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Last updated at 13:01 BST, Tuesday, 30 August 2011



William and Feifei are talking about mind-boggling things. Listen to The English We Speak to find out about the different uses of the phrase 'mind-boggling'.

Milky Way galaxy

How many stars are there in the Milky Way?

The script for this programme

Feifei: Hello, and welcome to The English We Speak. My name is Feifei.

William: And I'm William.

Feifei: William, how much do you know about China?

Er... Not much. Why are you asking?

Feifei: Well, I was flicking through the papers and I came across this quiz.

William: Oh no, not quizzes, I'm rubbish at them.

Feifei: Oh, well. Let's see. Here is the first one – name the capital city of China.

William: That's easy, Beijing.

Feifei: Yes. Which province is famous for its hot and spicy cuisine?

William: Em, I think Sichuan food is quite spicy.

See, you are doing well! How about this one – roughly how many characters are there in the Chinese language?

Oh, loads. 5,000?

No. Try again.


Well, actually, roughly 42,000.

Wow, that's amazing. I didn't know it was that many. How can people possibly learn them all? It's totally mind-boggling!

Feifei: What is mind-boggling?

Mind-boggling describes something overwhelming and amazing, like really impressive numbers or facts. It's made up of two words: mind and to boggle. Let's hear an example.

Woman 1: I took my son to the Science Museum on Sunday.
Woman 2: Did you go to the space mission area?
Woman 1: Oh yes. There were rockets, space suits, even parts from a satellite - so many mind-boggling things to see.

Feifei: I really want to learn more about the universe. It’s a fascinating subject.

Well, astronomy, the study of stars, has lots of mind-boggling theories.

Man: I was at a physics workshop last month in Munich. There were seminars on black holes and antimatter. It was totally mind-boggling stuff; I think I might have understood about five percent of what was discussed.

Feifei: Well, I think I now know what mind-boggling means and how to use this phrase. And here is one final mind-boggling question – How many stars are there in the Milky Way?

Er, is it 42,000 again?

Feifei: No, no! Some people say there are over 200 billion stars in the Milky Way but no one knows for sure.

That's all from us on The English We Speak. See you next time.

William: Bye.


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