Daily English
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078 Topics: Daylight Saving Time, March Madness, to solve vs. to resolve, She smells good vs. She smells well

Complete Transcript
You're listening to ESL Podcast's English Café number 78.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Cafe episode 78. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Remember to visit our website at eslpod.com; we have lots of interesting things for you there. You can visit our ESL Podcast Store, which has additional English courses for you. You can also download the Learning Guide for this episode, which is a eight to ten page PDF file that contains vocabulary, cultural notes and the complete transcript of this episode. And, we have some other interesting things on the website; take a look at that, you may find them of interest.

In this Café, we're going to talk first about Daylight Saving Time in the United States. We're also going to talk about something called March Madness and what that means, and, as always, we'll answer a few of your questions. Let's get started.

Our first topic today is Daylight Saving Time, sometimes called Daylight Savings Time but the technical name is Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time is popular in some countries. In the United States, most states have Daylight Saving Time. It's also popular in Europe, but not so popular in many countries in Asia.

Daylight Saving Time is when we move our clocks - the time - forward or backward depending on the time of year in order to take advantage of, or to be able to use, the amount of sunlight in the day. In northern countries, in the northern hemisphere for example, the day is very long during the summertime, and it's shorter in the wintertime. When we say the day is long or short, we mean the number of hours that the sun is shining - that there is light outside.

One of the things that happened in the early 20th century was that some governments, including many in the United States - many states, decided to change the clock in the spring by moving it forward an hour so that you would not be sleeping through the time when the sun was out in the summertime.

We have the expression “spring ahead.” Spring is the season, but the verb, to spring, means to move forward. So, to remind people to change their clocks, we have this expression, “Spring ahead, fall back,” because in the fall, which is autumn - September, October, November - we change our clocks back an hour in most states in the US. And, there is a verb to fall back, which means to move back - to go back. So, Daylight Saving Time is a way that some people say helps us time energy - it helps us spend less money because you are up when the sun is out, and when the sun is not out, you are sleeping.

There are many people who dislike Daylight Saving Time. First of all, it's very confusing; some people forget to change their clocks. Normally, the change takes place in the United States in the spring - we move forward. This year, for the first year, we're moving forward, or springing forward, on the second Sunday of March. This is two weeks earlier than we used to do it, and we are falling back on the first Sunday in November. This is a little later than we used to fall back.

The US Congress changed the law in terms of when the Daylight Saving Time begins and ends. There have been some problems created by this, however, because the computer software was programmed to have Daylight Saving Time in the United States on the old days, so this year Microsoft and Macintosh, the two big computer operating systems, had to make some changes in their software to adjust to the new timing.

Now, I've said that most states in the United States have this Daylight Saving Time, but there are some states that do not follow the Daylight Saving Time schedule. As I've talked about before on the Café, although the United States has a federal government - a national government - the individual state governments - the 50 state governments - have a lot of power, more power than individual states or provinces in other countries, typically. And, one of the things that the states can decide is whether they want Daylight Saving Time in their state.

Some states, such as Arizona and Hawaii don't have Daylight Saving Time. This causes even more confusion because on some months - during some months of the year, California and Arizona have the same time - when it's seven o'clock in Los Angeles, it's seven o'clock in Arizona - and other months, there's an hour difference. So, depending on the time of year, you have to know what time it is in different states, in this case, the state of Arizona.

It gets even more confusing. When I lived in Arizona, I heard the story about one of the Native American groups - we would call them tribes, “tribes” - one of the Native American tribes, on their land decided to have Daylight Saving Time unlike the rest of the state. This is confusing, but Native American - what we call reservations - their areas of land that they own have their own government that is sometimes separate from or has separate powers from the state government. They can decide, apparently, whether they have Daylight Saving Time, and this is a problem because you could be traveling in the same state, and depending on the part of the state you are in, you could be in Daylight Saving Time or not Daylight Saving Time. So, be careful when you are driving through Arizona, you never know what time it is!

Our second topic today is called March Madness - March, as in the month of March, madness as in craziness. March Madness is the name, informally, that we give to the national basketball tournament - the national college basketball tournament. So, these are universities that are playing against each other for the national championship in college basketball.

This is an extremely popular event every year, and millions of people go and watch these games and watch them on television. These are all amateur players. When we say a sports player is an amateur, “amateur,” we mean that they are not getting paid for it. You have professional athletes - people who play in the professional sport leagues - and you have the college leagues, and these are students at different universities.

The organization that runs, or organizes, the tournaments is called the NCAA, which stands for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The word collegiate, “collegiate,” means relating to college or university. We use the words college and university often to mean the same thing in US English.

The March Madness is the tournament that begins in March. It begins with 65 different basketball teams from 65 different universities that play in a tournament that lasts approximately three weeks, and they play in all sorts of different cities, depending on where the team is located. The entire country is broken up into four regions. When I say it's broken up, I mean it's divided into four regions. Each region has part of the tournament.

This is what we call a single elimination tournament. When we use the term single elimination, we mean that if you lose one game, that's it, you're out of the tournament. In some tournaments you get to play twice; even if you lose once, you can try and continue by playing a different team. That would be called a double elimination tournament.

