William and Helen look at a musical idiom in honour of the BBC Proms which start this Friday. Listen to find out more about the phrase 'to blow your own trumpet'.
The script for this programme
William: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. My name is William Kremer.
Helen: And I'm Helen.
William: I've got something for you, Helen.
Burst of loud classical music (Beethoven's '5th Symphony')
Helen: It's nice to have a bit of music William, but why...
Burst of different classical music (Mendelssohn's 'Dance of the Clowns')
William: What do you think... nice music, huh?
Helen: Well, it's certainly dramatic! So are we having a special musical edition today, William?
William: Well, yes we are Helen. The BBC Proms start this Friday, remember?
Helen: Ah, of course. The BBC Proms is a huge classical music festival that the BBC sponsors. It's over 100 years old.
William: Yes and every day for the next two months hundreds of music fans will queue to get their hands on a £5 ticket.
Helen: Wow. Are you going to go?
William: No, I hate queuing! But anyway, I thought we could have a music-themed programme. And our phrase this week relates to one instrument in particular...
Trumpet music solo
Helen: The trumpet?
William: Yes, do you know what it means to say someone 'blows his own trumpet'?
Helen: Yes. It means that someone is talking too much about his achievements, right?
William: Exactly. Let's listen to an example.
Woman: Who's going to be there tonight?
Man: I think Angela and Mark and that guy Martin...
Woman: Oh no, not Martin! He's such a bore. He's always blowing his own trumpet. Last time I saw him he went on and on about how he had been promoted twice in six weeks.
Helen: So this is quite a negative phrase then?
William: Yes, sometimes. But interestingly, it isn't always used in a negative way. Listen to this example. A woman is talking to her niece.
Woman: I didn't know you'd come top in the class again! Why didn't you tell me? You really must start blowing your own trumpet a bit more!
Helen: So in that clip, the woman was telling her niece she ought to blow her own trumpet more?
William: Yes. And English people sometimes use this phrase because they are embarrassed to talk about their achievements. Listen to this clip:
Man: How's it going at your work nowadays?
Woman: Well, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, it's going very well. In fact, I've just won an award!
Helen: She said "At the risk of blowing my own trumpet".
William: Yeah, so that's like saying "Excuse me while I talk about my achievements"!
Helen: Well, I wonder whether we should blow our own trumpet a bit more. I mean here we are with a really popular website, bbclearningenglish.com...
William: ...yeah, making lots of little programmes that are entertaining, fascinating, useful...
Helen: …and best of all, it's all free! Brilliant, huh?
William: Yeah, that's brilliant! But maybe we should stop blowing our own trumpet now! Shall we have some more of that nice music again to finish off?
Helen: Oh yes! Bye!