This parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" should appeal to grammar nerds! It is one of eight videos released by Weird Al Yankovic over the past week to mark the release of his new album, "Mandatory Fun." The videos did their job: the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts with more than 80,000 units sold.
COMMENT The lyrics (see here) contain some useful grammar lessons, but it's worth noting that the use of the word 'spastic' in the line "That was sarcastic, ’cause you write like a spastic" would be totally inappropriate in British English, as in the UK it is considered an offensive way to refer to disabled people.
In summmer, there's nothing English people like more than to dine al fresco. See if you can follow this typical café conversation, then read the translations. Click on the image to enlarge. By Stephen Collins for The Guardian.
The New Year is traditionally a time when people make resolutions (for example, to give up smoking). It's also a time when cartoonists draw cartoons about people making resolutions (see collection here). This one is by Banx, the award-winning British cartoonist whose gags appear daily in the Financial Times.
The cartoon should be easy enough to understand - the man was drunk when he made his resolution to give up drinking, which is why he is still drinking.
LANGAUGE 1. If you say that someone drinks, you mean they drink alcohol (usually on a regular basis). • Don't drink and drive. • He doesn't drink. 2. If someone is drunk, they've drunk so much alcohol that it is impossible for them to think or speak clearly. • She was too drunk to remember anything about the party. 3. If you give up something or give up doing something, you stop doing it. • Rob Ford says he's given up alcohol and won't drink again. 4. After making a New Year's Resolution, you can either keep it (or stick to it), or break it. • I try hard to keep my New Year's Resolutions, but usually end up breaking them before the end of January.
Today is World Toilet Day, a UN recognized event, observed annually on 19 November. This international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge. To mark the occasion, I thought I would post this video for the 'before-you-go' toilet spray Poo-Pourri (a play on potpourri), which has got over 19m views on YouTube in just over two months. It certainly breaks the taboo around toilets, but also demonstrates how lucky (?) we are to not only have proper toilets, but also products to stop them smelling. Meanwhile, over 2.5 billion people don't have access to proper sanitation.
You should also check out the interview with Bethany Woodruff, the girl in the video. She's actually Scottish but puts on quite a convincing posh English accent.
To celebrate the British love of a proper brew (= cup of tea), Yorkshire Tea has just released this fun song full of facts about how tea can benefit you in your everyday life. Watch the behind the scenes here.
LYRICS Sarah : I’m really sorry – this just isn’t working any more.
Sarah: Yeah, you’ll thank me eventually. You’ll be fine. You just need a cup of tea.
Sarah: Shhhh. A graze or minor injury, there’s tea, there’s tea. You took an arrow to the knee, have tea, oh tea. Even winners of the Monaco Grand Prix drink tea, and it’s drunk by the bourgeoisie – probably. Likely change the course of history, lovely cup of tea. When Monday leaves you feeling blue, when your boss has a rage that you can’t subdue, you’ll likely see his point of view if you just sit down and have a brew. If zombies come back from the dead, and you’re all tucked up inside your bed, put down your guns - use tea instead, then use the cup to smash their heads.
Boyfriend: Sarah, can we just talk? Sarah …
Sarah: Your leg’s trapped underneath debris, there’s tea, there’s tea. You feel a burning when you wee, have tea, oh tea. Been sectioned for insanity, more British than the Jubilee, I even heard it made a blind man see, lovely cup of tea. It makes you sexy, ripped and brave, brings childhood pets back from the grave, puts curly hair upon your chest, acts just like a bulletproof vest, cleans pollution, grime and smog, gives a glossy coat to your dog, could reduce the deficit of Greece, unite and soothe a breach of peace, use it to clean off your make-up, or feel better for a messy break-up.
VOCABULARY A brew is an informal word for a cup of tea, aka a cuppa. • Fancy a brew?
COMMENTS Not quite in the same league as those wonderful Yeo Valley ads, but still pretty good. Apparently, the video was filmed in just one take. Impressive!
It’s been called the song of the summer — despite the fact that it’s September, and it’s only been online for two days. So why is everyone talking about this strange Norwegian viral video?