One of the reasons this basketball tournament is popular even with people who don't like basketball, or don't like to watch basketball, is because many people like to bet on the games. Usually this happens at your workplace - at your office. If you work for a company that has ten, twenty, or a thousand people, someone will organize what's called an office pool, “pool,” and an office pool is where everyone tries to figure out who's going to be the champion. So, you fill out a piece of paper that has all of the games on it, and you try to guess who is going to be the champion, and if you are correct, then you win the prize. Usually the prize is the total amount of money that people bet. So, let's say it cost five dollars to be part of the office pool. You pay five dollars, ten other pay five dollars, and the one who is the most correct - gets the most games correct - wins the 50 dollars.

Of course, if you know more about the teams - if you like to watch the teams - you may know which teams are, we would say, favored to win. When we say a team is favored, “favored,” we mean that people think they're going to win because they have a very good team. They may have won many games already, and if that is true, we would say they have a good record or a winning record, “record.” A record is the number of games that a team wins and loses.

The games, like most tournaments, have different steps - different stages. When there are only 16 teams left - remember, we start with 65 and eventually each team plays the other teams and one of the teams gets eliminated, and we get down to where there are just 16 teams. That's usually called the Sweet 16 part of the tournament because there are only 16 teams. The term Sweet, “Sweet,” 16 refers to a party that girls used to have when they turned 16 years old. It's not as common anymore, and it usually is something that only very rich families do for their daughters. But the name refers here to when there are just 16 teams left in the tournament.

A tournament has quarterfinals, semi finals and finals. The finals are when there are just two teams left. The two teams that have beaten all of their - what we would call their opponents, “opponents.” Your opponent is the team that you are playing.

Before the finals, you have the semi finals, “semi” finals, and those games are when you have four teams left. Team “A” plays team “B,” team “C” plays team “D,” and the winner of those two games goes into the finals. Before the semi finals, you have the quarterfinals. So, you have different parts of, or different stages of, the tournament.

When there's a team that no one expected to win, a team that is doing much better in the tournament than they may have done before the tournament, we sometimes call that a Cinderella team. A Cinderella, “Cinderella.” Cinderella is a character from children's literature. Cinderella - the traditional story was the girl who was poor, and she goes to a - a dance, and she meets the rich prince of the - of the country. The prince falls in love with her and marries her. It's the Cinderella story. There are many movies that are made with this story - romantic movies. The Cinderella team is the team that no one expects to win, but is very successful in the tournament.

There are some schools that have been very successful for many years. The most successful team in the NC double-A, or NCAA, basketball tournament is right here in Los Angeles, the University of California at Los Angeles, or what most people just call UCLA. UCLA has won more championships than any other university in the United States. That is something that people often look at when they are trying to determine who's going to win. Other teams that have been very successful are Kentucky - the University of Kentucky, Indiana - Indiana University, University of North Carolina, and a private university called Duke, “Duke.”

So, if you enjoy basketball, this is an exciting time in American basketball to watch the March Madness that is going on.

Now let's answer a few of your questions.

Our first question comes from Sabine, or Sabine, “Sabine,” in Germany, who wants to know the difference between the words solve, “solve,” and resolve, “resolve.”

To solve something means to find the answer to something, or to find or figure out the explanation for something. We often use the expression, “to solve a puzzle,” or “to solve a mystery,” it means to find the answer. We also use this verb in mathematics, when we get the answer for a math problem you solve the problem. For example, if you have a party for your children, you may have some games, and one of the games may be a puzzle. The puzzle is something you ask the children to solve, and whoever solves the puzzle wins a prize.

Or, you may have a problem, for example, in your kitchen, and you don't know what the problem is. So, you call a person who can help you. If it's a problem with your sink, for example, you would call a plumber, “plumber.” That's the person that fixes sinks and toilets. And the plumber, you hope, will solve the problem - figure out what is wrong.

To resolve, “resolve,” usually means to find a solution to a problem, often an argument between two people - between two people who don't agree. To resolve means to come to an agreement. You decide to come to an agreement - to make an agreement - with these two people. It could be more people involved as well.

Usually it's for things that are negative - negative matters, when people disagree about things. For example, your neighbor has a dog, and the dog makes noise all night - we would say he barks, “barks.” To bark is when a dog makes a noise - woof-woof - like that. And you can't sleep, so you ask your neighbor to get rid of his dog and he doesn't want to. Now you have this disagreement, we might call it a dispute, “dispute,” that you need to resolve.

Resolution is the noun from the verb to resolve. The noun from the verb to solve is solution. So, you find a solution or you solve; you can find a resolution or you can resolve. They mean the same thing.

Our next question comes from Simkin, “Simkin,” from Russia. Simkin wants to know the difference between two different expressions: “she smells good” and “she smells well.”

When you say someone smells good, you mean that the person has a nice, what we would call, scent, “scent,” which means that her body or the clothes or the hair that she has has a nice smell to it. It is something that is pleasant to smell. When your girlfriend puts on perfume - puts on things to make her smell better - you would say she smells good.

