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Last updated at 14:36 BST, Tuesday, 03 June 2014

Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar

Listen

Neil tells Helen that something funny happened on his way to work, but she's not laughing. Listen to the programme to find out why.

London buses

Shakespeare on the bus? That would be funny

The script for this programme

Neil: Hi there, Helen. Now, something really funny happened to me on my way here this morning.

Helen: Oh, really? Do tell me. I love a funny story!

Neil: Right. A man got on my bus wearing his shoes on the wrong feet.

Helen: OK. And what happened next?

Neil: Then he started speaking to me. He asked if I liked Shakespeare.

Helen: Oh, right.

Neil: And then he started reading one of Hamlet's famous speeches!

Helen: Yeah, Neil?

Neil: Yeah?

Helen: You told me it was a funny story. But I'm not laughing. It's not funny. It's a bit weird.

Neil: Yeah - I meant funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.

Helen: Funny peculiar?

Neil: Yes, 'funny' is usually something you laugh about. But sometimes we use 'funny' to mean 'strange' or 'weird'. Because it has these two meanings - sometimes people want to make it clear which one they mean. 'Funny ha-ha' is for things which make you laugh, and 'funny peculiar' describes...

Helen: It describes things which are weird!

Neil: That's it. These are our phrases in today's The English We Speak. Let's hear some examples.

A: Martin was late every day last week.
B: That's funny.
A: You mean funny peculiar?
B: Yeah, it's strange. He's always on time.

A: I went to a funeral last week. Everyone there was in a good mood. It was funny. Funny peculiar, I mean.

B: Yeah that does sound a bit odd. But a funeral is a celebration of someone's life.

Helen: Anyway, Neil, thanks for your story about the guy on the bus. Do you know what happened on my way to work today?

Neil: No?

Helen: The bus driver was telling jokes.

Neil: That's funny, peculiar. It's odd for bus drivers to tell jokes. But was the joke funny ha-ha?

Helen: Sadly, no! A bit like your jokes.

Neil: Hey - that's not true! My jokes are funny!

Helen: They're funny - peculiar!

Neil: Thank you so much, Helen.

Both: Bye!

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