Idiomatic Vocabulary (4 of 25): “Do you know who I am?”

By | November 5, 2020

George Orwell.png

In the previous posts, I mentioned how every language has phrases and sentences that cannot be understood by just knowing the individual words. This is known as idiomatic language, and I mentioned how it is also informal speaking.

However, in the last post, I examined the opposite: ‘formal’ use of language. I gave an example IELTS speaking response which was so formal that it became strange, unclear, untrue, and repetitive. That’s not good, right? But I also said that ‘formal’ words or phrasing can be used in the IELTS Speaking test. Hmmmm. Let’s explore this.

The first point is that formal phrasing can be very good, as long as the words are appropriate to the situation. Thus, when talking about the education system, the answer …

What I don’t like is its regurgitative nature, which stifles the students, and if you add the ubiquitous cram-schools into the equation, you have a vast, oppressive, and Orwellian regime.

… shows GREAT use of vocabulary [surely at least IELTS 8 = uses vocabulary resource readily and flexibly to convey precise meaning]. But given the informal nature of the IELTS Speaking Test, this speaker could have said :

I don’t like it, the way they stuff knowledge down the students’ mouths, and make them spew out memorised claptrap, and you can see that in the west, with the social-justice jerkoffs in their lemming-like hoards.  

Here are all those difficult words again. Use a dictionary and find out their meaning.

regurgitativeto stuff
to stifleto spew
ubiquitousclaptrap
oppressivea damned thing
Orwellianjerk-offs
regimelemming-like

But, which set of words is better: the formal words on the left, or informal ones on the right? We will continue this discussion in the next post.

By the way, the picture at the top is George Orwell. Why don’t you do some research about him? – and you can find out more about me at www.aisielts.com .

Author: Andrew

Andrew Guilfoyle Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, Cambridge CELTA teacher-trainer, M.Ed