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289 Topics: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Joshua Tree National Park; to the extent that versus in light of versus in the face of; I’m going versus I’m going to; adverb placement - accidentally

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You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 289.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 289. 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 PDF guide we provide for all of our current episodes that will help you improve your English even more than by just listening to this podcast.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about a book and a movie called One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. We’re also going to talk about Joshua Tree National Park here in California. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins with a discussion of a book and a movie by the same title, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “Flew” (flew) is the past tense of the verb “to fly,” like a bird flies in the air. A “cuckoo” (cuckoo) is a small bird, but for whatever reason when you hear the term it’s often used to describe a crazy person, people who are insane, people who have lost their mind, like my neighbor for example. So, that’s what someone would say, but it’s not very nice or polite to say about someone you think is crazy. If someone is acting very strange or oddly, you might hear that. It’s not quite as common as it was back in the 60s and 70s, but you’ll still hear it.

The title is One (one person, one bird, one thing) Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (nest). A “nest” is the home, if you will, that a bird makes for itself, usually out of small pieces of wood, sticks from trees, and pieces of grass or some other type of material. The phrase “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” apparently comes from an old nursery rhyme. A “nursery” (nursery) is a place where you take care of little children. A “rhyme” (rhyme) is, in this case, a short song or poem that you would tell a little child. I’ve never heard of this particular nursery rhyme, except when researching this book and movie. But one of the characters in the book listened to that nursery rhyme as a child. The phrase “to fly over the cuckoo’s nest” meant to do too much of something, or to take something to an extreme and then get in trouble for it, and that’s probably the meaning of the title.

The book was written in 1959 and published in 1962 by an author named Ken Kesey. The story takes place or happens in an asylum in Oregon. An “asylum” (asylum) sometimes called an insane asylum, is an institution used as a medical hospital, where people who have mental problems – people who are crazy – are sent. “Insane” (insane) means not sane. “Sane” means that you are normal, rational, intelligent. “To be insane” means that you are not normal or rational or intelligent. So, an “insane asylum” is a what we would call now perhaps a mental institution or mental hospital for people who have problems of the mind.

The book takes place in an asylum in Oregon. Oregon is a state just north of California on the Pacific Coast in the west, between California and Washington. So, the book takes place in this asylum in Oregon where there are several mental patients, people who are being treated by doctors for their mental health problems. The main character is a criminal named Randle McMurphy, who fakes insanity. “To fake” (fake) means to pretend something that is not really true, to pretend in this case to be insane – to be crazy. He does this because he thinks it will be better to serve his sentence in a mental hospital rather than in a prison. “To serve one’s sentence” is to spend time in a jail – in a prison typically, or in a mental hospital for the amount of time that you have been punished for, for whatever crime you did. So this criminal, Randle, pretends to be crazy so he can spend his time in an asylum, which he thinks will be easier than spending time in a jail.

McMurphy antagonizes the head nurse, the nurse who is in charge of the other nurses and of the patients. The nurse helps the doctor, who treats or gives medicine and other things to the patients, the people who are sick. “To antagonize” means to do things to bother or annoy someone, to make that person angry by causing problems for him or her. An older brother might antagonize a younger brother by teasing him, by hiding his toys, by taking his desserts. Yes, I’m talking to you Stephen! McMurphy antagonizes the head nurse in the asylum, and that changes the way things are normally done. It encourages the other mental patients to rebel, to say we don’t like the way we are being treated. He tries to help these mental patients believe that they are able to – that they are capable of doing things for themselves so that they don’t have to have the nurse make decisions for them. One evening he finds a way to bring in alcohol into the mental hospital and prostitutes, women who sell themselves for sex. When the nurse discovers what he has done, she is very angry and criticizes one of the patients. That patient – not the main character Randle, but someone else – commits suicide, or kills himself.

