#169 - Do You Want Us to Shoot Her?

January 12, 2023

Listen to a hilarious 911 phone call from a woman who's having trouble controlling her daughters.

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Tony Kaizen: [00:00:00] What's up, my friend? You already know you're listening to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen, and today I've got an entertaining episode for you. We're going to be listening to a hilarious 911 phone call from a woman who was having some domestic violence issues. Now, before you get triggered, it goes without saying that there's nothing inherently funny about domestic violence, but I'm sure that by the end of this episode, you'll see that there are times when it can be extremely comical. So let's not waste any time, my friend. I'm going to play the audio clip now.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:32] "911, what is your emergency?"

Woman: [00:00:34] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:38] "What's going on?"

Woman: [00:00:39] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:00] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Woman: [00:01:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:05] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:01:09] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:10] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:11] Oh, shit. Alright, my friend. First of all, let me say, don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything from this clip because the audio wasn't so good and their accent is very different from mine. So that's what we're about to talk about now. I'm going to highlight some details that might be useful to you. Alright? So the first thing you might have noticed about the short dialogue is the accent of the people who are speaking, particularly the woman. She's got that classic Southern American accent, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:37] It sounds like she might be from Alabama or Georgia or Florida, but I'm not really sure. And you might be asking yourself, but how do you know that, Tony? How do you know where she's from? And there are a few things that you can listen for that will let you know that someone might be from the southern United States. For example, in this clip, you might be able to notice a pattern in the way the woman pronounces the words that have an "e-r" or an "o-r" sound.

Woman: [00:02:01] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:22] So you see, the way she pronounces these words is different from the way I pronounce it. I would say "daughter", "work", "were", "other", "door", "fourteen", "your", and you might also be able to notice a pattern in the way she pronounces the "o" in words like "whole" and "control".

Woman: [00:02:37] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:42] And you might notice the way she says things like, "Excuse me", or "Who are you?" and "What's your name?". It sounds completely different from the way that I might say it, you know?

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:53] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:02:54] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:55] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:02:57] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:58] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:59] And this is what we refer to as the Southern twang. It's just this particular, like, sound that you only hear in the south of the United States, the way people pronounce their words here. It's very drawn out, and, you know, it almost sounds like they're singing a song and they say things like "work" and "talk" and "walk". And this is a stereotypical Southern accent, but I'm trying, you know what I mean? It's not the best but I think if I had some more practice, I think I'll sound a little bit like George Bush, the former president of the United States of America. You got to love America...

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:34] Like this. It's that twang, bro. It's like that Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, you know what I'm saying...Georgia, some parts of Florida. This is how people talk, you know? And that's one kind of Southern accent. There's many different kinds. Right? So anyway, maybe this isn't the best explanation of the accent and what makes it unique, but hopefully you can identify those patterns in her speech and then look out for them in the future. And I'll definitely make some more episodes about accents and dialects, uh, in the near future. Alright? But now, let's go back to the beginning of the clip and analyze the actual vocabulary. Alright? So the first thing, "What is your emergency?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:04:14] "911, what is your emergency?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:16] This is a common thing for a dispatcher to say when they answer a 911 phone call. Right? And just in case you're wondering, a dispatcher, according to the dictionary, is a person whose job is to receive messages and organize the movement of people or vehicles, especially in the emergency services. And that's a very wordy and, you know, kind of formal definition. So another way of saying that is a dispatcher is a person who sends something to a destination. And in this case, it's phone calls because maybe you call 911 but there's many different reasons you might call.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:48] In one situation, it might be an armed robbery; in the other situation, somebody is having a heart attack. So when you call 911, they're going to reroute or redirect your phone call to the proper organization. You see what I'm saying? In one case, they might redirect your call to an ambulance or the fire station and another call is to the police. You see what I'm saying? So the person who redirects those phone calls in this case is the dispatcher. Alright, so next is "over here". Let's listen to that line one more time.

