BOX SET: 6 Minute English – ‘All About Language’ English mega-class! One hour of new vocabulary!

Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English– the 
show that brings you an interesting topic,   authentic listening practice and vocabulary to 
help you improve your language skills. I'm Rob… Watashi no namae wa Neil desu. 
And that means 'my name's Neil'. So Neil, here's a question for you – can   you speak any languages other than 
English of course? I think you can! Un poco de español that means a 
little bit of Spanish. Some Japanese,   which I tried at the beginning and also a bit 
of Czech language – Dobrý den, jak se máš? Very impressive. So what tips can you give 
for learning to speak another language? Well, practise, practise, practise – and don't 
be afraid of making mistakes as I no doubt have. Of course. Well my aim this year 
is to master the Spanish language.   Master means to learn thoroughly.

Muy bien! Well you're not alone. A survey by the 
British Council found learning a language is a new   year's resolution for about one in five Britons 
in 2018. So learning Spanish is a good start Rob   but do you know approximately how many languages 
there are in the world altogether? Are there… a) 70  b) 700
c) 7,000 Well I know there are many but 
surely not 7,000 so I'm going to say   b) 700 – but don't expect me to learn all of them. I won't Rob. But I will give you the answer later.   So, we all know learning another language is 
a good thing – it brings us many benefits. Yes, we can communicate with 
people from other countries   and when we're travelling we can understand what 
signs and notices say. So we don't get lost. That's right – but many scientists also 
believe that knowledge of another language   can boost your brainpower. A study 
of monolingual and bilingual speakers   suggests speaking two languages can help 
slow down the brain's decline with age.

All good reasons. But Neil, learning another 
language is hard. It would take me years and   years to become fluent in say, Mandarin – by 
fluent I mean speak very well, without difficulty. Well this depends on your 
mother tongue. In general,   the closer the second language is to 
the learner's native tongue and culture   in terms of vocabulary, sounds or sentence 
structure – the easier it will be to learn. But whatever the language,   there is so much vocabulary to learn – you 
know, thousands and thousands of words. Maybe not Rob. Professor Stuart Webb, a 
linguist from the University of Western Ontario,   may be able to help you. He 
spoke to BBC Radio 4's More   or Less programme and explained 
that you don't need to do that… For language learners in a foreign language 
setting – so for example, if you were learning   French in Britain or English in Japan,   students may often really struggle to learn more 
than 2,000, 3,000 words after many years of study.   So for example, there was a study in Taiwan 
recently that showed that after nine years   of study about half of the students had still 
failed to learn the most frequent 1,000 words.   Now they knew lower frequency words but they 
hadn't mastered those most important words.

So Rob, don't waste your time 
trying to learn every single word.   Professor Webb spoke there about 
research that showed students   knew lower frequency words but weren't 
learning enough high-frequency words. Right, and frequency here means the number 
of times something happens – so the important   words to learn are the high-frequency 
ones – and how many are there exactly? Here's Professor Stuart Webb again… For example, with English, I would suggest if 
you learn the 800 most frequent lemmas – which is   a word and its inflections – that will 
account for about 75 per cent of all of   the English language. So that learning 
those 800 words first will provide   the foundation for which you may be 
able to learn the lower frequency words. Fascinating stuff. And good to know I just need to 
learn about 800 words – or what he calls lemmas.

Yes, a lemma is the simplest form or base form 
of a word. And the inflection here refers to   how the base word is changed according to its 
use in a sentence. Knowing these things give   you a foundation – the basics from which 
you language learning will develop. Simple Thank goodness I am learning 
just one new language! But how many languages could you potentially 
be learning Rob? Earlier I asked you,   approximately how many languages there 
are in the world altogether? Are there… a) 70
b) 700  c) 7,000 And I said 700. Was I right? No Rob, you were wrong. There are around 
7,000 recognised languages in the world   but UNESCO has identified 2,500 languages 
which it claims are at risk of extinction. A sobering thought Neil. Now 
shall we remind ourselves   of some of the English vocabulary we've 
heard today.

Starting with master. To master a new skill, in 
this context, means to learn   thoroughly or learn well. "Rob hopes to master 
Spanish before he starts a new job in Madrid." That's news to me Neil! But it would be 
good to be fluent in Spanish – or any   language – or to speak it fluently – that's 
speaking it well and without difficulty. Now our next word was frequency. Here we are 
referring to high and low frequency words – so   it means how often they occur.

Examples of a 
high frequency word are 'it', 'the' and 'and'. And our next word is inflections. These are the 
changes to the basic form of words according to   their function in a sentence. Such as adding 
an 's' to the end of a word to make it plural. And don't forget lemma which 
is the simplest form or base   form of a word before an inflection is added. And finally foundation which means 
the basics your learning grows from. That just leaves me to remind you 
that you can learn English with   us at

it for today's 6 Minute English. We   hope you enjoyed it. Bye for now. 
Na shledanou. Hasta luego. Ja-ne. And in English, goodbye. Goodbye.

Hello. This   is 6 Minute English from BBC 
Learning English. I’m Neil. And I’m Georgina Can I ask you something, Georgina…? Mm-mm-hmm. Georgina? I said, I want to ask you 
something… are you listening to me?! Mm-hmm, just a second, Neil, I’m texting a friend… Ah, has this ever happened you? 
Someone too busy texting to talk.   With the huge rise of mobile phones in 
recent decades, communicating by text   has become more and more popular and scenes 
like this have become increasingly common. …and send! There, all done! 
Now, what were you saying, Neil? In this programme, we’ll be investigating 
why people often choose to text,   instead of talk to the people 
in their lives.

We’ll be asking   whether this popular form of communication 
is changing how we interact with each other. And, of course, we’ll be learning 
some related vocabulary as well.   Now, Neil, what did you want to ask me? My quiz question, Georgina, which is this. Young 
people are often the biggest users of mobile   phones, but in a 2016 study, what percentage 
of British teenagers said they would prefer   to send a text rather than speak to someone, 
even if they were in the same room? Is it: a) 9 percent?,
b) 49 percent?, or,  c) 99 percent? That sounds pretty shocking! I can’t 
believe 99 percent of teenagers said that,   so I’ll guess b) 49 percent. OK, Georgina. We’ll find out later if that’s 
right. In one way, the popularity of texting,   sometimes called ‘talking with thumbs’,   is understandable – people like 
to be in control of what they say. But this low-risk way of hiding behind a screen 
may come at a cost, as neuroscientist, Professor   Sophie Scott, explained to Sandra Kanthal, for 
BBC World Service programme, The Why Factor: When we ‘talk with our thumbs’ by 
text or email or instant message,   we’re often prioritising speed over 
clarity and depth.

