English Speaker Habits Using ‘Got’ – Quick Tip

If you’ve been studying English, you know there are many possible meanings of the word “get.” There are so many uses that it has become notoriously difficult for English learners to know how to use. The past tense of that word is “got,” and it is no exception to this wild and confusing system of uses and meanings. I’m not here to explain all the possible meanings of “got”. Instead, I specifically want to tell you about some habits that English speakers have when we talk. You’ll be able to read more quick tips like this on the Blog. Hopefully, this can clear things up a bit more (or confuse you a bit more)!

Got and Have, which one is right?

One habit that many English speakers have is saying “got” where they should be using “have.” This is where “have” means to possess something or needing to do something. This use is quite informal and is used more in casual speech. Read more about that here.

  • I got five rooms in my house.

More correctly would be: I have five rooms in my house.

A similar habit that people have is in situations where “have” is used in the present perfect. We might mean to say “have got,” but “have” gets completely taken out. Here’s an example:

  • I got to leave in five minutes.

More correctly is: I have (I’ve) got to leave in five minutes.

Because most of the time saying “have” and “have got” means the same thing, it can be hard to tell which of the two cases the speaker is using. Either way, they are referring to possession or a need to do something.

Another Note

In British-style English (British, Australian, South African, etc.), I notice it can be more common to say “have got” in place of “have.”

British: — Have you got any gum?

I’ve got some. Here you go.

Neutral: — Do you have any gum?

I have some. Here you go.

Again, I’m not saying only British-style accents use this. It’s just more common in those accents than in the American-style accents. And remember that all English speakers don’t have the habits listed above. Like any language, the region, social class, and personal experiences of the speaker play a role in how the individual talks. Still, you can bet lots of English speakers talk like this!

Read More Examples:

“Do you got a dress? I need one for the party.”

“Marissa got three kids? She looks so young!”

“Listen, I got to tell you something.”

“We got to go, hurry up!”

**Thank you for coming, curious readers! Have you heard English speakers talk like this? Do you think you could correct the example sentences with the right grammar? You’re doing great for seeking to learn more about this wonderful language! Keep on learning, my friends.

“Ojuelegba (Remix)” by Wizkid feat. Drake, Skepta – lyrics for English students

Flag of Nigeria
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A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Flag of England
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In this post, we will look at song lyrics from Nigerian artist Wizkid, along with rappers Drake and Skepta. The song is the remix of the original “Ojuelegba” from Wizkid’s Ayo album, which you can listen to here. This post is also a continuation of the series where we analyze English-language song lyrics for learners, called Lyrics “Explained”. I’ve mostly been covering songs from the U.S., Canada, or Britain, so this is a nice change-up (at least for one of the singers). It’s a good reminder that English is spoken throughout the world, and places like Nigeria make up an important side of English-language culture too. If you want to read “Ojuelegba (Remix)” lyrics without my explanations, you can find them here. I also got some help with translations since part of the song is in the Yoruba language. You can read more on Kilonso. Okay, here we go.

Image of a busy street in Ojuelegba suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, namesake and subject of the song Ojuelegba by Wizkid
Ojuelegba, Nigeria – By Omoeko Media

Song Lyrics (Wizkid, Drake, Skepta)

Ni Ojuelegba o, my people dey there

  • Other language: In the Yoruba language, “In Ojuelegba.” Ojuelegba is a busy suburb of Lagos, by the way.
  • Regional accent: Then in regional English dialect: “My people are there.”

My people suffer, dem dey pray for blessing eh

  • Regional speech: *”They all pray for blessings.”

Ni ojuelegba o, my people dey there

Dem dey pray for blessing, for better living eh eh

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain, yeah

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I just can’t explain

I can’t explain, no, no, yeah

Look, it’s gon’ be a long long time ‘fore we stop

  • Informal speech: *It’s going to be a long, long time before…

Boy better know, they better know who make the scene pop

  • Grammar: *Who makes the scene…
  • Slang: “Pop” here has the meaning of making something more lively, more exciting, like a party. “That place was popping!”

All I ever needed was a chance to get the team hot

  • Slang: “Hot” here can mean successful, famous, or anything similar to that. He refers to his group of friends and people working with him as his team.

Only thing I fear is a headshot or a screenshot

  • Grammar: *The only thing I fear…
  • Other vocabulary: A “headshot” is a gunshot to the head. A “screenshot” is a picture you take of your own phone’s screen. Basically, he fears either getting killed or someone finding out what’s on his phone. Haha.

Pree me, dem a pree me

  • Regional speech: “Pree” I think comes from Jamaica. It means to pay close attention to something. With a Jamaican patois accent, he’s saying that people are paying close attention to him, like the paparazzi or his fans.
  • Double meanings: It also sounds like “premie/premy,” an informal way to refer to people that were born prematurely. I don’t know if that was intended, but it could be an interesting way for him to compare these people to babies.

You know they only call me when they need me

I never go anywhere, they never see me

I’m the type to take it easy, take it easy

  • Idioms: “Take it easy” means to do things slowly and calmly, in a relaxed manner. “-How have you been? -Oh, I’ve been taking it easy.”

