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159 Topics: Famous Americans: William Randolph Hearst; what to call people from the top five cities/states in the U.S.; please as the magic word; using an apostrophe (‘) for possessive cases, remember versus remind

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 159.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 159. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at eslpod.com. Download this episode’s Learning Guide, an 8 to 10 page guide we provide for all of our current episodes that gives you some additional help in improving your English. You can also take a look at our ESL Podcast Store, with additional courses in daily and business English, as well as our ESL Podcast Blog, where several times a week we provide some additional help in improving your English.

On this Café, we’re going to continue our series on famous Americans, focusing on William Randolph Hearst, who was very important in the newspaper industry in the U.S. Then we’ll talk about what to call people from the most popular cities and states in the United States, trying to find patterns or rules for creating those words. For example, what do you call someone from New York City, or what do you call someone from Chicago? We’ll give answers to those questions in this Café. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins with a continuation of our series on famous Americans who have been significant or important in U.S. history or culture. Today we’re going to talk about Mr. William Randolph Hearst. William Randolph Hearst lived from 1863 to 1951, so a very long time.

Hearst was a newspaper magnate. The word “magnate” (magnate) here refers to a person who is very important and powerful in a particular type of business – a particular industry. Bill Gates could be called a magnate in the computer industry. So, William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper magnate and a leader in his industry.

Hearst began his “career,” or his life’s work, with the newspaper called The San Francisco Examiner. His father had actually owned the newspaper; he won it while gambling with the owner. Some people gamble with 10 dollars or 20 dollars or 50 dollars. Well, William Randolph Hearst’s father gambled with someone who owned a newspaper and he won the bet – he won the newspaper – and he gave it to his son. This, of course, was back in the 19th century.

Hearst became the newspaper’s “publisher,” or the person who is responsible for getting the newspaper or a magazine or a book printed and distributed. Here at ESL Podcast, Dr. Lucy Tse is sort of our publisher. She, of course, writes all of our scripts and Learning Guides, helps make everything run smoothly without any problems here. Hearst was the publisher for The San Francisco Examiner, and he put a lot of money and time into the newspaper. “To put a lot of something into something” means to invest a lot of something, usually money or time, in a project to make it better. We put a lot of time into producing ESL Podcast. You put a lot of time and effort – energy – into learning English. Hearst put a lot of time and money into his newspaper, and it became very successful.

He made sure that the newspaper had a lot of “articles,” or stories, about municipal corruption. “Municipal” (municipal) refers to the city or something related to the city. “Corruption” are the bad things that people do in an organization, often illegal things, especially government officials – government workers. Well, Hearst was interested in municipal corruption, the things that people did wrong in the city government. If someone who works for the government, for example, takes money from a company and then changes the law so that that company pays less in taxes, that might be considered an example of government corruption.

Hearst’s newspaper had a lot of articles about municipal corruption. People were very interested in these stories, and, of course, if they’re interested in the stories they will buy more newspapers. Because of this, his circulation at The San Francisco Examiner increased. “Circulation” is the number of copies of a newspaper or magazine that are sold; it could also refer to the number of people who read a particular newspaper or magazine. The largest newspapers here in the United States have one to two million readers, people who read the newspaper every week, especially the national newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The New York Times. Well, when Hearst increased his newspaper circulation, he increased the number of people reading his newspaper. And, of course, if more people read your newspaper you can sell more advertisements and make more money.

As his success grew – as he became more successful – Hearst began to buy and operate other newspapers. To continue to build his or increase his circulation, he began something that would later be known as yellow journalism. “Journalism” is a general term referring to reporting, finding information about a topic, and writing an article – a story – in a newspaper or a magazine. Now, we have television and radio journalism. Yellow journalism, however, is a specific kind of reporting that is considered sensationalized. When we say something is “sensationalized,” we mean it has interesting stories that are surprising or even shocking, but might not be completely true. Today we see a lot of yellow journalism about “celebrities,” famous people, famous actors, and singers. You may read, for example, that this famous movie star is dating someone or is pregnant, and many times this is not even true, but the newspapers, the magazines “invent” – make up things. Yellow journalism, then, is a negative way of describing newspaper or magazine reporting. It’s considered to be often false or overly sensationalized, making it seem more important than it is. This is something that Hearst’s newspapers did a lot of.