When McMurphy, the main character, realizes what has happened, he attacks the nurse. The nurse eventually comes back to that part of the mental hospital, what we would call the “ward” (ward), where McMurphy and his friends were staying. I’m not going to tell you the ending of the book or the movie. I think I’ve told you enough, I hope, to interest you.

If you want, you can read the novel, but the novel was also made into a very famous film, or movie, in 1975. The movie was actually made, or filmed at the Oregon State Hospital. And the person who played McMurphy – Randle McMurphy – was a man by the name of Jack Nicholson, one of the most famous actors in the United States, especially in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The film was very popular and in fact it won all five of the most important Academy Awards or Oscars, the awards that are given to the best movies of the year. It won best picture – best movie, best leading actor, or main actor; best leading actress, or main actress; best director; and best screenplay, or script. It was only the second film ever to do that; the first one was a movie called It Happened One Night, way back in 1934. It was also named, or included, as part of the American Film Institute’s list of the best 100 movies in the past 100 years.

The book and the movie are really a critique – a criticism of the way that our mental institutions treated their patients. At this time, there was a movement, there was a group of people trying to change things in the way that we took care of mentally ill patients. This movement was called “deinstitutionalization,” which is a very long word. The word “institution” refers to some official group or organization. “Institutionalization” refers to putting mentally ill patients into separate hospitals – mental asylums, insane asylum – and “de” here means going the opposite way, reversing that. “Deinstitutionalization” means taking the mental patients out of these special hospitals – these asylums – and treating them somewhere else. The book and the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was considered by some people to influential in this movement of the 1970s. Now, it’s much less common that someone with a mental problem will be sent to an asylum unless they are, in fact, a criminal, someone who has committed a crime. The deinstitutionalization movement tried to help people by helping them become part of the regular society again.

There was, unfortunately, another side to the deinstitutionalization story, a negative side. Although it did help get rid of some very bad asylums it created another problem, which was that these people who are mentally ill now were not getting the treatment – the care – that they needed. Many people who are part of our homeless population – especially here in California, in Los Angeles – many of them have mental health problems. Now that’s not to say all of them or even most of them do, but there is a significant percentage of those patients who are unfortunately not getting the care they deserve.

Now let’s turn to our next topic, a little happier I hope, that’s the Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua Tree National Park is part of our National Park system. These are park areas that are owned by and managed by the federal or national government. Joshua Tree is here in Southern California, about, oh, maybe an hour, an hour and a half from where I live. The park started as a National Monument in 1936, which is something a little less than a park, but it was eventually made a National Park in 1994. This year, in the year 2011 when I’m recording this, the park is celebrating its 75th anniversary of being part of the U.S. National Park System, and there are a lot of special events that are taking place this year.

Joshua Tree National Park is interesting because it’s a desert park. A “desert” (desert) is a very dry, hot area of land with lots of sand and very little water. Normally, when you think of a park you may think of green trees and grass. Joshua Tree has none of that; for the most part it’s a desert park. It’s part of actually two deserts: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert.

Although many people think that deserts are places where few plants or animals live, in fact there are many different “species” or types of plants and animals in Joshua Tree National Park. The park was named after one kind of plant called the Joshua tree, which is an unusual-looking tree in that it grows very quickly and can be as high as 15 meters; it can live up to 1,000 years. So, these are fascinating kinds of trees. Joshua Tree National Park has more than 250 kinds of birds; they also have sheep and deer. There are many different kinds of wildflowers, flowers that grow naturally without someone planting them in a garden, that you can find in the National Park as well.

Many people come and visit Los Angeles who like the desert or want to see something very different will drive out to Joshua Tree National Park to see some these amazing Joshua trees that are there. More than a million people a year visit Joshua Tree National Park. Other people go there to see the interesting geological features of the park. “Geological features” here refers to large rocks that have very unusual shapes and colors that have been formed over thousands of years by wind, sun, and rain.

