This episode's vocabulary
- Warranted (adj.) - if something is warranted, there is a good reason for it and it can be accepted.
- Common denominator (noun) - something that is the same for all the members of a group and might bring them together.
- To swamp (verb) - if something swamps a person, system, or place, more of it arrives than can be easily dealt with.
- Set in your ways - not liking change in your life.
- Keep abreast of sth -to make sure you know all the most recent facts about a subject or situation.
- To prioritize (verb) - to decide which of a group of things are the most important so that you can deal with them first.
- Extortionate (adj.) - extremely expensive.
- Practical (adj.) - relating to experience, real situations, or actions rather than ideas or imagination.
- Utility (noun) - the usefulness of something, especially in a practical way.
- Revolve around sb/sth - to have someone or something as the main or most important interest or subject.
- Bribery (noun) - an attempt to make someone do something for you by giving the person money, presents, or something else that they want.
- Pretext (noun) - a pretended reason for doing something that is used to hide the real reason.
- Contingent on/upon sth - depending on something else in the future in order to happen.
- Shoddy (adj.) - badly and carelessly made, using low-quality materials.
- Proliferation (noun) - the fact of something increasing a lot and suddenly in number or amount.
Questions and Answers
M: Let's talk about giving gifts. When do people usually send gifts to others?
R: Well, whenever the occasion calls for it, really. The most obvious example is from my own culture and experience are birthdays and Christmas. But there are other religious reasons and periods when gift-giving is warranted. For example, in Judaism, some people get several days of gifts, which is part of the tradition that they have. Another time can be when you accomplish something or reach a milestone like passing your driving test or university entrance exams. So I suppose the common denominator is they all involve something significant in the eyes of the gift-givers.
M: Do people give gifts at traditional festivals?
R: Well, they can if it's part of the festival, it would be difficult to imagine people giving gifts, you know, that tomato throwing festival in Spain, unless you really like rotten fruit. Where I'm from, it's more about the event traditions and rituals rather than the gifts.
M: Why is it hard sometimes to choose a gift?
R: It could be any number of reasons. I think the most common group of them is that you don't know the person's tastes very well, or that they might be really hard to find or afford. Alternatively, there might be too much choice and you sort of get swamped with a range of acceptable options and have trouble narrowing it down.
M: Would you say it's true that it's much harder to choose a gift for older people than for younger people?
R: I'm not sure about that. Younger people's tastes tend to change more frequently than older people who are more set in their ways. So actually, it might be more difficult to buy a gift for younger people, you'd have to keep abreast of all of the trends they're into.
M: Should the price of a gift be important?
R: Assuming you aren't buying it to show off your wealth, not really. I can't imagine people going hunting around to find out how much someone paid for something. It's a waste of time. And quite rude, actually, now I think about it. It's like you value the gift or you value the value of the gift more than the fact someone was thinking of you, which isn't very nice.
M: Will people feel happy when receiving an expensive gift?
R: If that's what they prioritize, then I suppose so. I think it depends on what the gift actually is as well, doesn't it? So for example, in some countries, it's considered normal for wedding rings to be extortionate since they reflect the value of the relationship. Price can also reflect the quality of the material. So you would expect an expensive shirt to last longer. So that would make people happy, as it can be used over a longer period, which saves money. So that's useful and helpful, and I would feel happy then.
M: Is it better to give practical gifts or something less practical?
R: I would say so. But then I'm quite a practical person. So this means that receiving a gift like flowers doesn't mean much to me, since I can't really use it for anything. And in fact, it makes my life more complicated as a result. However, a book about education has some utility for me. And I try to reflect that thinking in my choices of gifts for others.
M: Is gift-giving important to the economy of a country?
R: Well, I think time of year will be crucial when deciding the answer to that. So if we consider times like Black Friday, or the Christmas sales, which basically revolve around gift-giving, then it's quite important, since the money people spend as a group on those days is in the billions. I'm not sure about the consequences outside of that, though. I'm not an economist.
M: Why do companies give free gifts to people?
R: That's all marketing, isn't it? If it's something inexpensive, like a pen or a notebook, then it's like free advertising and a reminder of a company. And when it comes to things which are more expensive than it could be like bribery. So it's like a way of saying, if you like these things, then you should come back for more and then they can use this as a pretext to extract more of whatever it is they want from you.
M: And do you think people enjoy free gifts?
R: It will depend on the character of the person. Well, and it will depend on the qualities of the gift as well. If you're a writer and you like pens and you get a free pen then that will be good. So all of these things have to align or in order for it to be welcomed. And if they don't, then it won't be welcomed.
M: Is it better to give something which is self-made, or something bought in stores?
R: Well it's contingent on a million different things. Like if you're younger, and therefore have less money, then I think something handmade would be acceptable, especially for parents or people close to you, because that's the only option you have for showing how much you care about people. On the other hand, if you're an adult and make something that is of a particularly shoddy quality, you might be in a bit of hot water.
M: Do you think it's common nowadays to give self-made gifts?
R: In general? I have absolutely no idea. My guess would be based on the proliferation of different online shops, it's probably more common to give personalized gifts, rather than something that's mass-produced, whether that's handmade or not, I'm not sure factors into the equation.
M: Thank you very much, Rory, for your lovely answers! They are a gift to all of us.
R: So let's unwrap them.
M: Yes. Let's unwrap the vocabulary.
R: And grammar.
M: Yeah. So we actually have speaking part one episode where we talk about gifts. So take a look at that if you want.
R: But in speaking part three, we speak more generally for a high score.
M: Yes. Band nine score. Sure. Yeah, we speak about other people, other cultures. And here, Rory showed off his "educationnativespeakerness". And he talked about different cultures like Judaism, Christmas, Black Friday. So things like that in different countries. You mentioned Spain. So which is fine to make examples to support your ideas. So about when do people usually send gifts? You talked about Christmas, birthdays, religious reasons. And then you said when gift-giving is warranted.
R: Yes. So warranted just means like it's demanded by the situation. So you could say when gift-giving is demanded by the situation, or when gift-giving is warranted.
M: Another time can be when you accomplish something, so achieve something or reach a milestone.
R: Yes, a milestone is an important event. And if you reach it, then that just means that you get there. And then when we have to talk about something that all of our examples have, or in common or share, we can say the common denominator. Specifically, the common denominator is that they all involve something and then explain what that is. For example, I am from Scotland. Maria is from Russia. But our common denominator is that we're both teachers. And also we have this podcast. So indeed, there are two common denominators.
M: Traditional festivals. Oh, yeah. And you mentioned like tomato throwing festival in Spain. That's a nice one.
R: Yeah. Aren't all festivals traditional? I didn't really understand that.
M: Maybe you know, if we have... Christmas is not a festival, right?
R: Isn't it? It's a celebration of the birth of Christ, your Savior. Now you think about that.
M: But a festival is kind of a couple of days. For example, like we have a pancake week,
R: people start preparing for Christmas in November.
M: All right, true. Yeah, but it's only like one day.
R: And you decorate the tree and the advent calendar and all of that "chepuha". So like, is Christmas not a festival?
M: I wouldn't say so. I think it's a holiday. A festival should be like a week. But no, but come on, like a Christmas is only one day, 25th of December. But like a pancake week is a week, or like tomato festival, I think it's like a couple of days.
R: Okay, what about Easter Sunday then? That's a day but it's a festival which commemorates the death of your Lord and Savior.
M: Which one? Easter?
R: I thought you're meaning which Lord and Savior. Yeah. Easter Sunday is a day.
M: Yeah, but it's only one day. Can you call it a festival? I don't know.
R: Well, I don't really know... When I think of festivals, I think of like color and celebration, Easter's about the death of Jesus, your Lord and Savior.
