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English Down The Pub – A Field Guide of Colloquial English

English Down The Pub is a new approach to English language learning. It's a book written for use by both students of English and Teachers of English. It will also be of interest to those wanting to know about modern English culture. What readers will not be anticipating in a book of this type, is comedy. The book could be described as 'tongue in cheek', except that its mission is very serious.

The Language As It Is Spoken

It is a constant source of frustration for many, that foreign people studying English are taught language that is not authentic. Although it is technically 'correct' English, much of it is a form of English rarely used by real English people – at least not in the last fifty years. This book has been written in order to put that right. It provides the essentials of 'real' English – the colloquial language that you will find being spoken every day by real English people going about their normal lives. The author of this book believes that English Language teachers who are primarily instructing students wishing to speak modern functional English for practical conversational purposes, are doing their students a great disservice by not teaching them the language that the man in the street speaks. This includes giving them a working understanding of English swearwords and what is / is not appropriate – since we know that most English people swear at least socially and often at work too.

Realism and Humour

The book is structured to deal with common social functions, such as meeting people and making introductions, ordering drinks and food and making conversation. The dialogue is not the stilted or 'wooden' language one normally finds in a textbook, instead it is vibrant in its authenticity and often very humorous as a result. The reader or language learner is treated to such amusing scenarios as 'how to avoid a fight' and 'looking for love'. Since many people go to pubs to meet a prospective partner and most of us have witnessed aggression in drinking venues at some time, this does seem justified. In all scenarios both a formal and informal dialogue are given as examples. Something of the uptightness of the English is revealed in these comparative dialogues. This is culturally useful to language learners of course, but it can be hilarious to any reader and in particular the English themselves. Some of the swearing will be shocking to many English readers, but there is a refreshing honesty about it. Of course it goes without saying that learners need to be taught correct formal speech at the same time as the colloquial. The non-English reader needs to be made aware of just how critical it is to get the level of formality or looseness right with the English. Most English are still, after all, obsessed with what is or is not 'proper'. In order to make things clear, the rule in this book is that where people might swear or use slang in real life this is reflected in the dialogue, along with an explanation of meaning and where its use is appropriate. As a past EFL teacher of many years, the author has found this technique very popular with students in the classroom and has witnessed great upsurges of student enthusiasm as a result. Reading the book, one can certainly see why!

As if we had not been treated to enough comedy in this book, in the final chapter we find a choice selection of popular English slang and swearwords. This last section will no doubt prove popular and useful due to its authenticity, but not even the most serious elderly lady or the strictest vicar could fail to fall about laughing at the example dialogues or explanations given about the literal meanings of popular English swearwords.

Despite all of this hilarity the book is very informative, both in its clarity about how the average English man or woman in the street communicates and about the still prevalent pub culture in Britain. Modern trends in public houses are helpfully explained, including the increasing trend for gastro-pubs and the emergence of micro-breweries and micropubs. Naturally the background related to English brewing and beer drinking is explained. This all provides a pleasing and unexpected bonus for those expecting merely to learn about the English language, which has to be a good thing. One can even imagine the book finding its way onto those bookshelves that one can still find in the WCs of the English gentry.

Reviewer comments:

"Consider it a Pythonesque field guide to colloquial English. Invaluable to serious teachers and foreign learners, yet unforgivably hilarious to the rest of us. I ruptured myself laughing." Axel Anders.

The book English Down The Pub is available online only, via Amazon and Smashwords. It is priced very reasonably at £2.90 / $3.99

Profile photo of Mark Swain

Mark Swain was born in Singapore in 1958, where his father was stationed in the RAF. He has lived in many countries, and as a young man found it hard to break the habit of a nomadic life, spending a great deal of his youth hitchhiking around Europe.With a low boredom threshold, Mark has had dozens of jobs and quite a few careers, but only one wife. Studying Graphic Design at Hastings College of Art, he ran off and joined the Army in search of adventure. Later he found himself travelling the world on the QE2 as a silver-service waiter and caught up in a war. This life has given him plenty of source material and inspiration for writing.Mark particularly enjoys the Short Story form, admiring American short story writers such as Raymond Carver, Richard Brautigan and Richard Ford as well as classic short story writers Franz Kafka and Anton Chekov. He is also a great admirer of George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Norman Maclean, Albert Camus and Jonathan Raban. Two collections of Mark's own short stories - including the award winning story 'Special Treatment' - have been released by his UK publisher, Tinderbox Publishing Ltd along with the bestselling "Long Road, Hard Lessons" a non-fiction book with photographs and maps about a 10,000-mile life-changing cycle journey he made with his teenage son from Ireland to Japan.Shoehorned into his busy life, Mark enjoys film, motorcycling, long-board surfing, cycle touring, English micro-pubs, growing vegetables, travelling in his VW Camper-van, drawing, painting and sculpture. He is at home in England, but is constantly travels.

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