But when we can’t   hear the way someone is speaking it’s all 
too easy to misunderstand their intention. So if I say a phrase like, ‘Oh shut 
up!’ – has a different meaning than,   ‘Oh shut up!’ There’s an emotional thing 
there but also a strong kind of intonation:   one’s sort of funny, one’s 
just aggressive. Written down   it’s just aggressive – ‘Shut up!’ – and you 
can’t soften that. […] We always speak with   melody and intonation to our voice and we’ll 
change our meaning depending on that. You take   that channel of information out of communication 
you lose another way that sense is being conveyed. When reading a text instead 
of listening to someone speak,   we miss out on the speaker’s intonation – that’s 
the way the voice rises and falls when speaking. Intonation, how a word is said, 
often changes the meaning of   words and phrases – small groups of words 
people use to say something particular.

Reading a phrase like, ‘Oh shut up!’ in a text, 
instead of hearing it spoken aloud, makes it   easy to misunderstand the speaker‘s intention 
– their aim, or plan of what they want to do. And it’s not just the speaker’s intention that 
we miss. A whole range of extra information   is conveyed through speech, from the speaker’s 
age and gender to the region they’re from. Poet, Gary Turk, believes that we lose 
something uniquely human when we stop talking.   And there are practical problems 
involved with texting too,   as he explains to BBC World 
Service’s, The Why Factor: If you speak to someone in person and they 
don’t respond right away, that would be rude.   But you might be speaking to someone in person 
and someone texts you…

And it would be ruder   for you then to stop that conversation and speak 
to the person over text… yet the person on the   other side of the text is getting annoyed – you 
haven’t responded right way – it’s like we’re   constantly now creating these situations using our 
phones that allow us to like tread on mines – no   matter what you do, we’re going to disappoint 
people because we’re trying to communicate in   so many different ways.

Do you prioritise the 
person on the phone? Would you prioritise the   person you’re speaking to? Who do you disappoint 
first? You’re going to disappoint somebody. So what should you do if a friend texts you when   you’re already speaking to someone else in 
person – physically present, face to face? You can’t communicate with 
both people at the same time,   so whatever you do someone will get 
annoyed – become angry and upset. Gary thinks that despite its convenience, 
texting creates situations where we have   to tread on mines, another way of 
saying that something is a minefield,   meaning a situation full of hidden problems 
and dangers, where people need to take care.

Yes, it’s easy to get annoyed when 
someone ignores you to text their friend… Oh, you’re not still upset 
about that are you, Neil? Ha, it’s like those teenagers in my 
quiz question! Remember I asked you   how many teenagers said they’d prefer to text 
someone, even if they were in the same room. I guessed it was b) 49 percent. Which was… the correct answer! I’m glad you 
were listening, Georgina, and not texting! Ha ha! In this programme we’ve 
been discussing ways in which   texting differs from talking with 
someone in person – or face to face.

Sending texts instead of having a conversation 
means we don’t hear the speaker’s intonation – the   musical way their voice rises and falls. A phrase 
– or small group of words – like ‘Oh shut up!’,   means different things when 
said in different ways. Without intonation we can easily misunderstand a   text writer’s intention – their idea 
or plan of what they are going to do. Which in turns means they can get 
annoyed – or become irritated,   if you don’t understand what they 
mean, or don’t respond right away. All of which can create an absolute minefield 
– a situation with many hidden problems,   where you need to speak and act carefully.

And that’s all we have time for 
in this programme, but remember   you can find more useful vocabulary, trending 
topics and help with your language learning   here at BBC Learning English. We also 
have an app that you can download for free   from the app stores and of course we 
are all over social media. Bye for now! Bye! Hello. This is 6 Minute English. I'm Neil. And I'm Sam. Now Sam, I assume that you know your alphabet. Of course, Neil – you mean my ABCs? We 
learn that at a very young age, you know? Sorry to sound patronising. But you do you know   why the letters in the alphabet 
are in that particular order? No, I don’t. That’s really interesting. Why? I don’t know either, I was hoping you might! 
But seriously, no one really knows how the   order became established.

However, some 
research has shown that if your surname,   your family name, begins with 
a letter later in the alphabet,   you could be at a disadvantage at school and 
in life. Before we get in to that though,   a question. Where does the alphabet 
come from in its earliest form? Was it… a) Ancient Egypt
b) Ancient Greece  c) Ancient Rome What do you think, Sam? Well, we refer to the English alphabet as having 
Roman characters, so I’m going with Ancient Rome. OK. I’ll have the answer later in the programme. 
In the BBC radio programme Fry’s English Delight   there was a feature about the alphabet and how it 
can have a negative impact on your school life.   Can you remember all those years 
ago when you were at school?   What’s the first thing that the teacher 
would do at the beginning of the day? She would take the register – that’s what we call 
it in the UK.

You can also call it the roll call. Yes, this is when the teacher calls out the 
names of the students to check that they   are all there. This is where the problem starts, 
according to, ironically, Professor Jeffrey Zax,   from the University of Colorado. The 
further down that list your name is,   the less noticed you are by the teacher. 
Why is that? Here’s Professor Zax. When it begins people are paying attention. As it 
proceeds, first the people who are already called,   they no longer have any need to take things 
seriously. And the people who are waiting to   be called, their attention is wandering as well. 
And so as you make your way through the roll call   somehow the intensity of 
the engagement diminishes. So, what is the problem? Well, it’s a lot to do with paying attention. 
This means concentrating on something.   At the beginning of the roll call everyone is 
paying attention – they are quiet and listening.   But after the first names are called, those 
students don’t need to pay attention any more.

So they lose a bit of interest in what comes 
next, and the students later in the list   are also now distracted and the teacher, 
him or herself, is not so focussed. And by the end of the list the relationship 
between the teacher and the students whose names   are being called later is not as strong 
as those at the beginning of the list. Professor Zax describes this by saying that 
the intensity of the engagement diminishes.   Diminishes means ‘gets weaker’, and the intensity 
of the engagement is the strength of the   communication, the level of enthusiasm for being 
involved. So this is the start of the disadvantage   which can subtly affect students throughout their 
school years and after. This was discovered after   some research in the US in the 1950s. So what were 
these disadvantages? Here’s Professor Zax again. They were less likely to have 
enjoyed their high school courses,   graduate from college if they applied. They were 
more likely to drop out. They had first jobs in   occupations that paid less.

