Nicknames - 16/17 ep.6
In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, Rich and Jack talk about the latest in the Premier League and focus on the history behind the nicknames of three Premier League clubs: Manchester Utd, West Ham and Arsenal. The language focus is on narrative tenses, which are tenses in the past that are often used to tell stories and anecdotes. In our pronunciation section, we take a look at some place names and Premier League clubs that are difficult to pronounce. The difference between what you say and what you read is often very different. We also have news about our Premier Skills Fantasy Football team, your chance to make a prediction on this week's big Premier League match and a new football phrase for you to guess.
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. You can see two examples here:
In the UK, it’s really common for kids and teenagers, especially boys, to be given a nickname.
Matt Busby decided that he liked this name because it sounded more intimidating.
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Can you remember all of them? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words in context. This can really help with understanding.
Language - Narrative Tenses
In the podcast, Rich ad Jack spoke about the nicknames of three Premier League clubs: Manchester Utd, West Ham and Arsenal. They told a story or anecdote about how the nicknames of these clubs originated. When they were speaking, they used a lot of past tenses. Past tenses to tell stories are often called narrative tenses. Narrative tenses are what we should normally use when we are telling a story that took place in the past. Let's take a look at some examples of narrative tenses from the podcast:
We use the past simple to talk about something that happened once (e.g. Zlatan scored on Saturday) or many times in the past (e.g. Pele scored many goals), for a period of time in the past (e.g. Ronaldo played in the Premier League for 6 years) or to describe states in the past (Diego Maradona was a great player). This is one example from the podcast:
Matt Busby, who was a famous Man Utd manager in the 1960s, made the decision to change the club’s nickname.
We use the past continuous in a number of ways but the main reasons are to talk about something that continued for a long time or to say what was happening before and/or after a specific action or time. The action is usually the past simple and the description before the.action is the past continuous. This is one example that happens at football matches:
While the home fans were singing the away team scored a goal.
When we talk about something that happened in the past we sometimes want to refer back to something that happened before that time. We can use the past perfect tense (had + past participle) to do this. This is an example from the podcast:
A few years earlier, there had been a very famous rugby team in Manchester.
Past Perfect Continuous
We use the past perfect continuous for something that started in the past and continued up to another time in the past. Here is an example from the podcast. The journalists watched them play before calling them 'The Red Devils' so the first tense is the past perfect continuous.
The French journalists that had been watching them play called them ‘Les Diables Rouges’.
Now in this activity, take a look at the text and decide which narrative tense to use in each sentence. Then, take a look at our course, Leicester City -The Champions of England. On the course, there are lessons about storytelling and narrative tenses.
Pronunciation - Difficult place names
In this week's podcast, we looked at some Premier League clubs and cities in the UK that are difficult to pronounce. It's often difficult to pronounce them because what you read and what you say are very different. Practise saying these places, some of them are present or past Premier League clubs. We've added a few difficult ones to the list! If you're not sure of a word, there's a great website called youglish.com where you can check your answers. You can type in any word you want (including place names!) and it will find lots and lots of examples of that word from youtube videos. Let us know if it helps in the comments section below.
The River Thames
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Jack: Hi everyone. I’m Jack and every week we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We’re going to be talking about the latest action in the Premier League and then tell you a few stories about where Premier League nicknames come from.
Jack: And the language focus this week is on narrative tenses which are tenses that are used to talk about the past..
Rich: We have some more pronunciation practice, a new football phrase for you and this week’s Premier League prediction. You’ll have to be quick with your predictions this week because this week’s big match is on Friday!
Jack: But, let’s begin by talking about what’s been happening on the website this week.
Jack: We’ve got a new player article on the website. It’s all about the Manchester City forward, Raheem Sterling.
Rich: I imagine he’s celebrating this week after City’s win against Utd in the Manchester Derby! We’ve put a football English quiz on there too so it’s a good chance to learn some difficult football words.
Jack: We had some comments on the Manchester Derby podcast we did last week. We asked you what was special about derby matches. Poui from Laos said they’re special because they are emotional, passionate and there’s always a great atmosphere.
Rich: Davilillons from Spain said they’re special because you remember these matches for a long time and KwesiManifest from Ghana said they’re special because of the jubilation that fans feel after their team has won a derby.
Jack: There were some great words in your comments and remember if you want us to correct your vocabulary or grammar just write ‘correct me’ at the beginning of your comment. What about our Fantasy Football team, Rich?
Rich: You can check out how the Premier Skills team did in Gameweek 4 on our Fantasy Football page - again there is a link on this page. I had to make some last minute changes to the team. I hope nobody minds.
Jack: I had my best week so far. Laurent Koscielny scored a bicycle kick and Watford’s Odion Ighalo got me 11 points! Are you in our Premier Skills League? Check out the page for more details and Fantasy Football chat.
Jack: What’s been happening in the Premier League this week, Rich?
Rich: I’m going to start this section a bit differently this week and I’m going to read Gameweek 4’s match results.
