AE 463 – Expression: Every Nook and Cranny
Hey, guys! What’s going on? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
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Anyway. So, today’s episode is about the expression “every nook and cranny”, “every nook and cranny”. I wonder if you guys have heard this one before.
This one was from a friend Ivan. He’s one of my students who I give private lessons to on Skype. And Ivan was asking what it meant, ’cause he’d never seen the word ‘nook’ or the word ‘cranny’ before.
Anyway, we’ll get into that. Good job, Ivan. This was a really good one. But first the Aussie joke, okay, and it’s not to do with Australia today, but it is a funny joke as it’s a play on words, and I love these kinds of jokes. Alright, so the joke is:
What’s the best thing about Switzerland?
Okay? And Switzerland is that country where they speak German, Italian, French. It’s in Europe. Switzerland. Actually, is part of Europe? It’s part of Europe, right? I don’t know. There’s some of these countries who aren’t part of Europe, but in the… on the European continent. Anyway, maybe I’m having a brain fart.
Alright, the joke. What is the best thing about Switzerland? What’s the best thing about Switzerland?
And the answer: I don’t know. But the flag is a big plus! The flag is a big plus.
So, the joke here, guys, is that the flag of Switzerland is obviously red, it has a red background and a white plus symbol on it, you know, like a cross that is… it’s not an X. It is rotated 45 degrees and so it is sort of horizontal and vertical instead of diagonal. That is the flag, a white cross on a red background.
But if you say that something is “a big plus” in English that means that it’s a positive thing, it’s a benefit, it’s an advantage. Okay?
So, what’s the best thing about Switzerland? I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus. The joke here is that the flag is a plus, obviously, literally, but figuratively, it is a really good thing, it is a positive thing, it is an advantageous thing. The flag is a big plus.
Anyway, the expression today “every nook and cranny”, again, Ivan, great choice! You might hear this one as “look in every nook and cranny” or “search in every nook and cranny”. Okay? But “every nook and cranny” is used all over the world. Every sort of English will use this expression.
So, let’s go through, define the different words in expression, and then we’ll go through the definition of the expression itself, its origin, I’ll give you some examples, we’ll go through a little pronunciation listen and repeat exercise, and then we’ll have a little chat at the end about my latest news and a bit about mindfulness. Anyway. So, the definitions of the words.
“Every”. “Every”. I’m sure you guys know the word “every”. This is one of the first ones you’ll learn when you’re learning a language. You know, it will be the word for “every”. Obviously, every language doesn’t use “every”. But the word “every” is used before a singular noun to refer to all the individual members of a set without exception. So, for example “Every person in my family”, that is each person in my family, all of the people in my family every person. Another example could be “I work every day of the week”. “I work every day of the week”. So, all days of the week, each day of the week, I work every day.
The other two words in this expression, I want to give you a bit of a caveat, they’re not used elsewhere. So, this was one of those weird expressions where the words in it, at least two of the four words in it, “nook” and “cranny”, aren’t actually used outside of this expression in English, at least I’ve never heard “nook” or “cranny” used outside of using the expression “every nook and cranny” itself. Okay? So, I look these up though.
“A Nook” is an out-of-the-way corner. So, that’s a really cool adjective there too. Out-of-the-way, out-of-the-way, here is a compound adjective describing the noun “corner”. A corner that is out of the way. But if we want to turn it into an adjective, “it is out of the way”, we can turn it into a compound adjective with hyphens so it’s almost effectively one word, when we say it’s an out-of-the-way corner, an out-of-the-way corner. So, a corner that is not close to you. It is not in your path. You have to go out of your way in order to find this corner. That is apparently “a nook”. And it dates back to the mid-13th hundreds in Middle English and the word was “nok”. “Nok”, maybe, “nok”.
“Cranny”. “A cranny” is a crack or crevice. A crack or crevice. A crack or crevice would be something you would see, for instance, if you’re walking on a footpath and you see that the footpath has cracked, the sliver, the little, I guess, kind of like a tiny, miniature canyon in the concrete is a crack or a crevice. And the word “cranny” dates back to the late Middle English as well and it was originally spelt “C-R-A-N-Y”. So, it’s perhaps from Middle French “Crené”, and… or…, which is the past participle of the word “Crener”, to notch or to groove something. That’s a verb.
