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Урок 30. Closing a topic. (Завершение темы разговора.)

William: Hello, and welcome to How to… The programme which tries to help with those very basic but very tricky areas of communication.

William: My name’s William Kremer. Let me start today’s programme by telling you an anecdote – a short story about something that happened to me. When I was an English language teacher I once bumped into one of my students in the supermarket. And we got talking about this and that and it was very nice – we carried on talking and talking and talking and after a while I quite wanted to stop talking, but my friend didn’t pick up on my hints! In the end, I had to say ‘Well I have to go now, bye bye!’ and walk away!

Now, ultimately this is how you end a conversation – you say ‘goodbye’ and walk away – but before we do that we usually try to close a topic… we finish talking about a particular thing. This shows our conversation partner that we’re ready to say ‘goodbye’. But the way we do this is very subtle – it’s hard to notice.

Yesterday, I got talking to my colleague Emily about a holiday she’s taking soon. I’m going to play you the end of our conversation. Don’t try to understand every word, but see if you can work out how Emily closes the topic of her holiday – before she ends her conversation.

Examples
Emily: And then I’m gonna fly back five and a half weeks later…
William: A changed person –
Emily: Hopefully…
William: You’ll come back here, you’ll have shaved your head or something. I don’t know, something completely…
Emily: So who knows what will come, what will happen when I come back, but erm… anyway, so hopefully it will at least be a holiday and I’ll get nice weather… hopefully…so… but erm…
William: Do you know any of the people that you’re going to be with?
Emily: No, I don’t. I don’t know anyone, erm, yes. So, I guess I’d better go back to work.
William: Ok…erm –
Emily: I’ve got loads to do…
William: Oh right. Well, it’s nice talking to you.
Emily: Thank you very much.
William: And I’ll see you downstairs.
Emily: Yeah.
William: So, bye.

William: Emily tried to close the topic of her holiday by using the words ‘so’ ‘anyway’ and ‘but’. You’ve probably used these words in sentences lots of times – but Emily isn’t using them in sentences – she’s using the words to show that she’s ready to stop talking about her holiday… Listen again.

Examples
Emily: So who knows what will come, what will happen when I come back, but erm… anyway, so hopefully it will at least be a holiday and I’ll get nice weather… hopefully…so… but erm

William: As well as using ‘so’ ‘anyway’ and ‘but’ she made a general comment about the holiday which sort of finishes our conversation because it seems to give her final opinion about her holiday – she says ‘It will at least be a holiday and I’ll get nice weather… hopefully’.

Let’s listen one more time. This time, notice that after Emily signals that she’s ready to close the topic, I ask another question – I’m not quite ready to stop talking about her holiday! This forces Emily to use a stronger method of closing the topic.

Examples
Emily: So who knows what will come, what will happen when I come back, but erm… anyway, so hopefully it will at least be a holiday and I’ll get nice weather… hopefully…so… but erm…
William: Do you know any of the people that you’re going to be with?
Emily: No, I don’t. I don’t know anyone, erm, yes. So, I guess I’d better go back to work.
William: Ok…erm…
Emily: I’ve got loads to do…
William: Oh right. Well, it’s nice talking to you.
Emily: Thank you very much.
William: And I’ll see you downstairs.
Emily: Yeah.
William: So, bye.

William: Emily had to give a stronger sign that she needed to close the topic. She said that she had to go back to work – she had loads to do. This makes it obvious that she can’t talk any longer.

William: We don’t just close topics at the end of a conversation. Sometimes there are things that we need to talk about or to do, and we have to stop chatting in order to focus on the new job or the new topic. Yesterday, I called Tim into the studio to help me with something. We started talking about his painful leg, but, as you’ll hear in the next clip, he signals to me that he’s ready to stop talking about his leg and start helping me with my work…

Examples
William: So, they still don’t even know what it is…?
Tim: No. It’s a very very funny sort of weird thing which they don’t really know… so, we shall see – but I’m having an MRI scan next week so that’s good so that should hopefully tell them a bit more… anyway… how can we help?

William: So it’s now time to close this topic. If you have the chance to speak to native English speakers, be aware of how they signal that they wish to close or end topics – and you can try to use words like ‘so’ and ‘anyway’ yourself if you need to stop a conversation.

That way, you won’t be stuck in the supermarket for hours and hours and hours…