Jack: Go on then.
Rich: Here we go. The Cherries 1-0 The Baggies, The Clarets 1-1 The Tigers, The Smoggies 1-2 The Eagles
Jack: What? Wait. Stop!
Rich: What’s the matter?
Jack: I think we should explain.
Rich: OK, yes, you’re right. This week’s main topic is Premier League nicknames. A nickname, of course, is an informal name that is given to a team or a person.
Jack: In the UK, it’s really common for kids and teenagers, especially boys, to be given a nickname. These names are often based on someone's surname or family name. My family name is Radford and my nickname was Radders. You might see that my team in
Fantasy Football is called Radders Utd.
Rich: My nickname was similar. My surname is Moon and my nickname was Moony. It’s really common just to add a y to the surname. You can have Smithy, Jonesy there are loads.
Jack: And we have nicknames in the Premier League, too. Some nicknames are really boring like your team Liverpool - The Reds. It’s just based on the colour of the shirt. But some are much more interesting.
Rich: In a minute or two, we’re going to talk about three Premier League nicknames in more detail, but first, I’m going to continue reading last weekend’s football results.
Jack: We want to test your knowledge of Premier League nicknames. While Rich speaks we want you to think what the official name is. If you’re not sure you can pause the podcast and click on the club badges at the top of the page. Find the nicknames in the text and at the same time you will be practising your scanning skills which is a reading skill you need to use for lots of English exams and in real life, too!
Rich: OK, The Red Devils 1-2 The Citizens, The Gunners 2-1 The Saints, The Cherries 1-0 The Baggies, The Clarets 1-1 The Tigers, The Smoggies 1-2 The Eagles, The Reds 4-1 The Foxes, The Irons 2-4 The Hornets, The Potters 0-4 Spurs, The Swans 2-2 The Blues.
Jack: Did you understand? Let us know in the comments section how many you got right!
Rich: Some nicknames are based on the colour of their shirts. Liverpool are The Reds, Burnley: The Clarets, claret is a type of wine and means dark red and of course, Chelsea: The Blues.
Jack: But some are much more interesting and we’re going to take a look at three of them. Let’s start with Manchester Utd.
Rich: Man Utd’s nickname is the Red Devils. There is a picture of a red devil in the centre of Man Utd’s club badge. The Devil is used in many religions to describe the most powerful evil being. However, a devil is also used more informally to describe people who behave badly or are naughty. It’s often used to describe naughty children.
Jack: The nickname started to be used in the 1960s. It is said that Matt Busby, who was a famous Man Utd manager in the 1960s, made the decision to change the club’s nickname. A few years earlier, there had been a very famous rugby team in Manchester - they were called Salford.
Rich: Salford went on a tour of France to play rugby. They won every match they played. They played spectacular matches and won by many, many points. The French journalists that had been watching them play called them ‘Les Diables Rouges’ which, translated into English, is ‘The Red Devils.’
Jack: Matt Busby decided that he liked this name because it sounded more intimidating than the nickname they had been using - the Busby Babes. The Red Devils started to be used on scarves and match programmes and was put on the Manchester Utd shirt in 1971. Man Utd’s mascot since 1994 has been Fred the Red, who is a devil and is on the pitch on match days.
Rich: The Red Devils - it doesn’t scare me much! Another two interesting nicknames are The Gunners and The Irons or The Hammers. The Gunners is Arsenal’s nickname and West Ham have two nicknames - The Hammers and The Irons.
Jack: Most football clubs in the UK were founded, which is an official word for started an organisation, at the end of the 19th century. Football was played and watched by working class people who worked in factories and heavy industries like steelworks and shipbuilding.
Rich: Before West Ham were called West Ham they were known as Thames Ironworks. An ironworks is a factory where objects are made from the metal - iron. Thames Ironworks was the name of the factory and company - named after the River Thames that flows through London.
Jack: Thames Ironworks created a football team from employees at the factory in 1895 and five years later this team became West Ham United. Both of West Ham’s nicknames come from this background. The Irons from the ironworks and The Hammers because hammers are tools that were often used in the ironworks. If you take a look at West Ham’s club badge you can see two hammers in the picture.
Rich: Arsenal’s nickname The Gunners is similar. In the 19th century there were lots of military and army buildings and military hospitals in the area of London and a group of workers from a military factory started the club.
Jack: So, Arsenal’s nickname became the Gunners and you can see a picture of a cannon on the club badge.
Rich: So that’s three interesting nicknames in the Premier League. Do you know anything else about nicknames in the Premier League or nicknames for teams in your country? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Jack: We’ve just told you three stories about nicknames. When we were speaking we used past tenses a lot. When we tell stories these past tenses are called narrative tenses.
Rich: Let’s look at the story about Manchester Utd. We can see some different past tenses being used. We heard the past simple, for example: Matt Busby, who was a famous Man Utd manager in the 1960s, made the decision to change the club’s nickname.