Woman: [00:05:18] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:05:22] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:24] You might be asking yourself, "Why did she say 'over here' instead of just 'here'?" Well, when we use the word "over" before words like "here" and "there", we're implying that a significant distance needs to be traveled for one to arrive "here" or "there". So in this case, the dispatcher and the woman are very far away from each other. So she says "over here", implying that they'll have to get in their cars and travel to her house. A distance needs to be crossed, you see?

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:50] So what you can think about is like those old Mortal Kombat movies when Scorpion, he had that weird snake-like spiky thing coming out of his hand and he would yell, "Get over here!" You guys remember that? And he would like, pierce the victim, I guess, and the victim would be across the room and he would pull the victim over to the other side of the room. He would have to travel or cross over that distance. Hopefully that makes sense.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:17] So you might still be asking yourself, "What's the difference between 'here' and 'over here'"? "What is a phrase like, 'Come here' mean, and why should I say 'Come here' instead of 'Come over here?'" Well, "come here" is typically said when we're physically close to someone, like, in the same room, relatively close to each other, it's...and it's typically used as a command.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:36] It's a very direct thing to say. And the emphasis isn't on the distance being crossed. It's on the fact that "I want you here right now". "Come here, now, immediately." You see what I'm saying? And this is one of those details that's really hard to explain because all the rules and exceptions involved in this just kind of like make it more confusing than helpful when I try to explain it to you, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:56] But I want you to understand that English speakers tend to say a lot of things with reference to their geographical location. That's what I want you to understand. For example, we have a habit of saying "down here in the South" when referring to the Southern United States. And I say "down here", because I am here and here is at the bottom of the map of the United States. So I say "down here". And if I were referring to people in New York, I could say "up there in New York", because they're located above me geographically, they're up at the top of the map. You see what I'm saying? So I'm really hoping this explanation was more helpful than confusing. But feel free to leave any questions or doubts you have on the Discord server. Alright? Now, let's move on. The next one is "what's going on?"

Woman: [00:07:43] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:07:46] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:49] This is another way of asking, "What's happening?" So if something is "going on", something is happening. Now, another variation of this question might be, "What's wrong?" or "What's the problem?" or "What's the issue?" Right? And in this case, you're just trying to understand what is the situation so that I can help you. Alright, next is "teenage".

Woman: [00:08:09] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:14] "I've got two teenage daughters." The word "teenage" is used to refer to adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19; it's literally an adolescent at the teen age. The age of a teen, you know what I'm saying? So that's why we say, "teenage daughters", which implies that between 13 and 19, you get the idea. Alright, let's move on. Next is "I just got home from work."

Woman: [00:08:37] "I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:43] This is the most common way of saying that you have just arrived at home after your time at work. So somebody says, "I just got home." It literally means, "I recently arrived at home." It's just a much more natural, informal way of saying the same thing. Alright, "next is kicked a hole in the door".

Woman: [00:09:03] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:08] "One of them kicked the hole in the door". And this literally means to kick the door so hard that you leave a hole in the door. You know? So one might also kick a hole in a wall or um, I guess those are the most common - kick a hole in the wall, put a hole in the door. I don't know if you guys have brothers or cousins, but maybe you're fighting in the house -- like these two girls -- and things get a little too crazy and next thing you know, you've got a new hole in the wall. Anyway, now, you should understand what she meant when she said they kicked the hole in the door. Let's move on. Next is "completely out of control".

Woman: [00:09:44] "And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:54] "The 12-year-old is completely out of control." And if somebody is "completely out of control", it means they're acting wild and crazy and no one can control or subdue them. Right? They're just, I mean, it's chaos like wild animals, right? So next is "she's as big as I am".

