This episode's vocabulary
- To darn (verb) - to repair a hole or a piece of clothing with long stitches across the hole and other stitches across them.
- Specialization (noun) - a particular area of knowledge or the process of becoming an expert in a particular area.
- Inoperable (adj.) - if a system, plan, machine, etc. is inoperable, it cannot be done or made to work.
- Durable (adj.) - able to last and be used for a long time without becoming damaged.
- Faulty (adj.) - a faulty machine or device is not perfectly made or does not work correctly.
- Customize (verb) - to make or change something according to the buyer's or user's needs.
- Redundancy (noun) - a situation in which something is unnecessary because it is more than is needed.
- Deliberately (adverb) - intentionally.
- Horrendous (adj.) - extremely unpleasant or bad.
Questions and Answers
M: Let's talk about repairing things. What kinds of things do people like to repair by themselves?
R: Well, there seems to be a trend of people replacing their phone screens and other components these days. And I think back in the day, people would be more likely to darn their clothes. Though, perhaps with the rise of fast fashion, maybe this is going, well, out of fashion, so to speak. I say this, I'm not sure people actually enjoy fixing them up. But this seems to be increasingly necessary in some cases.
M: And why do people prefer asking other people to repair things for them?
R: Well, because it's easier than learning to do it yourself, I suppose. So there's this element of convenience. And if you have the money, why not do that? Maybe you could do something better with your time.
M: But do you think more people repair things themselves or they have the things repaired for them?
R: That's a good question. I have absolutely no idea how you would measure that. If I were to guess, I think probably people get things repaired for them more than they do it themselves, just because there seems to be an increasing amount of specialization in society.
M: Why do people like to get their mobile phones repaired in specialized stores?
R: Well, it relates back to what I've said before, it's probably faster than doing it themselves. Plus, you know, nothing is likely to go wrong. Whereas if you try and fix your phone yourself, then you could easily make a mess of it and render the whole thing completely inoperable. And that's actually just made the small problem much worse.
M: Is the quality of products worse than before?
R: Well, if my experience with the Smart Meter has anything to go by then yes. However, if I take a more balanced view of it, then they might actually be improving since phones, at least on the surface of it seem to be less fragile and more durable. And there are more components to replace the faulty ones. And there's greater variety in choice in terms of the various things that you can do to customize them. So maybe it's getting better on the whole.
M: Do you think that some companies produce things which break down or wear out faster on purpose?
R: They definitely do. I can't remember what it's called. I think it's like planned redundancy or something, where companies deliberately design products that break so customers are forced to get new ones. And you can see that best in something we've already discussed, which is light bulbs. Light bulbs, could all be designed to last longer than they currently do. But they're not because if they were designed better then the companies wouldn't be able to turn a profit. So I can definitely see this working indicates of some products.
M: But do you think this is a good trend or a bad trend?
R: I don't know if it's a trend. I know it's true for some products. If it's a trend, then it's horrendous because it's just really wasteful. Is there a way around it though? I'm not really sure.
M: Let's talk about jobs in IT. Are IT related jobs valued more by society?
R: Well, probably more so now, than they ever have been. I mean, just about everything has a microchip or some sort of electronic component that needs to be programmed. So these jobs are vital to, well, keep entire countries running, to be honest.
M: And what about the future? Do you think such jobs will be even more valued in the future?
R: Oh, definitely. I mean, everything is becoming computerized these days. You pick up a piece of fruit, and it's got a camera on it. So yeah, you probably will need these people more often. And so the jobs will be much more highly valued.
M: Thank you, Rory, for your answers!
M: So repairing things, so first of all the synonyms right, so we fix things, we repair things. Anything else?
R: We have them fixed and have them repaired.
M: Yeah, again, we've talked about this in the previous episodes. But if you do not fix things yourself, you use the phrase, I have it repaired, or people have it repaired. People get it repaired. Right, so for example, the question was about mobile phones. So people prefer to get them repaired. People enjoy having them fixed. Yeah?
R: And then there are sort of specialized words. So for clothing repairs, it's called darning, especially if it's done by an amateur.
