BBC 6 minute English-The super rich

BBC 6 minute English-The super rich

BBC 6 minute English-The super rich


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English – the programme where we bring you an interesting topic and six items of vocabulary. I’m Neil

Catherine: And I’m Catherine. Today we’re taking a look into the lives of the super rich – and we’re going to look at one of their favourite pastimes

Neil: The super rich are people with over $30 million US dollars of assets

Catherine: Assets are things we can own and sell – like property, boats and private planes

Neil: Expensive toys. First things first, let’s do our question, Catherine. In which country is the percentage of super rich expected to grow fastest over the next 10 years

a) China

b) Brazil

c) Vietnam

Catherine: I’m going to go for Vietnam. I think, that’s an up and coming country and I think there is going to be a lot of growth in wealth in the future

Neil: Ok, well we’ll find out if you are right or wrong later. The number of super rich are expected to increase by 43% over the next decade

Catherine: Now, this doesn’t mean income is rising at the same speed for everyone. You might remember a report last year which said the world’s richest 62 individuals owned as much as the poorest 50% of people in the whole world

Neil: So, my question is – what on earth do people with so much money spend it on

Catherine: One academic in the UK has been researching just that. And her answer is …, Neil

Neil: Yachts! A yacht – a luxury boat used for pleasure. The ultimate status symbol – that is, an item which allows you to show off your wealth and position in society

Catherine: Let’s listen to Emma Spence from Cardiff University in the UK. What’s so unusual about yachts

INSERT Emma Spence, PhD researcher, Cardiff University

If you have an exclusive wine collection or art collection or even the purchase of a business jet – these are investable assets – something that you can retain value on or accrue value on. A business jet, a private jet, can cut costs – and make businesses more convenient by running faster, more comfortably than commercial airlines. So these purchases, they make good, sound business sense. Whereas a superyacht is essentially a black hole

Neil: Before we get to the yacht, Emma talked about certain assets like planes and wine that made business sense

Catherine: Now, to make sense – is a phrase you’ll be familiar with. So, if we say something makes business sense, it means ‘it’s good for business’. But yachts are different

Neil: Yachts, and especially what she calls superyachts, actually lose money. So much so, she calls a superyacht a black hole of wealth

Catherine: A black hole, in scientific terms, is a place where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape – not even light. So, in business terms, a black hole eats all your money

Neil: It’s also used conversationally to mean a place where things go missing

Catherine: These superyachts are big. The world’s longest is 180m in length. And they require a professional crew. Which is how Emma began her study – she used to work on the yachts

Neil: She’s now spent six years studying the world of superyachts and the super rich

Catherine: So, what else did she learn

Neil: She says that in the world of the super rich – the size of your yacht shows your place in the pecking order

Catherine: The pecking order means the social system from most powerful to least powerful

Neil: If you’re higher up in the yachting pecking order, you get the best place in the harbour. Which is very important to yacht owners, apparently

Catherine: Apparently, so. It’s all about seeing and being seen. You could actually say that yachts are the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption. Now that’s another great term – conspicuous means ‘visible or noticeable’ and consumption means ‘spending’. So, the phrase conspicuous consumption refers to the kind of buying you do so that other people notice your money

Neil: Before we sail off into the sunset Catherine, how about we answer today’s question

Catherine: I said that Vietnam is the country in which the percentage of super rich is expected to grow fastest over the next 10 years

Neil: Well, I’m very pleased to say that you were right. It was in fact Vietnam – according to the same report by Knight Frank – the population of ultra wealthy is expected to grow by a staggering 170% in the next decade

Catherine: Now, how about we have another look at the wealth of vocabulary in this programme

Neil: Very good. We started with assets – here it means ‘things we can buy or sell’. What are your assets

Catherine: Oh, you know, my diamond rings, my bike, my laptop. I’m not like you though Neil, I don’t live in an expensive mansion – that would be a real status symbol

Neil: If only that were true, but it’s a good example. A status symbol is a possession that shows off our wealth and our place in society

Catherine: Yes, and we had the phrase to make business sense – in other words to be good for business. We could also say that a particular policy makes economic sense

Neil: Or I could say investing wisely makes financial sense. Not like yachts which are expensive to buy and run. In fact, they’re a black hole for our money

Catherine: Now, did you know our next phrase, pecking order, actually comes from chicken behaviour

Neil: And finally, the phrase conspicuous consumption. For example, you could say that dining at the finest restaurants wearing expensive clothes is conspicuous consumption

Catherine: And to clear up two similar phrases: a status symbol refers to the object itself, like a luxury car; whereas conspicuous consumption refers to the act of spending money on things like expensive cars but you’re spending money so that other people notice

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Neil & Catherine: Bye

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