Woman: [00:10:12] "I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:10:15] And this is a common sentence structure for comparing things. So it's the verb "to be" plus "as" plus the "adjective" plus "as" plus "something". So I don't want to confuse you. That probably makes no sense just listening to it. So let me give you the example: "The daughter is as big as the mother." Right? So we have subject and then the verb "to be" is "as big as", right? As "adjective" as "something else". "This thing is as big as that thing." So another way of saying that is the daughter is the same size as the mother. That is another way of saying the same thing.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:00] But this sentence structure is super common, like, "I make as much money as you" or "I am as tall as you." "My city is as cold as yours." It's a very, very, very common sentence structure for saying that two things are equal in quality. You know? Hopefully that makes sense. But again, any questions you got, leave them on the Discord server. So next on the list is "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Woman: [00:11:24] "Physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:11:29] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:33] Now, remember that the mother said, "I need someone over here." So the dispatcher then asked, "Do you want us to come over?" So you see how they're naturally implying the distance between them? This is something unconscious. It's not something we think about. She says, I need someone over here implying that they need to travel across some distance to reach our house. And then he says, "Do you want us to come over?" Because he knows he's going to have to travel a considerable distance to reach her house.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:59] So, the reason I'm saying that again is just to kind of reiterate the idea. So hopefully it becomes more clear and you start to get the idea the more you listen to people speak this way. Alright? So when he says, "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?", he literally means take out his gun, squeeze the trigger, and put a bullet in her daughter. That's what it means to shoot someone. And of course, it was a joke. So next on the list is, "Are you there?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:12:25] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:12:31] And this is a common way of asking if someone is still connected to the phone call. Right? And we typically say this when the call goes silent and it's not clear if the person is still present. It's like, "Hello, are you there? Can you hear me? Are you there? Hello?" It's a very, very common way of asking that question. Alright. Next is "excuse me". And this is a common and polite way of asking someone to repeat themselves, but if you pay attention to the tone of her voice, you might hear that she's communicating her disbelief.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:01] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:13:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:03] "Uh, that's a joke."

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:04] She's not really saying, "I didn't hear you". She's really communicating that she can't believe what he really said, right? Her voice is communicating, like, "Did you really just say that? Are you serious?" And she said all of these with two simple words in a particular tone of voice.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:19] So I'm bringing this to your attention because I want to remind you that you shouldn't just pay attention to what people say. You should also pay attention to how they say it. And this will help you understand what somebody really means to say. It's a communication skill that has nothing to do with language. And once you master it, understanding natives becomes much easier, even when you don't understand every single word of the conversation.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:40] But hopefully now, you understand every word of this hilarious conversation between a mother and a 911 dispatcher. So that's it for now, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Life in English podcast. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. My name is Tony Kaizen, and I'll talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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Tony Kaizen: [00:00:00] What's up, my friend? You already know you're listening to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen, and today I've got an entertaining episode for you. We're going to be listening to a hilarious 911 phone call from a woman who was having some domestic violence issues. Now, before you get triggered, it goes without saying that there's nothing inherently funny about domestic violence, but I'm sure that by the end of this episode, you'll see that there are times when it can be extremely comical. So let's not waste any time, my friend. I'm going to play the audio clip now.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:32] "911, what is your emergency?"

Woman: [00:00:34] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:38] "What's going on?"

Woman: [00:00:39] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:00] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Woman: [00:01:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:05] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:01:09] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:10] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:11] Oh, shit. Alright, my friend. First of all, let me say, don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything from this clip because the audio wasn't so good and their accent is very different from mine. So that's what we're about to talk about now. I'm going to highlight some details that might be useful to you. Alright? So the first thing you might have noticed about the short dialogue is the accent of the people who are speaking, particularly the woman. She's got that classic Southern American accent, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:37] It sounds like she might be from Alabama or Georgia or Florida, but I'm not really sure. And you might be asking yourself, but how do you know that, Tony? How do you know where she's from? And there are a few things that you can listen for that will let you know that someone might be from the southern United States. For example, in this clip, you might be able to notice a pattern in the way the woman pronounces the words that have an "e-r" or an "o-r" sound.

Woman: [00:02:01] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:22] So you see, the way she pronounces these words is different from the way I pronounce it. I would say "daughter", "work", "were", "other", "door", "fourteen", "your", and you might also be able to notice a pattern in the way she pronounces the "o" in words like "whole" and "control".

