Adjectives from names

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Adjectives from names

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Join Callum and Finn as they discuss a group of adjectives that are made from the names of famous people.

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Callum Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me, Callum.

Finn And me, Finn. In this programme we’re talking about an interesting type of adjective.

Callum Yes, they’re adjectives that are formed from the names of famous people such as authors, politicians and scientists. There’ll be lots of examples.

Callum But first, here’s Ruth. She’s talking about some common adjectives from names that we use.

Finn And listen out for the answer to this question: Which adjective comes from the name of the author George Orwell? Here’s Ruth.

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Ruth Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of Victorian England and many of his books describe the poverty of that time. So what do we mean by Dickensian social conditions? And what about an Orwellian future? Have you read the book 1984 by the author George Orwell? A Churchillian speech is clearly the kind of speech made by the politician Winston Churchill. And you can probably guess which famous people these adjectives come from: a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.

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Callum So that was Ruth. And we asked you which adjective comes from the name of the author George Orwell?

Finn And the answer is Orwellian . The suffix - ian is often added to the names of famous writers and scientists to form new adjectives.

Callum Now these adjectives describe something that person is famous for. Orwell wrote about a nightmare vision of the future in his book 1984 , so an Orwellian future or society is terrible like the one in the book, with no individual freedom.

Finn And people sometimes say that reality TV programmes are Orwellian because they spy on what people are doing.

Callum And I’ve heard politicians’ views described as Orwellian too.

Finn Listen for more of these adjectives in our first clip.

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Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of Victorian England and many of his books describe the poverty of that time. So what do we mean by Dickensian social conditions?

Finn Now which two adjectives came from the names of famous people in that clip?

Callum Well, there was Victorian . Victorian England means England when Queen Victoria ruled, which was from 1837 to 1901.

Finn Other queens and kings whose names are commonly used as adjectives include Elizabethan , Edwardian and Georgian.

Callum And with kings and queens it’s always their first names that are made into adjectives, not their surnames. Now that clip also used the adjective Dickensian . Ruth asked us what Dickensian social conditions are.

Finn Yes, well, because Charles Dickens wrote a lot about the poverty of Victorian England, Dickensian social conditions are very poor, like those in his novels.

Callum You could also say that a street or house is Dickensian , meaning that it is very old and in poor condition. But onto our second clip.

INSERT 1 CLIP 2 A Churchillian speech is clearly the kind of speech made by the politician Winston Churchill. And you can probably guess which famous people these adjectives come from: a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.

Finn A Churchillian speech. Now Churchill is famous for being a powerful, determined politician and a brilliant speaker.

Callum So, a Churchillian speech is a powerful and brilliant speech. And we also heard a Freudian slip and a Thatcherite outlook on life.

Finn Yes. Freudian from Freud, the psychologist. Freud wrote a lot about the unconscious mind. And a Freudian slip is a fixed phrase that means a mistake that you make, especially when speaking, caused by the thoughts in your unconscious mind.

Callum Thatcherite comes from Margaret Thatcher, who was a Prime Minister of the UK. Adjectives from politicians’ names are often formed with the suffixes - ist and - ite . Other examples are Stalinist from the Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Maoist from the Chinese Chairman Mao and Reaganite from former US President Reagan.

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6 Minute Vocabulary from bbclearningenglish.com.

Callum And we’re talking about adjectives that are formed from names.

Finn And it’s quiz time! Ready? Number one: Which of these nouns goes best with the adjective Orwellian? a) an Orwellian society b) Orwellian freedom.

Callum The answer’s a) an Orwellian society.

Finn
Good. Number two: Are Dickensian conditions a) the conditions in which Charles Dickens lived, or b) any poor social living conditions?

Callum
It’s b) any poor living conditions.

Finn Well done! Number three: Tony Blair was a Prime Minister of the UK and the adjective from his name is like that of Margaret Thatcher. So would we talk about a) Blairist policies or b) Blairite policies?

Callum The answer’s b) Blairite.

Finn And that’s the end of the quiz. And there’s lots more about this and other things at bbclearningenglish.com. Do join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both Bye!

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