This episode's vocabulary
- Constructive (adj.) - if advice, criticism, or actions are constructive, they are useful and intended to help or improve something.
- Mindless (adj.) - stupid and meaning nothing.
- Debate (noun) - a serious discussion of a subject in which many people take part.
- Moral (adj.) - relating to the standards of good or bad behaviour, fairness, honesty, etc. that each person believes in, rather than to laws.
- Liberties (plural noun) - freedom to live as you wish or go where you want.
- To interpret (verb) - to decide what the intended meaning of something is.
- Sibling (noun) - a brother or sister.
- Scarcely (adverb) - almost not.
- Fall out (phrasal verb) - to argue with someone and stop being friendly with them.
- Blood is thicker than water (saying) - said to emphasize that you believe that family connections are always more important than other types of relationships.
- Mediator (noun) - a person whose job is to mediate in a disagreement (= talk to the people or groups involved to help them find a solution).
- To mediate (verb) - to talk to two separate people or groups involved in a disagreement to try to help them to agree or find a solution to their problems.
- To resolve (verb) - to solve or end a problem or difficulty.
- Mature (adj.) - mature people behave like adults in a way that shows they are well developed emotionally.
- Give and take (noun) - willingness to accept suggestions from another person and give up some of your own.
- To alter (verb) - to change something, usually slightly, or to cause the characteristics of something to change.
- Non-negotiable (adj.) - something that is non-negotiable cannot be changed by discussion.
- Principle (noun) - a moral rule or standard of good behaviour.
- Compromise (noun) - an agreement in an argument in which the people involved reduce their demands or change their opinion in order to agree.
- Ethos (noun) - the set of beliefs, ideas, etc. about the social behaviour and relationships of a person or group.
- Context-dependent (adj.) - depending on the situation within which something exists or happens.
- Air one's dirty laundry in public (idiom) - if you say that someone airs their dirty laundry in public, you disapprove of their discussing or arguing about unpleasant or private things in front of other people.
- Permissible (adj.) - allowed.
- Uncouth (adj.) - behaving in a rude, unpleasant way.
Questions and Answers
M: Do you think arguments are important?
R: Well, provided that it's constructive, yes. I don't see the point on having mindless debates between sides who aren't searching for a solution. Of course, this can be quite entertaining to watch, but it doesn't really fix anything, does it?
M: What do family members usually have arguments about?
R: Until recently, I'd have said just moral issues that tend to divide generations and perhaps money and property. Usually, it's between parents and children over personal freedom or taking liberties depending on how you choose to interpret that. And between siblings when it comes to boundaries and taking things without asking permission. Nowadays, though, it seems people scarcely miss the chance to have a row, it's quite worrying.
M: Is it easier to have arguments with your family or with your friends?
R: Well, that's a good question. On the one hand, your friends ideally share the same ideas about the world, or at least similar ones. Otherwise, I don't know, why would you be friends? Of course, you could fall out about minor issues. On the other hand, they do say blood is thicker than water, and you might not want to disrupt those family ties. Since people seem to have fewer friends these days, I'd say it's easier to have rows with them. I'm not sure how you would go about proving that though.
M: If two people argue, do you think a third person should be involved in this argument?
R: Maybe as a mediator, if it's getting out of hand, or not particularly productive. Otherwise, it might be best to let people have at it and resolve their differences themselves. Usually, people are mature enough to do that.
M: But if they're not mature?
R: Well, then a mediator would be necessary.
M: Do you think people should change the way they think when having arguments?
R: Well, that's the point of having them, isn't it? Assuming you're both seeking a solution to a problem, then there should be some give and take and altering of the positions. Otherwise, it's just people venting and talking past each other. What a waste of time that is.
M: Why do you think some people are stubborn and unwilling to change?
R: Well, making changes is hard and it involves admitting you're wrong, which can be embarrassing. It also, well, I suppose it boils down to fear, really, and many people are just set in their ways and think that if something works for them, and they're comfortable, everything will be fine. Unfortunately, the world rarely works that way, if ever.
M: Is it always useful when having an argument to be stubborn and unwilling to change?
R: Maybe it's over some sort of non-negotiable moral principle, then yes. However, that is extremely rare. Usually, solutions can be found through arguments and compromise.
M: Is it essential to keep in mind that arguing can be very beneficial to the health of friendships?
R: Well, only if people share that ethos. If someone is on a mission to convert people or make them feel bad. And the other side of the equation isn't up for that, then it rarely ends well.
M: But would you agree that arguing is often unhealthy for friendships, for relationships?
R: Depends on the nature of the argument. Sometimes arguments can lead to new ways of thinking about things. Whereas if you're totally, I don't know, if you're at a party or something, then it might disrupt the atmosphere there. And that's not very beneficial for anybody. So it's very context-dependent.
M: What do you think of people who tend to argue in public?
R: It depends on what they're arguing about. If it's like an open-air debate, then that's quite permissible. If it's people airing their dirty laundry then I don't really want to hear about it and I doubt anyone else does. It's really, it's uncouth is what it is.
M: Thank you very for your lovely answers!
M: Right, arguments. So as we discussed in the previous episode, argument is when people have some disagreement and when they argue, we now have a synonym to have a row, okay? So people may have a row, people having a row. They argue with each other. Rory used another synonym, which was fall out.
R: It's a phrasal verb. successwithielts.com/podcourses.
M: So fall out. People can fall out about, or on something?
R: Fall out about something or fall out over something.
M: Over. Yeah. So people sometimes fall out about minor issues, some minor issues like not serious things. So have a row, fallout. And then you said something else, oh, about dirty laundry.