If you have a baby and you have to change the baby's diaper, “diaper,” a diaper is the thing that the baby uses to go to the bathroom in - well, that doesn't smell good, at least I don't think it smells very good!

The expression, “to smell well,” means that the woman is doing the smelling, and she can smell things very easily, and she knows what she's smelling. However, you don't - or won't hear that expression very often. It sounds a bit strange to say that a person, for example, smells well or touches well or tastes well. You can use it, however, for seeing and hearing - “He sees well,” or “He hears well,” but you will not hear it very often with the other, what we would call, senses. There are five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing. You won't hear it with smell, taste or touch, at least not very often.

You will hear the word “smell” with other verbs, for example, “She cooks well,” or “He throws well. Well here means that the person does that action in a very good way, or a very satisfactory way.

If you have a question or comment for us, you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on the English Café.

ESL Podcast's English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. This podcast is copyright 2007 by the Center for Educational Development.

Daylight Saving Time – moving clocks forward one hour in early spring so that evenings have more light, and then moving them back one hour in the fall

* Many people think that using Daylight Saving Time saves energy because people don’t use as much electricity in the evenings when it is light outside.

March Madness – a three-week championship shown on television of college basketball teams each spring

* During March Madness, James and his sons and daughters watch a lot of TV because they don’t want to miss any of the games.

to spring ahead – a phrase meaning “to jump forward,” which is used to remind people that in the spring, clocks should be set one hour ahead

* I forgot that the clocks were supposed to spring ahead, so I accidentally went to work an hour late this morning!

to fall back – a phrase meaning “to walk behind,” which is used to remind people that in the fall, clocks should be set one hour back

* Many people like it when the clocks fall back because they feel as though they get one extra hour or sleep.

collegiate – related to a college or university

* Do you prefer to watch football games played by professional teams or collegiate teams?

office pool – a game in which people who work together in an office give a small amount of money with their guess about which team will win a game or by how much, and the winner receives all the money

* Last year, Suzanne won $100 in the office pool. This year she lost $10.

to be favored – to be expected to win; to be thought to be more likely to win

* Kelly’s volleyball team is favored to win this year’s championship because the team has some very strong players.

winning record – a history of winning games; past performance of winning

* Kesia has a winning record for swimming. She has never been beaten!

sweet 16 – a special birthday when a girl turns 16 years old; a term used for the remaining best 16 teams in a sports tournament

* For Lupe’s sweet 16, her parents surprised her with a party for her and all of her friends at their favorite restaurant.

opponent – a person whom one is playing against; a member of the other team

* Taka and his opponent are equally good at playing tennis, so this should be an interesting game.

semifinals – the third- and second-to-last games in a tournament where team A plays B and team C plays D and the winners go to the finals

* If your team wins these semifinals, it will play in the finals and it might even win the championship!

Cinderella story – when an ordinary team suddenly and unexpectedly becomes the winner of a game or championship

* The Cardinals hadn’t won a game in three years, so it was a Cinderella story when they won the championship last year.

to solve – to find the answer to a problem or question; to successfully deal with a problem or a difficult situation

* Were you able to solve problem #23 in last night’s math homework?

to resolve – to find a solution to a difficult situation or to make an argument end between two or more people of groups

* Have Mr. and Mrs. Salah resolved their argument yet, or are they still fighting?

dispute – an argument; a fight with words; to argue about what the truth is

* Vladimir and his father are in a dispute about whether Vladimir should be allowed to drive his father’s car again.

to smell good – to have a pleasant smell, odor, or aroma

* Thank you for the flowers. They smell good!

What Insiders Know
Classic American Sports Movies

Both sports and movies are very popular in the United States. So it should be no surprise that there are many American “classics” (famous old movies) about many different sports. Some classic American sports movies include “Field of Dreams,” “Caddyshack,” “A League of Their Own,” and “Rocky,” but there are many others.

“Field of Dreams” was made in 1989. It is about a corn farmer in Iowa (in the middle of the US) who hears voices telling him to build a “baseball field” (a place to play baseball) on his farm. He builds the baseball field and then he begins to see many “ghosts” (the spirits of those who are dead) of people who used to play for the Chicago White Sox, a baseball team that played in the 1919 “Word Series” championship.

Another classic American sports movie is “Caddyshack,” which was made in 1980. This is a “comedy” (funny movie) about golf. A “caddy” is a man who carries “golf clubs” (the sticks that are used to hit golf balls) for golf players at expensive golf courses. This movie is about a poor caddy who is working at a golf course as a way to earn money for college and he gets involved in many funny situations.

“A League of Their Own,” filmed in 1992, is about two sisters who become players in the first professional baseball “league” (teams that play against each other) for women. The movie is about baseball and about the sisters’ relationship with each other while they are playing on the team.

Another very popular sports classic is “Rocky.” Filmed in 1976, this move is about a boxer who is training to fight the boxing champion, even though nobody thinks that he can win the fight. This movie had many “sequels” (several related movies with the same characters) with Rocky II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII!