We design all Adept English lessons to help you with learning to speak English and English language fluency. We spend a lot of time thinking up new ways to make your lessons fun to listen to. Our goal is to help you improve your English-speaking skills while learning about something interesting enough to talk about. We want you to practice using what you have learnt in an English conversation. If you are learning English and want to speak fluently, you’ve come to the right place.
That brings me to today’s English speaking lesson. Today we have a lot of English-speaking practice vocabulary that talks about spam, not just the literal meaning of spam but it’s history and why the British even have a spam song!
Spam email is a real pain to delete from your email in-box every day. You may not know this but 56 percent of ALL e-mail traffic in March 2019 were spam messages. Recently it is that has China generated the largest share of unsolicited spam e-mails with 15 percent of global spam volume. This might sound bad, but it is actually an improvement, it was much worse in 2012 with 69 percent of all email being spam.
So an interesting super high quality English speaking audio lesson, some fun videos (if you go to the main article on our website we link to the videos), lots of interesting new English vocabulary, we provide English sentences you can practice speaking English with, in your English conversations. Best of all, it’s FREE! So you have no excuses, start listening now and improve your English-speaking skills.
Emails Google Spammer
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you want good quality listening material, to help you with your learning English to speak fluently, then your search has ended. This is exactly what we provide – how to learn English speaking at home. Support for your learning and support to improve your learning English to speak fluently in conversation.
Here’s a word which all English speakers would know – and a word, which is used in other languages as well, I think? Or at least the more modern meaning of this word is perhaps in your language. And that word is spam, S-P-A-M. A couple of minutes on Google Translate tells me that there are many languages where the word ‘spam’ is used – and that some languages clearly have their own term for spam. But you may not know its full history, where it comes from…or why. So this will help your spoken English listening to this podcast, but also help you know the stories behind the words, which English speakers know.
So if you have the word spam in your own language, you’ll know that it’s the word you use to mean all those emails that you don’t really want to receive. Most people have a spam folder – or a ‘junk mail’ folder in their email. So that’s the place where your email software puts the emails that come in, that it recognises as ‘spam’. And sometimes if you don’t receive an email when you expect to – your spam folder is where you might look for it. ‘It’s gone into my spam folder’ is what we say. So for unwanted emails, usually from companies who’re advertising or selling a product – the noun ‘spam’ is used. You can also use it as a verb ‘to spam’ - and if you spam something, it means that you send it to lots of people, regardless of whether or not they’re interested in your email.
So companies, businesses who are known for sending spam email are called ‘spammers’. You bought something five years ago from a company – and you’re still receiving their email advertising. It may be going into your spam folder in your email, so you may not even notice, because you don’t look in there!
So the word spam is good to include in your learning English to speak in the office, at work!
Well in the US and the UK and probably other places in the world too, SPAM is also known as a brand name – and this is where the term for unwanted email comes from – or at least it’s part of the story. SPAM, S-P-A-M and it’s usually in capital letters it’s quite an old fashioned product. I don’t know anyone who would buy it now. It is a kind of meat in a tin – it’s ‘pressed pork’ in fact, so from a pig. Apparently the name SPAM came originally from Spiced Ham – shortened to SPAM. So yes, it’s a portmanteau word to mean spiced ham in a tin! Yum yum! Not something most people would want to eat now.
However, I remember as a child, this was a cheap meat that sometimes you might find in your school dinner – instead of proper meat! Or people used to put SPAM in their sandwiches. It’s the sort of thing that used to give British cooking a bad name. But tinned SPAM was in fact invented in 1937 by Hormel Food in Minnesota in the USA. And SPAM was very popular during World War II – of course, because it doesn’t go off, it doesn’t deteriorate. It’s convenient to store without a fridge or a freezer. Fridges weren’t routine in World War Two time.SPAM was cheap to buy as well. So you could keep a tin of SPAM in the cupboard for years, and it would still be OK to eat, when you opened it. Where of course, even with a fridge or freezer, fresh meat doesn’t last very long.
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Sorry SPAM, but it’s just the kind of meat which we don’t like today – that’s if you eat meat at all, of course. It’s very pink and very processed – and I think that if you are under a certain age, you’ve probably never eaten SPAM, even if you live in the US or the UK! It’s the sort of meat product which we’re told is very bad for our health these days!
Just pausing a minute there to say to you that if you’re enjoying this podcast and you like our other podcasts, we do operate a service where you can go to our website at adeptenglish.com and download 50 of our podcasts at one time. Yes, that’s fifty podcasts, 50! Just imagine how many hours listening, who much it would help you with learning English, to speak fluently, to understand so much more! How to speak English fluently? Adept English podcasts are a good way to go.
So back to today’s subject. Why do we call our unwanted emails SPAM? What have they got to do with cooked pork in a tin?
Well, In the 1970s in the UK, there was a very popular TV programme called ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. You may have heard of it or you may not – it’s really old. One of the people in it was John Cleese – whom you may know from another old film ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ or from the series ‘Fawlty Towers’. Again that’s a very old series, but something you could watch with subtitles to help improve your spoken English. I’m sure you would find episodes of Fawlty Towers online. Anyway in ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, there was an episode where they did a comedy sketch about SPAM. The joke was that SPAM was so cheap that it would be used as a sort of filler for meals in cafes, in school dinners. SPAM would appear in lots of dishes where you wouldn’t expect it. So in the comedy sketch, everything on the menu came with SPAM.
Whatever you ordered from the menu, it contained SPAM meat! And there was even a song in the sketch about ‘Lovely SPAM’. There’s a link at the bottom of the transcript, which you can find on our website at adeptenglish.com, to YouTube, where you can view this comedy sketch. So when people first started to use email, they were of the generation who grew up with Monty Python. And when they started to experience spam email, they started to be spammed, then this was an obvious name to give to the unwanted email. And this was in the days before email software was clever enough to have a SPAM folder, or a SPAM filter. Clever enough to know what email you might regard as SPAM. So you can imagine what a pain SPAM email was back then with no filter. So this word SPAM seemed very apt for describing the phenomenon of unwanted, but constant email. That’s a really good example of how the English we speak is influenced so much by our popular culture. Words start out as slang, but then become the accepted, normal word.
So ways to use this term SPAM? You can practise your speaking skills with these phrases
- Well, you can use SPAM to mean your unwanted email – as in ‘Oh, I receive a lot of spam’.
- Or you might talk about your ‘spam filter’ - that’s the software which is clever enough to recognise spam email and not put it into your email inbox.
- Of course, there’s your ‘spam folder’, within your email – where occasionally you might search for emails which have gone missing, but which hopefully contains all the emails which you don’t really want to read.
- And then there’s the verb ‘to spam’ - which means to send out lots of emails to people, who probably don’t want to receive them.
- And there’s the word ‘spammer’ - which we use for a person, or for a company that sends out lots of spam.
If you like what we’re doing on Adept English, and you’re learning English to speak fluently then subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ve previously been more of an audio, a listening only presence on the internet. But if you listen to us YouTube, you can help us by subscribing – but what you also get is the written words, with correct, accurate British spellings as well as the audio of the words you can hear. So how to speak English easily – or at least more easily? There’s a solution!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.