Woman: [00:02:37] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:42] And you might notice the way she says things like, "Excuse me", or "Who are you?" and "What's your name?". It sounds completely different from the way that I might say it, you know?

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:53] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:02:54] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:55] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:02:57] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:58] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:59] And this is what we refer to as the Southern twang. It's just this particular, like, sound that you only hear in the south of the United States, the way people pronounce their words here. It's very drawn out, and, you know, it almost sounds like they're singing a song and they say things like "work" and "talk" and "walk". And this is a stereotypical Southern accent, but I'm trying, you know what I mean? It's not the best but I think if I had some more practice, I think I'll sound a little bit like George Bush, the former president of the United States of America. You got to love America...

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:34] Like this. It's that twang, bro. It's like that Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, you know what I'm saying...Georgia, some parts of Florida. This is how people talk, you know? And that's one kind of Southern accent. There's many different kinds. Right? So anyway, maybe this isn't the best explanation of the accent and what makes it unique, but hopefully you can identify those patterns in her speech and then look out for them in the future. And I'll definitely make some more episodes about accents and dialects, uh, in the near future. Alright? But now, let's go back to the beginning of the clip and analyze the actual vocabulary. Alright? So the first thing, "What is your emergency?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:04:14] "911, what is your emergency?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:16] This is a common thing for a dispatcher to say when they answer a 911 phone call. Right? And just in case you're wondering, a dispatcher, according to the dictionary, is a person whose job is to receive messages and organize the movement of people or vehicles, especially in the emergency services. And that's a very wordy and, you know, kind of formal definition. So another way of saying that is a dispatcher is a person who sends something to a destination. And in this case, it's phone calls because maybe you call 911 but there's many different reasons you might call.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:48] In one situation, it might be an armed robbery; in the other situation, somebody is having a heart attack. So when you call 911, they're going to reroute or redirect your phone call to the proper organization. You see what I'm saying? In one case, they might redirect your call to an ambulance or the fire station and another call is to the police. You see what I'm saying? So the person who redirects those phone calls in this case is the dispatcher. Alright, so next is "over here". Let's listen to that line one more time.

Woman: [00:05:18] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:05:22] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:24] You might be asking yourself, "Why did she say 'over here' instead of just 'here'?" Well, when we use the word "over" before words like "here" and "there", we're implying that a significant distance needs to be traveled for one to arrive "here" or "there". So in this case, the dispatcher and the woman are very far away from each other. So she says "over here", implying that they'll have to get in their cars and travel to her house. A distance needs to be crossed, you see?

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:50] So what you can think about is like those old Mortal Kombat movies when Scorpion, he had that weird snake-like spiky thing coming out of his hand and he would yell, "Get over here!" You guys remember that? And he would like, pierce the victim, I guess, and the victim would be across the room and he would pull the victim over to the other side of the room. He would have to travel or cross over that distance. Hopefully that makes sense.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:17] So you might still be asking yourself, "What's the difference between 'here' and 'over here'"? "What is a phrase like, 'Come here' mean, and why should I say 'Come here' instead of 'Come over here?'" Well, "come here" is typically said when we're physically close to someone, like, in the same room, relatively close to each other, it's...and it's typically used as a command.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:36] It's a very direct thing to say. And the emphasis isn't on the distance being crossed. It's on the fact that "I want you here right now". "Come here, now, immediately." You see what I'm saying? And this is one of those details that's really hard to explain because all the rules and exceptions involved in this just kind of like make it more confusing than helpful when I try to explain it to you, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:56] But I want you to understand that English speakers tend to say a lot of things with reference to their geographical location. That's what I want you to understand. For example, we have a habit of saying "down here in the South" when referring to the Southern United States. And I say "down here", because I am here and here is at the bottom of the map of the United States. So I say "down here". And if I were referring to people in New York, I could say "up there in New York", because they're located above me geographically, they're up at the top of the map. You see what I'm saying? So I'm really hoping this explanation was more helpful than confusing. But feel free to leave any questions or doubts you have on the Discord server. Alright? Now, let's move on. The next one is "what's going on?"

