What’s up, my friends? Welcome to another episode of Speakeasy English. Today we talk about dogs!
Okay, thanks for being here on another episode! Very quickly, I will remind you that the transcripts for this episode and every episode are available for free on our website, speakeasynglish.club, that is speakeasynglish.club. And if you have not listened to the first few episodes, I strongly recommend that you pause and go back and listen to episode one, two, and three at a minimum. That will help you understand how to use these podcasts to become completely fluent in English without ever studying any boring grammar.
Okay, we are going to jump right in. That means we’re going to “get to it” – we’re going to get to the topic of today’s episode, and that is: dogs. And no, not just talking about dogs – we are going to explain three expressions. That is, three idiomatic expressions that we use very often in English, and they all happen to have “dogs” in the expression.
The first one is, “I don’t have a dog in the fight”. I don’t have a dog in the fight. I do not have a dog in the fight. So, literally, that would mean there is some sort of fight, maybe a dog fight, but you don’t have one of your dogs in the fight. The dogs that are fighting belong to other people. And so maybe you are not very concerned with which dog wins the fight. Of course, that is the literal meaning, but that is not what the expression means. So in this case, the expression means that you do not have a stake, you do not have an interest in the outcome of a situation. It could be an argument, a debate, a conflict, but whatever it is, it does not concern you and the outcome will not impact you or your life. So you don’t care, really. So for example, if some friends of yours are going on vacation – let’s say they are going away for a weekend and they are trying to decide if they should go to the beach or if they should go to the mountains, and they ask you, “hey, we can’t agree, so can you help us? Which one should we do? Which place should we go? Should we go to the mountains or should we go to the beach?” And you might say, “hey, I don’t have a dog in this fight. So you guys need to figure it out. You need to decide because you are the ones going, I am not going, and so I don’t care. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I have no interest personally in which one you choose.” Another example with a slightly different usage, maybe a slightly different application, would be if your friend is making some decisions that you think are bad decisions for your friend. They are not going to impact you, so at the end of the day, it does not really concern you or your life, but you think your friend is making some bad decisions that are going to impact your friend. If you decided to give them advice, you might say, “Hey, listen, you can do whatever you want to do. I don’t have a dog in this fight. But in my opinion, these choices you are making are going to cause you harm, are going to cause you pain.” And when you say something like that, you are telling them that you don’t have a personal interest in whether or not they change their behavior. You are simply giving them honest feedback based on your observations of their behavior. But you don’t have any personal stake. You are not going to gain or lose depending on what choices they make. When you don’t have a dog in the fight, you are impartial. Your own self interest is not impacting your decision.
Alright, the next expression is a little bit darker, a little grim, and the expression is: “it’s a dog eat dog world.” So, literally, that would mean this is a world, this is a life, in which dogs eat other dogs. Dogs attack and kill and eat other dogs. Of course, that is not the meaning of this expression. This expression actually appeared in the 1800s and it was used to describe a situation in which people (or animals even, but generally people, humans) are ready to harm one another, they are willing to harm each other, to attack each other, it could be physically or professionally, but the people are willing to attack each other in order to get ahead, in order to succeed, or fulfill their objectives. So, for example, in our modern world, if you are applying for a job, let’s say in a very, very competitive job market, so there are many applicants and only a few openings, you might be tempted to exaggerate your resume or to talk poorly about other people that you know that have applied for the same job in order to increase your chances of getting the job – and decrease their chances. So you are acting unfairly to benefit yourself because of the very high level of competition in this situation. So if a friend were to tell you, “Hey, you should not do that!” You might reply, “Man, it is a dog eat dog world out here and I have to do what I have to do to make sure that I get a job and I can pay my bills.” In that sense you are justifying (or making an excuse) for your behavior based on the ferocious, aggressive, environment in which you are trying to survive. I’ll give you another example in nature. So, if you watch YouTube, you have probably seen some of the really fascinating videos often coming from the jungle or from the African safari, where you have one animal that hunts and catches another animal, and it thinks that it’s going to eat dinner, and then an even bigger animal catches that animal, and all the animals are fighting to survive. And that would be an example where you might see that (you might see that video) and say, “Wow, it’s a dog eat dog world!” Meaning that all of them are ready and willing to capture and kill the others in order to survive.
Okay, the last expression happens to be my favorite. It is “the hair of the dog that bit you.” That is, “the hair of the dog that bit you.” So, literally, that would be hair from a dog that has recently attacked you, that has recently bit your skin. This expression actually dates back to medieval times when it was believed that if a dog bit you, a rabid dog (that is, a dog with rabies), then the cure is to get hair from that same dog and place it on the wound. And they believed that having the hair from the dog that bit you on the wound would somehow cure the wound or prevent you from getting rabies (prevent you from getting sick). Of course that is not true, and this was before modern medicine, but that is what they believed. Nowadays (that is, today, in modern times), we use this expression quite often to refer to curing a hangover. So if you drink too much one evening and you wake up the next day and feel bad – you have a headache, you might be nauseous, you have a hangover from consuming too much alcohol the previous day – this expression is now commonly used to suggest that the best cure for your hangover is to drink more of whatever caused the hangover in the first place. So for example, if you were drinking vodka yesterday and today you wake up and feel horrible, your friend might say, “Hey, you need the hair of the dog that bit you.” And they are suggesting that maybe you should have a drink that includes vodka in order to feel better – in order to cure the hangover. In reality, this does not cure a hangover. Sure, it will make you feel better quickly, but then you are going to feel even worse afterwards. The best cure is to just not drink too much in the first place and not have a hangover. But if you find yourself in this position, you should consume a lot of water and electrolytes in order to rehydrate your body as quickly as possible. But this is a fun expression and it is very commonly used on a Saturday morning or a Sunday morning, after enjoying ourselves with our friends a little too much the night before!
Okay, I hope you enjoyed this little conversation about expressions that involve dogs! I love dogs, and unfortunately, we lost both of our boxers (those are boxer dogs – it’s a breed of dog) – we lost both of ours prematurely within the last twelve months. So, we do not have a dog at the moment, but we are looking forward to welcoming another furry friend into our household within the next six months. I think that if you have the space and you have the time to train and take care of a dog, I believe that having a dog in the household is very beneficial for young children, to teach them compassion for animals, to get them comfortable around animals, and to teach them responsibility. The dog, or any pet, depends on you to feed it, to give it water, to go for a walk, to exercise, and all of the things that go along with caring for a pet. And for those reasons, I believe that having a pet in the household when you have young children is extremely beneficial.
And dogs are better than cats. Sorry, I have to say that dogs are way better than cats. If cats were bigger, if cats were big enough, they would kill you. Dogs? No. If your dog could kill you, and some dogs can, they don’t. They love you and they want your approval. Whereas every cat I have ever met, I’m convinced it would kill me if it could. Okay, I’m kidding. I know there are nice cats, but I do prefer dogs. So anyway, send me an email and let me know why you disagree if you love cats, okay?
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