6 Minute English
Are beards back to stay?
Episode 150528 / 28 May 2015
Are beards back to stay?
Big bushy beards have become so fashionable that there's now an art exhibition dedicated to them.
Listen to Rob and Neil discussing feminism, testosterone and Charles Dickens whilst explaining some pretty hair-raising vocabulary.
Remember to subscribe to the podcast version!
This week's question
What's the name for someone who loves beards? Is it...
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
Remember to subscribe to the podcast version!
all the rage
get on a bandwagon
join other people in doing something that has become popular - perhaps because you hope to become popular yourself
subject that a lot of people are discussing
when a condition or circumstance puts you in a favourable position
having no facial hair
reached its highest point - and will decline from this point
eye catching and different
women's struggle to achieve the same rights as men
women's liberation movement (similar to feminism)
the main male hormone
a serious type of skin cancer
on board from the get go
involvement with something right from the start
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob…
… and I'm Neil. Hello.
Hi there, Neil! Now, Neil... what's that on your face?
What… this? It's a beard, Rob. Have you never seen one before?
I have. But I've never seen one on you before… and I'm surprised to say, it looks good on you!
Well, thank you! I thought I'd get on the beard bandwagon, you know. Beards are all the rage at the moment - that means 'very fashionable'.
And to get on a bandwagon is when you join other people in doing something that has become popular – perhaps because you hope to become popular yourself!
Well, that doesn't apply to me, Rob, because, as you know, I'm very popular already.
Yes. Yes, I know that, of course... Anyway, beards are such a talking point – a subject that a lot of people are discussing – that we decided to talk about them on today's programme! So are you ready for today's question, Neil? What's the name for someone who loves beards? Is it…
or c) pelophile?
Hmm. All the answers sound tempting. But I’m going to go for a) barbophile.
Right. OK, well we'll find out if you're right or wrong later on. But this is interesting: a new scientific study suggests that the more beards there are in a population, the less attractive they become – and this currently gives clean-shaven men a competitive advantage.
Oh, no! That's bad news for me, then! Competitive advantage means when a condition or circumstance puts you in a favourable position – in this case, being clean-shaven or having no facial hair.
That's right. We’ve reached 'peak beard' apparently. Beard popularity has peaked – or reached its highest point – and will decline in popularity from this point.
OK. Let's listen to writer, Lucinda Hawksley, talking about beards through history. And listen out for a word that means women's struggle to achieve the same rights and opportunities as men.
Lucinda Hawksley, writer of Moustaches, Whiskers and Beards
It's interesting, while I was writing the book I came to realize that the most heavily bearded times in Britain are either when women are in power, such as Elizabeth I or Queen Victoria, or when there's a big discussion of feminism - and it is really interesting that in the last few years there's been so much more discussion of feminism. You get a woman on the throne and men go, 'Oh, got to have a beard.' It's really strange. Or in the 60s or 70s with all the kind of, you know, big thing about women's lib, suddenly the beard becomes huge here.
Well, needless to say Lucinda doesn't have a beard, but she certainly knows a lot about them. She's the great great granddaughter of famous writer Charles Dickens, who sported – or wore – a very flamboyant beard. Flamboyant means eye-catching and different.
Now, did you spot the word for women's struggle to achieve the same rights as men?
Yes. It's feminism. She also talks about women's lib, which is short for women's liberation. And this has a similar meaning to feminism. So, what do you think, Neil? Are beards a show of testosterone in reaction to powerful women? Is that why you've grown your beard?
I don't think it's testosterone – that's the main male hormone. For me, it's laziness. I'm flying the flag for men's lib – liberation from the razor.
Right. Well, I'm not sure whether that's a worthy cause or not, Neil. Let's hear from Brock Elbank, the photographer behind the exhibition 'Beard'. He’s talking about one of the people he photographed.
Brock Elbank, photographer
I found Jimmy on a friend's Facebook page whilst I was in Sydney. Invited him to come to my home studio for a portrait and I posted it and it got reblogged over half a million times in four hours. I mean I think when Jimmy and I… when I met Jimmy he told me about his 'beard season' melanoma charity and I was kind of on board from the get go.
So Jimmy must have a pretty awesome beard!
Indeed. We should check out the Beard exhibition and find out. But Jimmy has a beard for a special reason, right Neil?
That's right. Yes. Brock mentions Jimmy's melanoma charity. Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer and Jimmy is raising money and awareness to help people who suffer from it.
And Brock says he was on board from the get go – meaning he wanted to be involved with the charity right from the start.
We should also mention 'Movember' and 'Decembeard' – both campaigns invite men to get hairy for good causes.