I took girls in the very first text I sent

I don’t beg no lovers, I don’t beg no friends

  • Grammar: Double negatives! *I don’t beg any…

If you wanna link, we can link right now

  • Slang: To “link” or “link up” is to get together with someone or to meet someone so you can spend time with them.

Skeppy, Wiz and Drake, it’s a ting right now

  • Names: Those are the names of the artists participating in this song.
  • Slang/Regional speech: Again with a Caribbean/African accent, Drake says “it’s a thing.” This means that they made something happen together, they accomplished something. “Thing” can have lots of weird underlying meanings depending on the situation and the speaker.

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain eh yeah

When I was in school, being African was a diss

  • Slang: A “diss” or “dis” is something used to tease or make someone feel bad. It comes from the word “disrespect,” but has to do more with teasing or saying disrespectful things toward another.

Sounds like you need help saying my surname, Miss

  • Society: Having a foreign last name, Skepta’s teachers had a hard time pronouncing it when he was in school. This is a common occurrence for people who have foreign surnames.

Tried to communicate

But every day is like another episode of Everybody Hates Chris

  • Society/Culture: From Chris Rock’s TV show. Throughout the show, Chris suffers from racism for being the only black kid at his school.
Photo of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., expressing from Ojuelegba Remix lyrics by Wizkid, Drake & Skepta
Floyd Mayweather getting ready to fight – By rcelis

Ever since mum said, “Son you are a king

  • Culture/Society: This reminds me of “The Lion King” where young Simba is told that one day he will be king. I guess the idea is ever since he was a boy, a little kid.

I feel like Floyd when I’m stepping into the ring

  • Culture: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a famous boxer.

Just spoke to the boy, said he’s flying in with a ting

  • Grammar: *I just spoke…
  • Slang/Informal speech: By “the boy,” he probably is talking about Drake. Saying the “ting” again, it could mean any kind of cool thing that he’s bringing. It’s something important.

We’re touching the road to celebrate another win, we’re going in

  • Idiom/Figurative speech: “Touching the road” means to go on a trip. It could be literally on the road, like in a car/bus. It could also be just going on any trip. To “go in” can mean a lot of things. Here it means to really enjoy something, put in your biggest effort, to do something very well.

Why am I repping these ends? Man I don’t know

  • Slang: To “rep” is to represent something, usually a neighborhood or place of origin. “Ends” I believe is London slang meaning neighborhood.

The government played roulette with my postcode

  • Figurative speech: “Playing roulette” here gives the idea of the government randomly choosing where he and his family will live. It appears that in London’s project housing system, that has been a pretty common practice. Also, Skepta is from Tottenham, a rough neighborhood in London.

All I know is it’s where my people dem are suffering

  • Regional speech: “Dem” here doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase. It means “they” or “them.” It’s sort of a Caribbean/African style of talking.

I seen it before, narrate the story as it unfolds

  • Grammar: *I’ve seen it before…

Dad certified the settings and my mum knows

My mind full of more bullets than your gun holds

  • Figurative speech: He’s seen or heard lots of violence, gun shots.

Now I got the peng tings in the front row

  • Slang: “Peng” is British slang for beautiful, attractive, or appealing. “Tings” here probably refers to women, so he has pretty women at his shows.

Saying, “Skeppy come home, baby come home!”

  • Other info: “Come home” might be telling Skepta he’s welcome to come back to his ancestral homeland, Africa.

Yeah, I love the sun but I respect the rain

  • Figurative speech/Double meaning: The sun usually is a reference for good days, while the rain symbolizes hard times. This is especially common in music or literature. It also could be a reference to religion. He can love the Son (Jesus Christ) but respects his Reign (His power and authority). I don’t know if Skepta is religious or Christian, but it could be a double meaning either way.

Look forward to good times, can’t forget the pain

  • Idiom/Phrasal verb: To “look forward to” something is to be excited for it to happen. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

I was the kid in school with the ten-pound shoes

Black pepper grains, representing the line about pepper grains relating to hair in the lyrics of Ojuelegba Remix by Wizkid
Grains of black pepper for comparison – by Anas Alhajj
  • Society: “Pounds” referring to British currency. These are cheap shoes, probably in bad quality.

White socks, jack-ups and the pepper grains

  • Slang: “Jack-ups” refers to pants that are too small/short. “Pepper grains” refers to nappy hair or hair that is curly and kinky. It isn’t combed or brushed and has knots in it, so it looks like grains of black pepper.

Said they’re gonna respect me for my ambition

  • Grammar: *I said they’re going to …

Rest in peace my n***** that are missing

  • Informal/Figurative speech: “Missing” in this case really means dead.

I had to tell my story cuz they’d rather show you

Black kids with flies on their faces on the television

  • Society: Referring to the sad way Africans or black people are often portrayed on TV.

