Free Honeymoon

couple on beachCan you imagine being given a free honeymoon? Well, that’s just what the Malaysian government are offering couples in a bid to decrease the divorce rate. I saw this article about it on the BBC News website yesterday and started imagining where I would go on a second honeymoon.

In the first paragraph, the author mentions that these honeymoons will be offered to couples ‘on the brink’ of divorce. I explained ‘on the brink‘ in more detail in this post, but in this situation, it means couples who are very likely to divorce.

The next interesting expression is slightly later in the article where it is mentioned that the scheme is aimed at building ‘family ties‘. ‘Family ties‘ means the relationship between family members.

Further on in the article, the expression ‘in-laws‘ is mentioned. Your ‘in-laws‘ are your wife or husband’s parents. We can also use ‘in-law‘ after a word to indicate that a person is related to your husband or wife. For example, my brother in-law is my wife’s brother.

A few weeks ago, we saw here that machines can ‘break down‘. Marriages can, too. We also often use the phrasal verb ‘fall apart‘  to talk about when a relationship starts to become difficult and unsustainable.

The last interesting expression in this article ‘pilot project‘. We use the word ‘pilot‘ in this sense to talk about something being done for the first time as a test or trial. Another example of this would be when a TV company makes a ‘pilot episode‘ of a TV show to test whether viewers will like it or not.

Where would you like to go on a free honeymoon?

Today’s image is by Fran Flores.

Window of Opportunity

windowRegular readers of this blog will know that I’m very interested in Environmental issues. That’s why I was interested to see this article on the Reuters website. I have lived in South-East Asia on and off for the last six years and have been interested to see the progress made in educating the public about endangered animals and habitats.

There is a lot of interesting vocabulary in the article, too. The first expresion I noticed was ‘on the brink‘ in the first paragraph. I have already explained the expression in detail in this post so I won’t go over it again. The other interesting word in this paragraph was ‘snaring‘. To ‘snare‘ something is to catch it in a trap using a rope or wire.

There is another great phrase slightly later in the article where William Robichaud is quoted as saying:

We are at a point in history where we have a small but rapidly closing window of opportunity to conserve this extraordinary animal,

A ‘window of opportunity‘ is a time period within which there is a chance to do something. We use ‘open‘ to talk about the time in which this chance is available and ‘closed‘ to talk about the time when this chance or opportunity is not available.

In the next paragraph, his colleague Barney Long uses the word ‘dozens‘ to talk about how many of these animals exist. ‘Dozen‘ is an old-fashioned word meaning ‘twelve’ and ‘dozens‘ usually means a number between twenty-four and about sixty.  Have a look here for some more number words.

There’s another great adjective in the next paragraph. The animal’s horns are described as ‘tapering‘. Something which ‘tapers‘ or is ‘tapered‘ is wider at one end than it is at the other. Sometimes we talk about ‘tapered‘ jeans where the legs get narrower as they get nearer to the ankle.

The last word I would like to look at is slightly later in the article where it is mentioned that one of the animals was kept in a ‘menagerie‘. This means a collection of animals like a small zoo.

Are there any rare or unusual animals in your country?

Today’s photo is by Ramzi Hashisho.

On the Brink

There’s an article in the BBC business news today that caught my eye because it has three really interesting expressions in it. The first is in the title:

Major US lender ‘on the brink

In this situation ‘on the brink’ means that something, probably bad is about to happen. From the rest of the article, we could assume the bank is ‘on the brink of bankruptcy’ or ‘on the brink of disaster’.

The next two phrases come together in the first paragraph:

Days of talks on a possible last-ditch bail-out between the US government and troubled New York-based lender CIT Group Inc have come to an end.

‘Last-ditch’ is an interesting expression with military origins. In a military sense, the ‘last ditch’ is the final line of defences an army has from attack. When we use it in speech, it is usually as a compound adjective and is often seen with the word ‘effort’ or ‘attempt’ so a ‘last-ditch effort’ would be a final effort using all the resources available to you.

‘Bail out’ is usually seen as a phrasal verb meaning to help a person or group of people who are in a difficult situation. In the example above, a ‘bail-out’ is a compound noun and means the package of financial aid given to the organisation in trouble.

Have you ever had to bail a friend out?