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  • Abba, the pop superstars of the 1970s,

  • are back with a new album after 40 years.

  • I'm Neil and this is News Review from BBC Learning English.

  • Joining me today is Roy. Hello Roy.

  • Hello Neil and hello everybody.

  • If you would like to test yourself on vocabulary around this story,

  • all you need to do is head to our website

  • bbclearningenglish.com for a quiz.

  • But now, let's hear more about this story from this BBC News report:

  • Abba are back. Now, every music fan on the planet

  • dreams of their favourite band making a comeback

  • and, for Abba fans, that dream has become a reality.

  • Abba have announced that they're working on a new album

  • and also going on a new digital tour,

  • where the artists will be replaced by avatars

  • that some people are calling 'Abba-tars'.

  • 'Abba-tars' – what a fantastic pun, Roy!

  • OK. You've been looking at this story around the various news websites.

  • You've picked out some really useful vocabulary. What have you got?

  • We have: 'dismal', 'intact' and 'damp squib'.

  • 'Dismal', 'intact' and 'damp squib'.

  • Let's start then with your first headline please, Roy.

  • OK. Our first headline comes from here in the UK,

  • from the Herald, and it reads:

  • 'Dismal' – sad, hopeless.

  • Yes. So, this word is an adjective

  • and it is spelt D-I-S-M-A-L.

  • And, as you said, it means sad and hopeless.

  • One thing to notice about this word is that pronunciation of the 's':

  • it's a 'z' sound. We say 'dismal'. 'Dismal'.

  • That's... that's right: 'dizz-' – 'dismal'.

  • And so, you've already said it means sad, hopeless.

  • So, why do we need this other word 'dismal'.

  • What's the difference between 'dismal' and sad and hopeless?

  • Well, we don't use 'dismal'

  • to say that something is bad or a little bit bad.

  • We used 'dismal' to say that something is really bad.

  • It is absolutely terrible. That's why we have 'dismal'.

  • Yeah. As you say, we don't describe something

  • which is a bit disappointing as 'dismal'.

  • When something is absolutely awful, we say it's 'dismal'.

  • So, somebody doesn't like this Abba comeback!

  • Yeah. It's a very, very strong negative word.

  • Yeah. What kind of words go with it?

  • Yes. Quite commonly, we hear it with failure – a 'dismal failure'

  • or a 'dismal performance'.

  • And it's also quite commonly used in business English.

  • We say something like a 'dismal picture', a 'dismal forecast',

  • 'dismal news' or a 'dismal outlook',

  • for example, if the company isn't doing very well.

  • Yeah, OK. And often with these words we look at in News Review,

  • there's various forms: you know, there's a noun, there's a verb version.

  • In this case, really, it's just the adjective and also an adverb.

  • So, we said, for example: 'My team was dismalthey lost.'

  • We could say: 'They played dismally.'

  • Yeah. Or it was a 'dismal performance'.

  • And one thing I'll say as well about this word is we quite often in...

  • in English, we use it to exaggerate something.

  • So, when we're saying something is bad,

  • maybe we want to, like, really exaggerate that

  • to say how much it... it was terrible for our experience.

  • So, we say something is 'dismal', like: 'The party was dismal!'

  • Or: 'The food was dismal.' Or: 'The weather is dismal.'

  • And it's a way to really exaggerate,

  • so it's quite commonly used in spoken English as well.

  • Yeah, or for emphasising just how bad something is, someone might say:

  • 'Oh, that party was rubbish.' 'Rubbish?? It was dismal!'

  • Yes!

  • OK. Well, we hope this explanation hasn't been 'dismal'.

  • Let's get a summary:

  • If you like stories about music, we have the perfect one for you

  • about sad music and why people like it.

  • Where can our viewers find that Roy?

  • All you need to do is click the link in the description below.

  • OK. Let's take a look at your next headline.

  • OK. So, our next headline comes from the UK,

  • from the New Statesman, and it reads:

  • 'Intact' – complete; in the original condition.

  • So, yes. So, this word is spelt: I-N-T-A-C-T.

  • And it means that it is complete and in its original condition.

  • This word is obviously more positive than that original headline.

  • Now, the other day, Neil, I gave you a present.

  • I gave you a really nice present and I thought you'd like it.

  • I gave you a jigsaw puzzle, where you put all those pieces in, but you...

  • you weren't happy, were you?

  • I wasn't, Roy, even though it was nice to get such a, sort of,

  • old-fashioned analogue type of toygame.

  • I wasn't happy because there was a piece missing.

  • OK. So, it wasn't 'intact', but it was still a good puzzle.

  • OK. So, there's that meaning there:

  • when you said there was a piece missing,

  • we can say that something is not 'intact'.

  • Or if it is 'intact', it is complete.

  • Now, another way that we use this word

  • is to say that something is undamaged.

  • So, for example, you buy a package or a parcel,

  • and it arrives and everything is complete and it's undamaged.