Woman: [00:07:43] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:07:46] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:49] This is another way of asking, "What's happening?" So if something is "going on", something is happening. Now, another variation of this question might be, "What's wrong?" or "What's the problem?" or "What's the issue?" Right? And in this case, you're just trying to understand what is the situation so that I can help you. Alright, next is "teenage".

Woman: [00:08:09] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:14] "I've got two teenage daughters." The word "teenage" is used to refer to adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19; it's literally an adolescent at the teen age. The age of a teen, you know what I'm saying? So that's why we say, "teenage daughters", which implies that between 13 and 19, you get the idea. Alright, let's move on. Next is "I just got home from work."

Woman: [00:08:37] "I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:43] This is the most common way of saying that you have just arrived at home after your time at work. So somebody says, "I just got home." It literally means, "I recently arrived at home." It's just a much more natural, informal way of saying the same thing. Alright, "next is kicked a hole in the door".

Woman: [00:09:03] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:08] "One of them kicked the hole in the door". And this literally means to kick the door so hard that you leave a hole in the door. You know? So one might also kick a hole in a wall or um, I guess those are the most common - kick a hole in the wall, put a hole in the door. I don't know if you guys have brothers or cousins, but maybe you're fighting in the house -- like these two girls -- and things get a little too crazy and next thing you know, you've got a new hole in the wall. Anyway, now, you should understand what she meant when she said they kicked the hole in the door. Let's move on. Next is "completely out of control".

Woman: [00:09:44] "And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:54] "The 12-year-old is completely out of control." And if somebody is "completely out of control", it means they're acting wild and crazy and no one can control or subdue them. Right? They're just, I mean, it's chaos like wild animals, right? So next is "she's as big as I am".

Woman: [00:10:12] "I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:10:15] And this is a common sentence structure for comparing things. So it's the verb "to be" plus "as" plus the "adjective" plus "as" plus "something". So I don't want to confuse you. That probably makes no sense just listening to it. So let me give you the example: "The daughter is as big as the mother." Right? So we have subject and then the verb "to be" is "as big as", right? As "adjective" as "something else". "This thing is as big as that thing." So another way of saying that is the daughter is the same size as the mother. That is another way of saying the same thing.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:00] But this sentence structure is super common, like, "I make as much money as you" or "I am as tall as you." "My city is as cold as yours." It's a very, very, very common sentence structure for saying that two things are equal in quality. You know? Hopefully that makes sense. But again, any questions you got, leave them on the Discord server. So next on the list is "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Woman: [00:11:24] "Physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:11:29] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:33] Now, remember that the mother said, "I need someone over here." So the dispatcher then asked, "Do you want us to come over?" So you see how they're naturally implying the distance between them? This is something unconscious. It's not something we think about. She says, I need someone over here implying that they need to travel across some distance to reach our house. And then he says, "Do you want us to come over?" Because he knows he's going to have to travel a considerable distance to reach her house.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:59] So, the reason I'm saying that again is just to kind of reiterate the idea. So hopefully it becomes more clear and you start to get the idea the more you listen to people speak this way. Alright? So when he says, "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?", he literally means take out his gun, squeeze the trigger, and put a bullet in her daughter. That's what it means to shoot someone. And of course, it was a joke. So next on the list is, "Are you there?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:12:25] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:12:31] And this is a common way of asking if someone is still connected to the phone call. Right? And we typically say this when the call goes silent and it's not clear if the person is still present. It's like, "Hello, are you there? Can you hear me? Are you there? Hello?" It's a very, very common way of asking that question. Alright. Next is "excuse me". And this is a common and polite way of asking someone to repeat themselves, but if you pay attention to the tone of her voice, you might hear that she's communicating her disbelief.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:01] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:13:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:03] "Uh, that's a joke."

