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  • Hello and welcome to News Review from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • Joining me today is Tom. Hi Tom.

  • Hi Neil and hello to our audience. Today's story is about the new Covid-19 strain,

  • which is rapidly spreading in the UK and this has led to new travel restrictions,

  • both inside and outside the country.

  • Don't forget that if you want to test yourself on the vocabulary you learn today,

  • there's a quiz on our website at bbclearningenglish.com.

  • OK. Let's hear some more about that story from this BBC Radio 4 news report:

  • So, the story is about a new strain of Covid-19, which is rapidly spreading in the UK.

  • This is important because it basically means that Christmas is cancelled

  • for millions of families in London and the South East of the country.

  • This is because of travel restrictions put in place by the government.

  • Now, other European countries, such as Franceare also imposing travel restrictions

  • on all travel to and from the UK.

  • OK. Well, you've been looking at the headlines connected to this story.

  • You've picked out three words and expressionswhich are really useful. What are they?

  • Really useful indeed. They are: 'mutant', 'amid' and 'to follow suit'.

  • 'Mutant', 'amid' and 'to follow suit'.

  • So, let's start with your first headline and that word 'mutant', please.

  • First headline, Neil, is from Metro. It says:

  • 'Mutant' – different from others of its kind due to a genetic change.

  • Now, this word is possibly easier to understand if we start with its verb form: 'to mutate'.

  • Yeah. So, 'mutant' is an adjective. The verb form is 'to mutate' and when you 'mutate'...

  • Excuse me. When you 'mutate', you change genetically so your genes or your DNA changes.

  • Now, we see this word 'mutant' used a lot in, sort of, comic books and sci-fi and fiction, don't we?

  • Used so much in comics and sci-fi and fictionYou know, I'm a big comic-book fan, Neil.

  • 'Mutant' – the word 'mutant' – is actually six times more popular now than it was in 1980.

  • It's six times more common, which probably is a result of all the famous mutants

  • that you see in the comics. Would you like me to tell you some?

  • Yes please.

  • So, some of my favourite mutants from comics and fiction films:

  • Godzilla is a mutant; Deadpoolmutant; the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are also mutants;

  • and probably the most famous are the X-Men. The X-Men are mutants as well.

  • OK. Well, it's interesting that we're talking about fiction and comic books,

  • because this word contains an element of drama in it, doesn't it?

  • Absolutely, yeah. If you look at the headline they say: 'Mutant Covid'.

  • They don't say, 'New Strain of Covid,' because 'mutant' sounds a lot more exciting

  • and dramatic and will, sort ofgrab the reader's attention.

  • You know, 'mutant' – you get this idea of like a Godzilla kind of virus:

  • it's very strong and dramatic, as you said.

  • Yeah. Despite the fact that what they're saying at the moment is

  • that it's no more dangerous than the previous strain,

  • but still, as you say, 'mutant' gives it... it makes it more appealing to read.

  • It does; it makes you want to read that headline and that's probably why they've used it.

  • OK. Let's have a summary:

  • We have been talking about comic books and if you want to watch another News Review

  • on the same topic we have the perfect one for you, haven't we Tom?

  • We do. It's about the death of Marvel Comics legend, Stan Lee, two years ago

  • and you can find it by clicking the link.

  • OK. Let's have your next headline.

  • My second headline, Neil, is from the Evening Standardthe headline:

  • And there's that word 'mutant' again.

  • Yes. 'Mutant' that we looked at in the last headline,

  • but the word we're looking at here is 'amid'.

  • 'Amid', which means in the middle of or surrounded by.

  • It does, yeah. And yeah, for once on News Review we are looking at a preposition.

  • The reason I chose this word – the thing that for me, I think,

  • is most interestingis the register, which is how formal it is.

  • Yeah. Because, as I said in the definition therein the middle of or surrounded by

  • why don't we just say that? Why do we need this word 'amid'?

  • Because it's actuallyit's really formal, isn't it?

  • It is very formal. So, I think there's two reasons.

  • If you look at the headline, it looks like it's quite a serious subject;

  • you know, they're actually going to go into detail about the flights and so forth.

  • Also – 'in the middle of' – how many words is that?

  • That's going to take up a lot of space in the headline. So, 'amid' is perfect here.

  • Yeah. And there's actually a clue in the word itself:

  • you can see if you take off the 'a-' you have that word '-mid',

  • which is the same meaning as 'middle'.