  • And you can say, 'The package arrived intact.'

  • Yeah. And it's what you expect, isn't it?

  • When a package arrives, you expect it to be intact.

  • Yes. Yeah, you do. We... we also use it as well for buildings.

  • So, maybe there's a really bad storm

  • and some buildings have become damaged,

  • but there's one building that was 'intact'. It's undamaged.

  • That's right, yeahnot affected by the... by the storm or whatever.

  • And we also talk about... use it to talk about

  • things that affect people.

  • Yes, we do. So, for example,

  • if there's some kind of scandal or negative news report

  • maybe it could potentially damage a person's reputation, but if they...

  • if they move past that situation with their reputation still OK,

  • then we say: 'Their reputation remains intact.'

  • Or: 'It remained intact.'

  • Yeah and the same could be said about somebody's health.

  • For example, you could say:

  • 'Despite many years of smoking, his health was intact.'

  • It means undamaged. Yes... Absolutely.

  • OK. Shall we get a summary?

  • We've been talking about reputations and we have an expression

  • from William Shakespeare using the word 'reputation'.

  • What do our viewers need to do, Roy?

  • All you need to do is click the link in the description below.

  • OK. Let's have a look now at our next headline.

  • OK. Our next headline comes from the UK, from the Telegraph, and it reads:

  • 'Damp squib' – something less impressive than expected.

  • Yeah. So, this is a very British expression and it's two words.

  • The first word is 'damp' – D-A-M-P.

  • The second word is 'squib', spelt: S-Q-U-I-B.

  • Very importantthat 'b' there.

  • And what it meansit describes something.

  • It's a noun – a noun phraseand it describes something that is...

  • It's... it's less than it was expected.

  • So, you had high expectations and it didn't reach those expectations.

  • Yeah. Now, this is a bit of a strange expression

  • because most people will understand

  • the first part 'damp', meaning slightly wet,

  • and we can see how that can be... have a, sort of, negative meaning.

  • But 'squib' – what is a 'squib', Roy?

  • In the past, a 'squib' was used to refer to a small firework.

  • So, this is going to give an idea. So, you're right.

  • That 'damp' word, which is obviously still in useit means wet.

  • And the fireworkif a wet firework...

  • if a firework is wet, it doesn't really... it doesn't really work.

  • Fireworks are best when they're dry.

  • So, this is what many people believe is the origin of this expression

  • just a wet firework that didn't... didn't go off.

  • Yeah. And as we know, fireworks are exciting.

  • There's some expectation around how they're going to make you feel.

  • You're going to be excited and full of joy.

  • If it's 'damp', that excitement is gone

  • and that's the key to this meaning.

  • It is. So... and we use it quite commonly, as I say,

  • in British English, informally, to say something is a disappointment.

  • So, maybe you go to a restaurant and the food isn't very good,

  • and you say: 'Oh, that restaurant was a bit of a damp squib.'

  • Or a party – a terrible, terrible party.

  • Can you think of an example of a 'damp squib'?

  • Well, Roy. I know.... you know, I don't want to upset you here

  • because I know you organised it,

  • but last year's Learning English Christmas party.

  • Well, the Christmas party's usually quite good fun,

  • but this yearor last yearbecause we couldn't get together

  • because of Covid, we had to do it virtually.

  • And I'm afraid to say it was a 'damp squib', Roy.

  • Yeah... yeah, I agree. It was a...

  • it was a bit of a let downnot as good as expectations,

  • but we've made the best of a bad situation.

  • But you can say: 'Yeah, it was a bit of a damp squib,'

  • because the year before everybody was together

  • and hopefully, again – I have another opportunity this year,

  • so hopefully my reputation this time will remain 'intact'.

  • Ah, nice use of a word from that previous headline.

  • One other thing to point out about this expression 'damp squib':

  • a lot of people get confused

  • because the word 'squib' is not used in modern English very often,

  • and they think it's 'squid'.

  • What's a 'squid', Roy?

  • OK. So, yeah, this is absolutely true.

  • Both native speakers of English and non-native speakers

  • regularly get this wrong: they say 'damp squid'.

  • A 'squid' is an animal that lives under the water

  • and it's kind of like an octopus.

  • And it makes sense, because a 'squid' would be damp,

  • but that's not the expression. We say, 'damp squib' with a 'b'.

  • OK. Let's get a summary:

  • And time now for a recap of the vocabulary please, Roy.

  • Yes. We had 'dismal' – sad; hopeless.

  • 'Intact' – complete; in the original condition.

  • And we had 'damp squib' – something less impressive than expected.

  • If you want to test yourself on the vocabulary,

  • go to bbclearningenglish.com. There is a quiz there.

  • Thanks for joining us and see you next time. Goodbye.

  • Bye.

Abba, the pop superstars of the 1970s,

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Abba: Pop superstars are back - BBC News Review

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/09/07
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