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:04] She's not really saying, "I didn't hear you". She's really communicating that she can't believe what he really said, right? Her voice is communicating, like, "Did you really just say that? Are you serious?" And she said all of these with two simple words in a particular tone of voice.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:19] So I'm bringing this to your attention because I want to remind you that you shouldn't just pay attention to what people say. You should also pay attention to how they say it. And this will help you understand what somebody really means to say. It's a communication skill that has nothing to do with language. And once you master it, understanding natives becomes much easier, even when you don't understand every single word of the conversation.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:40] But hopefully now, you understand every word of this hilarious conversation between a mother and a 911 dispatcher. So that's it for now, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Life in English podcast. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. My name is Tony Kaizen, and I'll talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Tell a story about a time you had to call the police.
  • Write about the crime rate in your city/country.
  • Which crimes are most commonly committed in your city/country?
  • What are your thoughts on teaching children how to fight?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
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Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

Tony Kaizen: [00:00:00] What's up, my friend? You already know you're listening to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen, and today I've got an entertaining episode for you. We're going to be listening to a hilarious 911 phone call from a woman who was having some domestic violence issues. Now, before you get triggered, it goes without saying that there's nothing inherently funny about domestic violence, but I'm sure that by the end of this episode, you'll see that there are times when it can be extremely comical. So let's not waste any time, my friend. I'm going to play the audio clip now.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:32] "911, what is your emergency?"

Woman: [00:00:34] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:00:38] "What's going on?"

Woman: [00:00:39] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:00] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Woman: [00:01:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:05] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:01:09] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:01:10] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:11] Oh, shit. Alright, my friend. First of all, let me say, don't feel bad if you couldn't understand everything from this clip because the audio wasn't so good and their accent is very different from mine. So that's what we're about to talk about now. I'm going to highlight some details that might be useful to you. Alright? So the first thing you might have noticed about the short dialogue is the accent of the people who are speaking, particularly the woman. She's got that classic Southern American accent, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:01:37] It sounds like she might be from Alabama or Georgia or Florida, but I'm not really sure. And you might be asking yourself, but how do you know that, Tony? How do you know where she's from? And there are a few things that you can listen for that will let you know that someone might be from the southern United States. For example, in this clip, you might be able to notice a pattern in the way the woman pronounces the words that have an "e-r" or an "o-r" sound.

Woman: [00:02:01] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work. They were, um, physically fighting with each other, and one of them kicked a hole in the door. And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:22] So you see, the way she pronounces these words is different from the way I pronounce it. I would say "daughter", "work", "were", "other", "door", "fourteen", "your", and you might also be able to notice a pattern in the way she pronounces the "o" in words like "whole" and "control".

Woman: [00:02:37] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:42] And you might notice the way she says things like, "Excuse me", or "Who are you?" and "What's your name?". It sounds completely different from the way that I might say it, you know?

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:53] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:02:54] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:55] "Uh, that's a joke. Okay, so..."

Woman: [00:02:57] "Who are you? What is your name?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:02:58] "Mike Forbes."

Tony Kaizen: [00:02:59] And this is what we refer to as the Southern twang. It's just this particular, like, sound that you only hear in the south of the United States, the way people pronounce their words here. It's very drawn out, and, you know, it almost sounds like they're singing a song and they say things like "work" and "talk" and "walk". And this is a stereotypical Southern accent, but I'm trying, you know what I mean? It's not the best but I think if I had some more practice, I think I'll sound a little bit like George Bush, the former president of the United States of America. You got to love America...

Tony Kaizen: [00:03:34] Like this. It's that twang, bro. It's like that Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, you know what I'm saying...Georgia, some parts of Florida. This is how people talk, you know? And that's one kind of Southern accent. There's many different kinds. Right? So anyway, maybe this isn't the best explanation of the accent and what makes it unique, but hopefully you can identify those patterns in her speech and then look out for them in the future. And I'll definitely make some more episodes about accents and dialects, uh, in the near future. Alright? But now, let's go back to the beginning of the clip and analyze the actual vocabulary. Alright? So the first thing, "What is your emergency?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:04:14] "911, what is your emergency?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:16] This is a common thing for a dispatcher to say when they answer a 911 phone call. Right? And just in case you're wondering, a dispatcher, according to the dictionary, is a person whose job is to receive messages and organize the movement of people or vehicles, especially in the emergency services. And that's a very wordy and, you know, kind of formal definition. So another way of saying that is a dispatcher is a person who sends something to a destination. And in this case, it's phone calls because maybe you call 911 but there's many different reasons you might call.

