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BBC 6 minute English-The meaning of clothes

BBC 6 minute English-The meaning of clothes

BBC 6 minute English-The meaning of clothes


Transcript of the podcast

NB: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Rob

Will: … and I’m Will. Hello

Rob: Hi there, Will. I have to say, I like that shirt you’re wearing today. I haven’t seen that one before

Will: Yes, I got it at the weekend. But, to be honest, I don’t give my clothes much thought. I just throw on the first thing I see. What about you

Rob: Well, I try to look presentable. I wouldn’t want to appear too scruffy. Clothes say an awful lot about us, don’t they Will

Will: A lot depends on the job you do. In a bank, you’re supposed to look pretty smart all the time

Rob: But if you work for a design company, say, a suit would look out of place – that means unsuitable. People in the creative industries tend to dress down – that means dress casually – you know jeans and t-shirts

Will: Yes. Then there’s the whole question of what to wear to an interview. I reckon if you put on something smart you can’t go far wrong

Rob: Yes. But the meaning of clothes goes far deeper than what you should or shouldn’t wear in the workplace, Will. It can really influence what people think of us. Now, rightly or wrongly, they can make snap judgements – or quick decisions – about us

Will: Yes, you’re right. It’s a cultural issue. It’s about how we see ourselves, too

Rob: Now, take the sari. It’s been around for centuries and is still the main form of dress for millions of women in the Indian subcontinent

Will: That’s that very long garment with all those amazing colours and designs, isn’t it? It always looks so elegant

Rob: Yes, it does. So Will, can you answer this question: what is the maximum length of a sari? Is it

a) 12 metres

b) 9 metres or

c) 7 metres

Will: Surely it can’t be 12 metres long! I’m going to say 9 metres

Rob: Okay. Well, we’ll find out if you’re right or wrong later on. But now let’s listen to Dr Shahidha Bari talking about the sari. She uses a word that means “covered”. Can you hear what it is

Dr Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary, University of London

Saris encircle the waist, are often pleated and then swept across the upper body with folds and fabric draped over the shoulder or veiling the head. There are more than 80 different ways of wearing a sari and they’ve been worn in the Indian subcontinent since the first millennium. It’s a garment woven into the histories of the countries from which it comes

Will: So draped means “covered”. Then she used the word garment. That’s another word for a piece of clothing. And then she said there are 80 ways of wearing a sari, Rob. Amazing

Rob: It is, isn’t it? Some Asian women in the West wear saris just for ceremonial occasions that means special events like weddings. I suppose, in a sense, it’s not that practical for dayto-day use. But it certainly makes a beautiful splash of colour or a display of colour when they do wear it

Will: What she said has got me thinking about English traditional dress. And, to be honest, Rob, I can’t recall anything off the top of my head

Rob: Off the top of your head, Will? That’s because you’re not wearing a hat

Will: Don’t be ridiculous, Rob. Off the top of my head. It’s an idiom and it means I can’t think of anything immediately

Rob: Yes, Will. I do know that actually. It was my attempt at a joke. But you’re right: the British dress sense has become a bit samey (it looks the same) – apart from the fashion industry, which is highly regarded throughout the world

Will: Well, you wouldn’t catch me wearing most of the men’s gear you see on the catwalk

Rob: But, seriously, Will, clothes are undoubtedly an important business. Let’s listen to Dr Shahidha Bari again as she reflects on her mother’s use of the sari

Dr Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary, University of London

And yet the sari makes me feel safe too because I associate it with her body and the world she made for me. And now, as I struggle to keep hold of the sari, the rituals and the memories around it, I fear losing the world it signifies – and her, too

Will: She talked about the way she struggles – that means she finds it difficult – to make the sari important in her life

Rob: And she uses the word signifies, which means giving the meaning of something. The sari obviously has an emotional attachment for her

Will: And when you think just how much money people spend on clothes, it shows how vital it is

Rob: And let’s not forget football shirts, Will. Fans want to be seen in their team’s latest shirt design, don’t they? I know I do

Will: By the way, what team do you support, Rob

Rob: Ah, well, it’s Chelsea, of course. Come on, you Blues. What about you, Will

Will: Tottenham Hotspur

Rob: Never mind, someone has to. Now, remember at the beginning of the show I asked you: what is the maximum length of a sari? Is it

a) 12 metres

b) 9 metres or

c) 7 metres

Will: Yes. And I said 9 metres

Rob: Well, you know your saris well because that is the right answer. Well done! Now, before we go, it’s time to remind ourselves of some of the vocabulary that we’ve heard today. Will

Will: scruffy out of place dress down make snap judgements draped garment ceremonial occasions splash of colour off the top of my head struggle signifies

Rob: Thank you, Will. Well, that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. You can listen to more programmes on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Please join us again soon

Both: Bye

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