Eh e kira fun mummy mi o

  • Other language: More Yoruba; “Thanks for my mom”

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

  • “She prays every day”

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

  • “I’m enjoying my life, they are complaining”

Ojojumo owo n wole wa

  • “Every day, money is coming in”

E kira fun mummy mi o

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

Won ni won ni won soro ju

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And the lyrics repeat.

Last Thoughts on Ojuelegba

Alright, we’ve got Nigeria on the list! This song has an amazing rhythm and is such a relaxing yet upbeat song at the same time. I recommend you listen to it if you haven’t yet. Throughout the lyrics, we join the struggles of growing up in the ghetto or in rough neighborhoods. There is some reflection of hard times, but also a celebration for how much better things are now. These difficulties have made these singers who they are today, and they’re proud of it. Nigeria does have a lot of English speakers, but the country is multi-ethnic and -linguistic. It’s great that we get to see some Yoruba and be more multicultural. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of English-speaking countries, anyway!

What do you think? Did you like this song? Can you relate to its message? And what about you who are from Nigeria or have visited Lagos. What can you tell us about it? Leave a comment below to share. Otherwise take care, everyone!

“Earn money side turn” Flip / Flipside – meanings & uses

Do you want to know the meanings and uses of English words like “flip” and “flipside?” You’re in the right place! I’ll give you some examples of the words’ usual definitions as well as the slang definitions. We’ll also look at some examples in a dialogue with our buddy, Charles. You can find more of these dialogues and short stories using casual language in Adventures of Charles. I’ll also leave links for you to read more about these words if you’d like. Here we go.

two street vendors sitting and selling candies, showing the slang meaning of the word flip in English
flipping is hard work – by ia huh

Flip

This is one of those words that can have many meanings. You can flip a pancake, do a flip on the floor, a backflip in the other direction. You can flip things up and flip things down. As an action (verb), flipping something can mean making a profit from it. People use it more when talking about turning a smaller amount of money into a larger amount, or buying something with intention of selling it for more. People also use it to talk about making something with less value more valuable. This was commonly used to talk about selling drugs, but it’s now used for any activity of making a profit. You can “flip” clothing or houses, for example. There’s actually a show about flipping houses on the Home & Health channel. Flipping can also mean to suddenly change your opinion or to cheat someone. As far as being positive or negative, this word kind of goes both ways.

1st Dialogue

It was a wonderful day, just a beautiful day. Why? It was one of Charles’s very rare days off, of course. On his days off, he usually liked to stay up late, sleep late, and watch his turtles. He might eat at noon or he might eat at sunset. Who cared? It was his day off! Instead of doing those things, though, he decided to go and boast his day off to a friend he knew was working.

Charles — Hey, I’d like to order a coffee cake!

Ordering at the counter, he was happy to see that his friend, Jonah, was there to cater to him on the other side.

Jonah — Charlie? What are you doing here? You don’t have work?

Charles — Of course not! It’s my day off, so naturally I came here to gloat.

Jonah — You’re just mad cuz I’m flipping these cakes into some real dough.

  • I’m making a profit, making money from baking these cakes.

Charles — Yeah, well if you stopped trying to flip over your boss, you might actually get somewhere with it. Do you even like baking?

  • Trying to cheat your boss, taking advantage of him.

Jonah — No, but the bakers here before me were terrible. This place would’ve gone out of business if I hadn’t have flipped it. Here you go.

  • If I hadn’t turned things around, made this place better.

Jonah hands his friend a freshly baked coffee cake. Yum!

Charles — Thanks, my dude. Ey, you haven’t seen Sheila here today, have you?

Jonah — That’s three sixty-five. No, why?

Charles — Oh, nothing. She was supposed to meet me here today, but I guess she flipped on me.

  • I guess she changed her mind, decided not to come.

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A man counting US dollar bills in his hands, showing the slang meaning of a flip in English
he just made a flip on something – by Karolina Grabowska

Flip

Now flip can also be used as a noun. When talking about a flip, one might be referring to a head-over-leg movement where they rotate their body over the ground. In slang, a flip can be the actual act of making a profit. Often, people express this by saying “make a flip” or “catch a flip.” It’s basically the noun version of the act of “flipping” above. Flip can also be a derogatory term describing a promiscuous woman, or at least a woman who the speaker thinks is promiscuous (I got to play it clean here, sorry). This comes from the idea that the woman “flips” (changes partners quickly) a lot or is “flipped” by different men. This use is not that important if you’re just learning English, though.

2nd Dialogue

Jonah — Oh. Dang, bro, I’m sorry. She ain’t a flip, is she?

  • She isn’t a sleazy girl, someone who sleeps around, is she?

Charles looks at his friend a bit confused and frowns.

Charles — What? You don’t mean …?

Jonah — Yeah?

Charles — No! No way, Sheila’s not like that. She records music a lot, so she gets stuck in her work sometimes.

Jonah — Ah okay. I hope so. You know you’re holding up my line, right?

Charles — My bad. Mmm! This cake is so good. I might have to start selling them myself.

Jonah — Hey! Don’t you start trying to make a flip off of my hard work.

  • Don’t try to make a profit from my work, my product.

