In this The English We Speak podcast: Finn tells Feifei that he is worried about what he’s going to do with the white elephant his uncle is giving him. Is he going to have a new pet? Find out more with The English We Speak.
(Finn and Feifei on a visit to the zoo)
Feifei: Hi. I’m Feifei and joining us here today in the zoo to present The English We Speak is Finn.
Feifei: What’s the matter, Finn? You sound worried. The zoo is a place of fun.
Finn: Yes, and I love animals too. But I don’t know what I’m going to do with that white elephant.
Feifei: That one over there?
Finn: No. The one my uncle is giving me.
Feifei: Your uncle is giving you an elephant?
Finn: Yeah, he is moving to South Africa and he’s giving away some of his things.
Feifei: And are you ready to take care of an elephant?
Finn: That’s the problem. I’m not. It is beautiful…
Feifei: Oh yes, I’m sure it is!
Finn: …and it is powerful…
Feifei: Yes, very powerful!
Finn: But it needs too much petrol!
Finn: Yes. Old sports cars need a lot of petrol, you know.
Feifei: That’s a relief. You’re talking about a car.
Finn: Of course! I wasn’t talking about an actual elephant.
Feifei: The elephant sounds relieved too.
Finn: Yes, he does. In English, when you call something a ‘white elephant’ you mean that it’s large, costs a lot of money to keep and has no useful purpose.
Feifei: A sports car is useful.
Finn: Not for me. I am a cyclist and I love my bicycle. Listen to some examples of how to use this expression.
- I’ve paid a lot of money for this posh designer dress that I never use. It is a white elephant!
- The new airport is a white elephant! It’s got four runways and it’s equipped with the latest technology, but not many people visit this region.
Feifei: Oh. So a ‘white elephant’ is something that might look good but in reality it’s a waste of space.
Finn: Yes, it is.
Feifei: Unlike these elephants we have here in the zoo. They seem to be very popular.
Finn: Shall we go and have a look, Feifei?
Feifei: Indeed and they’re grey, not white!
The English We Speak – A white elephant Transcript Video
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: