AE 491 – Expression: The World Is your Oyster
Oyster farming is quite a manual job. There is planning involved as well, but a lot of the work involves manual labour and jumping into cool water in winter. So, we have seasonal benefits where in summer time it’s quite nice and very enjoyable out on the water, and in the winter time we’re in and out as quick as we can, get a load on board, and then back to the shed.
Alrighty. Let’s get started. No window open today, guys, no window.
Alright, so, g’day, you mob. I hope you’re going well. I hope you’re havinig a good weekend. I hope you’re having an amazing week. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English.
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That’s the intro. That’s enough of that. Welcome to this episode. I hope you like the intro scene there. I’m always trying to add these things in so you get access to other Australian accents and you also get introduced to things like the ABC Australia’s YouTube channel there, which is where that little snippet came from, so that you can find other resources and learn about Australian culture.
So, that was from, as I said, the ABC Australia’s YouTube channel, a little series called My Australia where it was following a Chinese girl called Jingjing as she visited an oyster farm in Port Lincoln on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. So, I really recommend checking out that entire video. Go to the ABC YouTube channel. I will leave a link in the transcript so that you can do so, but it’s a great way to watch more of their videos to learn about Australian culture and practice your listening comprehension for the Aussie English fact. Anyway.
Let’s dive into the Aussie joke for today, guys, and it is a shellfish joke, because, obviously, the expression is related to shellfish. So, the joke is:
What did the oyster say to the crab when he took his pearl? What did the oyster side of the crab when he took his pearl?
Don’t be so ‘shellfish’. Don’t be so ‘shellfish’.
Do you get it? The play on words here, the pun here, is with the word ‘selfish’ and ‘shellfish’, right. “Don’t be so selfish” would be the real way of saying that. Don’t steal something, don’t hold on to it, don’t keep it to yourself, don’t be selfish. And the joke here is that oysters are shellfish and we often call crab ‘shellfish’ as well so, don’t be so ‘shellfish’.
Alright, so today’s expression is ‘the world is your oyster’. The world is your oyster. I wonder if you guys have heard this expression before. This came from Michal who is from Poland. He is an awesome guy. He’s in our Aussie English Classroom Facebook group and his posting videos all the time when he’s out and about walking around. So, they’re always interesting to watch. If you guys want to be a part of that, go to theAussieEnglishClassroom.com, and then asked to join the group, and we post videos each week practicing the expressions from these episodes. Anyway.
Let’s define the words in this expression.
So, ‘the world’. ‘The world’ is the Earth, the planet on which we live, together with its countries and its people. So, it’s not just the physical rock that is the planet, but it’s also every country is a part of this world and every person is a part of this world. Right. The world.
‘Is’, obviously, present tense third person ‘to be’. He is. She is. It is.
‘Your’. ‘Your’ is the possessive pronoun for ‘you’. This is your thing. This is your car. This is your oyster. This is your phone.
And, ‘an oyster’, if you don’t know what ‘an oyster’ is, ‘an oyster’ is any number of bivalve molluscs with rough irregular shells, and they’re usually eaten raw as a delicacy, but they also might be farmed for pearls, the jewellery that you will get out of them. Those small spherical white, kind of iridescent, pieces of jewellery made by shellfish.
So, let’s define the expression ‘the world is your oyster’. ‘The world is your oyster’. If someone says to you that ‘the world is your oyster’, it’s the idea that you are in a position to take all the opportunities that life has to offer. So, you can do anything that you want. You can go anywhere you want. Everything is a possibility for you. ‘The world is your oyster’.
So, this is, I think, the first expression where it’s actually from Shakespeare. So, you guys might know Shakespeare, the famous British writer, playwright, I guess. And he coined this phrase. This phrase is from the Merry Wives of Windsor where Falstaff says, “I will not lend a penny.”, to a guy called Pistol who says, “Why then the world’s mine oyster which I with sword will open.”, and then Falstaff replies, “Not a penny.”.
So, the idea here is, and it’s the English’s kind of screwed up, you know, this isn’t how we would speak, today at least. So, the original implication of this phrase that Pistol is saying, “Why then the world’s mine oyster which I with sword will open.”, it’s referring to using violent means, i.e. using a sword, to steal his fortune, i.e. the pearl, that one finds in an oyster.