That's right, good causes – moustaches in November and beards in December. Now, let's have the answer to the quiz question. I asked: what's the name for someone who loves beards. Was it: a) barbophile b) pogonopile or c) pelophile?
And I said a) barbophile.
Wrong, I'm afraid. The answer is actually b) pogonophile.
Oh, well, you can't win them all. Now then, Rob, can we hear today's words again?
Sure. We heard:
all the rage
get on a bandwagon
on board from the get go
Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English. We hope it wasn't too hair-raising for you. Please join us again soon.
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Episode 151203 / 03 Dec 2015
Neil and Alice discuss the long-lasting appeal of this man with a bow and how he has changed over the centuries
Episode 151126 / 26 Nov 2015
Do you know how much your partner earns? Is he or she in debt? Would this make you love them less?
Episode 151119 / 19 Nov 2015
The BBC broadcasts a season of programmes discussing women's issues around the world
Episode 151112 / 12 Nov 2015
Are you good at telling jokes? What makes a good comedian?
Episode 151105 / 05 Nov 2015
Should we all pay for supermarket plastic bags? Neil and Alice take a look at the environmental impact of plastic and teach you some related words.
Episode 151029 / 29 Oct 2015
Should the difficult language of Shakespeare be 'translated' into plain English?
Episode 151022 / 22 Oct 2015
The bicycle is the most popular form of two-wheeled transport in the world, but could we all soon be using hoverboards? Listen to Neil and Finn's conversation and learn some new words.
Episode 151015 / 15 Oct 2015
If you are sitting at a desk or answering the phone, stop for a moment and ask: could a robot or machine do this job better? Neil and Finn discuss the future of our jobs.
Episode 151008 / 08 Oct 2015
Neil and Alice discuss what kind of book people like to be seen reading. Do you like to impress people with a classic book in your hands?
Episode 151001 / 01 Oct 2015
Does being born in the summer reduce your chance of going to university?
Episode 150924 / 24 Sep 2015
Take a trip with Rob and Alice to find out about the Earth’s core. They’ll discuss how hot it is – and whether there are any dinosaurs living there!
Episode 150917 / 17 Sep 2015
Do you dress formally or casually? Do you choose trendy items or old comfortable ones? Rob and Will talk about the meaning of clothes.
Episode 150910 / 10 Sep 2015
It's been described as the world's largest and most democratic classical music festival. Neil and Finn guide you through the BBC Proms
Episode 150903 / 03 Sep 2015
What an awful sound - cracking your knuckles! Listen in to Rob and Neil to find out if it's a useful skill or just an annoying habit
Episode 150827 / 27 Aug 2015
Was Charles Darwin the only man with ideas about evolution? Rob and Neil talk about someone else who discovered it first.
Episode 150820 / 20 Aug 2015
What are the modern day dilemmas in using a lift? Rob and Neil discuss the awkwardness and irritation of being in one
Episode 150813 / 13 Aug 2015
Should young people be made to vote in elections or should we choose? We discuss the ideas behind compulsory voting
Episode 150806 / 08 Aug 2015
What do we need our chins for? Rob and Neil discuss how we got them and what our chins say about us
Episode 150730 / 30 Jul 2015
Why do gibbons sing duets and what has this got to do with the evolution of the human language?
Episode 150723 / 23 Jul 2015
Skinny models: What does the law say about walking the catwalk?
Episode 150716 / 16 Jul 2015
The dangers of computer games. How good are they for our health?
Episode 150709 / 09 Jul 2015
It's amazing! What part of our body have scientists discovered can heal and help us?
Episode 150702 / 02 Jul 2015
Do you chew gum and what do you do with it when you've finished? Listen to Rob and Finn discussing the history and chemical properties of gum and why it's messing up our streets whilst explaining some related vocabulary
Episode 150625 / 25 Jun 2015
Food banks provide food to people in the UK who can't afford to buy their own. Rob and Finn discuss this how they work and how they help many of the country's poorest
Episode 150618 / 18 Jun 2015
Listen to Neil and Rob discussing mood swings, risk taking, and why people make fun of teenagers, while they also explore some related vocabulary.
Episode 150611 / 11 Jun 2015
How can remote parts of the world get access to the internet? Neil and Catherine discuss a new idea for spreading knowledge
Episode 150604 / 04 Jun 2015
What makes us angry and why is aggression useful? Neil and Catherine discuss human behaviour.
Episode 150528 / 28 May 2015
Big bushy beards have become so fashionable that there's now an art exhibition dedicated to them
Episode 150521 / 21 May 2015
A London apartment block has front and back entrances for private and social housing - or so-called rich and poor doors. Does it make sense to you? Listen to a discussion whilst learning some housing-related vocabulary
Episode 150514 / 14 May 2015
Fifty years ago, on 18 March 1965, Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov took the first space walk. Listen to Rob and Neil describing the struggles of that ground-breaking space mission whilst explaining some related vocabulary.