So, anyway, those two words are not used elsewhere in English just in the expression “every nook and cranny”.
So, the definition of this expression. If you look in every nook and cranny or search in every nook and cranny, this is every small, out-of-the-way place or places where something could be hidden. So, it is to look for something everywhere if you look in every nook and cranny. It is to search in every possible place for something. If you search in every nook and cranny.
So, let’s go through the expression origin. So, it’s a metaphoric idiom and it pairs the words nook and cranny that we went over before that are from Old English, which meant a crack or a crevice and this originates… this expression originates from the 1400s, the mid-1400s in Britain. So, obviously people were using these older English words or some of these words from French, and this expression originally would have made sense, because they would have used the words “nook” and “cranny” all the time. So, it’s kind of like to look in every place and location, except now we don’t use those expressions. So, there you go.
So, let’s go through some examples, guys, of how I would use this expression. “Every nook and cranny”, “to look in every nook and cranny”, “to search in every nook and cranny”.
So, imagine you’re a student working at a museum, which is what I was doing a year or so ago. So, you’re studying one animal or another and you need to find a certain specimen that is stored in one of the Museum’s collections. And the collections are where you keep certain things. (It) could be animals, it could be paintings, it could be historical artefacts. That is a collection of things, and at a museum it is called “a collection”, where they’re kept.
So, people study animals like… every animal. For example, in Australia, I studied mice and rats, and in the Museum’s collections they had a lot of these animals that had been caught previously around the country up to hundreds of years ago stored in the collection as a reference for scientists. So, imagine you’re studying a rat or a bilby or a goanna, some kind of native Australian animal, and it’s important that you get certain biological data or measurements from this animal, but you can’t seem to find it. Your records show you that it should be in the place that you’re looking in the collection there. You know, you’ve opened a certain drawer or you’re looking on a shelf somewhere and that’s where the animal should be, the taxidermied animal, the stuffed animal, but it’s not there. So, instead, you have to look in every single nook and cranny, you’ve got to search in every nook and cranny, to try and find the specimen, and eventually, it turns up. And you realise that someone had absent-mindedly put it in the wrong place. You found it after you searched in every nook and cranny.
Example number two. Alright, so the recent news about the soccer team in Thailand and their coach disappearing in a cave complex in the mountains there near, I think it was near Myanmar. So, the team were traipsing through, they were walking through, checking out this cave, going through this cave complex, when all of a sudden there was a torrential downpour of rain, and it was raining cats and dogs. They disappeared. They didn’t come out of the cave after the rain had stopped and they got trapped for nine days, but fortunately, the Thai government was working with a bunch of other countries, and they were trying to find these guys, and eventually they sent a group of cave divers from… I believe it was the UK where these divers were from, and they found these kids. They went through the dirty water, the muddy water with like zero visibility. They had to traipse into the cave and swim into the cave like four kilometres, and they eventually found these kids. But I’m sure before finding these kids, these divers as well as everyone else searching in the caves was looking in every nook and cranny. They were searching all throughout the caves, in all the different crevices, in all the different cracks, the different places these kids could be. They were searching in every nook and cranny, and eventually, they found the kids alive in an air pocket, and they were all sitting on a mound of mud. And now the trouble is getting the kids out.
Example number three. Imagine that you are an au pair in Australia. So, you are someone who is from France or from Germany or from Brazil. You’re taking care of someone’s kids. And we call that “an au pair”. It’s a French word, “au pair”, to the pair. So, you’re taking care of someone’s kids. You’ve taken them out to a playground. They’re very young. One of them maybe is a toddler. The other ones a bit older than a toddler. A toddler is usually two or three years old. Someone… a baby who’s walking around, you know, a toddler. So, out of the blue, at the playground where you guys are playing the toddler disappears. So, imagine one of the kids was on the swings, you were pushing the kid on the swing, and the toddler had been playing in the background on a seesaw or the monkey bars or the flying fox on this child’s playground. But all of a sudden, you turn around and this kid’s missing. So, the kid’s disappeared into thin air. You can’t find them anywhere. You have to search high and low. You look in every nook and cranny to find the kid, and then eventually, he shows up. You know, imagine you’re searching under the playground, behind the trees, in the car park, and all of a sudden you spot this kid behind a car walking off and you found him. You looked in every nook and cranny and you found this kid.