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two friends on the beach at sunset giving each other a handshake, showing an occasion where one might say catch you on the flipside in English
catch you on the flipside! – by Tyler Nix

Flipside

This one is pretty straightforward. The flipside just means “the other side.” People usually use it to mean after a situation is finished or after some event has passed. It’s often used in the phrase “Catch you on the flipside.” On occasion, one might say “on the flip” with this same meaning, taking out the “side.”

3rd Dialogue

Charles — I promise I won’t. I’m too lazy to sell anything. That’s why I work in the theater and at the college.

The people in the line were getting impatient. Why was this immigrant guy taking so long to take his cake and leave?

Charles — Let me get out of here. I’ll see you on the flipside.

  • I’ll see you later, after work, after a few days, after I do some things.

Jonah — Alright, catch you on the flip. And let me know if you hear from Sheila.

  • I’ll see you next time, on the flipside.

Charles gave Jonah a nod and started to walk away. The customer said, “Finally!” and started to order his cake or bread or pastry. Just as he was leaving the bakery door, Charles had one last thing to say.

Charles — God! That man can make a cake!

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Final Thoughts

In summary, “flip” is kind of a tricky word. Because of its history as being a word related to drugs or its use with women, it can be somewhat offensive if not used correctly. That one’s probably better to leave to native speakers to use and you can at least understand them, although you can challenge yourself if you like! It’s obviously not always bad, since it’s a common word for talking about making money or reselling something. “Flipside” is a very neutral word and you don’t have to feel weird at all for using it. I hope this has helped you understand the informal meanings of these terms.

Comment if you’ve heard these words before, know a different meaning, or want to practice using them. Here are some more definitions below if you’re interested. Until then, we’ll be talking later!

Some Other Definitions

Flip: [verb] to turn (something) over with a quick or intentional movement; [noun] a movement where an object or body turns over quickly or forcefully

Profit: [noun] a gain or earning in money, [verb] to make a gain or earning

Boast: [verb] to express too much pride in something about oneself

Cater to: [verb] to attend to or serve (someone)

Gloat: [verb] to express self-pride or admiration in an excessive or improper way

Promiscuous: [adjective] being highly sensual or overly sexual

Sleazy: [adjective] showing low moral values or loose behaviors, especially related to sex

Straightforward: [adjective] being easy to understand or do

Flipside: [noun] the other side or opposite end of something; another day

Pastry: [noun] dough used for making desserts like pies; a kind of dessert made from dough

One day bet ride – “bet” “ride or die” “rider” “day one” meanings & uses

There are more than a few ways to agree with something in English. What about talking about a lifelong friend? We cover these topics and more in today’s post, looking at terms bet, ride or die, rider, and day one, as well as their meanings and how they’re used. Read more if you want to learn more about these words and how to use them properly. We’ll see examples in a short story about Charles, and as always, practice with some questions at the end. Here we go!

Young woman doing a thumbs-up to represent the word Bet, English slang word
Bet! – Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Bet

You may be familiar with a “bet” as a type of wager or strong guess that something will happen, usually involving a loss or gain of money depending on the result. Bet has meant different things over the years, yet in slang, it often has the same meaning as “cool”, “for sure”, or “really?” This is because of the phrase, “You bet ya” or the shorter version, “You bet.” This is a way to say “of course” or to guarantee something. Shortening it to just “bet” usually is a response to something to show gratitude or respect, but can also be used to question something.

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Sweeping up the stage as always, Charles liked to approach his work with a smile. He knew one day he’d save up enough money to move out of his tiny apartment and into a decent condo, maybe even a home. Who knows? His friends Sheila and Jonah could split the rent with him, easy. By then, he could be designing the sets for plays instead of cleaning up dirty props. Until that day, he was content to help where he could.

BUNG BUNG BUNG. Footsteps pounded on the wooden floor before the doors to the theater flung open. It was an actor looking for … something.

Charles — You need help? You look lost.

Actor — Who? Oh, no, I’m just looking for my phone. I always forget it under a seat or behind a box or something. I bet money it’s in the same place I always leave it.

  • I’m sure, I know, I’m almost certain.

Charles — What? Do you mean this phone?

The actor smiled and ran up to Charles.

Actor — Yeah, man! Thanks so much. It was under the seat agian, wasn’t it?

Charles — Well, in the costumes bin, actually.

Actor — Bet. Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it. I was getting frantic.

  • For sure, cool, I get it, of course.

Charles — Really? I didn’t notice. Haha. I know how it is with the cellphones.

Actor — I have an extra special reason to keep my phone on me, though.

Charles — Bet? What is that?

  • Really? For real?

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Two hands making a promise to represent the term Ride or Die, informal English words
A ride-or-die is always there – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Ride or Die * Rider

The concept of a ride-or-die means a person, usually a close friend or partner, who will do anything to help you and is extremely trustworthy. It can sometimes be used to call someone your best friend or boy/girlfriend. This comes from the idea of “ride,” or to ride with someone. This means the person sticks with you when you need them and you can count on them. A rider then is someone who is a ride-or-die. A rider can also be a person who is willing to do whatever you want and has few boundaries. They go with the flow and are true companions.

