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Podcast

Episode 35 • Animals

35

The elephant in the room

A little bird told me...

Hold your horses!

Guinea pig

It is like beating a dead horse

Story

I went to visit my sister last week. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, maybe 6 months? When I told my parents I was going to visit her, they told me to be prepared because she looked very different. When I got to her house and saw her, I immediately understood what they were talking about. Her face looked completely different and her lips were probably three times bigger than they used to be. We sat in the living room and started talking but she didn’t say anything about her changes. But, at one point, I decided it was time to address the elephant in the room and I simply said “So… a little bird told me you’ve done something to your face….”. She wasn’t surprised I knew, quite the opposite and… she got really excited and told me she was getting another operation. I immediately went: “Hold your horses, what do you mean another operation?!” Yep, she said she was going to be the guinea pig for this new type of operation to make your eyes look bigger. I tried to convince her not to do it but it was like beating a dead horse. Look, this is what she looks like now. She posted this on Instagram.

Oh my God! Wait- She looks exactly like you!

Questions

All right. Time to learn a few more expressions.

The elephant in the room

'It was time to address the elephant in the room.'

• Does the expression ‘the elephant in the room” refer to a problem or a big annoying object present in a room?

I bet you got tricked. We're not talking about a physical object. The elephant in the room, it's a metaphor for a problem.

• Are people aware of that problem?

Yes. Everybody's aware that there is a big problem.

• Do people want to discuss that problem? Why?

They don't want to talk about it. Why? Why do they not want to talk about if it's such a big problem, why do they not want to talk about it? Because it's a little embarrassing. Because maybe it's a little awkward, just like in the story. This girl had gotten a lot of surgery procedures done and it's not something that many people want to discuss, but it's something very visible. It's a big, visible problem or issue that you want to talk about, but at the same time you feel like you can't because it wouldn't be okay. It would be awkward. It would be embarrassing.

• Have you ever been in a situation where there was an elephant in the room?

Well, my family is Sicilian, so there's a lot of elephants in a lot of rooms. What I'm trying to say is that a lot of times there are problems, maybe we get into fights and we don't want to talk about it. Then when we meet, we have this big problem that nobody talks about and we feel like, yes, there is an elephant in the room.

A little bird told me...

'A little bird told me you’ve done something to your face.'

• If you use the expression “a little bird told me...” do you want to reveal who gave you that information?

No. For some reason or another, we don't know why, we don't want to tell who told you.

• On what occasions would you use it?

Now, careful though, because this expression is used less and less. Its something funny that maybe you could say to a child. Imagine you see your friend's child and you tell them, "A little bird told me it's your birthday today." It's this cute thing that you could say. Obviously that doesn't mean that a pigeon came up to you and was like, "Hey, you know it's Sarah's birthday today." You get the point.

Hold your horses

'Hold your horses! What do you mean another operation?'

• Is the expression “hold your horses” a synonym for “wait” or “go ahead/continue”?

If I say, "Hold your horses," I'm telling you, "Wait"

• What is the difference between telling someone to wait or telling someone to hold their horses?

Well, there's a big difference. The two are not interchangeable. Wait, I think we're all familiar with that word. If you say, "Hold your horses," that means that that person is going too fast. Usually is making a decision that they're not ready to make. I'll give you an example. Imagine I see a friend and she tells me, "I met this great guy yesterday and we're getting married next week." I could go, "Hold your horses. What are you talking about?" Meaning, "Don't go this fast. You haven't thought about this enough.

• Can you think of some situations where you would need to tell someone “Hold your horses!”?

I wouldn't say that to someone or I haven't been in that position many times in my life, but people have to tell me constantly. I have lots of crazy ideas and lots of projects that I want to work on and sometimes it's too much. A lot of times I go up to my friends and family and be like, "Oh my gosh, I've had this great idea. I'm going to start," for example, "this new YouTube series." "I'm going to start a podcast," like in this case. People have to tell me, "Laura, hold your horses. Are you sure you can handle it? Have you thought about this enough?" Then a lot of times I haven't.

Guinea pig

'She was going to be the guinea pig for this new type of operation.'

• If you are a guinea pig, are you testing something or is something being tested on you?

I don't know if you're familiar with what a Guinea pig is. It's this cute little furry rodent that scientists and stuff test drugs on. If you are the Guinea pig, something is being tested on you. I don't know if you're familiar with what a Guinea pig is. It's this cute little furry rodent that scientists and stuff test drugs on. If you are the Guinea pig, something is being tested on you. What is that something?

• What things could be tested on you if you're the Guinea pig?

Well, anything really. We're talking mostly drugs and procedures.

• Have you ever been or would you ever be a guinea pig for something?

I don't think I'd ever want to be the Guinea pig for a new drug. Other people can do that. I don't care how much they pay me. Unless I was about to die and that was my only option, I would not want to be a Guinea pig. I was the Guinea pig for this new method to teach Latin at school. That's right. I was in my first year of high school and we had to study Latin, but they tried this new approach where you would learn Latin, just like you would other language. You would actually learn how to speak it. Let me just tell you, that went terribly and nobody in my class actually learned Latin.

It was like beating a dead horse

'I tried to convince her not to do it but it was like beating a dead horse.'

• If you are trying to accomplish something, but you feel like it’s like beating a dead horse, will you succeed?

Imagine you're trying to pass a super difficult English exam and you study and your study and you watch tons and tons of hours of videos every day, and you always fail. Well, you could say, "It's like beating a dead horse." It means you think you're not going to succeed. Let's take a look at the origin of this awful expression. This comes from horse races when, obviously, if you wanted to win, you had to beat the horse, you had to flog the horse to make it go faster and to win. Well, imagine your horse is dead. It doesn't matter how much you flog it or if you beat it, it's not going to go any faster. You're not going to win. That's why you say it's like beating a dead horse. You put a lot of effort into it, but it gives you no results.

• Have you ever been in a situation that felt like beating a dead horse? What did you do?

I think it was probably when I was in a relationship with someone that I was very much in love with. We tried to make it work and for some reason we were not compatible. We tried and we tried and we tried. Then at the end it felt like it was like beating a dead horse, meaning we put a lot of effort into our relationship, but still we didn't make it.

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