Learning English from the movie “Home Alone”

5 min


The New Year holidays are over, everyone has gone to work and are unevenly returning to their daily routine. To stretch the feeling of holiday magic even a little bit, we hop into the last tangerine carriage with the text on the classic Christmas atmosphere – the movie “Home Alone”. A big noisy family, a brightly decorated house with garlands, a huge tree and a lot of snow.

This is not just a cult movie, the revision of which has long become a New Year’s tradition, but also a real mine of idioms, interesting phrases and subtle nuances of the English language. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Why “Home Alone” is good for pumping English

First of all, Home Alone is great for working on language comprehension.

Almost all characters speak fluent English, in which they do not articulate individual words, but speak entire phrases. This is how native speakers speak.

This is in stark contrast to student manuals, where the announcer pronounces every word clearly. Indeed, in real speech, half of the sounds are simply swallowed.

Well, if the kid’s here, the parents got to be.

Well, if the child is here, then the parents should be.

Notice how the sentence is articulated. Words are pronounced together, and some of the sounds just drop out.

For example, in “the” the sound is practically reduced [ð] – it is implied, but it is not heard. Only a short one remains [ə]… “Gotta” becomes “goda”. And the whole sentence is pronounced with just two accents on the words “kid’s” and “parents”, emphasizing the semantic load.

In learning English, it is very important to understand the fluency of native speakers. After all, no one will deliberately slow down and articulate words more clearly. We don’t do that in our native language.

At the same time, “Home Alone” has a rather small vocabulary. Most tokens are learned already at the Intermediate level. But at the same time, there are many colloquial idioms in the film, which speakers quite often use at the everyday level. You just need to manage to notice them and send them for study.

Now let’s go directly through such idioms and just interesting phrases:

Go easy on the pepsi

Don’t lean on Pepsi!

The phrase “go easy on” is very versatile. And its meaning depends on the object it is talking about.

If the phrase indicates a person, then this is a call to behave with him softer.

Go easy on him, he’s just a kid!

Take it easy on him, he’s a child!

If on a creature or object, then this is a soft version of the phrase “Be careful” or “Take it easy.”

Go easy on the cologne!

Take it easy with cologne!

But regarding something edible, the phrase means “Don’t lean on it.”

Go easy on pizza!

Don’t overload pizza!

Go easy is an excellent representative of a phrasal verb with a bunch of meanings that are revealed only in context. So his translation may differ in each specific situation.

Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?

Why the hell are you dressed as a chicken?

“Why the hell” or “What the hell” are common exclamations that add emotion to a phrase.

It usually symbolizes irritation or confusion, but in some cases it can express surprise or even joy. The phrase is very common and is not considered abusive. So it is common in colloquial speech of native English speakers.

What are you doing? – What are you doing?
What the hell are you doing? – What the hell are you doing?

Let’s compare the emotional perception of phrases. The first is neutral. Its emotional fullness will depend entirely on intonation.

The second is already initially filled with emotion. It is impossible to pronounce it neutrally, therefore it is perceived more fully.

So the phrase “Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?” – this is not an attempt to find out the reason, but a rhetorical question – indignation that he is dressed like that.

You guys give up?

Are you guys giving up?

Native speakers often ignore grammar rules and ask questions differently from the way they teach in English courses.

Guys, do you give up?
Guys, are you giving up?

So these questions sound formal. But they rarely say that – almost never. The ring judge does not ask “Do you give up?”, He simply says “Give up?” with interrogative intonation.

This initial “Do” or “Does” is often simply omitted.

– You like football? – Do you like football?

Because of this, it turns out that the declarative and interrogative sentences look exactly the same. Therefore, the meaning of the phrase depends entirely on intonation.

Beat that you little trout sniffer

Unexpectedly, “Home Alone” is downright filled with all sorts of insults. They are not obscene, but this is still an insult.

Mostly because of swearing, the film received a PG rating – that is, children under 13 are not desirable to watch.

There are moments of the use of the words “jerk”, “moron”, “damn”, “ass” in the film, including those applied to Kevin, the main character.

But there are much more insults with complex semantics in the film.

For example, Home Alone 2, which also received a PG rating, contains the phrase “trout sniffer”. It is difficult to translate it while preserving all the meanings. In the original dub, she was adapted as “stinker.” Which is not entirely accurate.

Sniffer is a sniffer. Trout is more complicated. In its mildest form, it means fish, in the coarse version, dirty panties, and in the harshest version, the genitals. It is clear that in the context of the film it means something like “sniffing salmon.” But this does not remove the duality of meanings.

The film generally reveals the nuances of using “soft” curses. After all, the same “moron” and “jerk” are considered rude, but they are used. But, for example, “shit” is already considered unacceptable. Indeed, in “Home Alone 2” there is a phrase “Enough of this goofy sh … show of emotion” – it is clear that the word “shit” was meant here, but it was “imperceptibly” replaced with something else.

Indeed, the word “shit” is already considered a curse of average rudeness, and “jerk” is just a rude word.

Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale

Bless these nutritious microwaved mac and cheese pasta and the people who sell them at a discount.

The most remarkable word here is “microwavable”. Because it is very difficult to translate it into Russian without losing its meaning.

In Russian, nouns and verbs are quite clearly separated. There is a “microwave”, but no “microwave”. Instead, we use “reheat in the microwave”.

In English, almost any noun can turn into a verb. That is, “microwave” is “microwave” and “reheat in the microwave”. It all depends on the context.

“Microwavable” is an adjective that combines the verb “microwave” and the adjective “able” – available, possible. So it turns out that one word in English stretches for as many as five in Russian.

If you follow the laws of the English language, then in Russian with a literal translation it would be “microwaveable”. Explicit brute force. In English, this density of meanings is the norm.

Pay attention to the spelling. Microwavable, not microwaveable. By adding the “-able” suffix, the “-e” ending is reduced.

Most adjectives with “-able” lose some of their meanings during translation.

For example, laughable is funny, funny. But it would be more accurate to “laugh at this.” “Reliable” is all translated as “reliable”, but more precisely it will be “you can rely on it.”

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New Year and Christmas is a family holiday when you want to take a break from work and just relax. Revising the cult comedy in English is a great way to get a bunch of good emotions, and even pump up your English a little. Happy holidays!

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