G’day Leila and everyone!
The rain has stopped! Yay! Apparently this has been the wettest November for 24 years! It’s done the ground a lot of good – everything is green instead of brown, and it has also cooled the temperature down a bit, so it’s quite nice at the moment.
I hope you all had a nice weekend; we did! (My sympathy to you, Carolina – it’s bad enough being stuck inside with one small child, let alone 22!!! You poor thing!!) I was working on Saturday but yesterday we took advantage of the nice weather and went to the park with Owen (he had a great time – he’s been stuck inside all week, poor boy!), and treated ourselves to lunch in a local café – very relaxing!
Leila, I have enjoyed reading your last couple of posts, especially the pictures! Do you know how Finnish happens to be related to Hungarian, even though geographically they’re so far apart? (Just curious – I’m sure I can find out for myself!) I’m looking forward to hearing about Finnish food (always my favourite topic!).
Well, I thought since we’d been discussing it a little bit, I would tell you about Waltzing Matilda. People often think that Waltzing Matilda is Australia’s National Anthem, and a lot of people think that it should be. There is still a lot of discussion about where the song comes from; most people think it’s from a poem by A.B. Paterson (a famous 19th century Australian poet). Some people think it’s a political poem, others say it’s a folk song. I was watching a TV show the other night about English in different parts of the world, and the presenter mentioned Waltzing Matilda because it had a mix of Aboriginal words, and Australian colloquial words. I’ve had a look on the web to try and find some more information about it for you, and I found a great site from the National Library of Australia; the address is: http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/5-Evidence.html As Dusan says, there’s a very informative entry in Wikipedia, and if you do a search yourself you’ll find heaps more information (there are some sites where you can actually listen to the song).
The story is about a swagman – a swagman is best described as a tramp; someone who moves around carrying his belongings in a “swag” (a bag). “Waltzing Matilda” means just that – moving around from place to place carrying your swag with you. The swagman sets up camp for the night by a stream (billabong) and is just making a cup of tea when a sheep turns up to drink at the stream. The swagman steals the sheep and is putting it in his tuckerbag (a bag for food) when the troopers and the sheep’s owner (the squatter) arrive to claim the sheep back. Rather than be arrested, the swagman jumps into the billabong and drowns.
I haven’t done the story justice at all, I’m afraid, so if you have time, please look at some of the sites and find out more for yourselves!
Well done all of you on your answers to the vocab, and thank you all for taking the time to write such detailed comments – I always enjoy reading what you have to say. My answers are below, but just remember a lot of these questions are aimed for you to draw on your experiences, so there are lots of different possible answers!
1. “on the trot” – I’ve been taking Owen to swimming lessons for two months on the trot.
2. The verb of “evocative” is evoke. (Be careful with this one – the structure is evoke something for someone. E.g. in Leila's post: “what evoked this theme for me?”)
3. In a team sport the opposite of “opponent” is team mate.
4. A famous person who has “made a comeback” – John Travolta (he did Grease and Saturday Night Fever, and then had hardly any work until Pulp Fiction). Also Britney Spears, maybe? A few of you mentioned Benazir Bhutto, too.
5. The last time my team was knocked out of a competition was last month: England was knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by South Africa
6. What really “winds you up”? – people who push their way onto the train when others are trying to get off.
7. The most good-natured person I know is probably my husband.
8. Some other places that have designated seating might be conference venues, sports venues, theatres, concert venues, public transport, etc.
9. Products that are easy to come by in Australia at this time of year are – mangoes (yum!), peaches, strawberries …
10. Do you ever get a “biting wind” in your country? In Yorkshire, we get biting winds from December to February. We don’t really get them in Sydney, but if you go to the Blue Mountains (2hrs drive from here) in winter (June-August) the wind is pretty cold!
11. The noun and verb forms of “exhilarating” are exhilaration (n) and exhilarate (vb). (Swimming in a frozen river, Leila?! Crikey! (As we say in Oz!))
12. The last live performance/event I saw was so long ago I can’t remember! I think maybe it was a few years ago and Chris and I went to see REM at the Entertainment Centre. They were fantastic!
OK, so here’s some more vocab and definitions for you – and just a couple of questions this time! Again, the aim of the questions is to help you use the language naturally, so there are lots of possibilities!
25th Oct - Glebe
the rain comes down in spades (expr) = to rain heavily
slack (adj – informal) = lazy
dear to my heart (expr) = precious, important to you
doing a roaring trade (expr) = having a very successful business
pretty (adverb - NOT an adjective here!) = quite
streetscape (n) = the way that the street looks, its appearance
upgrade (n / v) = to improve the quality of something
conk out (phr vb) = break down, stop working (of machines)
28th Oct - Food Glorious Food
to stock up (phr vb) = buy a lot of a particular product
come into season (expr) = (of fruit and veg) available and ready to eat
hooked (on) (adj) = addicted to
boutique (adj) = a small, exclusive producer (e.g. boutique beer is not mass-produced or available everywhere)
1. Is there a place near where you live that’s dear to your heart? What’s it called?2. Are there any businesses in your area that are doing a roaring trade? What do they sell?
3. Can you think of any other words in English that end in “-scape”?
4. What kinds of things might you need to upgrade?
5. When was the last time a machine conked out on you? What happened?
6. Are you hooked on anything (I mean in a non-serious way, e.g. chocolate, learning English …)
And today’s vocab:
to do sth (or sb) good (expr)
to take advantage of (expr)
it’s bad enough … let alone (expr)
to do sth justice (expr)
crikey! (Aus. exclamation)
Just before I go, I was wondering if there are any topics you would really like me to talk about (not necessarily grammar stuff, maybe something about Oz that I haven’t mentioned yet)? I suddenly realised that we’re in the middle of November and time is starting to run out, so if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, just let me know! (Ana Paula, I haven’t forgotten your request for some Aussie authors! Leila, did you read any local writers when you were in NZ?)
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