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Actor — “What is it?” What else could it be? I gotta call my girl, man, my ride-or die.

  • My girlfriend, the person I trust, my close partner.

Charles — Oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. She a actress too?

Actor — Yeah, but she prefers the term actor. We met at the theater down the street watching somebody else’s play. Can you imagine? Somebody else’s play. Ha!

Charles continued to sweep the stage floor, focused deeply on his work.

Actor — What’re you doing after this?

Charles — I think I’ll dust the curtains. They’re pretty dirty.

Actor — Man, don’t you have a rider in your life? You need a woman.

  • Don’t you have a girlfriend, a close friend, a trustful partner?

Charles — I’m working on that, too. I have a potential girl. Just have to ask, really.

Actor — That’s what I’m talking about! But don’t wait too long. I’ve made that mistake before. Is she a rider?

  • Is she willing to do anything for you, trustworthy, does she like you a lot?

Charles nodded, halfway not understanding the question.

Actor — Oh, well then she’ll wait for you. Still, don’t take too long. Take my advice.

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Two young girls together representing the meaning of Day One, informal English term
Together since day one – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Day one

This term comes from an older one, “Since day one.” This is used to describe someone who has been there for you since the beginning, during hard times, and has stuck by your side the whole time. Calling someone a day-one means they are generally your closest and most trusted friend, and you respect them a lot for being there for you after years and years.

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Charles — I won’t. She’s been a good friend to me since we met. I come from another country and it can be hard to make friends.

Actor — I get that. I couldn’t imagine being so far from home without family or friends close by. I couldn’t live without my day-ones, too. They’re the ones that keep me together.

  • Without my closest, most trusted friends.

Charles — Yeah, well I didn’t have any super close friends like that back home anyway. I had to make some new friends here. But Sheila and Jonah have been there for me in lots of situations. They’re like my new day-ones.

Actor — Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Good talking, bro. I never knew your story, so thanks for sharing.

Charles — Don’t mention it. I’ll see you at the next rehearsal. Or the next time you lose your phone.

The actor laughed at this statement and waved at Charles with a sarcastic smile.

Actor — See you next time. And call that girl!

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Final Thoughts

Saying bet is usually more informal, so it’s often used with friends or in casual settings. It’s not that it could be offensive, but it just sounds quite informal. It’s a pretty useful word you can use much the same as “okay, cool, for sure,” and so on. Ride-or-die and rider are mostly compliments and terms of respect, although they can be seen as disrespectful if they aren’t used correctly. “Rider” can have a negative connotation at times, so make sure the meaning is clear if you do ever use it. Otherwise, day-one is a very respecting and caring term, and it’s a great way to refer to a close friend, companion, or anyone that’s been there for you for a long time. We usually use it with friends though, and not family members like parents.

Do you get it? If you want, take some time to practice with these questions below. And make sure to learn some other words with the Adventures of Charles series. Be safe out there!

Questions:

  1. Can you use today’s words in your own sentences? Bet – Ride or die – Rider – Day one
  2. Are there any ride-or-dies or day-ones in your life? Who are they?
  3. What is something you would “bet money on?”
  4. Have you heard the slang word “bet” before in casual conversation? When was that?

Where I go? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota

Languages learners, English enthusiasts … we have another one. Listen here to the audio version of “Where I go?” from the Adventures of Charles. You can listen to the audio by itself on this page or listen and read along with the original post here. Test your listening skills by answering some follow-up questions or writing a comment after. Follow the blog if you want to be notified directly of new content. Thanks and enjoy!

my bad_there you go_there it is_there you have it

Thanks to my student Bianca V. for helping me with this audio!

Some practice questions:

  1. In what situations might it be better to use “my bad”? What about “sorry”?
  2. Have you ever said or heard these phrases when receiving an object or giving something away?
  3. How do you usually react when someone bumps into you in the street or on public transportation? Would you be as respectful as Charles was?

Isn’t that a question? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota on Pexels.com

We’re back again! Here’s an audio recorded version of my original post “Isn’t that a question” where I go over a few English phrases or terms. Please take a listen and test how much you can understand! This page just contains the audio for listening, but you can follow this link to read and listen at the same time if you want. Let me know if this listening practice helped you to understand the words better. Is there something you want me to explain or record next? Tell me in the comments or send me an email! Ready? Happy listening!

isn’t that something?_how about that?_what do you know?_i’m telling you

society + Doctor Sleep (2019) – What’s it say about us?

curtesy of YouTube

This post is going to be a little different than what you’ve seen before. We’ve looked at music, American society, and even a couple of slang terms. I figured well, I also love movies, so why the heck not do a movie section? Of course, movies tend to be a lot longer than songs and so I’m not going to analyze every line from the screenplay of Doctor Sleep (but you wish!). Instead, I’m going to focus on some elements and imagery from the movie and explain how these things relate to American society, or maybe what they reveal about the culture.