Jack: We also heard the past perfect, for example: A few years earlier, there had been a very famous rugby team in Manchester.
Rich: We also heard the past perfect continuous, for example: The French journalists that had been watching them play called them ‘Les Diables Rouges’.
Jack: In the language activities below this podcast we look at narrative tenses in more detail and have some activities for you to do.
Rich: In this week’s pronunciation section we’re going to take a look at some difficult place names and help you pronounce them properly.
Jack: Problems often happen when you see a word written down and try to say it as it’s written. Quite often in English, words are not written and said in the same way.
Rich: Jack, to give everyone a chance to pronounce the place, we’re going to do a little quiz. We want everyone to shout out the answer when you know it to test your pronunciation.
Jack: Great I love quizzes.
Rich: This team is playing in the Champions League for the first time this week.
Jack: Err, no I don’t know.
Rich: If you know the answer, just shout it out. OK, this team have an Italian manager that loves pizza.
Jack: No, err I don’t know. Anyone else? Shout out the answer if you know!
Rich: Come on! They won the Premier League title last season! They’re called the Foxes.
Jack: Alright! I know. It’s Leicester. Leicester City. Leicester City are Champions of England. It’s a difficult place to pronounce.
Rich: OK everybody try and repeat. Leicester…..Leicester City……..Leicester City are Champions of England.
Jack: OK, I have one for you. Remember if you know the place just shout it out.
Rich: Go on then.
Jack: You can get good ice cream here.
Rich: No idea.
Jack: They have just signed my namesake.
Rich: Nope still don’t know.
Jack: Their nickname is The Cherries.
Rich: Alright I know. It’s Bournemouth. Bournemouth is next to the beach. Bournemouth have signed Jack Wilshere. Another difficult place to pronounce.
Jack: OK everybody try and repeat. Bournemouth……. Bournemouth is next to the beach……. Bournemouth have signed Jack Wilshere.
Rich: Last one. They got promoted last year. Remember if you know shout out the answer.
Jack: Errr Hull?
Rich: No. Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes play for them.
Jack: Shout it out if you know the answer. I don’t know.
Rich: They’re nickname is Smoggies or the Boro!
Jack: I know. It’s Middlesbrough. Middlesbrough got promoted last season. Victor Valdes plays for Middlesbrough.
Rich: OK everybody try and repeat. Middlesbrough. Middlesbrough got promoted last season. Victor Valdes plays for Middlesbrough.
Jack: So that’s three difficult Premier League teams and UK cities that are difficult to pronounce, especially when you see them written down.
Rich: Which words do you have problems pronouncing? Let us know in the comments section!
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first last week’s football phrase. The phrase was ‘local rival’. The first word ‘local’ means to be connected to your area or region geographically and the second word ‘rival’ means an opponent or quite often a team that you don’t like very much. Manchester Utd and Manchester City are local rivals.
Rich: Well done to Kwesimanifest from Ghana, Liubomyr from Ukraine and Ghigo from Italy. You all got the right answer.
Jack: This week’s phrase is to *** ** *** *****. This is an idiom and it means to avoid making a decision one way or the other. When someone is asked for a prediction in a football match and they choose a draw they can be described as ******** ** *** *****. Keep listening to the prediction and see if you can hear Rich using this week’s football phrase.
Jack: I see that nobody predicted the Manchester Derby last week. I went for a draw, you went for a Man Utd win and 67% of our listeners also went for a Man Utd win so no points for anybody this week. What match are you going to talk about this week?
Rich: You have to be quick with your predictions this week. The big match is Chelsea against Liverpool and it kicks off on Friday evening at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are unbeaten but they dropped their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw against Swansea last week. Liverpool had a fantastic 4-1 win against Leicester. Costa and HAzard are looking good for Chelsea and Firmino and Mane for Liverpool. I’m going to *** ** *** ***** in this one and go for a draw. Final score: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Jack: Can’t see Liverpool winning this one. I think Chelsea will win 3-1.
Rich: Remember to make your prediction in our vote at the bottom of the page in our Premier Prediction League!
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. And remember to take a look at our Fantasy Football page and join in the discussions!
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
Manchester City won the Manchester Derby last week, which meant nobody correctly predicted the right result. Rich and our Premier Skills community predicted a Man Utd win and Jack went for a draw. Rich still leads the way with 3 points but we're still waiting for someone to predict the exact score. Remember, it's one point for the correct result and two additional points for the correct score. You have to be quick with your predictions this week, Chelsea v Liverpool kicks off on Friday!
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Make your prediction now!
What do you think?
Which team has the best nickname in the Premier League? Do teams in your country have nicknames? What are they?
Are nicknames important for fans and the history of football clubs? Do people in your country usually have nicknames?
Can you tell us a short anecdote or story about a football club or player? Can you use different narrative tenses?
Which place names in the UK do you find difficult to pronounce? Are there any places in your country that are especially difficult to say?