They were 
more likely to go to the military   and they were more likely to have 
jobs whose prestige was lower. So what disadvantages did they have? Well, Professor Zax says that the 
research showed they enjoyed school   less, were less successful academically 
and more likely to drop out of college   or university. This means that they 
left the course before it was finished. And he also said that they were more 
likely to find jobs that had a lower   prestige. This means the jobs weren’t seen as 
high status or desirable. Let’s listen again. They were less likely to have 
enjoyed their high school courses,   graduate from college if they applied. They were 
more likely to drop out. They had first jobs   in occupations that paid less. They were   more likely to go to the military and they were 
more likely to have jobs whose prestige was lower. Well, Professor Zax seems to have 
done OK. Even with that surname! Indeed, I guess this doesn’t apply 
to everyone. Right, well before we   remind ourselves of our vocabulary, 
let’s get the answer to the question.   Where does the alphabet come from 
in its earliest form? Was it… a) Ancient Egypt
b) Ancient Greece  c) Ancient Rome Sam, what did you say? Pretty sure it’s Ancient Rome.

What does your surname begin with? A 'B', actually. Well, you are wrong, I’m afraid. 
It’s actually Ancient Egypt – so   well done to everyone who got that. 
OK, now it's time for our vocabulary. Yes – to pay attention to something means to 
concentrate on something, to not be distracted. Then there was the phrase the 
intensity of the engagement,   which is another way of saying the strength of 
the relationship, interaction and communication. And if your surname comes at the end 
of the alphabet you may find that the   intensity of engagement with the teacher 
diminishes. Diminishes means gets weaker. If you drop out from a course, it means 
that you leave it before it’s finished. And the prestige of a job is the respect it has.   If it is seen as important or 
desirable then it has higher prestige. OK, thank you, Sam. That’s all from 6 Minute 

We hope you can join us again soon.   You can find us at bbclearningenglish online, 
on social media and on our app. Bye for now! Bye bye everyone! Hello. This is 6 Minute English, I'm Georgina. And I'm Rob. Are you a punctuation pedant? Do you get upset,   annoyed or angry if you see punctuation being 
used incorrectly – particularly apostrophes? Well, it depends. Usually I’m pretty 
chilled out about it, but sometimes,   just sometimes it really winds me up. For example, 
if I see a sign for taxis at a train station   and it says taxi – apostrophe – s – aargh! 
Why – why? The apostrophe is not used to   show there is more than one, it’s used to 
show there is a missing letter or that the   word is a possessive – it’s just wrong! 
So that does kind of make my blood boil.

So, when you say you’re pretty 
chilled about it you mean… OK, I’m not chilled at all. 
But maybe I wish I were. Well, we’re going to be taking a 
look at reactions to the use and   abuse of apostrophes in this programme. But first,   a question. The word ‘apostrophe’ itself 
– which language does it come from? Is it: A: Latin B: Greek C: Arabic What do you think, Rob? I don’t think it’s Arabic, so it’s a toss-up 
between Latin and Greek. I’m going to say Greek. OK. We’ll see if you’re correct at the end 
of the programme.

The apostrophe, it is true   to say, is often misused. It’s put where it 
shouldn’t be and not used where it should be.   Is it important, though? Does it matter? 
After all, in spoken English there is no   difference between ‘it’s’ with an 
apostrophe and ‘its’ without. ‘Your’   and ‘you’re’ – short for ‘you are’ sound the 
same. So what’s the problem in written English? In many cases there isn’t a problem at 
all. There would be very little confusion.   But I don’t think that means we should 
just ignore the correct way to use them.   Sometimes it can be very important to make clear 
if it’s a singular or plural or possessive.   Another important thing to remember is that in CVs 
and job applications a good standard of spelling   and punctuation is expected.

Get it wrong 
and you could miss out on a good opportunity. There is one group that has tried for 
nearly 20 years to keep others to these high   standards – The Apostrophe Protection Society. 
They have publicly pointed out incorrect use   in public signs and communications – a tactic 
that has not always been welcome or successful.   But like the apostrophe itself, the group is in 
danger. Here’s a BBC news report on the subject. They linger above our letters, they 
wander around the endings of our words,   but apostrophes, it seems, are an 
endangered species.

The Apostrophe   Protection Society – yes there really is one 
– says their future is, well, up in the air. How does he describe apostrophes? Using metaphorical, poetic language, he says they 
linger above our letters. To linger is a verb   usually used to describe someone or something 
staying somewhere before finally leaving. So, we have apostrophes lingering 
above our letters and also he said   they wander around the ending of words. Yes, also a metaphorical use. To wander means   to walk slowly around without 
any real purpose or urgency. And he went on to say that the future 
of the apostrophe is up in the air.   When something is up in the air, 
it means its future is not certain,   it’s not guaranteed. So if, for example, 
your holiday plans are up in the air,   it means that there is some kind of problem and 
you might not be going on holiday after all.   The person who founded The Apostrophe Protection 
Society is John Edwards.

Now 96 years old he has   decided to give it up. Partly because of his age, 
but also because he thinks that due to the impact   of texting and social media he has lost the battle 
against bad punctuation. So why has it come to   this? Here he is explaining why he thinks people 
aren’t bothered about using correct punctuation. I think it’s a mixture of ignorance and laziness. 
They’re too ignorant to know where it goes,   they’re too lazy to learn so they just 
don’t bother. The barbarians have won. So what’s his reason? He blames ignorance and laziness. Ignorance is a 
lack of knowledge or understanding of something.   So people don’t know the rules and are too 
lazy to learn them, according to Edwards. Quite strong views there! Yes, and you thought I was a pedant! He actually 
goes further to say that the barbarians have won.   Barbarian is a historical word 
for people who weren’t part of   so-called civilized society. They were seen as 
violent and aggressive, primitive and uncivilized. So it’s not a compliment then? Oh no! Right, before we review today’s 
vocabulary, let’s have the answer   to today’s quiz.

Which language does the 
word apostrophe come from? What did you say? I went for Greek. Congratulations to you and anyone else who 
got that right. Greek is the right answer.   Now let’s remind ourselves of today’s 
vocabulary. First, what’s a pedant, Rob? A pedant is someone who corrects other 
people’s small mistakes – particularly   in grammar and punctuation – but it’s 
not the same as an English teacher!   A pedant will correct native speakers’ 
mistakes too, and not in the classroom. To linger means to stay somewhere for longer. To wander is to walk around without a real 
purpose or intention to get somewhere quickly. If your plans are up in the air, it means 
they are at risk and might not happen. Ignorance is the state of not knowing 
something that should be known. And finally, a barbarian is a word for a primitive 
and uncivilized person. Right, we can’t linger in   this studio as our six minutes are up. You can 
find more from us about punctuation and many   other aspects of English online, on social media 
and on the BBC Learning English app.