Sound interesting? Sure it does! So let’s keep reading.

I’d also like to point out that this is mainly for English students or foreign people who are curious about American society, just as a warning that some things may sound redundant if you are an English-speaker or American. Though, of course, anyone is welcome!

Doctor Sleep — not to get confused with Doctor Strange — is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It was made in 2019 and is a sequel to The Shining from 1980. Well, that took long enough! Besides the fact of it being a sequel, I want to mention this because The Shining has been a definitive cultural event since it came out. Not everyone has seen the movie — in fact, lots of people I know haven’t, which is mind … POOSH — but pretty much everyone recognizes at least some of the scenes from this movie.

credit from Fandom, here

The sinister opening music from the score … the waves of splashing blood pouring through the halls … the twin girls staring down the hall with their evil eyes … Jack Nicholson screaming “Here’s Johnny!” as he axes down a door. I mean, there are just too many iconic scenes to go on. The popular impact of The Shining makes today’s subject so significant too, even if it’s a mere sequel.

Just like with its predecessor, Doctor Sleep has several iconic scenes and shots, including a girl running her hands through the mental “files” of her witch foe, people flying in and out of each other’s minds, and the iconic “REDRUM” spelling itself so ominously on the cracked walls. But back to the topic: What does this movie say about America? Well, let’s see…

One noticeable aspect of the movie is the different regions of the country we see the characters going to. Stephen King, who is the author of the books, is from Maine, a state in New England. If you notice in the movie they’re mostly in some town in New Hampshire. There are little brick buildings, central church chapels, and cute little parks in the middle of town. This layout is of the classic New England town. Given the fact that Danny, the lead character, goes there to cleanse and heal from alcoholism, you can tell that these places are considered locations where you can live peacefully, get away from the noise of the city, and enjoy the fall leaves. On the other hand, when Danny is in Florida, he gets high on drugs and alcohol all the time and sleeps around with strange women, which lets you know how other Americans might view Florida. That’s also where the creepy True Knots are first seen attacking that little girl. Sorry, Florida. Harsh.

a field like you might see in the Midwest, Photo by Lawrence Hookham on Unsplash

Later on, they go to Colorado which is full of mountains, forest, and pretty lakes, while we go to Iowa and see nothing but cornfields and baseball diamonds. This probably wasn’t on accident, because Iowa and the Midwest, in general, are seen as centers for agriculture and farming, especially corn. They are also seen as the “heartland” of America, which is why you get such an important symbol like baseball there. A poor boy gets abducted in Iowa, and what happens to him also has something to say about our society.

I don’t know if this started in the U.S. or was brought here by Eastern Europeans, but gypsies are a controversial topic from this movie. Sometimes as kids, people are told to watch out for gypsies because they eat children or some nonsense. True to the myth, that’s pretty much what happens in the movie. Gypsies are based on the ethnic Roma or Romani people, but often any group of people that travel around together without any kind of direction or stability are generally considered gypsies. Especially if they’re in a trailer.

a trailer-home, Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

Trailers have a lot of importance in America. People use trailers to travel long distances, go camping, and to live in, amongst other things. A popular notion too is that “gypsies” or just people without any stable home roam around the country in a trailer. The scene of the True Knot picking up the boy in Iowa as well as the scene where Danny arrives with Abra, the other main character, at her home, shed light on this. Abra’s dad has a little freak-out session and nearly tries to kill Danny.

These two scenes show how kids in America are taught to deal with strangers (Don’t get into a car with them) and how parents react when they see their children, especially daughters, with strange adults. This seems logical, but I have seen in some other countries that kids interacting with unknown adults is not the most outrageous thing that could happen. No one wants their child to get abducted, but I notice in America, parents seem to be especially cautious in this sense compared to some other countries. Maybe this is because there are tons of cases of child abduction, child molestation, and child abuse that parents become especially protective. Children are a lot less likely to talk to strangers, even if they are genuine and nice people, because of this worry that American parents tend to put into their heads. I blame investigative shows like 20/20 and channels like Investigation Discovery (ID) for this, but I guess they have good reasons.

classic neon movie theater, Photo by Jeff Pierre on Unsplash

I don’t have too much else to say. You could see how Abra’s house was really big and nice, a sort of “classic American home” at least nowadays. We also saw some racial diversity in the movie, kind of lending to the push for more diversity in movies and media in recent years. I think that’s cool. Danny works at a convalescent home (commonly an “old folks home” or “retirement home”) helping the seniors go to sleep … forever. This is more of a Western thing, I think, where it’s acceptable and even pretty common to send old people to live in these care facilities instead of taking care of them at home. The movie theater where the girl, Andi I think, gets recruited to the True Knot team of vagabonds is a kind of classic American movie theater. You get the big neon sign out front with the movie titles on it, a ticket booth, and a big theater house full of seats and balconies and whatnot. Other than that, many Americans like a good scare, a good thrill, a mystic tale of spirit-suckers that get defeated by a living mansion burning to the ground. Or was it a hotel? Those hats the True Knot were wearing are kind of in style with certain hipster communities. I’ll talk about them another day.

