The English of Debt

Vocabulary | Humour


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


These English Activities are built around English jokes. The jokes may be old or new; they may be very funny or just amusing. The language of the joke is explored, and you will begin to understand a very important aspect of the English language - humour. Many students of English, be they students of English as a second language or of English as a foreign language, find it very difficult to "get" English jokes. British humour has a strong satirical element aimed at showing the absurdity of everyday life. A lot of English humour depends on cultural knowledge and the themes commonly include the British class system, wit, innuendo, to boost subjects and puns, self-deprecation, sarcasm, and insults. As well as this, English humour is often delivered in a deadpan way or is considered by many to be insensitive. A particular aspect of British English humour is the humour of the macabre, were topics that are usually treated seriously are treated in a very humorous or satirical way.

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Archie Grump will help you to learn some of the vocabulary we use for talking about debt. You will not only learn about debt now and in the past, but also vocabulary items such as, afford, bank manager, bitter, borrow, buy, checks, cost, debt, do without, essential, every Tom, Dick and Harry, gallon, interest, left over, lend, luxury, money, on the never-never, on tick, pay back, pay off, penny, ploughman's lunch, pub, save up, scrimp and save, shilling, thrill, and willy-nilly. Based on the rantings of the elderly Archie Grump, you can watch a video, read and listen to the script, and then answer questions about the vocabulary in the script.

When I was young, we only bought what we could afford, and that wasn't much.

You could only borrow money when I was young if you didn't need to borrow money. If you had to borrow money to buy something, you could not afford to borrow money. The bank manager would refuse to lend you a penny.

"Come back when you've got some money," he'd tell you.

These days, the banks lend money willy- nilly to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. No checks made.

No seeing if you can afford to pay it back.

No, they just give you the money so that you can have what you want, now. Everything is on tick these days.

Whatever happened to saving up to buy the things you really need? We scrimped and saved for the things we needed. We had no choice. And notice that I say needed, not wanted.

Don't get me started with I want!

Nowadays, everyone buys things they want, but they don't need, on the never-never, just to impress people they don't like.

In my day it was impressive enough to have a pair of shoes on your feet, a clean shirt once a week, and a matching pair of socks.

We never had everything we wanted just because we wanted it. And cars!

Don't get me started on cars!

A car was a luxury that most of us had to do without.

Not today, though. They tell you that a car is essential, that your life isn't complete without one. Am I the only one here who see's what's really going on?

Oh, and those adverts!

Don't get me started on those car adverts!

Buy yourself a brand new Hondoyota or BM bloody Volksuki and "experience the thrill of the journey" or "live every moment".

What crap!

More like "experience the thrill of the journey to work" or "work every moment" just to pay off the damn thing.

And what does a car do most of the time?

Sits there in the garage costing you money, that's what it does. You'd be better of taking the bus! Really, you would!

And the price of petrol?

Don't get me started on the price of petrol!

When I was young you could buy a gallon of petrol for a shilling and still have enough left over for a pint of bitter and ploughman's lunch down the pub.

Not that I needed a gallon of petrol, though, because I didn't have a car. Walked everywhere, we did, in all weathers, and were grateful for it.

But nobody walks today, do they? That's why everyone's so fat!

Don't get me started on fat!

Oh, here's my bus. Nice talking to you. Bye!

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