  • Or 'midst' – 'in the midst of', but we will come to that in a moment.

  • So, 'amid' – it can be physical. It can be physical or it can be, sort of, figurative.

  • Physicallyin the middle of – I could say,

  • 'I am filming amid all of the chaos in my living room.'

  • You can see that there's wires and cameras everywhere.

  • Chaos is a good collocation with 'amid'.

  • Yeah. Or you might want to say that, you know,

  • we had the BBC Learning English Christmas party on Friday.

  • It was a virtual party, of course and...

  • It wasit was a good time.

  • ...'amid' the party, Rob told a really rude joke.

  • I mean you could say that, but it... that's quite an informal context to use it.

  • I could say, 'During the merriment of the Christmas party my colleague Rob told a joke.'

  • But why would we speak like that on a day-to-day... day-to-day level?

  • It's too formal so we normally use it for more serious things.

  • So, it can be figurative as well, this preposition 'amid':

  • if you look at what the headline's talking about, it's talking about an announcement

  • to stop flights, which was made 'amid' an alarming rise in cases.

  • So, an alarming rise in Covid casesvery serious.

  • Rob's joke at the Christmas partynot that serious.

  • Not that serious... OK. let's get a summary:

  • We mentioned that the last word 'amid' is a preposition

  • and we have more on prepositionsbut it's not serious, is it Tom?

  • No we have a... you can see prepositions in probably the least serious context,

  • a very silly one on The Grammar Game Show, by clicking the link.

  • Very entertaining though, so do check that out.

  • OK. We have another word for youanother headline.

  • OK. My next headline is from The Independent

  • and the vocabulary is actually in the subheading. It says:

  • 'To follow suit' – meaning to do the same thing.

  • 'To follow suit' means to do the same thing.

  • Before we continue, Neil, I will point out that there is a typo in this headline:

  • the subject is 'five EU countries' – it should be 'look poised', not 'looks poised'.

  • That's right. So, the headline has gotmistake in it... but it's still useful for us.

  • It happens... it happens to the best of us.

  • OK. So, how about this word 'suit'? I thought a 'suit' was something you wore:

  • the matching jacket and trousers and tie for a formal occasion.

  • It is! This is another definition of 'suit' – isformal attire

  • that you wear, you know: jacket, tie.

  • We can also have 'suits' in cardsin games... like in card games.

  • There are 52 cards, I think, and there are four 'suits' that are the same colour.

  • And it's this idea of being the same: if you look at businessmen wearing suits,

  • suits are very much the sameright? Kind of like a uniform.

  • That's right.

  • You could have a blue suit... yeah, you could have a blue suit

  • or you could have a black suit but basically they're... they're the same.

  • And it's this idea of being similar or being the same thing.

  • Now, no doubt your plans for Christmas have changed, Tom?

  • Yes, I have. Well... Can you tell us about that?

  • ...I will tell you about my Christmas plans, Neil, and then perhaps

  • maybe you can 'follow suit' – maybe you could do the same thing.

  • OK.

  • So, my original plan was to go to the countryside, get some fresh air, see my family,

  • but now those plans have been cancelled so I will be spending my Christmas

  • right here in my living room where you can see me.

  • Maybe not with the camera on though.

  • Hmmm... I could live stream my Christmas dinner, but probably not.

  • How about you?

  • OK. So, I'll 'follow suit' now....

  • Please 'follow suit'.

  • ...I'll follow suit now and I'll..

  • Yeah, I'll tell everyone that I'm doing exactly the same as you.

  • I won't be traveling anywhere to see anybody. I'll be here, because we can't leave

  • and millions of others in the South-East of England will 'follow suit'.

  • Exactly.

  • OK. Let's have a summary:

  • Time now, Tom, for a recap of the vocabulary please.

  • A recap of today's vocabulary.

  • we have: 'mutant' – different from others of its kind due to a genetic change.

  • 'Amid' – in the middle of; or surrounded by.

  • And 'to follow suit' – means to do the same thing.

  • If you want to test yourself on this vocabularyplease go to our website:

  • bbclearningenglish.comthere's a quiz there that you can take

  • and don't forget we are also all over social media.

  • Thanks for watching and we will see you next time.

  • Take care and goodbye.

  • Bye everybody! Happy Christmas!

Hello and welcome to News Review from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

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New Covid strain: UK cut off - News Review

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/22
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