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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • In this programme, we're talking about something that

  • always surrounds usnoise.

  • Yes, whether it's the natural sounds of birdsong,

  • the wind blowing, or man-made noise, like traffic or music

  • there's always something we can hear.

  • Of course, there are sounds that we like to hear

  • and then there are those sounds that really grate

  • annoy or irritate

  • like the beeping sound on a reversing lorry or

  • someone drilling a hole in the road.

  • Indeed. Soon we'll be looking at the language of noise and

  • hearing about ideas for making the world a quieter place.

  • But let's kick off with a question about the measurement of sound,

  • which is in units called decibels.

  • According to a guide by the World Health Organisation,

  • what is considered the highest level we can be safely

  • exposed to for a maximum of eight hours?

  • Is it… a) 55 decibels, b) 85 decibels,

  • or c) 125 decibels?

  • I imagine it's quite low, so I'll go for a) 55 decibels.

  • Well, as always, I'll reveal the correct answer later.

  • Now, let's sound out what people know about sound!

  • Starting with Julian Treasure, the founder of The Sound Agency.

  • He spoke to the BBC World Service programme, People Fixing the World.

  • He discussed why noise is a form of pollution.

  • And it's bad for our health, but we don't always realise

  • Sound has powerful effects on us all the time, even though most

  • of the time we're not conscious of it because we've kind of got into

  • the habit of suppressing our listening.

  • There's so much noise around us in cities that we get

  • into the habit of ignoring it.

  • Now that's not a great thing when the noise is having a bad effect on us.

  • Julian makes a good pointthat sounds affect us all the time,

  • even when we don't realise.

  • We're not conscious of itso we're not aware of it, but it is there.

  • It may be irritating us, but we don't stop to think what it is that's annoying us.

  • As Julian also said, we get into the habit of ignoring sounds.

  • When you get into the habit of something, you start

  • doing something regularly without even thinking about it.

  • And another habit we get into is suppressing our listening

  • so, preventing or stopping ourselves from hearing the noises.

  • But experts have found this isn't good for us.

  • That noise in the background can lead to stress and mental health issues.

  • Yes, we all need some peace and quiet.

  • Of course, there are many techniques for reducing and absorbing noise.

  • For example, trees are grown by motorways to absorb the traffic noise.

  • At a large rock concert, acoustic screens are put up to stop

  • the sound being heard too far away.

  • All sound ideas – I mean good ideas.

  • But let's head to the world's noisiest cityMumbai in India -

  • where honking car horns are a big problem.

  • I love the sound of that word honk – a short, loud sound

  • but I don't like the actual noise.

  • The People Fixing the World programme discussed this problem

  • and met a woman who's been working for years to try and reduce

  • noise levels and create quiet zones.

  • She's Sumaira Abdul Ali from the Awaaz Foundation,

  • and she explained why honking horns was a hard thing to control

  • Honking and noise in general in India is a medium of expression,

  • of sadness, of happiness, of every kind.

  • This is what I was told when I started working, that

  • these are all Western ideas to want to control noise

  • Indians love noise!

  • And it's about the noise, it's about the colour, it's about the laughter and

  • happiness, we don't want to be like the Westyou know, those

  • kind of dull, boring people, who don't express themselves the way we do!

  • I like how honking a horn isn't just for road safety

  • it's almost another language.

  • People express themselvesor show how they feel

  • by sounding their car horn.

  • To control this noiseto be quieter - is considered a Western idea.

  • But Samairu is trying to change drivers' behaviour,

  • and after much effort, even got the police to run a campaign.

  • If noise levels at traffic lights went over 85 decibels,

  • the lights would remain on red for longer!

  • Sounds like a good idea!

  • There's much more about this on the BBC's Fixing the World webpage.

  • So, Neil you just mentioned 85 decibels.

  • Is that the answer to the question you asked earlier?

  • Earlier I asked, according to a guide by the World Health Organisation,

  • what is considered the highest level we can be safely exposed to

  • for a maximum of eight hours?

  • I said 55 decibels.

  • Ah Well, it is actually 85 decibels, Georgina. Bad luck.

  • The permissible time for safe listening decreases as sound levels increase.

  • So, for example, a sound as high as 100 decibels

  • the level produced by a subway traincan be safely

  • listened to for only 15 minutes each day.

  • Well, that's good to know.

  • Now, let's recap on some of the vocabulary we've been discussing,

  • starting with gratespelt G-R-A-T-E – it means annoy or irritate.

  • When we are conscious of something, we are aware of it.

  • And when we get into the habit of something, we start doing

  • something regularly, often without even thinking about it.

  • Suppressing describes preventing, stopping or reducing something.

  • Honk is the short, loud sound a car horn makes. Like thishonk.

  • I can hear you coming, Neil!

  • Finally, to express yourself, means to show how you feel.

  • Well, I must express my sadness because we're out of time now.

  • But there are lots more 6 Minute English programmes to

  • enjoy on our website at bbclearningenglish.com.

  • We also have an app that you can download for free from the app stores

  • and where you can download this programme.

  • And of course, we are all over social media.

  • Thanks for listening and goodbye.

  • Goodbye.

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

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A quieter world - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/04/29
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