Tony Kaizen: [00:04:48] In one situation, it might be an armed robbery; in the other situation, somebody is having a heart attack. So when you call 911, they're going to reroute or redirect your phone call to the proper organization. You see what I'm saying? In one case, they might redirect your call to an ambulance or the fire station and another call is to the police. You see what I'm saying? So the person who redirects those phone calls in this case is the dispatcher. Alright, so next is "over here". Let's listen to that line one more time.

Woman: [00:05:18] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:05:22] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:24] You might be asking yourself, "Why did she say 'over here' instead of just 'here'?" Well, when we use the word "over" before words like "here" and "there", we're implying that a significant distance needs to be traveled for one to arrive "here" or "there". So in this case, the dispatcher and the woman are very far away from each other. So she says "over here", implying that they'll have to get in their cars and travel to her house. A distance needs to be crossed, you see?

Tony Kaizen: [00:05:50] So what you can think about is like those old Mortal Kombat movies when Scorpion, he had that weird snake-like spiky thing coming out of his hand and he would yell, "Get over here!" You guys remember that? And he would like, pierce the victim, I guess, and the victim would be across the room and he would pull the victim over to the other side of the room. He would have to travel or cross over that distance. Hopefully that makes sense.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:17] So you might still be asking yourself, "What's the difference between 'here' and 'over here'"? "What is a phrase like, 'Come here' mean, and why should I say 'Come here' instead of 'Come over here?'" Well, "come here" is typically said when we're physically close to someone, like, in the same room, relatively close to each other, it's...and it's typically used as a command.

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:36] It's a very direct thing to say. And the emphasis isn't on the distance being crossed. It's on the fact that "I want you here right now". "Come here, now, immediately." You see what I'm saying? And this is one of those details that's really hard to explain because all the rules and exceptions involved in this just kind of like make it more confusing than helpful when I try to explain it to you, you know?

Tony Kaizen: [00:06:56] But I want you to understand that English speakers tend to say a lot of things with reference to their geographical location. That's what I want you to understand. For example, we have a habit of saying "down here in the South" when referring to the Southern United States. And I say "down here", because I am here and here is at the bottom of the map of the United States. So I say "down here". And if I were referring to people in New York, I could say "up there in New York", because they're located above me geographically, they're up at the top of the map. You see what I'm saying? So I'm really hoping this explanation was more helpful than confusing. But feel free to leave any questions or doubts you have on the Discord server. Alright? Now, let's move on. The next one is "what's going on?"

Woman: [00:07:43] "Yes, um, I need a police officer over here at 7..."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:07:46] "What's going on?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:07:49] This is another way of asking, "What's happening?" So if something is "going on", something is happening. Now, another variation of this question might be, "What's wrong?" or "What's the problem?" or "What's the issue?" Right? And in this case, you're just trying to understand what is the situation so that I can help you. Alright, next is "teenage".

Woman: [00:08:09] "Um, I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:14] "I've got two teenage daughters." The word "teenage" is used to refer to adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19; it's literally an adolescent at the teen age. The age of a teen, you know what I'm saying? So that's why we say, "teenage daughters", which implies that between 13 and 19, you get the idea. Alright, let's move on. Next is "I just got home from work."

Woman: [00:08:37] "I've got two teenage daughters and I just got home from work."

Tony Kaizen: [00:08:43] This is the most common way of saying that you have just arrived at home after your time at work. So somebody says, "I just got home." It literally means, "I recently arrived at home." It's just a much more natural, informal way of saying the same thing. Alright, "next is kicked a hole in the door".