At his “peak,” at the top point of his career, Hearst owned almost 30 newspapers. Then he began to buy magazines, and soon he had the biggest business for magazines and newspapers in the entire world. The Australian Rupert Murdoch is someone who, similarly, owns many newspapers, magazines, television stations in many different countries throughout the world, including some of the largest newspapers. Murdoch is a modern media magnate.

Well, one of the things that comes from having all these newspapers and magazines is that you have a lot of political “influence,” the ability to affect what politicians – what people who work for the government think. You can influence how they vote and how they act. Notice “influence” can be a noun or it can be a verb. Hearst became very involved in politics himself, in fact he became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and was considered very influential – notice the adjective, “influential” – in changing and modifying the policies of the United States government.

There are two other things of people know about Hearst. One is that he was the subject of a very famous movie, what many people consider to be the best movie ever made by Hollywood. The movie was called Citizen Kane, and it was about William Randolph Hearst. To learn more about that take a look at our Learning Guide for more information. People here in California also know about Hearst because you can visit his house, which is called the Hearst Castle, located in the central part of California. I visited his house – one of his houses – and it is a incredibly beautiful large house, as you can imagine, with a view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a very famous building that you can visit in the central part of California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Finally, I should say that the Hearst Corporation still exists; it is still a large owner of newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. So, the company continues.

Our second topic today is going to be how we describe – how we talk about people from different city and states in the United States. We’re going to look at the five biggest states in terms of “population,” or the number of people who live in each state, and we’ll talk a little bit about what we call someone from that state.

Well, the biggest state in the United States is right here, California, which has more than 36 million people. People who live in California, like myself, are called Californians. In American English, we just add an “an” often to refer to people who live in a particular state. Someone who lives in Minnesota is a Minnesotan; someone who lives in Arizona is an Arizonan. This is especially popular if the name of the state ends in “a,” someone from Alaska is an Alaskan.

Well, Lucy and I are Californians, because we live here. People who live in the fifth-largest state, which is Illinois, are called Illinoisans. Sometimes we have to change the spelling a little in order to add the “an.” For example, people from Texas, which is the second-largest state in the U.S., are called Texans. We drop, or get rid of, the “s,” the last letter in the word Texas, so we don’t say Texasans, but Texans. To talk about people from Florida, our fourth-largest state, we have to drop the “a” and add an “ian,” we call them Floridians. So, it’s not Floridan, its Floridians. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good simple rule to tell you how you should change the name of the state in order to create the word that refers to someone who lives there, but most states you add an “an.”

Some states, however, are entirely different. For example, people who live in New York are not called New Yorkans. Instead, we call them New Yorkers. Why? Well, there’s no good reason – no good rule that I can give you. These are things that you learn as you get more exposure and read more and hear more about the different parts of the United States. Many people have “learned them by heart,” meaning they learned them by memorizing them, but usually you learn things by heart simply by being exposed to them and hearing them many, many times.

The names of people from different cities sometimes also are difficult because there aren’t good rules that we follow. I was originally from St. Paul, Minnesota; Lucy was from Tucson, Arizona. People from St. Paul are called St. Paulites, and people from Tucson are called Tucsonans. So it’s hard to figure out sometimes what you should call people from different cities. I now live in Los Angeles, but we don’t call people from Los Angeles Los Angelesans or Los Angelesers; they’re called Angelenos. Lucy and I are Angelenos.

