modern celebrity'.
Episode 140821 / 21 Aug 2014
Bored? You're not alone. Rob and Finn discuss how to deal with boredom and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won't be bored!