Bye for now. Bye! Welcome to 6 Minute English. In this programme we   bring you an expressive topic and 
six items of vocabulary. I’m Neil… And I’m Tim. So, we had an argument 
just before we started the show… We did, Tim. But no hard feelings? None. No hard feelings is something you 
say to somebody you have argued with to   say you’d still like to be friends. 
We often fall out over silly things… … Like who’s going to introduce the show… … Or who’s going to choose the quiz question. But we understand each other. That’s 
the important thing, isn't it?   To fall out with somebody by the way, is another 
way of saying to argue or disagree with them.   Do you know that you wave your arms 
around a lot when you’re arguing, Tim? No, I didn’t know I did that.

That isn’t very British. I know. Using gestures – or movements 
you make with your hands or your head   to express what you are thinking of feeling – 
is common in some countries but not in others.   Then there are some movements – like 
shaking your head – which mostly means   ‘no’ but in some countries can mean the opposite. That’s right. In which country 
does shaking your head mean ‘yes’,   Tim? Is it…
a) Greece,  b) Japan or
c) Bulgaria? No idea – I’ll guess Greece. I do know that in   India people shake their heads 
to mean lots of different things. There are plenty of gestures 
you need to be careful with   when you’re meeting and greeting people 
from a culture that’s different to your   own – to avoid offending people 
– or making an awkward faux pas… If you make a faux pas it means you say or do 
something embarrassing in a social situation.   For example, our every day use of the thumbs-up 
signal might offend people from the Middle East. And to offend means to make 
somebody angry or upset. Let’s hear now from Business Professor 
Erin Meyer talking about how easy it is   to misunderstand why people behave the way they do   in everyday situations when we 
don’t belong to the same culture.

A while ago I was in Dubai and one of my students, 
my Emirati students, was driving me home after a   session and the car stopped at a light and she 
rolled down the window, and she started shouting   at someone outside of the window. This guy was 
crossing the street with a big box of cloth. And   he started shouting back, and she opened up the 
door, and they started gesticulating and shouting   at one another.

And I thought, wow, they’re 
having a huge fight, I thought maybe he was   going to hit her. And she got back in the car, 
and I said, well, what were you fighting about?   And she said, ‘Oh no, no, we weren’t fighting, 
he was giving me directions to your hotel.’   And I thought that was a great example of how 
someone from another culture may misperceive or   misunderstand something as a fight when in fact 
they were just being emotionally expressive. Gesticulating – what does that mean? It means what I was doing earlier! – Waving 
your arms around to express what you’re feeling.

Erin Meyer was worried because her student and the   man on the street were shouting 
and gesticulating at each other.   She thought they were having a fight when in 
fact they were just being emotionally expressive. And expressive means showing 
what you think or feel. You were nodding in agreement, there, Tim. 
Which reminds me of our quiz question. In which   country does shaking your head mean ‘yes’? 
Is it… a) Greece, b) Japan or c) Bulgaria? I said Greece… And that’s the wrong answer, I’m 
afraid. The right answer is Bulgaria.   In some Southeastern European areas 
such as Bulgaria and southern Albania,   shaking your head is used to indicate "yes". In 
those regions, nodding in fact means "no" as well. I hope I remember that the next time I 
meet somebody from Southeastern Europe.OK,   shall we look back at the words we learned today? ‘No hard feelings’ is something you 
say to somebody you have argued with   or beaten in a game or contest to 
say you’d still like to be friends.

For example, “I always get the quiz questions   right – unlike you Neil. 
But no hard feelings, OK?” That’s not a very realistic example, Tim…   But I’ll let it go. Number two – ‘to fall out with 
somebody’ means to argue or disagree with them. “I fell out with my best friend at school. We 
didn’t talk to each other for a whole week!” That must’ve been a serious disagreement, 
Tim! What were you arguing about? I can’t remember.

It was a long time 
ago. Number three – a ‘gesture’ is a   movement you make with your hands or head 
to express what you are thinking or feeling. “She opened her arms wide 
in a gesture of welcome.” Or the verb – “I gestured to Neil that we 
only had one minute left to finish the show!” Is that true, Tim? You’re nodding your 
head – but we should also quickly mention   ‘gesticulate’ which means to make 
gestures with your hands or arms! A ‘faux pas’ is saying or doing something 
embarrassing in a social situation.   For example, “I committed a serious faux pas   at a party last night – that I’m 
too embarrassed to tell you about!” Oh dear, Tim. I hope you didn’t 
offend too many people – ‘offend’   is our next word – and it means 
to make somebody angry or upset. Well, you’ve given us a good example 
already, Neil, so let’s move on to   the final word – ‘expressive’ – which 
means showing what you think or feel.

“Tim has a very expressive face.” Thanks! Another quick example – “I waved my hand   expressively to signal to Neil that 
it was time to finish the show.” Taking my cue from Tim, that’s all for today. 
But please remember to check out our Instagram,   Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. Bye-bye!
Goodbye! Hello. This is 6 Minute English 
from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. And I’m Rob. Bonjour, Rob! Kon’nichi’wa! Excuse me? ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Rob
Oh, OK, I think Neil’s saying   ‘hello’ in different languages – French, was it? 
And then..

Japanese? And… Spanish? Is that right? ¡Si, muy bien! The English are famously slow to learn other 
languages. But it seems that Rob and I – and of   course you – our global audience here at 6 Minute 
English – are good examples of polyglots – people   who speak more than one language, sometimes 
known as 'superlinguists'. People who speak   multiple languages benefit from many advantages, 
as we’ll be hearing in this programme. That word polyglot sounds familiar, Neil. 
Doesn’t the prefix – poly – mean, ‘many’? That’s right, like polygon 
– a shape with many sides. Or polymath – someone who knows many things. And speaking of knowing things, 
it’s time for my quiz question.   The word polyglot comes from Greek and is 
made up of two parts: poly, which as Rob says,   means ‘many’, and ‘glot’.

But what does 
‘glot’ mean? What is the meaning of the word   polyglot? Is it:
a) many words?,  b) many sounds? or
c) many tongues? Well, there’s three syllables in ‘polyglot’, 
Neil, so I reckon it’s b), many sounds. OK, Rob, we’ll find out if that’s 
right at the end of the programme.   But leaving aside the origins of the word, 
what exactly does being a polyglot involve?   British-born polyglot, Richard 
Simcot speaks eleven languages.   Listen to his definition as he speaks to BBC 
World Service programme, The Documentary: A polyglot for me can be anyone who 
identifies with that term – it’s   somebody who learns languages that they 
don’t necessarily need for their lives,   but just out of sheer enjoyment, pleasure or 
fascination with another language or culture.

