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Last updated at 12:30 BST, Tuesday, 26 August 2014



Rob challenges Helen to a word game to work out a funny sounding phrase. It's about a style of walk and means to force someone who is unwilling to move forward, to walk somewhere but what has it got to do with frogs?

A frog

Frogs are not just in fairy tales, they have also inspired a style of walk

The script for this programme

Rob: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. I'm Rob.

Helen: Hello, I'm Helen. This is the programme where we try to help you understand language often heard in English conversations.

Rob: Well, I went to a presentation this morning and I heard a word that made me laugh.

Helen: What is it?

Rob: See if you can guess, Helen. Let's play a word game. Are you ready?

Helen: Yes I am.

Rob: OK. Well, It's made up of two words and the first word is a cute little animal.

Helen: OK.

Rob: And if you kiss this animal, it may turn into a prince.

Helen: I know this one. If you kiss a frog, it turns into a prince. The first word is 'frog'.

Rob: Well done. The second word is the type of walk that soldiers do.

Helen: Easy - marching.

Rob: You got it. I heard the word 'frogmarch' this morning. And do you know what we call a lot of frogs together?

Helen: A school of frogs?

Rob: No.

Helen: A herd of frogs?

Rob: No, it's an 'army' of frogs. I just have this cartoon picture in my mind of an army of frogs all wearing boots and marching down the river.

Helen: Oh that's hilarious. But what does 'frogmarch' really mean? Surely it's not a way of marching.

Rob: No, 'to frogmarch' means to force someone who is unwilling to move forward or to walk somewhere, often by holding their arms tightly. Here are some examples.

  • The drunken suspect was handcuffed by the police and frogmarched to the waiting police van.
  • In major sporting events, if you disrupt the game, you risk being frogmarched out of the stadium by security guards.

Helen: Ouch, that's pretty harsh, isn't it? So how did you hear it used?

Rob: The presenter told us that his lecture on social dynamics was a must for everyone and so we either all had to sign up voluntarily or he would frogmarch us there himself.

Helen: Oh, that's a threat.

Rob: Exactly, so of course we all signed up.

Helen: Very effective. The next time I want full attendance, I'll know exactly what to say.

Rob: Frogmarching someone? Well, make sure you have enough people to do the job. It usually takes at least two people to frogmarch one person. Bye bye.

Helen: Bye.


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