So, we inherit this phrase absent, though, of its original violent connotation, to mean that the world is yours or ours to enjoy. Okay? You can get everything out of it.
So, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression in real day-to-day sort of situations. Okay.
So, example number one. Imagine that you are a student in your final year of school. So, you’re in high school in Australia, you are in year 12, you’ve just completed all your exams, you’ve passed your exams with flying colours, so you’ve done incredibly well in these exams. When you get your marks back, your Enter Score, which is what we used to refer to as the final score you got at the end of high school so that you could enter into university, when you get your marks back, your Enter Score is as high as it could possibly be. So, you’ve done as good as you could have possibly done. And it will allow you to enter any university in Australia, do any kind of course that you would like, whether it’s medicine, science, arts, economics, law, engineering, you have your pick of the litter and you can choose anything you desire. So, as a result, when your parents find this out, they might be as proud as punch, incredibly proud, and they might say, “Well done! The world is now your oyster.”. You can choose anything you want. You can go anywhere you want. The world is your oyster.
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Number two. Imagine now you are that same student, okay, and you have entered university and you are studying science. But imagine you’re from a non-English-speaking country, right. You’re Brazil, from China, from India, from Nepal, from somewhere in Africa, you know, Zimbabwe maybe. And besides studying science, you’re also working your butt off, you’re working incredibly hard, to learn to speak English at a fluent and proficient level. So, you’re a very studious and diligent person who’s always studying science all day at university only to get home in the afternoon and start studying English. And the reason you’re studying English is because you want to have as many options as possible for your future career. Right? You want to be a world-renowned scientist one day and unfortunately for non-English speakers it requires that you learn English, right, so that you can take part in the English-speaking world of science. So, you know if you work hard and finish a science degree and you have the ability to speak English fluently and at a very proficient level, the world will be your oyster. You’ll be able to travel anywhere, you’ll be able to work overseas in any country, English-speaking or not, because you can use English there, and you’ll be able to apply to any jobs and positions in countries where English fluency is a prerequisite. The world is going to be your oyster.
Example number three. Imagine that you are a racecar driver, a real hoon, a real rev head, you know, you’ve always grown up loving cars and driving fast, and it’s led you down the road to be a racecar driver. So as a kid you battle your way up. Maybe you were driving go karts and then suddenly you got into more powerful cars like V8 cars on the Bathurst circuit, but your ultimate goal has been to get good enough, to get enough experience under your belt, to get enough street cred, to get enough street credentials or credibility, in order to race in Formula One, in the F1. So, you have one final race where if you win this race you’re going to be able to then race in Formula One. You end up winning it by a milestone, by a landslide, you absolutely dominate, and you fulfil your dreams and can now race in the Formula One. So, the world is now your oyster. You can do anything you want to do. The world’s your oyster. Alright.
So, I hope you understand the expression now, guys, ‘the world’s your oyster’. It means that you are in a position to take every opportunity that life has to offer. You can do anything. Go anywhere. Every possibility in the world is yours.
So, as usual, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we will jump into the Aussie English fact where I’m going to talk about oysters and some of the economics of oysters in Australia and some interesting biological facts as well. So, the listen repeat exercise first. Listen and repeat after me, guys. If you want to practice your Australian accent, then pay attention to the details of how I pronounce these things, and if you are just interested in your English accent, whether it’s British, American, Singaporean, could be from anywhere else, you don’t want an Aussie English accent, then just use your normal accent. Okay, guys? Let’s go.
The world is
The world is your
The world is your oyster x 5
Good job. So, now I say it using the phrases, “I said the world was my oyster”. “You said the world was your oyster”. Okay? So, it’s sort of like reported speech, but we’re going to use it in the simple past tense. Okay? So, listen and repeat after me and practice conjugating the verb ‘to say’ and ‘to be’ in the past tense. Let’s go.
I said the world was my oyster.
You said the world was your oyster.
He said the world was his oyster.
She said the world was her oyster.
We said the world was our oyster business.
They said the world was their oyster.