R: Yeah, airing your dirty laundry in public is just saying like, it's a bit like exposing all of the shady or parts of your life. Not really. It's like oversharing, like too much information about your life, to be honest.
M: Nice. So to air your dirty laundry. Yeah, that's an idiom. Then you can mention that it depends on the nature of the argument. So the nature of the arguments. So it could be beneficial, or it could be detrimental, like not good. Arguments could be important if they are constructive. So constructive.
R: Constructive is something, it's connected to being in search for solution. So you can have a constructive argument where you're looking for a solution to a problem, or you can give constructive feedback, which is designed to improve things. So it's all about making improvements.
M: And then you said I don't see the point in having mindless debates.
R: Yes. So the point is the purpose. And it's always I don't see the point in or the point of doing something. And if something is just mindless, then it's just happening without really any cause or thought put into it. So you don't just argue for the sake of it.
M: So can we talk about like debates? Can we use this word debates when we talk about arguments?
R: I think so, yes. If we're talking about two sides exchanging views. Debates are more formal, though.
M: Yeah, cuz like to debate, it means to discuss a subject in a formal way, right? It's kind of like presidents and they have a debate or they debated this law. Yeah, or they were debating it for several hours. Here the questions are about arguments, when people argue with each other, right? But again you may have this word like mindless debate, when people discuss nothing. And also you used the synonym. You said something venting. It's just people venting and talking past each other.
R: Yes. So if you're venting, it just means that you're expressing whatever it is you feel without any purpose behind it, other than getting out in the open and talking past each other is not engaging with the other side at all. It's just expressing your point of view and not hearing the other side, which is not productive.
M: Yeah. So to vent is a C-2 word. So that's a proficiency level means to express a negative emotion in a forceful and often unfair way. So for example, like okay, please don't shout. There's no need to vent your anger on me. Okay. Or stop venting your frustration on me. Or, for example, when Rory says something unpleasant, Vanya comes up to me and says, oh, come on, Maria. He didn't mean to upset you. He just needed to vent, just needed to express this negative emotion.
R: But I never say anything unpleasant. EVER.
M: Okay. What do family members usually have arguments about or have arguments over? So you can say like, they tend to argue about money, property, their children, personal freedom. And then you mentioned the word siblings. Which is nice.
R: Yeah, siblings, brothers and sisters.
M: Yeah, siblings. Blood is thicker than water.
R: Yeah, blood is thicker than water is just another way of saying that your family matters more than your, well, non-family relationships.
M: Very often in IELTS they ask you to compare family or friends. Is it more important to spend time with your friends or with your family?
R: Why do they talk like that?
M: Just like for the fun effect, to wake up our dear listener. So, listener, are you okay? Yeah? Are you with us? So is it easier to have arguments with your family or with your friends? And then you say, you know, they do say Blood is thicker than water. And then it means that family is more important. Yeah?
M: Good. Good for you. Good for us. We don't care about our friends, family is number one. Make sure you say fewer friends, not less friends. Okay? Please. Be grammatically correct, use correct grammar, fewer friends. So people have fewer friends these days. And, well, it's easier to have rows with them, with your fewer friends. And if you say less friends, well, this could be a slip. So a mistake characteristic of native speaker speech. Rory, what other slips can we have characteristic of native-speaker speech?
R: Nothing, nothing is, no, no mistakes ever. And if they make a mistake, then kill them death to the mistake makers.
M: Thank you, Rory. So fluffy, so kind and pleasant.
R: No, we have like less and fewer. Good and well. What else? Sometimes you will get good and well like you did good. In American English you did good. Not you did well. Then again, we're talking about native speaker. So American English doesn't count. Hahaha.
M: It's a joke. Okay, so you did good.
R: No, it's not...
M: Anything else? Like the amounts of people that's wrong. But everybody says that. You should say the number of people. Then you said, so it boils down to fear. It boils down to something.
R: Yeah. If it boils down to something, then we focus on something in the simplest way possible.
M: Some people find it hard to change. And you can say that many people are just set in their ways.
R: Yes. So you're set in your ways, then you don't like change.
M: You don't like change, yeah. You don't change or you just, you're unwilling to change. So many people are set in their ways. Rory, you've used a nice word ethos.
R: Ethos. Ethos is an ethical framework, which is another way of saying you have a way of deciding what's good and bad.
M: Like a set of beliefs?
M: Yeah. So for example, like national ethos, a set of beliefs about like social behaviour, relationships. Yeah. Like working-class ethos. Oh, wow. That's sophisticated.
R: You sound surprised, but I'm using sophisticated language.
M: I know. Yeah. I'm surprised. Wow, you're an educated native speaker, Gosh, band 9.
M: So is it essential to keep in mind that arguing can be very beneficial to the health of friendship? And then you say, only if people share that ethos. Wow. So if they share these beliefs, and then you go if someone is on the mission, bla, bla, bla. If structure is nice. And also you've used another word at the very end of your answers, something uncouth?
R: Oh, uncouth.
M: How do you spell that?
R: Uncouth - lacking good manners, refinement or grace.
M: Uncouth - disapproving, behaving in a rude, unpleasant way. She thought he was loud-mouthed and uncouth. Oh, my gosh. Give us another example. Uncouth.
R: The rude person behaved in an uncouth way.
M: Wow. So, our listener, this is super cool. Yeah, ethos, uncouth. Thank you very much for listening! We hope it's been really useful, and now you are full of different synonyms and cool phrases, to talk about arguments and arguing.
R: But hopefully not uncouth phrases.
Make sure to subscribe to our social media to see some of the “behind the scenes” stuff:
Our Instagram: bit.ly/instagramswi
Our Telegram: bit.ly/telegramswi