M: Wait, I though it's mending.
R: Well, I was going to say mending is the more common version. But still...
M: So usually, if I have a hole in my sweater, so I mend it. I mend old clothes. Yeah? Mend. But your verb is darn.
R: Darning, yeah. Darning clothes. But it doesn't make a difference, because the important thing is that it's getting fixed, or repaired.
M: Yeah. And then, like what kinds of things people like to repair by themselves. And, yeah, the question is a bit strange because like, like to repair, okay, some people actually dislike repairing things by themselves. But well, some people might like mending clothes, right? Or replacing their phone screens, as Rory told us.
R: That was a very strange question. I don't know anyone who enjoys fixing things.
M: Yeah, me either. Because like, we have to do it. But okay, do you enjoy it? But actually, some people do. They kind of enjoy repairing laptops and computers, and then they have all these components and different parts of various devices at home. So maybe it's just their hobby, repairing stuff. All right. So what are, you said, like phone screens and other components? Components, you meant parts of a device?
R: Yeah. Just the parts of the device that make it work. And usually we replace the components.
M: With something else. Yeah. You said that I'm not sure that people actually enjoy fixing them up. So to fix things and fix them up. That's the same, right?
R: No, because if it was, then we'd have the same word. So there must be a difference between fixing things and fixing them up. Probably it's the process. So it's like getting them back to normal.
M: And then why do people prefer to get it fixed? So you say there's an element of convenience. So convenience, and it's more convenient to get it fixed for you instead of repairing everything yourself. Right? So you go to a specialized shop or store, or... Where do we go to repair things? Or where do we take things to be repaired?
R: The repair shop, phone repair shop. Well, the phone repair shop for your phone. If we talk about car, you go to the mechanics. If you have, if we speak about shoes, then you go to a cobbler. Although now, there's a cobbler mend shoes.
M: A cobbler. A person who mans your shoes.
R: It is a person who men's shoes. Yeah. I haven't seen a cobbler in ever, but there you go, there's someone who mends your shoes.
M: So is this person, a person in a specialized place? Like the shoe place where you go and you get your shoes repaired?
R: I think they used to, now I think, at least in my country, it's where you have your keys made and in the same shop where this happens, there's also someone who fixes your shoes. I'm pretty sure it's the same in Russia.
M: Yes, like a shoe repair shops. Oh, haven't been in those four years. Oh, wow.
M: But they do other things now. Because people just throw away their shoes.
M: True, true. Instead of like repairing them. Yeah, but it's sometimes actually more expensive to repair the shoes, rather than to do just buy new ones. Yeah, but I used to do it quite a lot, to be honest with you. Yeah. At school and at University. Oh, I was such a drag. Just go in there, playing, waiting, coming back, going there again. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So shoe repair shops or cobbler. Cobbler. An interesting word. All right. Then you said that, if you try to fix your phone yourself, then you could easily make a mess of it. Right?
M: So to make a mess of it.
R: So if you make a mess of something, you just make it worse.
M: Yeah. And then he said and render the whole thing completely useless. So what does this mean to render?
R: Render. Oh, it's got a similar meaning to make. But it's talking about like the final result. And it's usually used to talk about negative outcomes. So render something useless, render something inoperable, render someone unconscious, all of these things are negative. So it's to do with that. However, you can render, I think you render a picture as well, you render art, which is like to create art. So it's not always negative. It's just usually the case.
M: Could you give us a sentence?
R: When I was punched in the head, I was rendered unconscious.
M: Yeah, for example, like that. Yeah. Or just like this, right? So if you try to fix your phone yourself, then you can render the whole thing completely useless. Right, so you can make the whole thing completely useful. But this is for a very high score, you guys, this is like, oh, wow. Is it nine? No, no, it's more than nine. It's 10. It's 15. Yeah, it's like, like, wow thing. Yep. All right. And Rory, did you say that, if my experience or in my experience? What did you say with experience about...