Another popular activity in the parking is “rock climbing,” which is the practice of using ropes and special tools to go up a wall – a rocky wall, in effect. I’ve tried this; I’ve been to Joshua Tree National Park with a couple of people who were good rock climbers. They tried to teach me how to climb rocks. I got up, oh, at least two, maybe two and a half feet before I decided that rock climbing really just wasn’t my thing, not something I would enjoy doing. But the park is beautiful. At least one reason why the park became popular in the late 80s and 90s was that the Irish rock group U2 made an album called The Joshua Tree in 1987 that was very popular.

Now let’s listen to some of the questions you have sent us.

Our first question comes from Chong (Chong) in China. Chong wants to know how we use the following three phrases: “to the extent that,” “in light of,” and “in face of.” Let’s start with “to the extent that.”

“Extent” (extent) is one’s reach, or the reach or area where something exists. We talk about the extent of a problem; it means how big it is, how serious it is. “To the extent that” means the same as as long as it exists, as long as it has power, or as far as it goes. “I try to keep my teenage daughter safe to the extent that is possible.” I do as much as I can. I don’t have a teenage daughter, so it’s a little weird, but that’s what I’m trying to say here. “Paul understands physics to the extent that anyone can.” As much as, he has an understanding as great or as big, if you will, as anyone else.

“In light of” means thinking of or because of some new knowledge, something that you’ve learned. “In light of what Marco just told us about his new diet, I don’t think we should serve cake at dinner.” Or, “The president offered a new, less expensive, cheaper plan in light of the problems in the economy.” So, “in light of” is when you have some new piece of information, typically, and you are going to change what you were planning on doing.

“In the face of” means looking at, usually, a problem or dealing with a problem. For example: “In the face of so much suffering, Mandy thought she had to take time to help these poor people.” “In the face of,” seeing that particular situation, being aware of something. “He won the election in the face of a lot of criticism over his positions.” So, he had to look at that difficulty.

All three phrases are fairly common in English, and they are all used mostly in formal situations. You’re more likely to hear people use them when they’re talking about politics or science than talking about parties or girlfriends.

There’s a common phrase in English that sounds similar to “in the face of,” but is in fact completely different. It is “to fly in the face of,” which means to go against. “What you told me flies in the face of everything I had heard about your sister.” It’s the opposite of, it goes against, it contradicts everything that I thought I knew.

Petr (Petr) in Russia wants to know the difference between “I’m going,” such as “I’m going to the store,” and “I’m going to,” such as “I’m going to be going to the store.”

“I’m going” means I am traveling, I will travel. “I am going to my brother’s house.” “I am going to the beach.” “I am going to Las Vegas to lose all of my money!”

“I am going to do (something)” is an expression of the future, a future idea. It means the same as I will or I’m planning to. “I’m going to eat a sandwich.” That is what I am planning to do in the future. It has nothing to do with traveling anywhere. “I’m going to buy a new car.” In the future: next month, maybe the month after that. “I am going to travel to France.” I’m going to travel in the future.

So, the difference between “I’m going to the store” and “I’m going to be going to the store,” or “I’m going to go to the store,” is that in the first case you are actually going to the store now; in the second case, “I’m going to go to the store,” you’re saying that you’re going to go in the future, that’s when you will be going, not now.

Finally, Thitiporn (Thitiporn) – and I’m sure I’m not pronouncing that correctly, I apologize – is from the country of Thailand. The question has to do with the word “accidentally” (accidentally). What does this adverb mean, and when do we use it? Well, let’s begin with the word “accident.” An “accident” is something, typically bad, that happens that was not planned or that was not wanted. “Accidentally” means something that happens in a way that was not planned or desired. It often just means unexpectedly; I didn’t realize it was going to happen. So you might say for example: “The boy accidentally fell down.” He was riding his bike and he hit a rock and he ended up on the ground; he accidentally fell down.