For Richard, being a polyglot 
simply means identifying with   the idea – feeling that you are 
similar or closely connected to it. He says polyglots learn languages 
not because they have to,   but for the sheer enjoyment, 
which means, ‘nothing except’   enjoyment. Richard uses the word sheer to 
emphasise how strong and pure this enjoyment is. As well as the pleasure of speaking other 
languages, polyglots are also better at   communicating with others. My favourite quote 
by South Africa’s first black president,   Nelson Mandela, is: "If you talk to a man in a 
language he understands, that goes to his head.   If you talk to him in his 
language, that goes to his heart." How inspiring, Rob – I’m lost 
for words! Here’s another:   ‘To have another language is 
to possess a second soul’.

pexels photo 5331198

So language learning is good for the head, heart 
and soul – a person’s spirit or the part of them   which is believed to continue 
existing after death. Yes – and what’s more, language 
learning is good for the brain too.   That’s according to Harvard neuroscientist, 
Eve Fedorenko.She’s researched the effects   of speaking multiple languages on 
the brains of growing children. Eve predicted that multilingual children would 
have hyperactive language brains. But what she   actually found surprised her, as she explains 
here to BBC World Service’s The Documentary: What we found – this is now people who 
already have proficiency in multiple   languages – what we found is that their 
language regions appear to be smaller,   and that was surprising… and as people get better 
and better, more automatic at performing the task,   the activations shrink, so to speak, over 
time, it becomes so that you don’t have to   use as much brain tissue to do the task 
as well, so you become more efficient.

Eve was testing children who already have language   proficiency – the skill and ability to 
do something, such as speak a language. Her surprising discovery was that the 
language regions of these children’s   brains were shrinking – not because 
their speaking skills were getting worse,   but the opposite; as they learned 
and repeated language patterns,   their brain tissue became more efficient 
– worked quicker and more effectively. It’s suggested that this increased efficiency 
is a result of exposure to different languages.

So that proves it, Neil: speaking many languages 
is good for the head, heart, mind and soul! You took the words right out of my mouth! And speaking of words, what does the ‘glot’ in 
polyglot actually mean? Was my answer correct? Ah, that’s right. In my quiz question I asked 
you for the meaning of the word ‘polyglot’. I said, b) many sounds. But in fact the correct answer was c) 
many tongues.

You may be a polyglot, Rob,   but you’re not quite a polymath yet! OK, well, let me get my brain tissues 
working by recapping the vocabulary,   starting with polyglot – someone 
who speaks many languages. The language centres in a polyglot’s brain   are efficient – theywork quickly 
and effectively in an organised way. Proficiency means the skill and ability 
to do something well. And if you identify   with something, you feel you are 
similar or closely connected to it. Polyglots learn languages for the 
sheer enjoyment of it – a word   meaning ‘nothing except‘ which is used 
to emphasise the strength of feeling. So speaking many languages is good for mind 
and soul – a person’s non-physical spirit   which some believe to continue after death. That’s it for this programme, but to discover more 
about language learning, including some useful   practical tips, check out The Superlinguists 
series from BBC World Service’s The Documentary! Bye for now! Bye! Hello. This is 6 Minute English 
from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. And I’m Sam. Tell me, Sam, do you think Neil Armstrong   really landed on the Moon in 1969? I mean, 
that must be fake news! And who shot JFK?   Surely the CIA were involved? Unless it was 
the giant lizards controlling the government! Oh dear! It looks like reading online conspiracies 
has sent Neil down the rabbit hole – an expression   used to describe a situation which seems 
interesting and uncomplicated at first   but ends up becoming strange, confusing and hard 
to escape from.

Luckily in this programme we’ll   be hearing some advice on how to talk to people 
who’ve become convinced by online conspiracies. It seems that during times of crisis, 
as people feel uncertain and fearful,   they actively look for 
information to feel more secure. Nowadays this information is often found online,   and while there are reliable facts out 
there, there’s also a lot of misinformation. Somebody who’s the target of many conspiracy 
theories is Microsoft’s Bill Gates and our   BBC fact checkers have been busy debunking – or 
exposing – some of the more bizarre accusations   made against him. But what strange behaviour 
has Bill Gates been accused of recently?   That’s my quiz question for today. Is it:
a) being a member of the Chinese Communist Party?,  b) being an alien lizard?, or
c) being involved in the assassination of JFK? They all sounds pretty silly to me but 
I’ll guess b) being an alien lizard.

OK, Sam, if you say so! We’ll find out 
the answer later. Now, I’m not the only   one who’s been doing some internet research. Ever 
since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic there’s   been an avalanche of online conspiracies 
linking Bill Gates to the coronavirus.   Here’s Marianna Spring, presenter of BBC World 
Service programme, Trending, to tell us more: The Microsoft founder is 
a rich and powerful person   and he’s funded research into vaccines 
– that’s why he’s become a target.   Some of the claims are bonkers – that he wants 
to use the virus as a pretext to microchip   everyone in the world. Others say a vaccine 
would actually kill people rather than save their   lives. These ideas are without any evidence. We 
should treat them with the disdain they deserve. Some conspiracies claim that Bill Gates 
wants to implant microchips in people   and that he’s using the coronavirus as 
a pretext – a pretend reason for doing   something that is used to hide the real reason. Claims like these are described as 
bonkers – an informal way to say silly,   stupid or crazy, and should 
therefore be treated with   disdain – disliking something because you feel 
it does not deserve your attention or respect.

But while you might not believe such bonkers 
theories yourself, it’s not hard to see   how people looking for answers can 
get sucked down online rabbit holes. So how would you deal some someone 
spreading baseless conspiracies   about Covid vaccines or Bill Gates? The BBC’s 
Trending programme spoke to Dr Jovan Byford,   senior psychology lecturer with 
the Open University, about it. He thinks it’s important to separate the 
conspiracy from the theorist. The former,   the belief, we have to dismiss, but the 
latter, the person, is more complex. Here’s BBC Trending'spresenter, Marianna 
Spring, again to sum up Dr Byford’s advice: How do you talk to someone who’s at risk of being 
sucked into the rabbit hole? First, establish   a basis of understanding. Approach them on their 
own terms and avoid sweeping dismissals or saying,   “you’re wrong!”.

Try not to judge. And try to 
get to the bottom of the often legitimate concern   at the heart of the conspiracy. Present them with 
facts and research. Try to do this neutrally. You   can’t force anyone to change their mind but 
you can make sure they have valid information. While some conspiracies may be harmless, others 
are more dangerous. People thinking that vaccines   will kill them might worsen the coronavirus 
situation worldwide, so we need to get to the   bottom of these claims – discover the real but 
sometimes hidden reason why something happens.