R: If my experience with the smart meter is anything to go by? It's a good way of actually starting off an answer with a reference to something that's come before. So it could be, well, we're talking about repairs, and I had to get the Smart Meter repaired when I talked about something that I had, that was broken in part two. So it was like, if my experience with a smart meter is anything to go by. And it could be like, you could say the same thing like if my experience with most electronic products has anything to go by, then it just means like, because of my past experience in this area, I can say yes or no.
M: Oh, wow. Yeah, that's also, you know, pretty challenging.
R: Like if this past experience is what's normal.
M: Okay, is it true about any question if I ask you, for example? Okay, what can I ask you about? Like, which things usually break down?
R: Well, then it would be like, if my experience with my electronic devices at home is anything to go by, then everything breaks down.
M: Yeah, yeah. You see, so kind of if my experience is correct, yeah. If I can use my experience with this, then it's this.
R: Yeah, it's more like if my experience is normal. Like, if my experience is the one that's normal for the world, then...
M: Yeah, if you don't like this word, if it's like to band nine ish to you, then you can say just okay, from my own experience, or, as far as I know, from what I know, like personally, so you can use some of these phrases. Yeah? Again, easier phrases, but this one is, again, we're flying high in the sky. Yeah, you talked about phones being fragile. So we can say that some products are fragile, or durable. So if, for example, you use your phone for 15 years, it's never broken down. So then it's durable, so durable products, or fragile. Also, we can say sometimes products have faulty components.
R: Or faulty parts.
M: Yeah. And then I asked you about this thing. Actually, it's called planned obsolescence.
R: Oh, is that what it's called? I said redundancy, didn't I?
M: Yeah, yeah.
R: Yeah, so the word is obsolescence. Sorry about that.
M: Is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete), obsolete like old or unfashionable, no longer usable, of a product is planned. You see, so and built into it from its conception by the manufacturer. So you see, so companies, they design the product They built it in a way for the product to kind of to break down soon. You see? So they plan it, they built it like this, right? That's why we change our phones so often, because something just breaks down all of a sudden, oh, but it's not all of a sudden, it's actually, it has been planned by the manufacturing, by the manufacturer. The essay question was about this. So one of the recent essay questions, it was like this, many of the products we buy nowadays break or wear out very quickly. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this for manufacturers, and the public? Sorry, I've lied to you. It's not one of the recent questions, it's just an essay question.
R: It's just a question.
M: It's just a question. Yeah.
R: It's a good question. What are the benefits for the public? None. Because the world is filled with products that are falling to pieces deliberately. That's so immoral.
M: Yeah. Yeah. And here, we can talk about the lifetime of goods of products, right. So like, we have shorter lifetimes of different goods. Also, for example, products deteriorate in quality quite fast. So we can say that, for example. Also, can I say, shorter lifespans of products.
R: Yes, a short product lifespan.
M: Yeah. And then we usually talk about smartphone screens, buttons, batteries. What else can we talk about that kind of, products which have short lifespans?
R: Did you mention light bulbs?
M: Light bulbs. Yes, your favorite.
R: Sorry. Your phone is like that too. Anything, like anything where the manufacturers have done this on purpose. Oh, I don't like them. Why do you do this? Well, I know why you do. It's because of the money. But oh, it's just so wasteful and pathetic.
M: Yeah. Yeah. That's why we have this constant turnover of products. Right. But on the bright side, you can say on the bright side, that consumers get the latest products.
R: They get the latest products, because they have no choice. This is outrageous.
M: Yeah. Oh, what about headsets? Earphones? Earbuds? Headsets? They also kind of break down very, very, very often. Too often.
R: Yes. It's outrageous. Outrageous.
M: Yeah, dear listener, now you know this specific term planned obsolescence, because obsolete, obsolete is old. Right? Like very old, obsolete, not used anymore. Again, if you forget this term, you can kind of explain this business strategy and say companies do it on purpose, they design products, which will break down soon. So just to kind of explain it. So that'll be fine.
R: Do you know, it's funny, we said that we would have a really short episode. And now actually, we're at our normal time.
M: You're reading my mind. I was gonna say that. Yeah. Well, it's not a short episode.
R: On the subject of things coming to an end, we should close the episode there. But thank you for listening
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