I left the trailer up top if you’re interested. Also, did you notice anything else about Doctor Sleep that speaks on American society or society at large? And if any of you saw this movie, what did you think of it? Tell me in the comments, or email me at tietewaller@gmail.com. Stay well!

A handful (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota on Pexels.com

So I had the idea of recording some of the content here on CultSurf so that you could listen to it. If you’re learning English, you will now be able to listen to the stories and some of the content, and practice your listening skills as well! I will provide a link to the original story here so you can go back and read it in case you get lost. Thanks for listening, and remember to comment below. How did I do?

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Try a wild monster – “savage” “beast” “test -” “try-” meanings & uses

Words like savage and beast have been flying around on the internet and in music for a while now. Today, we’ll “test” our English by looking at those as well as some phrases that use test and try in the slang sense. We’ll also look at some dialogues with Charles to see how they can be used. Starting off!

(Don’t) Try

Try normally means “to attempt” to do something. For example, maybe you tried to learn how to play the piano like Mozart but never quite reached that level. In slang, try pretty much has the same sense as “to attempt,” with a small difference. If I say, “Try me,” it means to attempt to explain something to me. We can also say “try” to mean to attempt to do something bad or is a kind of bad behavior. Mom’s can tell their children, “Don’t try it,” which means the same as “Don’t do it.” “Don’t try me” then is like telling someone not to attempt something bad against you. Here’s an example:

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Charles —Hey, look at those two kids. They’ve been staring each other down for a few minutes now.

Sheila —They do look pretty angry. I wonder what their issue is.

The two teens suddenly start to argue with one another.

Teen 1 —What? You’re trying to come at me, huh? I’m not scared of you.

Teen 2 —Oh, you think you’re tough. I bet you won’t try to hit me, though. You’ve been trying me ever since I got here.

  • Teen 1 has been attempting to scare Teen 2 or be mean to him ever since he arrived.

Teen 1 —Ha! You’re the one who wanted to fight me. I see your fists are balled up. Don’t try it.

  • Don’t attempt anything bad or stupid (against me).

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(Don’t) Test

Now, test you may know as an exam you sit and take to prove your knowledge. To “test” as a verb usually means to examine something or try a new experience. You can “test” a new flavor of ice cream, so it’s very similar to the word try. It’s the same way in slang, since “test” or “don’t test” can be used in the same way we saw “try” above. Another common phrase is to “test someone’s nerves.” This means to annoy someone, like you’re testing how much their brain can handle. I’ll save “nerves” for another day.

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Teen 2 —Look, don’t test me, bro. Today’s not a good day.

  • Don’t try to do anything bad or annoy me anymore.

Charles —Sheila, what are they fighting about, anyway?

Sheila — I don’t know. These kids are weird to me.

Charles —They must be mad for some reason. I mean, I doubt they just started an Old West showdown in the middle of the street for nothing.

Sheila —Well, all I know is that the one guy bumped into the other. He said, “Yo, I’m tired of you. You’ve been testing it all semester. Now I’m gonna beat you down.” Pretty much.

  • You’ve been pushing the limits, picking on me, being mean to me, all semester.

Charles —Wow. This is wild.

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You tried it

Again, the same concept as before. This phrase applies after some bad, mean or undesirable action has already taken place. It’s usually used to discourage any more of those actions from happening.

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Charles —Look! I think they’re really gonna fight.

Teen 2 throws a punch at Teen 1’s head and misses.

Teen 1 —Woah, you tried it, huh? You don’t even know how to throw a punch.

  • You attempted something bad or foolish against me.

Teen 2 —I was just warming up. Wait...

Teen 2 throws another surprise punch and lands it. He hits Teen 1 in the face and makes him fall down. Everyone standing around them starts to talk and scream.

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Savage – Beast

These are two very common slang terms these days, and for good reason. A savage and a beast normally are creatures that live in the wild. They act like monsters or ferocious animals and have no conscience or remorse. The same goes for the slang meaning. Calling someone a “savage” or “beast” is like saying they are really good at something, like they are the best at something. They dominate, they kill (which is another slang that means doing really well at something), and they do other things that we associate with savages and wild beasts. Of course, we mean it in a positive way, like we’re complimenting the other person.

Lots of people, especially in music and sports, consider themselves savages or beasts, just like Megan Thee Stallion. A similar term used is “monster,” which is also a positive compliment. Think of Kanye West (listen to Monster here). “Savage” can also mean doing things without caring about the consequences. Instead of being negative, it is almost used in admiration, like the other person is cool for being this way.

Sheila —Dang! Did you see that hit? Man, these kids are savage nowadays.

  • These kids are reckless, don’t care about consequences, but are kind of cool because of it.

Charles —Yeah, I know.

Teen 2 —That’s right! I’m a savage, you heard?

  • I’m the best. I’m reckless. I don’t care. But I’m really cool.

As everyone around yells and laughs, Teen 1 gets up and reaches out his hand.

Teen 1 —Yo. I got respect, bro. That was a good hit you got me with.