M: Yeah, dear listener, it's like, festivals is also a topic and new topic in speaking part one. Well, new. We used to have festivals a couple of years ago, but now it's a comeback. So now they can ask you questions about festivals in speaking part one. So there you go, a festival is an event celebrated by a community, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. It's often marked as a local or national holiday.
R: Often, not always.
M: Yeah, often. Oh, interesting. Okay. So food is important. Wow. So eye-opening. So Christmas is a festival. Yeah then we talk about religious festivals, arts festivals, rock festivals, comedy festivals, science festivals. Oh gosh, film festivals. food festivals are my favourite, harvest seasonal festivals, there we go, like tempo festival in India, for example. Hello Indian listeners. Interesting. Okay.
R: So with that in mind, we haven't actually answered our original point, which was basically what was the point?
M: The point was about giving gifts during traditional festivals.
R: Okay, so what is a traditional festival, so it's something that happens often, involves a celebration, and has happened for over 500 years. If we talk about, I don't know, we could talk about Hanukkah or Christmas, or there are festivals in Islam. There's Eid and there's Ramadan. One is the start of the fasting and one is the celebration of the end of the fasting. If you are Muslim, please tell me what the difference is because I forgot.
M: Okay, so back to give given enough about festivals. We're going to record an episode about festivals for speaking part one. So when we talk about expensive gifts, you used a synonym extortionate?
R: Yes, extortionate is just another way of saying really extremely ridiculously expensive. So we can say very expensive, or we can say it's extortionate.
M: Extortionate rings, extortionate gifts. Gifts could be practical. So presents could be practical, or less practical. And you said like, something like a book about education has some utility for me?
R: Yes. So if it's got a utility, that just means it has a use, or you can use it for something.
M: So can I say like any gift should have some utility for people? Yes. And then my favourite question. Gift giving and the economy of a country?
R: I love this, though, because we've got another expression that we can use in any circumstance. And for those people who were listening to our part one episode, which was about... Oh, my God, what was it about? Dreams. Yes. We discovered that there was a phrase that you can use in just about any circumstance. And the one that we had for this was, I'm not sure about the consequences outside of that, though. I'm not an economist.
R: So it's like, I'm not sure about the blah, blah, blah. Outside of that, though, because I'm not a and then the name of an expert.
M: A biologist.
R: Yeah, exactly.
M: Or a surgeon, a doctor.
R: So we could say like, when do people usually send gifts to others? It's like, well, I know that in Christian or in Christianity, people send gifts to each other. But outside of that, I'm not sure, though, because I'm not a Muslim or a Jew. There we go. They're experts in their faith, hopefully.
M: Yeah. Or like do people give gifts at traditional festivals? Well, I'm not an expert on traditional festivals. But I guess that...
R: Probably they give gifts in Christmas. But I'm not sure about giving gifts outside of that, though, because I'm not a religious expert.
M: But that's a great strategy. That's really a great strategy. And you are fine with the fact that you do know how to answer tricky questions.
M: And usually, there might be tricky questions, like one or two questions could be as horrible as the economy of a country. And it's okay. It's a nice strategy, you know, you answer the question. So you can relax. Yeah, you can relax now.
R: Let's do that at the end for every question. I'll try and change this phrase, so it answers every question, what a useful strategy that is. And it has happened upon it completely by accident.
M: Yeah, perfect.
R: Right. But we first of all, we have to talk about companies giving expensive gifts or free gifts to people.
M: Yeah. So free gifts, you said inexpensive, something inexpensive, something for free. And you mentioned the bribery.
R: Yes. It's like bribery, a way to make people do things that you want them to do. Yeah.
M: So if, for example, I go, where, where do I go? Oh, to university, I go to a professor and I give them money. And I go, please give me an A. So this money is a bribery. I bribe them.
R: Yes, the money is a bribe. The crime is bribery, but it's only a crime if you get caught.
M: And what would you call a criminal?
R: I have no idea. I suppose the person who commits bribery.