A good way to engage people 
in discussion is to avoid   sweeping claims or statements – speaking 
or writing about things in a way that is   too general and does not carefully 
consider all the relevant facts. And by doing so calmly and neutrally 
you might persuade them to reconsider   the funny business Bill Gates 
is supposedly involved with. Ah yes, you mean our quiz question. I asked you   what Bill Gates has recently been 
accused of by conspiracy theorists. And I said b) being an alien lizard. But thinking 
about it now, that seems pretty unlikely! In fact the answer was a) being a 
member of the Chinese Communist Party. OK. So today we’ve been hearing advice on 
how to deal with online conspiracy theories,   some of which are totally bonkers – 
silly, stupid and crazy – or involve   a complicated pretext – a pretend reason 
used to hide someone’s true motivation.

These can be treated with 
disdain – dislike because   they are unworthy of our attention or respect. But with so many conspiracies online, it’s easy 
to get lost down the rabbit hole – intrigued   by a situation which seems interesting but 
ends up confusing and hard to escape from. It’s important to get to the bottom of these   theories – discover the real 
but hidden reason behind them. And to present people with facts, avoiding 
sweeping – or over-generalised – statements.

That’s all for this programme. Goodbye for now! Bye bye! Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil. And I'm Rob. We're going to be looking at a 
letter from the English alphabet.   It’s a letter which has a particular 
meaning when used at the end of a   piece of informal writing such as 
letters, emails, texts and messages. I’m very EXcited. Ha ha, very good, very good Rob! My EXpectations are really high. Yep, that's another good one. Is it an EXtraordinary letter? OK, thank you Rob, that’s enough of 
your jokes. I’m getting EXasperated! Oh,   now you’ve got me at it! Well, no prizes for 
guessing what letter we’re focussing on today? Why? No, it’s not Y.

No, I didn’t mean the letter ‘y’, I meant the 
word ‘why’, as in – why are there no prizes? Because of all the not so subtle clues 
you’ve been giving. The letter is X. Yes. Exactly. Alright, I think we get the 
idea! Before we go much further,   let’s have a question. English has 26 
letters. Which language has 74 letters? a) Khmer (Cambodian) b) Hindi or c) Armenian Any ideas Rob? An excellent question but quite 
obscure, I’m going to say b) Hindi. Well, I'll have the answer later on. Now,   Rob, what does the letter X all by 
itself at the end of a message mean? Well, it means a kiss. The more kisses, 
the more affection you are showing.

Where does this concept of putting an X 
to mean a kiss come from? Dr Laura Wright   is from the Faculty of English at Cambridge 
University and she appeared on the BBC Radio 4   programme Word of Mouth. When does she say this 
practice started and where does it come from? Well, we’ve been adding Xs for kisses at 
the bottom of letters since at least 1763.   The very first one we know of had seven Xs. I 
have to say, I haven’t gone to seven ever. We get   X from the Roman alphabet which got it from the 
Greek alphabet, pronounced /ks/ and the Romans… Presenter: That’s nearly a kiss, isn’t it? Yes it is, isn’t it? I think 
a penny’s just dropped there. Presenter: It has, clunk. What do we learn about the 
origins of the X for kisses? Well, it’s been used since at least 1763,   and it comes from the Roman alphabet 
and they got it from the Greeks.

And why did this come to mean a kiss? Well, Dr Wright suggests it’s because 
of the original pronunciation – /ks/. And at the point the presenter 
made the connection, didn’t he? Yes, he did. And Dr Wright used a phrase for 
when someone suddenly understands something,   particularly something that is obvious to 
others. She said the penny has just dropped. And this has got nothing to do with a penny, which 
is small coin, actually dropping anywhere. But   the presenter makes a joke by using a word we 
use for the noise of something falling, clunk. Although, to be honest, a penny would 
never really clunk. That’s more like the   noise two heavy metal objects would make 
– the clunk of a car door, for example.

Let’s listen to that exchange again. Well, we’ve been adding Xs for kisses 
at the bottom of letters since at least   1763. The very first one we know of had seven Xs. 
I have to say I haven’t gone to seven ever. We get   X from the Roman alphabet which got it from the 
Greek alphabet, pronounced /ks/ and the Romans… Presenter: That’s nearly a kiss, isn’t it? Yes it is, isn’t it? I think 
a penny’s just dropped there. Presenter: It has, clunk. One thing to note about putting an X at the end of 
a communication is that it is not something you do   for everyone. It’s usually only to friends 
and family members, people you might kiss   in real life.

Professor Nils Langer from the 
University of Bristol told a story about a   colleague of his who wasn’t too familiar 
with this convention. What was her mistake? A colleague of mine from Bristol, 
who… when she came over from Germany   thought that X was just the normal 
way of closing a letter in England   and so she would finish any letter with 
Xs, even a letter to the Inland Revenue.   We never heard, really, how the Inland Revenue 
responded to these letters with these Xs. Presenter: They docked her 
another 20 quid, I think! What was her mistake, Rob? She didn’t realise that you don’t put an X 
on every communication. So she even put it   on business letter including 
one to the Inland Revenue,   which is the government department 
in the UK that deals with tax. We don’t know how the tax people 
felt about the letter with kisses.   But the presenter joked about what 
their response would have been. Yes, he joked that they probably docked her 
another 20 quid. To dock money is to cut the   amount of money you are expecting to receive 
and a quid is a slang word for a British pound.

Time now for the answer to our question. 
English has 26 letters. Which language   has 74 letters? Is it…
a) Khmer (Cambodian)  b) Hindi or
c) Armenian? I guessed b) Hindi. Well, I suppose it was a one in three chance, but 
not correct this time. The answer is a) Khmer.   Very well done if you knew that. Now on to 
the vocabulary we looked at in this programme. We started with a penny. A penny is an English 
coin. A hundred pennies makes one pound sterling. The phrase, the penny has dropped, means that 
someone has suddenly understood something. A clunk is the noise of two 
heavy objects hitting each other. The Inland Revenue is the UK’s tax authority. If you dock money from someone, you 
reduce the amount of money you pay them.   For example, as an employee in the UK your 
tax is automatically docked from your salary.

And finally, a quid, which is a slang term for 
one pound sterling. Right, before they start   docking our pay for being late, it’s time to say 
goodbye. Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,   YouTube, our App and of course the website See you soon, goodbye.
 Bye bye! Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. 
I'm Dan and joining me is Rob. Hello. Here at BBC Learning English, 
we're always discussing diets. I am on a sea-food diet. When I 
see food, I just have to eat it! I suppose there's no chance of 
converting you to a vegan diet,   is there? That seems be the 
most talked about food fad at   the moment – a fad is something that 
is popular but only for a short time.