Episode 150507 / 07 May 2015
Furniture with built-in wireless charging technology - like a coffee table is now being sold. 'Built-in' means the technology is included as part of the table. So you just pop your phone on the table, and technology does the rest!
Episode 150430 / 30 Apr 2015
Many animals face extinction. But people are realising that they must act now to stop further losses. A scheme to save the Asian elephant in China could provide an answer.
Episode 150423 / 23 Apr 2015
How does music make you feel? Research shows that it actually influences us more than we realise - whether we're at the movies, the supermarket, or down the pub
Episode 150416 / 16 Apr 2015
Coffee is now the most popular drink in the world. But what about the economics and politics of coffee production? It's as complicated as getting the right flavour in your cup
Episode 150409 / 09 Apr 2015
Rob and Neil put on their sunglasses to find out more about this special star and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won’t be blinded with science!
Episode 150402 / 02 Apr 2015
The UK has become the first country to approve legislation allowing the creation of babies with genetic material from three people. Listen to Neil and Harry’s conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150326 / 26 Mar 2015
What are some art galleries banning to protect their paintings? Find out with Neil and Harry
Episode 150319 / 19 Mar 2015
An electronic device under your skin?! Workers in Sweden take part in experiment which allows them to get in and out of their office without a key, ID or password. Listen to Neil and Harry’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150312 / 12 Mar 2015
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. He is known throughout the world for his role in defeating Nazi Germany but he also made mistakes. Listen to Neil and Mike’s discussion, and learn new vocabulary.
Episode 150305 / 05 Mar 2015
We live in a richer world. But the gap between rich and poor is still very wide in individual countries. How to change this? Listen to Rob and Harry’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150226 / 26 Feb 2015
The price of vaccines has escalated and some poor countries are struggling to prevent children from catching certain life-threatening diseases, says Medecins Sans Frontieres. Listen to Rob and Neil’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150219 / 19 Feb 2015
Will thinking computers be the end of humans? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150212 / 12 Feb 2015
About 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica this season. But should they be going to a region with such a sensitive environment? Listen to Rob and Neil’s conversation and learn some new vocabulary.
Episode 150205 / 05 Feb 2015
At a time when more people compete for fewer jobs, are you sure you present your skills and abilities well to a potential employer? Listen to Rob and Neil's conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150129 / 29 Jan 2015
Going to a party where you don't know anyone? Listen to Rob and Neil's advice and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150122 / 22 Jan 2015
We use computers for everything nowadays. Are we forgetting our own abilities - and losing our talent? Listen to Rob and Neil's discussion, and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150115 / 15 Jan 2015
Smoking in cars with children might be banned in England. Listen to Neil and Rob's chat and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150108 / 08 Jan 2015
Is bullying just an attempt to give a bad name to what is part of human nature? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150101 / 01 Jan 2015
What would you put in your time capsule? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141225 / 25 Dec 2014
When enemy soldiers sang together in WW1. Listen to Rob and Finn’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 141218 / 18 Dec 2014
The London school where students speak 42 different languages
Episode 141211 / 11 Dec 2014
Laughter isn't always the best medicine, says research
Episode 141204 / 04 Dec 2014
Are your pictures, documents and videos safe online? Listen to Rob and Finn's chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141127 / 27 Nov 2014
Nowhere to park? How the sharing economy is changing the way we use our space
Episode 141120 / 20 Nov 2014
How can science fiction help the world? Rob and Finn discuss a project which aims to inspire through stories of a bright future
Episode 141113 / 13 Nov 2014
Why is eating meat bad news?
Episode 141106 / 06 Nov 2014
Do real-life superheroes exist or are they just cartoon characters?
Episode 141030 / 30 Oct 2014
Rob and Finn discuss the World Health Organisation's recommendations on e-cigarettes
Episode 141023 / 23 Oct 2014
Should we eat less sugar? Listen to Rob and Neil and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141016 / 16 Oct 2014
Is learning English getting easier? Find out what's new
Episode 141009 / 09 Oct 2014
Why do we buy so much food and not eat it all? Learn more about food waste
Episode 141002 / 02 Oct 2014
Is it right to sleep at work? Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
Episode 140929 / 29 Sep 2014
Is the way we see famous people a new thing? Learn about the first 'modern celebrity'.
Episode 140821 / 21 Aug 2014
Bored? You're not alone. Rob and Finn discuss how to deal with boredom and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won't be bored!