What Does the Fox Say? features adults in outlandish animal costumes reciting an Old McDonald’s-ish list of animal noises, before addressing the titular question in the chorus. There is thumping bass and a silly, easily imitatable dance: In short, it is the video internet hipsters and five-year-olds can finally agree on. (via paidContent)
LANGUAGE Apart from being extremely weird, this video is a good way to learn the noises some animals make (and the subtitles are very helpful). Note that in English we say a dog goes woof — or rather children do. An adult would say that a dog barks. See here for a list of animal sound verbs.
COMMENT If you enjoyed this video, check out the equally bizarre and even funnier Stonehenge video, which, be warned, does include some NSFW (=Not Suitable For Work) language.
When it comes to Marmite, that peculiar-tasting yeast-based spread, you either love it or you hate it. But who knew their adverts could also inspire such strong opinions?
The latest advert for Marmite has attracted complaints from those who feel it makes light of the neglect and abuse of children and animals.
Do you think this advert is in bad taste? Should it be withdrawn?
NOTES 1. 79% of 136 respondents in a poll carried out by The Independent thought the ad was fine and only 4% thought it should be withdrawn from broadcast. 2. I've had a jar of Marmite at the back of my fridge for over a year now. I used it for a lesson about British foods, but personally I can't stand the stuff!
The Sun is famous for its sensational, jokey, or punning front page headlines, and today's is a classic. The story involves a school in Essex which has taken flapjacks off its lunchtime menu after a boy was injured by a triangular flapjack that was thrown across the canteen. Read full story >>
THE HEADLINE Like many tabloid headlines, this one uses a rhyme, but what does it actually mean? Well, let's try and decipher it. We've already seen that a flapjack is a sort of sweet oat bar. If you whack someone, you hit them hard (the pupil was struck in the face). A rap is an act of criticizing or blaming someone. And if you describe something that someone says as claptrap, you mean that it is stupid or foolish. (In fact, The Sun gives this story its "Non-Sense Award".) So put it all together and you get something like "(A school has made) a stupid decision to ban flapjacks because someone was hit by one."
COMMENT "We often come across half-baked decisions taken in the name of health and safety, but this one takes the biscuit. The real issue isn’t what shape the flapjacks are, but the fact that pupils are throwing them at each other – and that’s a matter of discipline" (HSE spokesman).
This amusing 'Winter Maintenance Message' from Torfaen council in Wales featuring Elvis impersonator Darren 'Graceland' Jones has become a viral hit—it also contains some useful winter weather vocabulary.
VOCABULARY 1.Grit is a mixture of salt and small pieces of stone which is spread over roads if they have snow or ice on them to make them less slippery. Grit is also a verb. • The council have been gritting the roads in anticipation of the big freeze. The lorry used to spread grit is called a gritter. 2. A depot (the 't' is silent) is a large building or open area where buses, railway engines, or other utility vehicles are kept when they are not being used.
While the Eton version has a long way to go before it matches the half a billion (and counting) YouTube views of the original, it has achieved a very respectable score of 989,192 at the time of writing. One YouTube commenter claims that, with this Eton spoof of Gangnam Style "572 years of hate from the general population turned into respect". I don't know about that, but it did strike me that Eton Style would make a very good centrepiece for a lesson about England's most famous, and most exclusive public school (David Cameron and Boris Johnson are Old Etonians).
You'll find the lyrics on YouTube (just click on the Show More tab beneath the video), and The Guardian has helpfully provided a guide to some of the arcane lingo used (based on a much longer glossary on the official Eton College website).
Depending on the level of your students you could do a gapfill (boring, I know), work on some of the articles listed below, produce a web quest based on the Eton website, have a discussion about public schools (which, despite the name, are independent fee-paying schools in the UK), or even get your students to produce their own Gangnam parody (now there's an idea!). Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below. Yah!
One of the most talked about features of Apple's new iPhone 5 is the taller screen. This hilarious parody ad (or 'spoof') takes this idea to the extreme. You can see the 'official' iPhone 5 video (which itself verges on parody) here.
Amidst all the momentous events happening in the world (Greek, French, and Egyptian elections, the Syrian conflict, England's success at Euro 2012), it would be easy to forget that today is Father's Day. So, to mark this special occasion, here's a roundup of Father's Day cartoons. This one's by Bob Englehart, staff cartoonist for the Hartford Courant. You can read Bob's commentary on his cartoon here.
This is definitely the last word on the Queen's diamond jubilee extravaganza. Very funny clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Can't wait for the platinum jubilee in 2022! Let's just hope the rain stays away ...