Of course, veganism – that's not eating or using 
any products that come from animals – may be   more than a fad. It could be a lifestyle 
that improves our health and the planet.   And it could be here to stay. But personally, 
me becoming a vegan would take some persuading. I'm sure it would. And in this programme we'll be 
discussing the debate about veganism and how it's   sometimes difficult to change people's minds.

first a question to answer. We've mentioned what a   vegan eats but what about a lacto-ovo-vegetarian? 
Which one of these items can they eat? Is it: a) pork b) fish or c) cheese? I'll say b) they can eat fish. Well, you’ll have to wait until the 
end of the programme to find out.   But now back to veganism. According to 
some national surveys, there are now   around 3.5 million full-time vegans in 
the UK… and the number is growing! And what was recently a radical 
lifestyle choice is slowly moving   into the mainstream – or has become 
accepted by most people as normal. Advocates of veganism say their healthy 
lifestyle would also free up space and   resources for growing food and it would 
help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Yeah, but come on Dan. Having a meat-free   diet means you might not get 
all the nutrients you need. Well, this is all part of the debate, Rob. 
There's always two sides to an argument and   it's something that's been discussed on 
BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme.   They spoke to Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, a senior 
lecturer in organisational psychology at London's   City University, who explained why views 
about veganism are so polarised – that   'means causing people to divide into 
two groups with opposing views'.

This issue touches on personal beliefs, 
and beliefs always trump facts and so,   often when we talk about beliefs, 
we're touching on important values.   Values are the things that guide our opinion over 
what's right versus what's wrong. And so whenever   people argue over whether it's right or wrong to 
eat meat, they are in fact not debating the facts   around this issue, they're actually debating the 
beliefs about what's moral or immoral about this. So it seems in the whole debate about 
veganism we are basing our views on beliefs.   A belief is something we feel is true or real.   Our beliefs are based on our values – those 
are the things we think are right and wrong. And when we argue over the 
rights and wrongs of veganism,   we base it on our values – not hard facts. We 
talk about our view on what is immoral – so what   society thinks is wrong or not acceptable. But 
basically, there is no right or wrong answer.

That's why we need facts, Rob. So Dan, what can I do if I want to win 
you over to becoming an omnivore, like me? According to Dr Jutta, there are two main 
routes to winning someone over: a direct,   fact-based approach or a 'peripheral route',   which might be more effective. 
Let's hear her explain how it works. If I'm working with you and I'm trying to get you 
to come round to my side, I might not focus on the   central facts. I might focus on the peripheral 
stuff around how I'm constructing my argument.   I'd look for ways of how they overlap as 
people, like what do they have in common?   And that's a way to debate an issue such as this 
controversial one in a way to get people to feel   connected to each other and to actually feel that 
they value each other as decent human beings.

Interesting! This is a more 
subtle way of winning an argument.   She says we should focus on the 
peripheral stuff – these are the   things that are not as important as the 
main argument but are connected to it. So we could say we're looking for common 
ground – things that both sides agree on   or at least understand. Dr Jutta talked about 
making both sides feel connected. And it's a   good point. Even if you don't want to be a vegan, 
you should respect someone's choice to be one. Yes, it's all about valuing 
someone as a decent human being.   Decent means 'good and having good 
moral standards'. Like us, Dan! Well, they're wise words, Rob! Of course, it would 
be morally wrong – immoral – not to give you the   answer to our quiz question. Earlier I asked which 
one of these items can a lacto-ovo-vegetarian eat. I said b) fish. Sorry, no – that's something they can't eat – 
but they can eat cheese. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian   is a person who eats vegetables, eggs, 
and dairy products but does not eat meat. No meat! No steak! How can they enjoy eating?! Rob, remember as a decent human 
beings, we respect all views here.

Just joking – but now I'm deadly 
serious about reviewing some of   the vocabulary we've discussed today. OK. Our first word was fad. A fad is something 
that is popular but only for a short time. Next, we mentioned mainstream. 
Something that is mainstream   has become accepted by most people as normal. Then we had polarised – that describes a situation   that causes people to divide into 
two groups with opposing views. A belief is something we feel is true or real.   And immoral describes something that 
society thinks is wrong or not acceptable. We also mentionedperipheral, which relates 
to things that are not as important as   the main argument, but are connected to 
it. It also means situated on the edge. And finally, decent means good or good enough. Don't forget you can learn more English with 
us on our website at Bye for now. Goodbye. Hello.

I'm Catherine. Hello. I'm Rob. We both started with what is probably the 
best-known greeting in English and one of   the first words English language students learn, 
and that is 'hello'! So today in 6 Minute English   we're digging a little deeper into the world of 
greetings and the fascinating history of 'hello'. Surprisingly, the word 'hello' 
is not as old as you might think.   But when did it first appear in print in English? Was it: a) in the 1890s
b) the 1950s or  c) the1820s Well, I think English changes 
really quickly, so I'm going to say   b) the 1950s. And we'll say 'hello again' 
to 'hello' a little later in the programme. First, greetings. They can 
be a bit of a minefield. A   subject full of unpredictable difficulties. While in many places a handshake or bow is 
normal – there's also the tricky question of   kisses and hugs. Awkward. Should you kiss? How many times? 
And should your lips touch their cheek? No, Rob – definitely an air-kiss! Close 
to the cheek, but don't touch. Much safer. Greetings are the subject of a new 
book, by former British diplomat   Andy Scott, called One Kiss or Two: 
In Search of the Perfect Greeting.   Here he is on a BBC radio show Word of 

Why are greetings so important? These are the first moments of interaction we 
have with people. And it's in those first moments,   and using those verbal and physical rituals that 
we have and we can get in such a muddle about,   that we're kind of recognising each other and 
reaffirming our bonds or even testing our bonds   and our relationships with each other, we're 
signalling our intentions towards each other,   despite the fact we might not necessarily 
be conscious when we're doing them.  Scott says we need to communicate our intentions 
to each other and acknowledge our relationships. Well, that's what greetings do. One word he 
uses to mean 'relationship' or 'connection'   is bond. We can reaffirm our bonds, which 
means we confirm them and make them stronger. And we do it through rituals -patterns of 
behaviour that we do for a particular purpose.   So there are the phrases such as 'hello', 
'good afternoon', 'nice to meet you',   and as well as the physical rituals 
– handshakes, bows and kisses. Though he also said we sometimes want to test our 
bonds. We might want to check if our friendship   has grown by offering something warmer than 
usual – like a hug instead of a handshake.

Now, Scott acknowledges how difficult 
greetings can be – using the very British   slang phrase – to get in a muddle. If you get 
in a muddle, you become confused or lost. You   might get in a muddle if one person expects 
two kisses and the other expects only one. Though Scott does believe that the details 
don't really matter, because another important   purpose of greetings is to reduce tension. 
So if you get it wrong, just laugh about it. OK, let's get back to the one word we really 
shouldn't get in a muddle about, 'hello'. Let's listen to Dr Laura Wright, a 
linguist from Cambridge University,   also speaking on the BBC Word of Mouth radio 
programme. Where does 'hello' come from? It starts as a distant hailing: "I see you miles 
over there and I've got to yell at you." It's not   until the invention of telephones we really get 
to use hello as a greeting to each other, and   even then it wasn't initially used as a greeting, 
it was used more as an attention-grabbing device:   "You are miles away, the line is about to be cut, 
I need to attract the attention of the operator   as well." And so everybody would call 'hello' to 
each other as this long-distance greeting form.

