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Phần 16

Ssshhhh… it's a secret! It's William Shakespeare's birthday and there's a surprise in store for him. Plus, we're bringing you the phrase mum's the word and keep mum as well as lots more useful phrases for talking about secrets!

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Bài tập 1

Ssshhhh... Mum's the word!

A celebration of William Shakespeare
2016 is a special year for William Shakespeare. Many events are taking place across the world to mark 400 years since his death. What a popular man!

But what's going on in this image? Will has walked into his favourite pub but it looks like everyone is hiding from him! Why do you think this is?

To do

Now watch the video to find out why Will's friends and family are hiding from him. Did you guess correctly?

Xem video và hoàn thành bài tập

Hiển thị văn bản ghi âm (hay video) Giấu văn bản ghi âm (hay video)

Narrator
It was the 23rd of April. William Shakespeare's daughter and his actor friends Robert Harley and Thomas Swann are at the Duck and Whistle. They're getting ready for a celebration. Bess the barmaid is in charge.

Bess
Now have we got everything? Beer, ale… Where's that Mary Bassett? She's supposed to be bringing the pies…

Mary
Here I am, pies and all! I've brought some lovely meat pies and I've got Mr Will's favourite here: a nice cherry pie.

All
Ooohhh lovely, he'll like that, lovely…

Daughter
Oh, I'm so excited Mary! I love parties! Isn't it wonderful having a party for Father's birthday!

Mary
Now don't you go telling Mr Will before he gets here, Miss Shakespeare, remember: it's a surprise. Like John Hume says in your father's play Henry VI part II: Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum…

Thomas Swann as John Hume
Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum:
The business asketh silent secrecy.

Daughter
Give no words but mum… I promise, I won't say a word to anyone. Really, I won't!

Narrator
We'll leave them there for now. The exact date of William Shakespeare's birth is not recorded, but it's generally believed that the most likely date was Sunday the 23rd of April, which, interestingly, was also the date of his death, in 1616, at the age of 52. The phrase Give no words but mum, simply means: don't tell anyone - it's a secret. These days, it's usually simplified to just keep mum. Take Australian news website 9News, writing about Mark Hamill, the Star Wars actor, who spoke of how he had to keep the Star Wars storyline secret. The headline was:

Clip 1
Mark Hamill to keep mum amid Star Wars Skywalker speculation

Narrator
Another version of the phrase is Mum's the word.

Clip 2
Don't tell anyone you saw me here. Mum's the word!

Mary
Ssshhh everybody, here he comes now!

All
Quick, hide, behind the bar, get down, he'll see you…

Will
Good afternoon Bess, a pint of your finest… Bess? Hello? Where is everyone?!

All
Surprise!!!! Happy birthday!!!

Daughter
Happy birthday father!

Will
Daughter?! Is all this for me?!

Daughter
Yes, father, it is!

Thomas Swann
Happy birthday Will!

Will
Thank you, Thomas.

Mary
Happy birthday, Mr Will. Have some cherry pie.

Bess
Here Mr Will, pint of ale for you.

Will
Well now! To party, or… no. Let's party!

All
Hooray!

Answer
Did you guess correctly? Everyone is hiding from Will because they have organised a surprise party for his birthday. Happy Birthday William!

To do

It's no secret that we like to introduce you to useful English expressions. Now try this quiz to check you've understood the meaning and use of the phrases mum's the word and keep mum. 

To party or not to party...

4 Questions

Answer these questions about the vocabulary in this episode...

Chúc mừng bạn đã hoàn thành Trắc nghiệm
Excellent! Bạn làm rất tốt! Bad luck! Điểm bạn đạt được:
x / y

How did you do?
3-4 correct - congratulations, you're now ready to tell your own secrets.
0-2 correct - oh dear, we'll let you try again - but mum's the word!

Next

On the next pages we're going to reveal some secrets - and useful phrases to talk about secrets. Come with us, but shh - mum's the word!

Session Vocabulary

  • For more great Shakespeare content visit our partner,The OU

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    Give no words but mum

    Meaning
    The phrase give no words but mum is usually simplified to just keep mum. It means: don't tell anyone - it's a secret.  

    Example sentence
    Mark Hamill to keep mum amid Star Wars Skywalker speculation

    Note
    Another version of the phrase is mum's the word.

    Example sentence
    Don't tell anyone you saw me here. Mum's the word!

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    Extra vocabulary

    your secret’s safe with me
    I won't tell anyone your secret

    keep it under wraps
    keep it secret

    don't tell a soul
    don't tell anyone

    I won’t breathe a word
    I won't tell anyone your secret

    my lips are sealed
    I won't tell anyone your secret

    keep your mouth shut
    keep a secret

    blab
    reveal a secret

    let the cat out of the bag
    reveal a secret (usually by accident)

    let it slip
    reveal a secret (usually by accident)

    spill the beans
    reveal a secret

    give the game away
    reveal a secret

    a blabbermouth
    someone who reveals secrets

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    About Shakespeare Speaks

    Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between:

    BBC Learning English

    The Open University

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    More Shakespeare Speaks episodes

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