There are a lot of English water idioms and you hear some popular ones regularly in everyday English conversation. So today we learn two of the most common and importantly we practice our water pronunciation.
When I started listening to new English language learners pronounce ‘water’ I was just amazed at the different ways people invent to say what is a simple word. It was only later did I hear how Americans say exactly the same word differently to the British. It’s of no surprise that English language learners struggle with the pronunciation of “water”.
In this English listening practice podcast I wanted first to say the word water a lot! So you can hear it over and over and get used to the way it's spoken by a native English speaker. Without boring you to death! So I settled on using some water idioms to keep you interested and also help you learn some popular English phrases.
cannot warder dicker
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OK, so today how about we look at two English idioms which use the word ‘water’? Water is a very common word in English, just as it is in most languages. It’s a very common substance, so there will be several words for water in any language, I should think. And water is a word which people struggle to pronounce. So let’s cover two water idioms today and improve your water pronunciation at the same time.
So pronunciation first of all. Water is spelt W-A-T-E-R, so you might think early on in your English language learning that it’s pronounced ‘water’ or something, something similar, but ‘water’ is how it is most commonly pronounced in English. Of course, if you’re from the US and learning….or you’re learning US English, then water pronunciation sounds more like ‘warder’, ‘warder’. And there are of course lots of English speaking accents, where water pronunciation is different. What about cockney and certain other accents? They might miss out the T, so water pronunciation sounds more like ‘wa’er’. That’s called ‘Estuary English’ - ‘wa’er’. That’s perhaps another podcast for another time to explain that one! ‘Wa’er’ – sounds like the way a British criminal might speak in an American film!
Anyway, that’s water pronunciation. How about we look at the water idioms? So the first one - ‘a fish out of water’. So the vocabulary is easy here – a fish is an animal that swims in the sea. And you might eat one of these for your dinner. So tuna, cod, salmon – they’re all types fish that we might eat. Now obviously, in the literal meaning of the phrase,‘a fish out of water’, ‘a fish out of water’ is not going to be doing very well! If you’ve ever had your goldfish jump out of its tank – sometimes they seem to do that, not sure why. But of course, fish don’t do very well out of water – they can’t breathe! And if they stay out of water long enough, they die! So that’s the literal meaning. But what about if someone is using it as an idiom ‘I felt like a fish out of water’? What do they mean?
English Water Pronunciation And Idioms Ep 235 Article Image
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Description: A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.
Well, if you feel like ‘a fish out of water’, it means that you are in an alien environment. You’re in a situation that is strange to you, you’re not used to it. It’s going to take you some time to adjust to the new situation. You feel awkward, uncomfortable. If you go to a new country and you don’t know the language and it takes you ages to get used to the feel, the differences, the people, the language, then you might feel as though you are ‘a fish out of water’. You aren’t comfortable in your new environment, it’s too strange.
So some example sentences of where we might use this.
- I felt like a fish out of water, when I joined my new company.
- When my sister moved to live in France, she felt like a fish out of water.
- My daughter looked like a fish out of water, when she went to her new school, but she loves it now.
So how is your water pronunciation coming along? Let’s just pause for a moment and talk about Adept English courses. If you like what we’re doing with our podcasts, then have a look at our courses page at adeptenglish.com. Our courses really work on your vocabulary, and there is a focus on the words which we use most, with the idea of learning vocabulary that you need most. Our Course One: Activate your listening focuses on vocabulary to do with Britain, food, education, while our 500 Words Course helps you learn the most commonly used 500 words in the English language.
OK, so what about another water idiom? ‘Blood is thicker than water’. I know that this phrase exists in German too, Blut ist dicker als Wasser. So what does it mean? Vocabulary first of course. So blood, that’s spelt ‘B-L-O-O-D’. You might think this word would be pronounced bl-oo-d, but it’s ‘blood’ to rhyme with ‘wood’ or ‘good’. Of course English isn’t logical because we say ‘food’, which is spelt the same with a ‘double O-D’, -O-O-D at the end, but pronounced differently. Anyway, blood is a liquid and it’s red and you and I both have it in our bodies. Blood flows through our veins, it’s what our hearts pump. It’s also what sometimes comes out of us, if we’re injured. If you have a sharp knife and you cut your finger, it’s quite likely that you will see blood.
So the idiom is ‘blood is thicker than water’. The word ‘thick’, T-H-I-C-K, in this context is describing the thickness of the liquid. So water is a thin liquid, it’s free flowing. If you pour water over something, it runs off quite quickly. But if you think of soup or sauce, it’s thicker, it doesn’t run off so quickly. So if you pour your sauce over your food, you want it to stick to the food. So it’s true - blood from your body, is thicker than water. But that’s not the really the meaning of the phrase.
What the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ means - it’s comparing the relationships within a family. So if you’re in a family, some of the family members are related, they’ve got the same genes. So your mother, your father, your son, your daughter, your auntie, your uncle, your cousins, your grandparents. They are all what we call ‘blood relatives’. So they are genetically related to you. You’ll carry some of the same genes – so in old fashioned terms, before we knew about genes, we would say ‘they have the same blood’ or ‘they are the same blood’. But within a family, you have husbands and wives, you have your wife’s parents, or your husband’s sister. These are relatives, but they’re not blood relatives. They’re relatives through marriage. Now I’ve tried to research online why does water symbolise marriage – and I couldn’t find out. But I know that this is what we mean when we say ‘Blood is thicker than water’. That people’s loyalty, their bond with their blood-relatives, their family, is stronger than the bonds, the connections that come with marriage. So if there’s a family disagreement, it might be that people side or take the side of the people in their family, rather than their husband or their wife, or their husband or wife’s family. I’m not sure that this is always true – often people side with the person that they marry, possibly against their family. But basically ‘family ties are stronger’ is the meaning of the idiom ‘blood is thicker than water’.
So there you are – you get to hear me say ‘Water’ lots of times so that you can practise your water pronunciation and you’ve learned two idioms at the same time.
OK. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_is_thicker_than_water https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/a-fish-out-of-water https://www.macmillandictionary.com/pronunciation/british/water_2