We mentioned before people from New York – the State of New York – are called New Yorkers. But, that’s also the term we use for people from the City of New York. So, someone from the city of New York is a New Yorker. People from the City of Phoenix, which is one of the five biggest cities by population in the U.S., are called Phoenicians. Sometimes, then, it’s not possible to try to think of a rule for these names. Someone from Chicago is called a Chicagoan, but someone from Minneapolis is called in a Minneapolitan. People from Boston, Massachusetts are called Bostonians, but people from that Pittsburgh are called Pittsburghers. These names are technically called “demonyms” (demonym). If you look that up in a search engine – put “demonym United States” – you’ll probably find a list of all the big states and cities and what we call people who live there. The most common endings are “an,” “er,” and “ite.” Most of the time, however, we just say that someone is from a certain city and “leave it at that,” meaning we don’t think of the particular specific name.

Now let’s answer a few of your questions.

Our first question comes from Hermin (Hermin) in Iraq, in the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq. Hermin wants to know why we have the expression “please” as the “magic word.”

“Please,” you probably already know is used to be polite, to be nice, especially if you are asking for something. Parents try to teach their children to say “please” before they ask for something, and they call it the “magic word” because if you use the word “please,” the parent is saying, then I will give you what you are asking for. It’s not always true that parents will give you what you want by saying “please,” but they’re trying to teach their children that they should be polite. So for example, if your child is sitting at the dinner table with you, and the child says, “Pass the rice,” the mother might say, “What’s the magic word?” and then the child will say, “Please pass the rice.” The mother is reminding the child that it is important to use the word “please.”

Sometimes we use the word “please” to mean “yes.” For example, if someone is offering you something, you’re on an airplane and someone asks you if you would like some coffee you may simply just say “please.” It’s more polite than just saying “yes.”

Another use of the word “please” is in the expression “Oh, please!” People say “Oh, please!” when they think someone is saying something stupid or ridiculous, something that they don’t believe. For example I could say, “I’ve dated more women than Brad Pitt,” and Lucy might say, “Oh, please!” meaning she doesn’t believe me. But of course, I always tell the truth!

Jan (Jan) from the Czech Republic wants to know how we use the apostrophe (‘) in English, that little mark that looks like a comma except it’s on the tops of the words. The apostrophe in English is used to show that something belongs to a particular person or place. When we are talking about a single person or thing, then we put the apostrophe before the “s.” For example, if I have a wallet, where I keep my money, you could refer to that as “Jeff’s wallet” – Jeff-apostrophe-s. If we’re talking about a group of people or a group of things, then the apostrophe comes after the “s.” So for example: “The passengers’ luggage is on the airplane.” There are many different passengers, people who fly in an airplane; they all have their individual luggage or bags. We refer to all of their luggage – all of their bags – as the “passengers’ luggage,” with the apostrophe coming at the end, not before the “s” but after the “s.”

Finally, we sometimes use an apostrophe as what we might call a pronunciation guide or a pronunciation marker. This is often used when we are referring to informal or colloquial speech: “Drinkin’ and drivin’ is dangerous.” This is a way of informally saying “drinking and driving are dangerous,” but if I want to be very informal, or talk like people from a particular area, perhaps, of the country, I might put an apostrophe after the last letter of the word, especially an “n.” So instead of saying “drinking,” I say “drinkin’,” and the word doesn’t end in a “g” as it normally would, but it ends in an “n” and then an apostrophe after that. You’ll sometimes see that in literature or in stories.

Finally, Simon (Simon) from Austria wants to know the difference between the verbs “to remind” and “to remember.”

“To remind” means to tell someone about something that they may have forgotten, to make someone aware of something that he or she may have forgotten about. Your wife may remind you of your wedding anniversary or of her birthday. I hope that’s not necessary, or she won’t be your wife for very long!

“To remember” means to have something stay in your mind, to be able to recall something: a piece of information or an event from the past. I remember the first time I kissed a girl – it was, maybe, two years ago! That’s “to remember.”

“To remind,” then, means to tell someone something that they may have forgotten. “To remember” means to actually be able to keep that in your mind and recall it.

Sometimes people will say “don’t remind me” when they are talking about something that is unpleasant or bad that someone else begins to talk about. For example, if you had a very bad class and you got a very poor grade in a class, your friend may start talking about that teacher a year later and you could say, “Oh, don’t remind me!” meaning don’t make me remember that thing that I had already forgotten.