Teen 2 —Thanks.

Teen 1 —You know, I do MMA down at the gym. You would be a beast in the octagon if you wanted to fight with us.

  • You would be great, one of the best, a fearsome fighter.

Teen 2 —Sounds like a plan. I’ve always wanted to try out MMA fighting. Hey, are we cool?

Teen 1 —We cool.

Sheila —Aww. How cute! They made up.

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Like with many slang words, savage and beast can be perceived as positive or negative, compliment or insult, depending on how they are used and depending on the speaker’s tone. Generally, these days they are used as compliments and are a way to show admiration for a person or for yourself, but there are always exceptions. Try and test are used usually in more intimate settings and you might say it with a friend, a family member, or another person that is trying to be mean or act badly in some way. Try/test it are acting badly in general situations, while try/test me is acting against you (or whoever is speaking). These terms can be a little tricky, so try to pay attention to cues from others and see how they use them. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to use them (I don’t use these terms too often) you will at least be able to understand when other English speakers say them. Someone definitely will.

Hey everyone! Could you use these terms in your own sentences? In what other situations could you imagine someone saying these? Have you heard these terms in English-language songs? Let me know in the comments! If you have suggestions for words or phrases that you would like explained, tell me here or send me an email: tietewaller@gmail.com. Thanks and take care!

“Carnies” [Martina Topley-Bird] – lyrics for English Students

Flag of England.svg
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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Fun and games are coming to town … and all the crying and drama that go along with them. Read the lyrics and explanations of “Carnies” song by Martina Topley-Bird, and learn some new English terms! And don’t forget to read a fuller explanation, comment, and watch the music video below–>

Ferris wheels and cotton candy

  • I’ll stick some images here in case you don’t know these.
A Ferris wheel, Photo by Amanda Cottrell on Pexels.com

The folks try to stall as the kids get antsy

  • “Folks” is another word for people in general. Usually used to talk about a certain group of people together. It can also be used to talk about one’s parents. “I’m going to visit my folks this weekend.” To “stall” is to hesitate or stop completely. In a more figurative way, it also means to distract from the main point. “Stop stalling and just tell the story!” And “antsy” means restless, like when someone can’t sit still.

They sit there complaining there’s nothing else to do

So we pick up our coats and go down to the fair

  • Just a note, “fair” as a noun usually refers to a kind of carnival with rides, games, and snacks. For example, in many places in America, we have county fairs. The biggest kinds are World’s Fairs.
Some cotton candy, Photo by Mariana Kurnyk on Pexels.com

Who knows what we’ll find when we get there?

Eyes will be streaming, faces split in two

  • “Eyes streaming” has the sense of a river or stream flowing. This probably means that kids will be crying, probably because they don’t want to leave. “Faces split in two” reminds me of the classic symbol of theater or drama with a mask that is half happy and half sad. This imagery tells how people at the fair will be a mixture of happy and sad faces.
classic comedy/tragedy masks, at Foundry Brothers

Carnies have come to town

  • “Carnies” is the same as a carnival or fair. It is more of a British slang, if I’m not mistaken, since we don’t use it as much in the U.S. Saying something “has come to town” means that it has come or arrived in your area. Whether you’re talking about a town, city, or rural area, you can always use “come to town” to talk about an event coming to your area.

If they stay, will you hang around?

  • To “hang around” just means to stay or remain somewhere. She could also say “Will you hang?” and it means the same thing. A similar phrase is “stick around.” “Will you stick around for Christmas too?”

Lately where have you gone?

  • “Lately” is such a good word! I think it could be a little confusing for English learners. It is basically the same as recently, or in recent days. “What’ve you been doing lately (in recent days)?”

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Say what you want life’s too good to be true

Jump start me after I’m through the sunroof

  • To “jump-start” something is to give it a big push, almost like you’re so excited to start or to go somewhere. The idea comes from track racing. When someone jump starts, they start running before the race even begins. A “sunroof” is the part of a car’s roof that opens up so you can see the sky. The idea is of Martina jumping out of the roof of her car.
Someone “jumping thru their sunroof”, Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Soon I’ll be home but I don’t know if you will too

Carnies have come to town

If they stay, will you hang around?

Lately where have you gone?

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Carnies is such a fun word. As I said above, it’s more of a British slang from my understanding, since fair or carnival are more common in the U.S. Regardless, I feel like this song really captures the mysterious, fun, and dramatic sense of being at a fair. Fun, games, candy and rides go together with whining children and stressed parents. Besides all that, Martina seems to be missing someone in her lyrics, wondering where they went and if they’ll come back. Part of her wondering might be about the fair itself and when it will come back to her town. But she also seems to be remembering specific experiences with this “mystery person” of when they used to go to carnies, maybe when they were kids. It’s a song full of magical vibes and nostalgia, for sure.

Tell me what you think! Have you ever been to a carny? Is there something from your childhood that you feel nostalgic about? Let me know if you liked this song, and if there is another song you want to see here. Just shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!

And watch the video people 🙂