Lessons in the "2010" Category

Cockney English

Today we will be looking at some Cockney English. What’s that I hear you ask? Well, it’s a form of spoken English that many traditional working class people spoke in the East End of London in places such as Bow, Stepney, Hackney, and Shoreditch Poplar.

So what is a Cockney? Well, a true Cockney is a person who was born within the sound of Bow Bells (St. Maryle- Bow church in Cheapside, in the city of London). However, the term is now loosely applied to those born outside this area, as long as they have a “Cockney” accent or a Cockney heritage.

These days the Cockney accent is heard less in Central London but is widely heard in outer London boroughs, the London suburbs and all across South East England including towns like Romford.

Category: London / Languages / Cockney

Oxford compiles top 10 irritating phrases

Researchers have recently compiled a list of the most irritating phrases - Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported. Heading the list was the expression ‘at the end of the day’ which was followed by the phrase ‘fairly unique’. In third place was ‘I personally’. This expression BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphries has described as “the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice.”

Also making the top ten is the grammatically incorrect ‘shouldn’t of’, instead of “shouldn’t have”. These phrases appear in a new book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The phrases were compiled by researchers onto a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises papers, magazines, books, broadcast material, the internet and other sources. The database alerts them to new words and phrases. It can also tell them which expressions are disappearing. In addition it shows how words are being misused.

Category: English Language / English / Phrases

Scientific advances could bring back the dodo & mammoth

Long-extinct creatures like the dodo and the woolly mammoth could be brought back to life again thanks to the advancement of science. Other such creatures could live again such as the fearsome sabre-toothed tiger, the Tasmanian tiger and the woolly rhinoceros. We could even see the lumbering Neanderthal return, not too mention a glyptodont, which was a VW Beetle sized armadillo which last roamed the earth 11,000 years ago.

A recent edition of the New Scientist said that while such feats were well beyond the means of today’s best brains, advances in science could lead to a day when they are brought back from the dead. After all, who would have believed 50 years ago that we would now be able to clone animals such as Dolly the sheep or be capable of reading the instructions for making humans (DNA).

Category: Science / DNA / Extinct Animals

Traditional food in the United Kingdom

Today we will look at some traditional dishes from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England. Scotland has some interesting dishes. The most famous is haggis, the ingredients of which include sheep’s lungs, heart and liver that are minced with spices, oatmeal and onion, and are traditionally boiled in a sheep’s stomach.

There is Scottish steak pie made with Scottish beef. Scotch pie or mince pie is a double crusted pie made with Scottish minced mutton. Scotch eggs are popular. These are eggs covered with pork sausage meat and breadcrumbs. Scotch broth is a soup made with barley, mutton and chopped fresh vegetables.

Scots love to eat venison, also grouse when in season. For breakfast they eat porridge made with real Scotch oats. They also eat a hearty Scottish breakfast, which is either bacon, egg, tomato, potatoes and blood sausage or Scottish kippers.

In Northern Ireland there is Irish stew. The Ulster variety is made with steak pieces instead of lamb. A favourite pub grub choice for many in Northern Ireland is steak and Guinness pie. Locally made sausages are also a favourite.

Category: United Kingdom / Traditional Food / Food Dishes

Nazis flying saucers – film sparks UFO debate

A new sci-fi film* about the Nazis has reignited a debate in Germany about Hitler’s development of flying saucers. The Finnish sci-fi comedy ‘Iron Sky*’ centres on real life officer Hans Kammler, who was said to have made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity experiments towards the end of World War Two.

The film relates how, from a secret base built up in Antarctica, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late 1945 to found the military base Schwartz Sonne – Black Sun – on the dark side of the moon. This base was to be used to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to the earth once the timing was right, in this case 2018.

Category: Nazis / Flying Saucers / Sci-Fi Movie

‘Tis the season of Christmas markets!

‘Tis the season of the year to be jolly. Christmas is on its way. So why not get into the swing of Christmas and visit a traditional Christmas market? The magic of them will soon put you under their spell.

All over continental Europe you’ll find them. In recent years they have become more and more popular, probably because of the festive seasonal atmosphere they evoke. Their traditional wooden chalets are full of everything you’ll need to prepare for the perfect Christmas.

Christmas markets originate from what is Germany today. Here they are unique. They offer visitors the chance to buy many different forms of merchandise including wooden carvings, toys, candles, decorated mugs and Christmas decorations.

Visitors can enjoy roast chestnuts and grilled bratwurst sausages or munch some gingerbread biscuits (Lebkuchen), marzipan figures and other such sweets. One can even try some German hot mulled wine (Glühwein).

Category: Lifestyle / Christmas / Christmas Markets


Score 10 points for every correct answer – Score 5 points if half right! Play a JOKER in one round and get DOUBLE points in that round. Show it before you start the round. There are 12 rounds with 6 questions in each round.

Topics include:

  1. Christmas Music
  2. Santa
  3. International Xmas
  4. Christmas general
  5. More Christmas Music
  6. The Nativity story
  7. A Christmas mix
  8. Christmas Pot luck
  9. A UK Christmas
  10. Christmas History
  11. Famous Carols
  12. Another Christmas Mix

Category: Quiz / General knowledge / English

Why do we dream of a white Christmas?

Why do we dream of a white Christmas? Why do we get Christmas cards with snow on them? The culprit is the writer Charles Dickens. His childhood coincided with a decade of freakishly cold winters. Thus in his writings he describes persistently a Britain smothered in snow on Christmas Day, his inspiration coming from his childhood.

Six of Dickens’s first nine Christmases were white. One of these fell in the winter of 1813-14, when Britain’s last Frost Fair was held on a frozen River Thames in London and Dickens was nearly two years old. The ice around Blackfriars Bridge was thick enough to bear the weight of an elephant.

So when in 1843, he came to write about the Ghost of Christmas Past, he did so with the spirit of those colder Christmases, with “quick wheels dashing the hoar frost and snow from the darker leaves of the evergreen like spray”. The story is now credited with establishing the Victorian genre of the Christmas story and spurring a revival of the celebration of Christmas in early Victorian England.

Category: Christmas / Charles Dickens / Snow

A traditional Christmas in England

Pre-Christmas - The English like to celebrate Christmas well ahead of the actual day. Before the kids break up from school toddlers might visit Santa’s grotto in a local department store. Children at primary and secondary schools might hold Christmas bazaars. Kids at secondary schools normally have to go to church for the annual carol service. Adults meanwhile celebrate with the Christmas office party! That’s always good festive fun!

There are Christmas lights in the main parts of most towns and these days some people like to decorate the front of their houses with Christmas lights. Meanwhile many retailers in England have been flogging Christmas goodies since October! The advent calendar is also a must for kids to open daily in December. Christmas markets are now very popular.

Category: England / Traditional Christmas / Christmas

Prince William to marry Kate Middleton

Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton. The couple announced their engagement on Tuesday 16th November. The prince said, “The timing is right now. We are both very, very happy and I am glad that I have done it.” He has given Kate his mother’s ring. He said, “It's very special to me.” He added “Kate's very special to me now, it was right to put the two together.”

Prince William said giving Kate his mother Diana's dazzling blue 18 carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring was “my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement”. Kate said that joining the Royal Family was a 'daunting prospect' but added, “Hopefully I'll take it in my stride and William's a great teacher so hopefully he'll be able to help me along the way”.

The couple, both 28, got engaged in October whilst on holiday in Kenya. The couple met while they were students at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland. Miss Middleton added: “We have been going out a long time. We had spoken about our future and it just seemed the natural step for both of us.”

Category: Britain / Royal Family / Royal Engagement