President Trumps Marmite Personality Explained
You often find the more balanced the split in opinion the more polarizing the debate. With Donald trump you could say he has a Marmite Personality. This weeks podcast is all about a British yeast spread called Marmite which has been popular since the first world war. The most remarkable characteristic of this product is that 50% of British people love it and 50% hate it. So we have a product that has customers who cannot even stand the smell of the spread compared to people who would eat it on toasted bread all day long.
Although the synonym for Marmite should be ‘Yeast Spread’ or Vegimite (a competing product) we British often use it to highlight a polarizing issue. So we would say “Brexit is a Marmite issue.” as 52% voted for Brexit and 48% against Brexit.
Hi there, I’m Hilary and this is the latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Monday podcast, and like all the others, it’s designed to help you practise your understanding of spoken English and listening to this podcast a number of times will also help you when you come to speak English. If you would like help with understanding English conversation, where there are two speakers, then try out our Course One. It’s available on our website, at adeptenglish.com and it will give you even better practice than the podcasts. But it works in the same way - more structured learning though.
So this week, here’s a phrase for you to remember. If an English speaker is talking about something and they say, ‘Well, it’s Marmite’ or ‘It’s a bit Marmite’, or even ‘It’s a bit like Marmite’, what do they mean? They’re using the word Marmite as an adjective to describe something. Well, it perhaps depends which country you live in whether or not you are familiar with the name Marmite. The word has a capital M, because it’s a brand name. It’s the name of a product that you can buy in a shop. And it’s something that you eat. Marmite, M-A-R-M-I-T-E.
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Marmite meaning is more complex than it might seem at first glance
So first of all, what’s Marmite and secondly, what do people mean when they say that something is ‘like Marmite’. So Marmite, if you don’t know is something that you eat. It comes in a dark glass jar, a pot, with a yellow top. You can take a slice of bread and toast it. Toast – T-O-A-S-T means that you heat it and you make the bread go brown and crunchy. Then you might put butter on it, then you spread Marmite on the top.
If you spread something, that’s S-P-R-E-A-D, especially on toast, it means that you move it around, until you have a thin layer, all across the top. So if you’re putting butter onto your toast, you’ll spread it with a knife. And again, if you’re putting Marmite on your toast, you’ll also spread it with a knife. So Marmite on toast is a favourite snack for a lot of people. If you have any connection with Australia, you might know Vegemite as a product – it’s very similar to Marmite.
There is the official Marmite definition English and there a reference to polarizing
Now if you’ve ever tasted Marmite, you’ll know that it has a very strong flavour. The taste is very strong. It’s made from yeast and salt and spices. If you’re wondering what yeast is, Y-E-A-S-T, then you use it to make bread and you use it to make beer. That’s yeast. And also to make Marmite, of course. And Marmite is something which you’ll know whether or not you like it at the very first taste. Some people love it, and some people hate it. Marmite has been around for quite a long time, so much so that during World War I soldiers had Marmite in their food rations.
So what do we mean when we say that something ‘is Marmite’ or that it’s ‘like Marmite’? What we mean is it’s something which people either love or they hate. There’s not usually anything in between. That’s the reaction that it gets from people. Some people love Marmite, some people hate it. A more formal word to use – you might say that Marmite polarizes people. They’re polarised – it means it’s black and white. Their opinions are for or against, there’s no in between.
I find the Marmite taste “disgusting!”
So how does this phrase get used, what might you use it about? Well, it’s generally used when something is a matter of taste, a matter of personal preference. So you might say that ‘The art exhibition was a bit Marmite.’ Or you might say of a comedian that ‘He’s Marmite’. People either find him really funny – or they don’t like him at all. Love it or hate it. It’s Marmite.
So which side am I on? Well, I absolutely hate Marmite. I find it disgusting. Members of my family eat it and they love it. In fact everyone in my house loves it, except for me! One whiff of the smell of Marmite – and brrr! It’s horrible. Makes me shiver. Not for me. But if you’ve never tasted it, have a try when you see it next. And discover whether you’re a Marmite lover or a Marmite hater. You can even get Marmite crisps. Ugh!
You might expect a Marmite synonym to be Butter or Yeast Spread but it can also mean polarizing
So what’s a really good example of something that is Marmite? Well, Brexit might be one – that’s polarised opinion. But how about Donald Trump’s presidency?! That’s a pretty Marmite sort of thing! It’s interesting, but most people outside of America think of Donald Trump as pretty negative, a pretty negative president. People outside of the US, including people in the UK too, tend to think that Donald Trump being president is a bad thing. But what about people inside of the US? Is it like it is with Emanuel Macron perhaps, where someone who was elected with lots of support, now, partway through their time, has become quite unpopular? Well, there was an interesting programme on TV in the UK recently.
One of our well-known politicians, a well-known Member of Parliament in the UK – or at least he used to be - called Ed Balls. And he made some television programmes about people in America who are supporters of Donald Trump. Now Ed Balls is not the kind of person whom you would expect to agree with Donald Trump, not at all! So Ed Balls went to talk to supporters of Donald Trump, to find out whether they’re happy with their President now, to find out whether they’re happy with the things he’s done. And actually, it was amazing to see how much support Donald Trump has in America. How many Americans just love Donald Trump and continue to support him and his policies. It’s easy to forget that if you are constantly hearing all the negatives and negative opinions. So that’s a really good example – Donald Trump is a Marmite president! Would he know that? Probably not, because Americans aren’t really that aware of Marmite. It’s one of those British things.
But now you know what someone means when they say something is ‘like Marmite’. You either love it or you hate it!
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
I think people all over the world use commercial product names to describe something. For example “I need a Coke” often means I need a fizzy drink. Or in the UK you might say I need to Hoover the stairs (Hoover is a famous UK brand of a vacuum cleaner), what we mean is we need to vacuum the stairs.
When people say the word Marmite in the UK, they could well use it as an example of a polarizing issue which has 50% for and 50% against the topic being discussed. Marmite, you either love it or you hate it!
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