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BBC 6 minute English-Uniforms

BBC 6 minute English-Uniforms

BBC 6 minute English-Uniforms


Transcript of the podcast

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

Neil: Welcome to 6 Minute English, where we introduce a colourful topic and six suitable items of vocabulary

Tim: I’m Tim

Neil: And I’m Neil. Why are you wearing a policeman’s hat, Tim

Tim: To get me in the mood for our topic today – uniforms

Neil: Well, the hat certainly suits you

Tim: And if something suits you it looks good on you! Well, thanks, Neil. And funnily enough, I have a question for you on the subject of police hats! In the 19th century, police officers’ top hats could be used

a) to stand on

b) as a weapon or

c) to protect their heads from the sun

Neil: Well, they’re kind of pointy so I’m going to say as a weapon

Tim: OK. Let’s consider what the point of a uniform is. Why do some jobs have them while others don’t

Neil: Well – The police, and other emergency services, like the fire brigade, and ambulance service – they need practical clothes to help them do their job

Tim: People need to recognize them too, don’t they

Neil: Yeah, that’s right. A uniform makes people stand out from crowd

Tim: If something stands out it’s noticeable or easy to see

Neil: But uniform also allows you to fit in – it shows you belong to a particular group or organization – and people often enjoy that sense of community at work

Tim: Do you think we should get some 6 Minute English T-shirts made, Neil

Neil: Well, we share a sense of community without team T-shirts, Tim. Let’s listen to cultural historian, Joe Moran, talking about why wearing a uniform can also allow you to behave differently to the way you normally behave

INSERT Joe Moran, cultural historian

It’s a role and a genre that you adopt and it’s kind of – it’s something that’s not quite you. It’s kind of a persona that you can put on. In Germany they call it ‘maskenfreiheit’, which is the freedom conferred by masks. There’s something about taking on what is very clearly a persona or professional role, that can be liberating, I think

Neil: So when you put on a uniform you are adopting a role or genre. Genre means a particular style. And a persona is a character you present to the outside world – as opposed to the person you feel like inside

Tim: Joe Moran compares putting on a persona to putting on a mask. And he says this can be very liberating. But do you really think putting on a uniform liberates – or frees – us from the person we really are

Neil: Maybe. If you’re shy, for example, a uniform might feel liberating because it allows you to behave more confidently. So, if you could choose a uniform and a new persona, what would it be, Tim

Tim: Hmm. An airline pilot, I think. I’d look great in a blazer with brass buttons – and with the cap and mirror sunglasses. Hello, this is your captain speaking. We’ll shortly be arriving at LAX airport in sunny Los Angeles. Local time is 12.55 and it’s hot hot hot outside, so I hope you’ve packed plenty of sun cream

Neil: OK Tim, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! I can see you’d love being a pilot – or at least you’d love talking to your passengers

Tim: What about you, Neil? What would you like to try on for size? A surgeon’s scrubs? A nun’s habit

Neil: To try something on for size means to decide whether it’s what you want or not. No Tim… I’d go for a chef’s apron, checked trousers, a tall hat

Tim: I think the uniform would suit you, but are you good at cooking, Neil

Neil: I’m an excellent cook. Now, I think we should have the answer to today’s quiz question, Tim

Tim: Yes, I asked what a police officer’s hat could be used for in the 19th century

Neil: And I said as a weapon

Tim: Wrong, I’m afraid. From 1829 to 1839, Metropolitan Police officers wore a cane-reinforced top hat, which could be used as a step to climb or see over walls. I wonder if modern police hats are strong enough to stand on

Neil: We’ll try yours later and find out. But now let’s go over the other key words we learned today

Tim: OK. If something ‘suits you’, it looks good on you. For example, “Does this pilot’s uniform suit me, Neil

Neil: It suits you down to the ground, Tim! And that means it suits you very well

Tim: Number two – If something ‘stands out’, it’s noticeable or easy to see

Neil: My colourful suit really stood out at the party

Tim: In a good way, I hope! OK, next item – ‘to fit in’ – means you belong to a particular group and are accepted by them

Neil: I never fitted in with the cool kids at school

Neil: I’m sorry to hear that, Tim! Maybe you weren’t wearing the right uniform? Number four is ‘persona’ – the character you present to the outside world – as opposed to the person you feel like inside

Tim: My work persona is confident and chatty but I’m actually rather shy

Neil: I’m learning a lot about you today, Tim

Tim: They’re just examples, Neil. I don’t have a work persona – that’s the nice thing about our job – there’s no need to put on masks or personas

Neil: Just the occasional hat

Tim: Indeed. And a very nice hat this is too – I think I’ll keep it. Now, let’s finish the vocabulary! Number five – ‘liberating’ means feeling you can behave however you like

Neil: For example, Talking openly about your problems can be very liberating

Tim: And finally, ‘to try something on for size’ means to test something to decide whether you want it or not

Neil: Our listeners can try these new vocabulary items on for size and decide whether they’ll be useful or not

Tim: And if not, then please let us know by visiting our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages and telling us what you think

Neil: Goodbye

Tim: Bye

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