Laura says 'hello' hasn't always meant 
'hello' – originally it was just a shout   to attract someone's attention. And 
we call this kind of shouting hailing. The shout would vary in form – it could 
sound like a 'hollo'! Or a 'hulloa'! We continued this kind of hailing 
when telephones first appeared.   People would keep repeating 'hello, hello' 
while they were waiting to be connected.   And before long, this became the actual way 
to greet somebody on the telephone.

Anyway,   before we say 'goodbye' to 'hello' – 
let's have the answer to today's question. I asked when the word first 
appeared in print in English.   According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it 
was in 1826. Other spellings appeared before that. Ah, you see – I was thinking English changes 
really quickly, but not that quickly. Not that quickly. So before we go, let's have a 
look at today's vocabulary again.   A minefield is something that is 
full of uncertainty and even danger.   This sense comes from the literal meaning 
– a field full of explosive landmines! And then we had air-kiss – which is when 
you kiss the air beside someone's face,   instead of the face itself! Like this: mwah.

And we had bond – a connection. There's 
a close bond between us I think, Rob. Which is good, because when I get in a 
muddle, you're always very understanding! Yeah. To get in a muddle means to become confused. Ritual was another word – 
rituals are certain behaviours   that people perform in certain contexts. I have 
a morning ritual, for example: brush my teeth,   eat breakfast… I didn't say it 
was an interesting ritual, Rob! No, that's true. Finally, to hail 
– it's to greet someone loudly,   especially from a distance.

I hailed my 
friend when I saw her at the airport. And that's it for this programme. 
For more, find us on Facebook,   Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, 
and of course our website! Bye! Bye! Hello. This is 6 Minute English, I'm Sam. And I'm Georgina. Georgina, what languages do you speak? Well, my mother tongue is English and 
I also speak Spanish and French badly! OK. It’s interesting that we say ‘mother 
tongue’, isn’t it? Like many languages,   English has a number of gender-specific terms that 
don’t refer to gender-specific ideas and concepts.   And this complicated relationship 
between language and gender   is what we will be talking about today. 
But first, this week’s quiz question,   which is also on the topic of languages. 
Which of these languages is the newest? Is it: A: Esperanto B: Afrikaans C: Light Warlpiri What do you think, Georgina? Well, I’ve only heard of two of these – Esperanto 
and Afrikaans – so I think I’m going to choose the   other one, Light Warlpiri, purely as I’ve never 
heard of it, so I think that must be the one.

OK, well we’ll find out if your intuition is 
correct later in the programme. Professor Lera   Boroditsky is a cognitive scientist who was 
a guest on the BBC World Service programme,   The Conversation. She was asked about why 
we use the term ‘mother tongue’ in English. Different languages actually do it differently, 
but definitely there’s a strong association   between mothers as primary caregivers and 
people who teach us things, and so there’s that   point of origin metaphor that 
applies in a lot of languages.

So, how does she explain the 
use of mother tongue, Georgina? Well, she says it’s a form of metaphor. A metaphor 
is a way of describing something by comparing it   to something else. In a metaphor,though, you 
don’t say that something is like something else,   you say that it ‘is’ something else. For example, 
having good friends is the key to a happy life. It is indeed. In this metaphor, language is 
seen as coming from your primary caregiver,   the person who looked after you most when you 
were young, and traditionally this was mothers.  So, this is perhaps the point of origin, 
the starting place,of the metaphorical   phrase, mother tongue.

Let’s listen again. Different languages actually do it 
differently, but definitely there’s   a strong association between mothers as 
primary caregivers and people who teach   us things, and so there’s that point of origin 
metaphor that applies in a lot of languages. Language is very powerful in society and culture,   and when it comes to gendered language, it can 
cause some issues. Here’s Lera Boroditsky again: … in English of course we have some 
words that are gendered, like ‘actor’   and ‘actress’ or ‘waiter’ and ‘waitress’, and 
very commonly when there are those two gender   forms people perceive the masculine form 
as being a more prestigious job or the more   skilled job than the feminine form, so an actor 
is a fancier job than an actress and a waiter   is a fancier job than a waitress, and so they 
could then come with pay disparities and so on.

So, what’s the subconscious difference in attitude 
towards, for example, an actor and actress? Well, she says that people perceive those roles 
differently. This means that we are aware of, or   believe there is a difference in the jobs because 
of the vocabulary. The male form is perceived   to be more prestigious – more important, more 
respected, even though it’s exactly the same job. And this attitude can lead to 
problems such as disparities in pay.   A disparity is a difference, an inequality, 
and in the world of work it can mean men   getting paid more than women for the same 
job. Here’s Professor Boroditsky again. …in English of course we have some 
words that are gendered, like ‘actor’   and ‘actress’ or ‘waiter’ and ‘waitress’, and 
very commonly when there are those two gender   forms people perceive the masculine form 
as being a more prestigious job or a more   skilled job than the feminine form, so an actor 
is a fancier job than an actress and a waiter   is a fancier job than a waitress, and so they 
could then come with pay disparities and so on.

OK, before we take another 
look at today’s vocabulary,   let’s reveal the answer to this week’s quiz. 
Which of these languages is the newest, is it: A: Esperanto B: Afrikaans C: Light Warlpiri Georgina, what did you say? I thought it had to be Light Walpiri, but 
just because I had never heard of it before. Well, congratulations. Your instincts were good,   that is correct. Let’s move on to vocabulary 
and look at today’s words and phrase again. A primary caregiver is a person who has most 
responsibility for looking after someone. A point of origin is the place 
or time when something begins. A metaphor is a way of describing 
something. We can say that something   is something else that has similar qualities. You’re a star! Aw, thank you.

No, I meant, you're a star, 
is an example of a metaphor. Oh, OK. Of course, I knew that. Mmmm, if you say so. To perceive is to 
think of something in a particular way.   We might perceive the value of different jobs 
based on the vocabulary used to describe them. Something prestigious is important and respected. And finally, a disparity is a difference, 
an inequality and is often used when   talking about how men and women aren’t 
always paid the same for the same job.   And that is all from us.

We look forward to 
your company again soon. In the meantime,   you can always find us online, on social media 
and on the BBC Learning English app. Bye for now. Bye!.

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