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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Sam.

  • And I'm Neil.

  • In this programme we're talking

  • about a famous leader and

  • teaching you some

  • useful vocabulary

  • ..like 'chancellor' – the person in the

  • highest position in a government or a universityand especially the

  • title for the head of the government in some

  • European countries.

  • A country such as Germany.

  • It's a position like the

  • prime minister in the UK.

  • And one of Germany's longest

  • serving chancellors was Angela Merkel,

  • who led the country from 2005

  • until the recent elections

  • in September 2021.

  • Well, we're going to find out

  • more about her soon but not

  • before I've challenged

  • you to answer this question, Neil.

  • Who was Germany's first ever chancellor?

  • Was it:

  • a) Otto von Bismarck

  • b) Helmut Schmidt

  • c) Or Franz von Papen

  • Well, my knowledge of German history

  • isn't great but a) Otto von Bismarck.

  • That sounds quite likely.

  • OK, I'll reveal the answer later on.

  • But let's talk more about Angela Merkel now.

  • She was in office for 16 years

  • 'in office' means 'in power'

  • or 'in charge', until she

  • stepped down last month.

  • Yes, that's a long time

  • which meant that she had to

  • make lots of decisions,

  • popular with some people

  • and not with others.

  • Over that time, she's gained a

  • nickname – 'mutti' – German for

  • 'mother'. This

  • could be seen as a compliment

  • but started life as more of an insult, as BBC

  • correspondent Damien McGuinness,

  • explained on the BBC Radio programme,

  • From Our Own Correspondent

  • The 'mummy Merkel' image in fact,

  • started off as an insult from conservative rivals. It was made up during her

  • first term in office by hardline

  • conservatives in

  • her predominantly male party.

  • A patronising put down behind

  • her back,

  • to put her in her place as a woman,

  • possibly even meant to be hurtful,

  • given that in reality she has no children.

  • Oh dear, so the nickname of 'mother'

  • was really used as an insult to start with,

  • probably invented by the men

  • in her political party

  • described as the hardline

  • conservativesones with traditional

  • and strict beliefs that can't be changed.

  • Yes, the nickname was used

  • as a put downthat's an insult,

  • used to make

  • someone feel stupid or embarrassed.

  • And the intention was to make her feel less

  • importantor to put her in her place.

  • Well, politics is full of insults and

  • critics, but it sounds rather cruel, and Damien

  • McGuinness does go on to say

  • that this image is really a

  • 'media myth' and not

  • quite accurate.

  • But, the media has not always been

  • negative about Angela Merkel. She is the

  • longest-serving amongst current

  • EU leaders and participated in an estimated 100 EU summits. She has often

  • been described as "the only grown-up in the

  • room". So, the media has

  • called her 'The Queen of Europe'.

  • What is true is that following the

  • recent elections in Germany, her successor

  • the person who became

  • chancellor - will lack the experience

  • and gravitas that

  • Merkel has gained over her

  • 16 years as chancellor.

  • But Damien McGuinness, in his

  • report for the BBC's From Our Own

  • Correspondent programme,

  • concludes that many people aren't

  • sure which of her

  • nicknames is accurate.

  • What word does he use to

  • mean 'phrases or ideas that

  • have become meaningless

  • because they've been overused'?

  • [But] The confusion around these

  • cliches does point to another truth -

  • The Chancellor is discreet, to the

  • point of sometimes being invisible.

  • So, there's a

  • fascination about what's really

  • going on behind that deadpan

  • exterior. Angela

  • Merkel may have been in power

  • for more than a decade and a

  • half, but people

  • are still not really sure they

  • know who she is.

  • He used the word cliches to

  • mean 'phrases or ideas that have become

  • meaningless because

  • they've been overused.'

  • People are unsure which description of her is true

  • because she is discreet

  • she keeps quiet about things

  • so as not to attract attention.

  • Yes, it's hard to know what she is

  • thinking because she looks deadpanthat

  • means she looks serious and

  • doesn't show expression or emotion.

  • Hmmm, I wonder if Germany's

  • first ever chancellor had a deadpan exterior?

  • Ah yes, earlier you asked me who that was,

  • and I said it was Otto von Bismarck.

  • Was I right?

  • Yes, you werewell done.

  • He became chancellor

  • in 1815 and was responsible for

  • transforming a collection of small

  • German states into the German empire.

  • Wunderbar! Now it's time

  • to recap some of

  • the vocabulary we've mentioned

  • today, starting with chancellor -

  • the person in the highest position in a

  • government in some countries.

  • Hardline describes someone with

  • traditional and strict beliefs

  • that can't be easily changed.

  • A put down is an insult, used to

  • make someone feel stupid or embarrassed.

  • When someone is put in their place,

  • they are made to feel less

  • important than they are.

  • Cliches are phrases or ideas that have

  • become meaningless because they've

  • been overused. And deadpan

  • describes someone's serious

  • facial expression that

  • shows no emotion.

  • Thanks, Neil. That's all for now but

  • don't forget there are lots more 6 Minute

  • English programmes to enjoy

  • on our website at

  • bbclearningenglish.com. You can

  • also find us on social

  • media and on our free app.

  • And if you enjoy topical

  • discussion, like in 6 minute English,

  • why not try one of

  • our other podcasts?

  • In News Review we take a big

  • international story, discuss the

  • vocabulary used in the headlines,

  • and teach you how to use it

  • in your everyday English.

  • That's News Review from

  • BBC Learning English. Try it out!

  • Thanks for listening and goodbye.

  • Goodbye.

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Angela Merkel - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/10/14
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