Do you enjoy drinking alcohol or are you teetotal? In this week's The English We Speak, Helen and William talk about the word teetotal.
The script for this programme
William: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. My name is William Kremer.
Helen: And I'm Helen. Hello.
William: So, are you going to go out after work tonight, Helen?
Helen: You mean for Rob's birthday? What's the plan?
William: Well, I think we're just going to head to the Fox and Flowerpot at 6.00pm.
Helen: Going to the pub again? No, I think I'll give it a miss this time.
William: Oh no! Why? Have you got plans?
Helen: No, it's just...
William: You don't like Rob, maybe?
Helen: No, no – that's not the reason. I just don't like going to the pub all the time. I don't really drink, you know, and I always feel a bit awkward.
William: Ah, I didn't know you were teetotal, Helen!
William: Teetotal. This is an adjective that describes a person who doesn't drink alcohol.
Helen: Right - so does this person just drink tea?!
William: Well maybe! But actually, the word teetotal doesn't have anything to do with tea. It's spelled T.E.E.T.O.T.A.L. Let's listen to this example of the word being used:
Man: Have you bought the drinks for the party yet?
Woman: Yep – I've got a case of wine and two boxes of beer. I've also got some soft drinks for Granny. She's teetotal nowadays.
Helen: Can you say, "I don't feel like drinking beer tonight... I'm going to have a teetotal evening"?
William: Well not really. We describe people as teetotal, and it means that they never drink alcohol. Now, teetotal is an adjective, but there is also a noun that we can use. See if you can hear it in this example:
Man: My father used to drink heavily, you know. Every night he'd have a bottle of Scotch. Maybe that's why I've always been a teetotaller.
Helen: I heard the word teetotaller. And the speaker in that clip was describing why he was a teetotaller. Now William, where does this word come from?
William: Well no-one is really sure, Helen. But it's worth saying that in the past it was used to describe someone who didn't drink and who also thought that drinking alcohol was a bad thing. I think nowadays it's a little bit softer.
Helen: Well, truth be told William, I'm not a teetotaller. I like a drink every now and then but I just can't drink pint after pint of beer like you English people!
William: Well, good for you Helen! But why don't you come to the pub anyway? You can just have an orange juice or a lemonade. No-one will laugh at you.
Helen: No, they won't laugh at me, but they will ask me to drive them home! No, please tell Rob happy birthday but I don't feel like it tonight. But thanks for telling us about this interesting word, William.
William: Well, don't mention it, Helen. Right, I'm off to the pub now.
Helen: Don't drink too much!
William: I won't! Bye!