It said the world was its oyster.
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Australian fact. The Aussie English fact for today. We’re going to talk all about oysters and I’m going to be a little ‘shellfish’ and talk all by myself for five minutes, okay, about what I want to talk about. I’m being ‘shellfish’. Get it? Alright.
So, facts about oysters and the oyster farming industry in Australia.
So, oysters are a type of mollusk, as we said at the start there, guys, and it is a fancy way of saying a snail, right? A snail. Except these mollusks are from a group known as ‘bivalves’, which means ‘two shells’. So, any time you find things like… I don’t know. What are they? Clams and scallops, I guess. It’s hard for me to think of different kinds of mollusks. Those are all bivalves where you’ve got two sides to their shell.
So, oysters can range in size from a few centimetres to a foot across, so 30 centimetres across, and they can live for many decades, sometimes up to 40 years, right? That’s older than me. Mind-blowing.
Oysters live in marine and brackish water habitats, so the ocean, estuaries, rock pools, that sort of stuff, salty water, but not in freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes, etc.
There are three species commonly eaten in Australia. So, oysters are a common food here in Australia. The Sydney Rock Oyster, the Pacific Oyster, and the Flat Oyster. The Pacific Oyster is commonly eaten worldwide, however, the Sydney Rock Oyster is an endemic Australian species, it’s only found here in Australia, and has an annual production of 70 million oysters. That’s like three oysters for every person in Australia, and that rakes in about $35 million every year. Pretty pennies. That’s a lot of money.
So, oyster farming is one of, if not the, oldest and most valuable aquaculture industries in Australia, and it has been contributing to the economy for over 140 years.
Besides being part of the food industry, though, oysters are also a big part of the jewellery industry, or more specifically, the pearling industry. The pearling industry has also been around for over 100 years since the late 1800s when pearlers is first established themselves in Broome, which is on the north western coast of Western Australia in the Kimberley region.
So, by the year 1910, Broome was the largest pearling centre in the world benefiting from newly introduced diving suits as well as its fertile waters and the booming international pearl button market of the time.
The pearls extracted from Western Australian oysters are some of the largest and most lustrous found in the world, and in recent years a single Australian pearl fetched a price of $1.5 million dollars when it was sold. That’s ridiculous. That’s like a house or two. Jesus!
Aside from the pearls, the shells of oysters known as ‘Mother of Pearl’ as well as their meat is also highly valued and traded around the world.
It’s nice to hear how humans can exploit oysters and make money by feeding them to people or beautifying the rich with their shells and pearls, but what about the environment? What do oysters do for the environment?
So, oyster shells provide important habitat and substrate for other marine-dwelling organisms as their shells are uneven and when they grow they tend to grow together on rocks, and they provide numerous nooks and crannies for other animals such as worms and snails, sea squirts, sponges, small crabs, and fishes, all to hide amongst these shells and they can more easily evade predators thanks to these friendly oyster neighbours.
Oysters are also filter feeders, that is that they feed by filtering the water of things including microscopic plankton, suspended particles in the water, and even bacteria. And they can filter four to five litres per hour, which on a daily basis is the equivalent of 50 x 2-litre Coke bottles. Wow! That’s a lot. 100 litres a day! As a result, they keep water’s incredibly pristine clean, and other organisms like seagrasses and seaweeds and coral can, thus, more easily absorb light and grow healthily, you know, to keep these sorts of environments really, really healthy.
The last cool fact about oysters is that they can change their gender, they can change their sex. All oysters start out as males and they spawn, that is, they release sperm into the water in their early life. However, at around two to three years of age, they’ve grown to a big enough size and they have developed sufficient energy stores that they can now produce eggs and release eggs when they spawn, you know, as females, because, obviously, it requires a lot more energy to create one egg than it does to create one sperm.
So, let me know, guys, have you ever eaten an oyster? And are you the proud owner of some real pearls?
Fun fact about me, I do not own any pearls, unfortunately, and I have never eaten an oyster. I’ve seen them many times, but to be honest they kind of freaked me out, and I am yet to ever eat one.
So, with that guys, I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope you got a lot out of it. I hope you have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you next time.
All the best, guys.