M: A person who commits bribery. Oh, that's interesting, because in English, they have different names for crimes and criminals. Okay.
R: Hold on, there should be one. People who commit bribery. Are you kidding me? Apparently, according to the internet, it's called a briber.
M: A briber? Really?
R: Or a bribe giver. I refuse to believe that that is the case.
M: There should be some fancy word they use in like in courts. A briber. Well, okay. So self-made gifts, or you can talk about handmade gifts. So presence, which are made were made by the giver. Yes. So handmade, self-made gifts, or something, which is not self-made, what do you call it? Like something bought in stores or something what?
R: Something produced, something mass-produced or something that was produced by an expert, something like that.
M: And then our favourite phrase, instead of saying it depends on different things you say, that's contingent on a million different things.
R: Yeah. Like anytime someone asks you one of these really broad questions like, is it better to do X than Y? Like, just that is contingent on a million different things. Who do you think you are to ask me this question? And then explain, like all of the different things that could be involved in this and make them feel silly for asking such a question.
M: You said something like, shoddy quality?
R: Yes. shoddy quality just means poor quality. Poor quality is formal, shoddy quality is informal.
M: Yeah. And it's okay. Yeah, it's not like something like an F-bomb or some slang. So that's fine. And then you've used this one, based on the proliferation of shops. Proliferation.
R: Yeah. So, proliferation just means like, it's everywhere. Or it's going everywhere.
M: Yeah. So it's much easier to just go and get something rather than to sit there and make it by yourself. Yeah, Rory, I remember you made lovely Christmas cards. Christmas cards, I think they were, right? And you would give them to everybody. To all your colleagues. Oh, it was sweet.
R: It was sweet. However, it's not really something you expect the 27-year-old man to do. However, I was extremely happy working with everybody.
M: I was very surprised.
R: Everyone was quite surprised. Even I was quite surprised. Looking back on it. It was quite cringy. But I was very happy to have that job.
M: Oh, sweet. Yeah. Cool. So now we talked about festivals and national holidays, we still have no idea what the difference is. But anyway, I think the examiner is as confused as we are.
R: Yeah. So just go with it.
M: Yeah, so now Rory is gonna go with the strategy.
R: Yes. So what was the strategy? I'm not sure about the consequences outside of that, though. I'm not an economist. So. So it's like, give a really simple answer and then say, I'm not sure about the situation. I'd say that that though, because I'm not and then the name for the expert.
M: Okay. Three questions. So do people give gifts at traditional festivals?
R: Well, they definitely do in Christianity, like a Christmas, for example. But I'm not sure about festivals. I would say that that though, because I'm not a religious expert.
M: Is it better to give practical gifts or something less practical.
R: I think it's better to give something useful because, well, because that's what I would do. However, I'm not sure about people outside of myself, though, because I'm not a mind reader.
M: Cool. Oh, my God, and then the examiner would have a laugh. Yeah, but careful, careful. Again, not every question should be answered like this.
R: No, just like, just one question.
M: Yeah, just one question. And this is fine. Especially if the question is about okay. Is this or that important to the economy of a country?
R: You saw there was gonna be three questions. Come on, ask me a random question. It doesn't have to be about gifts. It could be about anything.
M: Is tourism important to the economy of a country?
R: Well, it's certainly important to the economy of my country because millions of people visit every year. I'm not sure about other countries outside of that though, because, well, I'm not an economist. There we go. So you can just say the same thing again.
M: Perfect. Yeah. A perfect strategy. What would you call this strategy? Rory strategy we call it?
R: Oh, yeah, we're gonna have all sorts of like bizarre Rory strategies.
M: Yeah, and then like, you can relax because okay, you can answer any question. You have this power to attack and address any question in IELTS Speaking, excellent. Super. Thank you very much for listening! Thank you for being with us, and tolerating!
R: As we unwrap the vocabulary, unpack the grammar and deliver the phrases for a high-level score. Bye!
M: Band nine score! Bye!
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