Woman: [00:09:03] "They were, um, physically fighting with each other and one of them kicked a hole in the door."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:08] "One of them kicked the hole in the door". And this literally means to kick the door so hard that you leave a hole in the door. You know? So one might also kick a hole in a wall or um, I guess those are the most common - kick a hole in the wall, put a hole in the door. I don't know if you guys have brothers or cousins, but maybe you're fighting in the house -- like these two girls -- and things get a little too crazy and next thing you know, you've got a new hole in the wall. Anyway, now, you should understand what she meant when she said they kicked the hole in the door. Let's move on. Next is "completely out of control".

Woman: [00:09:44] "And, um, they're 12 and almost 14. And the 12-year-old is completely out of control. And I...I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:09:54] "The 12-year-old is completely out of control." And if somebody is "completely out of control", it means they're acting wild and crazy and no one can control or subdue them. Right? They're just, I mean, it's chaos like wild animals, right? So next is "she's as big as I am".

Woman: [00:10:12] "I can't...physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Tony Kaizen: [00:10:15] And this is a common sentence structure for comparing things. So it's the verb "to be" plus "as" plus the "adjective" plus "as" plus "something". So I don't want to confuse you. That probably makes no sense just listening to it. So let me give you the example: "The daughter is as big as the mother." Right? So we have subject and then the verb "to be" is "as big as", right? As "adjective" as "something else". "This thing is as big as that thing." So another way of saying that is the daughter is the same size as the mother. That is another way of saying the same thing.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:00] But this sentence structure is super common, like, "I make as much money as you" or "I am as tall as you." "My city is as cold as yours." It's a very, very, very common sentence structure for saying that two things are equal in quality. You know? Hopefully that makes sense. But again, any questions you got, leave them on the Discord server. So next on the list is "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Woman: [00:11:24] "Physically, if she's as big as I am, I can't control her."

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:11:29] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:33] Now, remember that the mother said, "I need someone over here." So the dispatcher then asked, "Do you want us to come over?" So you see how they're naturally implying the distance between them? This is something unconscious. It's not something we think about. She says, I need someone over here implying that they need to travel across some distance to reach our house. And then he says, "Do you want us to come over?" Because he knows he's going to have to travel a considerable distance to reach her house.

Tony Kaizen: [00:11:59] So, the reason I'm saying that again is just to kind of reiterate the idea. So hopefully it becomes more clear and you start to get the idea the more you listen to people speak this way. Alright? So when he says, "Did you want us to come over and shoot her?", he literally means take out his gun, squeeze the trigger, and put a bullet in her daughter. That's what it means to shoot someone. And of course, it was a joke. So next on the list is, "Are you there?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:12:25] "Okay. Did you want us to come over and shoot her? Are you there?"

Tony Kaizen: [00:12:31] And this is a common way of asking if someone is still connected to the phone call. Right? And we typically say this when the call goes silent and it's not clear if the person is still present. It's like, "Hello, are you there? Can you hear me? Are you there? Hello?" It's a very, very common way of asking that question. Alright. Next is "excuse me". And this is a common and polite way of asking someone to repeat themselves, but if you pay attention to the tone of her voice, you might hear that she's communicating her disbelief.

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:01] "Are you there?"

Woman: [00:13:02] "Excuse me?"

Mike Forbes (911 dispatcher): [00:13:03] "Uh, that's a joke."

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:04] She's not really saying, "I didn't hear you". She's really communicating that she can't believe what he really said, right? Her voice is communicating, like, "Did you really just say that? Are you serious?" And she said all of these with two simple words in a particular tone of voice.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:19] So I'm bringing this to your attention because I want to remind you that you shouldn't just pay attention to what people say. You should also pay attention to how they say it. And this will help you understand what somebody really means to say. It's a communication skill that has nothing to do with language. And once you master it, understanding natives becomes much easier, even when you don't understand every single word of the conversation.

Tony Kaizen: [00:13:40] But hopefully now, you understand every word of this hilarious conversation between a mother and a 911 dispatcher. So that's it for now, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Life in English podcast. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. My name is Tony Kaizen, and I'll talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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