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Hello, I’m Jane at DailyStep English and welcome to my audio blog!

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Last week, I was walking in London and I passed some tourists who were looking at a map of Britain. They were talking about some of the places they wanted to visit, and I heard that they pronounced most of the place names wrongly! This did not surprise me at all, for reasons that you will learn about in this week’s blog.

 

There is also an audio word study about how to use MUST, a proverb for careful designers or project managers and news about subscriber audio lessons for the next 2 weeks! But first, let’s learn a little about how British towns and cities got their names…

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You can listen to this audio file slowed to 65% of natural speed, below. This will help you to understand every word!


How to pronounce British place names

(By Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com)

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Have you ever looked at a map of Britain and thought to yourself… how do I pronounce this strange name? Visitors to Britain often mispronounce words like Leicester – they say ‘Lee-kester’ or ‘Lie-sester.’

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So why are the names of British cities, towns and villages pronounced so differently to their spelling? It’s because the names are often more than 1000 years old, and the pronunciation has changed over the centuries. One of the most famous British cities is Oxford, which contains one of the world’s oldest universities. Oxford is sometimes called ‘The City of the Dreaming Spires’, because of all the beautiful church spires there – as you can see in the top picture. But, believe it or not, the original meaning of Oxford is ‘Place where you can herd your ox through a shallow part of the river’ An OX is a kind of large cow, and a FORD is a shallow part of a river, where you can cross easily without a bridge. You can see some cows doing this in the bottom picture. So, in ancient Britain, this place was known as Ox-Ford. There are many places in Britain with the ending –ford, for example Bradford or Stratford, and this always means ‘shallow place in a river.’ But the ending –ford is now always pronounced -fəd.

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If a place name ends in –caster, –cester or -chester, then we know that this place was a Roman town over 1600 years ago, when the Romans occupied Britain. The endings -caster , –cester or -chester come from CASTRA, which means ‘military town’, or ‘fort’ in Latin, the language of the Romans. Our English word ‘castle’ comes from this word. But be careful because if a place name ends in –cester, we usually pronounce it as -ster. For example, we say Leicester, Gloucester, and Worcester. But if a place name ends in -chester or -caster, we usually pronounce the ending more clearly. For example, we say Winchester, Dorchester, Lancaster and Doncaster.

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Another place name ending that is often mispronounced is -mouth. If a place name ends with -mouth, it means this place is at the mouth of a river – where the river meets the sea. So, Dartmouth is at the mouth of the River Dart, Weymouth is at the mouth of the River Wey, Exmouth is at the mouth of the River Exe, and so on.

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There are so many other common endings for British place names, so checking the pronunciation before visiting a new place is a must!

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If you are a subscriber to my regular audio lessons, you can download this audio file (at both natural and slow speeds) at the bottom of this blog, and you can also hear and download the audio word study.

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So, let’s move on now to this week’s DailyStep audio word study, where I’ll explain how to use MUST!

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How to use MUST

This audio is for members only, please click here to subscribe

Here is this week’s audio word study from DailyStep English:

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Must (modal verb)

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Meaning 1: We use ‘must’ when we want to say that it is necessary or very important that something happens in the present or future.
Examples: I must work hard on my English!
(note: this expresses an obligation that you place on yourself.)
You mustn’t (= must not) tell this to anyone. It is a secret.
This food must not be eaten. It has gone bad.
Pupils must not run in the corridors.
(note: here, ‘must’ expresses a school rule.)

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Meaning 2: We use ‘must’ to give emphasis to an opinion.
Examples: I must admit, it was a frightening experience.
(note: we use ' I must admit' before a surprising or negative comment.)

I must say, this food is delicious! (note: in this sentence, we would not say ‘I must admit, this food is delicious!’ because it would mean that we did not expect the food to be delicious. This would sound a little rude!)
I must admit, I didn’t like him much when I first met him.
I must say, you look really well! Have you been on holiday?

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Meaning 3: We use ‘must’ to emphasise that we think it is a good idea for someone to do something pleasant. It is a way of giving a recommendation.
Examples: You must come and visit us while you are in London!
We must go and see that film – I have heard it is excellent!
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Meaning 4: We use ‘must’ to make an assumption or to reach a logical conclusion about something that is very likely to be true.
Examples: You must be so tired after running that marathon!
(note: this means ‘I assume that you are tired.’)
My bicycle has disappeared – someone must have stolen it.
(note: this means ‘I assume that someone stole it.’)
You must have been so cold when you were locked out of your house in the snow! (note: this means ‘I assume that you were so cold.’)
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Note: In meaning 4, above, the opposite of must is can’t.

