15 | 03 | 2013
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Tongue Idioms - Идиомы о языке

Learn English with Steve Ford-Tongue Idioms-Phrasal Verb



Hello! Hello! Hello! - Привет! Привет! Привет!


And welcome - и добро пожаловать to Learning English TV - на уроки английского на TV with Steve Ford Lesson 4 - со Стивом Фордом - урок4.


This week we are going to - на этой неделе мы собираемся be talking - поговорить about Tongue idioms - об идиомах про язык.


So lets go – итак, давайте начнем.


My first question - мой первый вопрос comes from Aymen - поступил от Оумена from Saudi Arabia из Саудовской Аравии!


Aymen would like - Оумен хотел бы, more clarification – большего разъяснения aboutto speak with a forked tongue - ‘говорить с разветвленным языком’.


He says, - он говорит, would it be correct, - что это было бы правильно, to say that sometimes - сказать, что иногда for example a salesman, - например, продавец, or a salesperson such as a car salesperson, - или такой, как продавец автомобилей, could speak to you with a forked tongue - могли говорить с вами с разветвленным языком?


Well I guess - хорошо я предполагаю, that depends - что зависит on your own experience there Aymen - от вашего собственного опыта, Оумен.


I have heard stories of people who were being guaranteed that they were buying good used car when in fact, a week later or two weeks later the car ended up being a lemon.

The car in fact was not in condition at all. Your second question to me is whether there is another idiom with parts of the body related to ‘forked tongue’ that could be used in the same way. And there certainly is, you could say ‘to be talking out of both sides of your mouth’.

In both cases, it means that somebody is telling you one thing and actually they’re saying an opposite thing at the same time.

So they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth.


Quite often we hear about these stories of antiquity of people who are manipulated, who are ‘talked into something’ by a snake who has a forked tongue and is able to ssseduce somebody and manipulate then in order to get them to do what that snake wanted he or she to do. To be speak with a forked tongue, be careful!

My next question comes from Rafael from Poland. Rafael would like to know if it is essential to practice tongue twisters in order to improve your pronunciation in English. I don’t think so necessarily Rafael of course if you are able to do it, great! Please keep in mind that there are a lot of native speakers who have trouble saying tongue twisters and this is why we make a game out of it. So if you are racking your brain trying to say, ‘she sells seashells by the seashore’ 3 times, don’t worry about it.

My next question comes from Donya from Iran who presently lives in the United States.

Her problem is that Donya often has to give presentations to a large group of people, sometimes as many as 200 , 300 people giving a power point presentation.

And at times she feels like she gets a little tongue-tied even when she is reading from a script or she’s reading from the screen. She wanted to know if there’s any way that she can improve that.

Well thank you very much for your question Donya.


The first thing that I would like to point out is ‘to be tongue-tied’ is when you have difficulty pronouncing words and you start to get stuck.

You start to trip over your words. There are some ways to solve that. In Peppy Pronunciation 1 and 2 I do give some good tips about trying to use the correct vowel sounds. Normally with vowel sounds, word stress and stress on the correct syllable.

Those three things, when you become more aware of them, will help you to identify your errors, start to do some self-correction and then you will build more self-confidence and as a result, you will become less and less tongue-tied as you are giving your power point presentations.

So, i hope that answers your question.



My next one is ‘on the tip of my tongue’. What a minute, I did that one actually…in my mouth idioms video……mouth idioms…mouth idioms flashback

OK, so you remembered with me ‘on the tip of my tongue’ so I don’t need to explain it again, how convenient!


OK here come the extra tongue idioms:


My first extra idiom is ‘a slip of the tongue’ we have many words that can be synonymous with that including some phrasal verbs using slip. You could say when something slips out or when you slip up

according to psychologists we quite often will have a slip of the tongue. What this means, well here is an example of a dialogue

Mary: Hi John, what time would you like to go over the project today?

John: How about sex? Oops, sorry, I meant to say six!!!!!

Yes John just had a slip of the tongue and at the same time he put his foot in his mouth. You’ll be sleeping in the doghouse tonight Johnny!

My next extra idiom is to give someone a tongue lashing.

To lash, literally means to whip(crack), to whip, to whip, to whip, yes to give someone a tongue lashing in a figurative sense means to angrily or to whip someone with your tongue(words).

Sometimes it’s difficult to get a tongue lashing at school or work from a superior when it is not your fault.

An anecdote that comes to mind long ago when I was teaching a student from Germany, he(add in he) mentioned to me that he had a supervisor who would quite often give him a tongue lashing when in fact he had done nothing wrong. And I had asked him, “How were you able to deal with such a tongue-lashing and he said that every day after work he would go running in the forest. . Кстати, появился новый сайт о личных кабинетах: справочник личных кабинетов, интернет банков

So here is a good example of someone who received a tongue lashing and he was able to take that negative situation and transform it into a positive situation by running off his anger so that’s a great little anecdote to remember tongue-lashing.

My next extra idiom is ‘to roll off your tongue’ when the words or something rolls off your tongue. This is an antonym for tongue-tied.

This is where everything starts to flow correctly.

It’s like you are conducting an orchestra and everything flowing likes music( classical music) Yes song writers have this secret, they know how to make words flow together.


My last extra idiom for tongue is to speak in a civil tongue. I would like you to remember with me my pyramid of formality.

With that pyramid of formality we can go all the way from street talk to formal or academic English.

So you could start at the street talk or slang levekland say, “ Hey What’s up” ( Hey Wuzup) You can move to the semi-formal level and say “ Hi how’s it going” You can move up to the formal level and say “ Hello it’s a pleasure to meet you” and you can move to the very top of the pyramid seldom used but I have heard that it is used in some circles “ how do you do?”

So you can see with the different levels of formality, to speak in a civil tongue/keep a civil tongue would be right at the top of formal or academic English


A little footnote that I would like to add here is that many students will write me a message asking, “ Are you OK?” “Hi, are you OK?” I would like to point out that in North America this would be incorrect as a greeting. When you say, “ Are you OK?” It implies that there is something wrong. “ Are you OK? Are you sick? What happened to you?” So be very careful what greeting you are using.

Other common misconception is “ Howdy” Do all North Americans say “ howdy partner’. No, this is used only in certain regions of the US.

Don’t try using it everywhere you go in North America or they might laugh at you. ( hahahahaha). My question for UK residents, would be the same as using the common London greeting “ Alright mate?” for the entire UK.

Well that’s it for our lesson today. I hope that you enjoyed yourself as much as I did. I’m sure that I will set many tongue wagging talking about these tongue idioms in comments below this video. I look forward to our next lesson next time.

Please send me any of your questions

Bye! Bye!




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