I’ll remind you, in case you have forgotten, that if you have a question or comment you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com. We can’t answer everyone’s questions, but we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can here on the Café.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us next time on the English Café.

ESL Podcast’s English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. This podcast is copyright 2008, by the Center for Educational

magnate – a person who is very important in a particular industry; someone who is very powerful in a specific area of business

* Leona Lewis is a media magnate who owns 15 television stations, 30 radio stations, and four major newspapers.

publisher – a person who is responsible for printing a newspaper, magazine, or book

* Ceci was finally able to find a publisher for a books she wrote more than 10 years ago.

to put a lot of (something) into (something) – to invest a lot of something in a project to make it better; to put a lot of time, energy, or money into something to improve it

* Don’t laugh at the pictures the children drew! They put a lot of work into them.

municipal – city; relating to a city

* We need to find out what the municipal laws are about keeping a monkey before we buy one as a pet.

corruption – bad or illegal things that people do, mostly people in government, usually for money or power

* The new mayor said that he would not allow any corruption of city officials while he’s mayor of the city.

circulation – the number of copies of a newspaper or magazine that is sold; the number of people who read a particular newspaper or magazine

* The circulation of this magazine went up when they started putting pictures of famous people on the cover.

yellow journalism – a type of reporting that focuses on very interesting stories that are shocking and surprising, but that may not be completely true

* I used to read this newspaper every day, but now that the focus has turned to yellow journalism, I’ve stopped reading it.

influence – the ability to affect what others think and how they act

* Do you know who will have influence over the decision of hiring a new manager?

population – the number of people who live in a place, such as a city or state; the number of people in a specific area

* The city’s population has grown over 10% in the past year.

to drop – to get rid of; to no longer use

* I used to get five movie channels on my cable TV service, but I dropped four of them because didn’t have time to watch them.

to learn by heart – to memorize; to learn so that one can say something from memory, without having to look it up or read it somewhere else first

* As a child, how old were you when you learned your home phone number by heart?

to leave it at that – to keep it simple; to not take something any further

* We told Simone that we wouldn’t be going to the party and left it at that. We didn’t want to explain why we had changed our minds.

please – a word used to make a request or question more polite

* Would you please close the door when you go outside so the cat doesn’t get out?

to remind – to tell someone about something they may have forgotten; to make a person aware of something so that he or she does not forget about it

* I’ll forget about the meeting a month from now if you don’t remind me.

to remember – to have something stay in your mind; to bring to your mind some information or event from the past

* When Danny visited his hometown, he remembered many of the good times he had growing up there as a child.

What Insiders Know
Movie: Citizen Kane

When people in the movie “industry” (business) are asked to “name” (tell) the best films of all time, the movie Citizen Kaneis often “top” (is number one) on the list. Citizen Kane was a movie directed by the well known director Orson Welles in 1941. Many people believed that the story told in the movie was the life of William Randolph Hearst.

The movie is about the life story of Charles Foster Kane. Kane started out in the publishing business with good “intentions” (aim) to help people, but overtime, he becomes a man “obsessed” (cannot think of anything else but this) with getting more and more power. The story is told mainly in “flashbacks,” where we see scenes from events in the past.

When the movie was “released” (shown to the public), Hearst did not allow any of his newspapers to print anything about it. The movie was said to be a “hostile” (very unfriendly) version of Hearst’s life. Hearst would invite Hollywood celebrities to Hearst Castle, a large home on a hill not far from Los Angeles. In exchange for being invited, the celebrities had to tell him secrets that he would publish in his newspapers. The actors and directors were “resentful,” feeling as though they were not being treated well or fairly. Citizen Kane was seen as “payback” (revenge) for this and other things that Hearst did to get power using his many newspapers.

Citizen Kane is often considered one of the most “innovative” (new and advanced) films in the history of movies. A recent “poll” (survey) of film directors and critics by the British Film Institute “ranked” (put on a list from best to worst) Citizen Kane as the number one movie of all time. The American Film Institute placed it at number one in a 2007 list of the 100 best U.S. movies in the history of films.