So, hopefully, by now guys you understand the expression “to look in every nook and cranny”. It is to look for something everywhere. It is to search in every possible place, especially, out-of-the-way places, small places, hidden places, nooks and crannies.
So, as usual guys, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise. This is your chance to just quickly practice your pronunciation. Try and mimic my accent if you’re after an Aussie accent. If you’re not, just pronounce it how you would like to pronounce it in any accent you’re currently working on. Let’s go.
To look in
To look in every
To look in every nook
To look in every nook and
To look in every nook and cranny x 5
All right now we’ll conjugate it in the simple future tense. I’ll look in every nook and cranny, etc.. Okay? Let’s go back.
I’ll look in every nook and cranny.
You’ll look in every nook and cranny.
He’ll look in every nook and cranny.
She’ll look in every nook and cranny.
We’ll look in every nook and cranny.
They’ll look in every nook and cranny.
It’ll look in every nook and cranny.
Great job, guys. Great job. Remember, if you would like to go more in depth into the pronunciation and the connected speech and intonation, the way in which I’m saying these things naturally like a native speaker, go to theAussieEnglishClassroom.com and enroll. It’s just one point to enroll and you will get access to the video that will go through each of these phrases in today’s listen and repeat exercise step by step. And I noticed there was quite a lot of connected speech in this exercise. So, if you want to learn to sound like a native speaker, make sure you join up.
Anyway, so today, instead of doing a sort of an Aussie fact like normal, I just kind of wanted to chat to you guys about what I’ve been recently up to, about the feedback that I’d gotten on a recent e-mail that I’d sent out to you guys about the podcast, and I wanted to talk a little bit about mindfulness.
Alright so, we’ll start with the email. I recently sent out an email titled, “What are your thoughts?”. “What are your thoughts?”, meaning what do you think? What is your opinion? “What are your thoughts?”. And I was asking for what you guys thought about the podcast. Which bits you liked, which bits you didn’t like, what I could do more of, what I could do less of, etc..
And so, you guys sent me a lot of emails and I really, really appreciate all the responses I got. I only recently managed to go through all of them and reply to you guys, but again, I sent you all a reply, a big thanks, and I will try to implement some of these changes. Although sometimes they were kind of contradictory. Some of you wanted more interviews. Some of you didn’t like the interviews and wanted more expression episodes. So, it’ll be hard to please everyone, but I promise that I will do my very best. So, a big thanks there.
Also some of you were suggesting that you wanted more content like the Walking with Pete episodes where I talk more about my opinions, about life in Australia, about self-improvement, diet, exercise all of that sort of stuff, so I’m going to try and do that in today’s episode when I talk a bit about mindfulness.
My latest news, we’ll get to that before we get to mindfulness. So… and you’ll see how these two things kind of go together. Moving house recently. That happened. Okay? So, we moved again. You guys will probably remember that at the start of the year we had to come to Canberra, we were staying with some friends, we moved out of that place into the Pakistani embassy with an incredibly horrible old lady who turned out to be pretty nasty, although, maybe not… she wasn’t actively trying to be nasty, but inadvertently what she was doing tended to be pretty nasty. I’m sure she had the best intentions, but as you guys might know that expression “the paved to…” or “the road to hell is paved with the best intentions”. So, although she was trying to do the best, it wasn’t the best for us.
Anyway, so we move back out of the Pakistani embassy in with my friends again, and then we moved into a new house more recently with that little dog that you guys will probably remember. And so, we were having some issues there with the owner of that house and their dog. It was just a bit of a nightmare. The house was incredibly small. It was a three-bedroom house. The bedrooms were incredibly small. We couldn’t fit a desk in our bedroom. So, I had to work sort of in the lounge room, which was a bit difficult at times as there was always the dog around and there would always be people around in the evenings so it would be hard to concentrate. And then often too, the lady here would go on holiday and just leave her dog with us, and we would have to just take care of this dog and she wouldn’t say anything. She’d disappear for two weeks and then just message us on Facebook like, “You guys didn’t have plans. You’re all good. Just take care of my dog.”. And on top of that, she would often have other people’s dogs just suddenly appear at our house and be staying there for days at a time, again, needing to be walked. And quite often, some of these dogs weren’t very well housetrained. So, they would pee inside, they would poo inside, and this would just be left for us to deal with.
And one sort of really gross story that I wanted to share with you guys, which was kind of the tipping point for us. And “the tipping point” is where you decide that it’s finally time to act. It’s like, “Okay, this is enough!”. Okay, it’s the tipping point. Imagine pouring water into a bucket that’s going to be tipped over, the tipping point is when there’s enough water in the bucket for it to be caused to tip over.
So, the tipping point for us was when I woke up one morning, opened the door to go to the bathroom, and stepped in some dog poo on the carpet the bare foot. So, that was about it. I had sort of had enough of the fact that these dogs were always. They were pooing inside. They weren’t well-trained. The owner would go away and just leave us with the dogs.
On top of that, too, she was planning on moving her boyfriend in for free, and there would be 5 people in this tiny house. So, anyway, it was getting expensive, it was getting stressful, frustrating, it was getting a bit too much, so we decided to find somewhere else and that’s been really good. We moved in about a week ago and we’re living now in another place in North Canberra, and the good thing for me is that all of the people in this house are Brazilians, so they’re always speaking Portuguese, and it causes me to have to always speak Portuguese as well. So, I’ve been working on that. It’s been really good.
Alright, mindfulness. So, I wanted to talk a bit about mindfulness and you’ll see how this kind of goes together with the events that have happened recently, and even though they’ve been a little stressful, they’ve been the kind of events that could make you angry, frustrated, irritated, I’ve tried to use mindfulness to try and not allow that to happen.
So, this started a few years ago with me when I was first trying to learn to meditate and I was doing mindfulness meditation, and this is where you try and focus on the thoughts as they arise in your head, not dwell on them, allow those thoughts to come up, examine them, and then allow them to fall away. So, it’s kind of trying to teach yourself to engage less and less with your ego. Now, “ego” can have two definitions.
It can be a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. You know? If you’re very arrogant, you’ve got a lot of ego.
But the way in which I am using it here, “ego” is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and unconscious, and it is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. That is your ego. Your understanding of the world. Consciousness and unconsciousness.
So, I’ve been trying to work on that a lot and being a lot more mindful, thinking a lot more about these kinds of things, analysing my thoughts, and not allowing myself to be ruled by my ego and by the different emotions that I feel, whether it’s anger or fear or sadness or happiness.
So, for example, when I stepped in the dog poo, it would have been easy for me to fly off the handle and get frustrated, get angry, but I took a breath, I breathed out, I noticed that I was incredibly angry, and then I let the anger disappear. And doing this, it’s a practice thing, you have to keep practicing practicing this when you get angry, when you get frustrated, when you get scared, when you get sad, notice that feeling rise up in your body, take a breath in, breathe out, and let it sort of just fall away a little bit, and don’t let it control you. And that is the biggest thing. The reason that I’ve been such a big fan of mindfulness, more recently, is that it’s allowed me to gain a lot more control of my emotions, of my personality, and so, it’s not governed as much by the exterior forces, the external world. Other people and what they do doesn’t affect me internally as much as it used to. So, now when bad things happen, I relax, I notice that I get angry, I say that the anger isn’t a part of me, it’s going to disappear, I’m going to let it go, I breathe out, and I move on.
And it’s been incredibly motivating. It’s really allowed me to sort of just control my emotions and not be governed by anger or frustration or sadness all the time.
So, anyway that’s really what I wanted to talk about today, guys. Maybe tell me in the comments or send me a message and tell me if you’ve tried mindfulness meditation where you try and externally and objectively view these feelings, allow them to rise up, allow them to fall away, and not judge yourself on these things.
Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoy this little discussion at the end here. Something a little different. I hope you enjoy this episode and I will see you next week. Peace out.