Examples: He didn’t eat any lunch – he can’t have been hungry. (note: this means ‘ I assume that he was not hungry.’)

I don’t believe he is a thief – it can’t be true. (note: this means ‘I assume that it is not true.’)
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Must (noun)
Meaning:
We say something is ‘a must’ if it is really necessary to have it.
Example: If you are visiting London, a good map is a must.

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If you are a subscriber to my audio lessons, please click the 'save' icon below to download this Mp3 audio file:

Slow speed:
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You can listen to this audio file slowed to 65% of natural speed, below. This will help you to understand every word!


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Coming soon in the DailyStep Audio Lessons:

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Level 1: Beginner Level

Are you married?  In these five lessons, you will learn how to ask questions about relationships and how to talk about your own relationships. Also, the correct way to ask and answer questions. subscribe here

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Where are you from?  This week, you will learn how to talk about countries and nationality. Very good lessons for making friends! subscribe here

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Level 2: Elementary Level

Travel English – changing money  In these five lessons, you will learn how to ask questions about exchange rates and how to change money in a bureau de change or a bank. These lessons are also very useful if you work in a bank! subscribe here

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Hello, it’s good to see you again! These lessons will teach you how to greet your friends and colleagues, and how to start a conversation. The first few minutes of a conversation are often the most difficult! subscribe here

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Level 3: Intermediate Level

Business English  Two colleagues discuss a change in office location within a building. Amanda describes her new office and she and her colleague Sam discuss their current projects. Very important business language! subscribe here

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Parking problems!  Angela is upset about getting a parking fine when she feels that she did not break the law. Will she manage to avoid paying the penalty charge? subscribe here

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Level 4: High Intermediate Level

Help - my exam is tomorrow!  Ian tells Debbie about his exams and about how he does not feel prepared for them. They discuss exam techniques and he reports back to her after several exams. In these 5 lessons, you will also learn many important idioms and phrasal verbs. Very useful lessons for all students! subscribe here

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London’s famous Crystal Palace  In these lessons, you will learn all about the Crystal Palace in London, including its history and what remains of it now. You’ll also learn some fascinating things about London and also, of course, great conversation techniques. subscribe here

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Level 5: Advanced Level

Rescue of the Chilean Miners  All over the world, we were transfixed by the terrible plight of the Chilean miners, trapped for 33 days more than 1 kilometre underground. In these lessons, Robert and Lynda discuss the news day by day as it unfolds, and they also talk about the amazing technology and engineering that finally saved them. subscribe here

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The Irish Economy  Clare and Martin discuss the state of the economy in Ireland, and whether the austerity cuts made by the Irish government have contributed to a reduction in the huge budget deficit. They also cover Irish cultural issues and history. These lessons will help you to talk about the global economy and also the economic situation in your own country. subscribe here

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DailyStep Audio Proverb #014

This audio is for members only, please click here to subscribe

Here is this week’s audio proverb from DailyStep English:

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The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

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Meaning: The real value of something can be judged only after it has been tried or tested. Results are what matter!

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Note: Another way to say this proverb would be ‘ You can only know whether a pudding is good or not when you eat it.’ But of course, we never say it like this!

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Examples: The designers had been working for years on the new design, but when it was finally finished, the users preferred the old design. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I suppose!

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The product looks good on paper, but the proof of the pudding will be the sales figures – in other words, how many customers actually buy it!

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If you are a subscriber to my audio lessons, please click the 'save' icon below to download this Mp3 audio file:

Slow speed:
Print

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Well, that is it for today! I’ll be in touch again soon. I hope you enjoy my blog and your DailyStep audio lessons. Please email me at jane@dailystep.com if you have any questions or suggestions. I look forward to helping you improve your English!

 

Best wishes,

Jane

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Audio Download for How to Pronounce British Place Names

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If you have a subscription to my DailyStep audio lessons, you can download the audio about the How to Pronounce British Place Names by clicking the ‘save’ icon below:
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