Usually we place this adverb after the subject of the sentence and before the verb of the sentence, although it is possible to put it at the end of a clause or sentence as well. Some adverbs can go at the beginning of the sentence, but not “accidentally.” Most native speakers wouldn’t say “Accidentally I did this.” They would say “I accidentally did this” or “I did this accidentally.”

Americans often use this word “accidentally” for saying that they are sorry for something they have done. Young people sometimes use the word as a joke when they know they should not have done something; it wasn’t an accident, but they say “accidentally.” “Oh, I accidentally ate your last piece of candy.” My students used to say, “Oh, Professor McQuillan, we accidentally drank six beers last night and we’re too sick to take the test.” In cases like this, the thing that has accidentally been done of course wasn’t an accident at all!

If you have a question you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com. I’m going to try to answer as many questions as I can here on the Café, although we don’t have time, unhappily, to answer everyone’s question.

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

ESL Podcast’s English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse, copyright 2011 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
cuckoo – a small bird; an impolite word for a crazy or mentally ill person

* That woman is cuckoo and likes to chase dogs around the neighborhood.

asylum – an institution used as a mental hospital; a place where people are sent when they have mental problems

* The doctors in the asylum tried to treat Kala’s many mental problems.

to fake – to pretend to feel or suffer from an emotion or illness

* There’s a math test today, so I’m faking a cold to stay home from school.

to serve (one’s) sentence – to be in the process of being punished for a certain amount of time for one’s crimes

* James will serve his 10-year sentence at Folsom Prison.

to antagonize – to do things to annoy someone and make that person angry by causing problems for him and her

* Carla antagonized her boss on her first day of work by being 20 minutes late.

ward – a specific section of a hospital; a division of a medical facility

* I work as a nurse in the children’s ward at the county hospital.

deinstitutionalization – the process changing the way mental health patients are treated by allowing them to receive treatment outside of mental institutions

* The new state laws are aimed at the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients.



desert – a very dry, hot area of land with a lot of sand and little water

* People living in the desert know to stay out of the sun and to drink a lot of water.

species – types of plants or animals; a group of living things with similar characteristics

* We saw a lot of different species of birds and other animals when we visited the Amazon.

geological feature – large rocks with unusual shapes and colors that have been formed over thousands of years by wind, sun, and rain

* Look at those geological features! They are shaped like large animals.

to rock climb – to participate in the sport of using ropes and special tools to go up very steep, rocky walls

* It takes a lot of strength and courage to rock climb on the highest mountains in the world.

to the extent that – as long as something exists; as long as something has power
* Writers can be successful to the extent that they write every day and try to get published no matter how difficult it may be.

in light of – seeing that; thinking of; because of some new knowledge or situation that has become known

* In light of what we now know about Kira’s past relationships, we don’t think she would make a good wife for our son.

in the face of – dealing with; having to handle a problem or difficult situation

* In the face of fewer funds in the budget for next year, the governor is eliminating several community programs.

I’m going – I’m traveling; I’m leaving; I am physically moving away to another place

* On my trip, I’m going to three counties in Asia: Thailand, Korea, and Japan


I’m going to – I’m planning to; I will

* When the new year begins, I’m going to lose weight and stop smoking.


accidentally – unexpectedly; in a way that one did not plan or want

* Joanna accidentally added salt instead of sugar to the cookies and they tasted terrible.

What Insiders Know
Rotten Tomatoes

In the old days, if members of an audience were unhappy with a “live” (not recorded) performance, they would throw “rotten” (not fresh; food that is bad and cannot be eaten) fruit, vegetables, or eggs at the performers on stage. As you can imagine, this sent a very strong message to the performers that they needed to do better. While this is not commonly done today, we still talk about showing our displeasure by “throwing rotten tomatoes” at the TV or movie screen.

This is where the website Rotten Tomatoes got its name. This popular website is a place where people can get “reviews” (prepared opinions) and information about movies. It is mainly a film review “aggregator,” collecting reviews from other sources and presenting them as “ratings” (scores). The website only includes reviews from authors who are members of the many writing or film associations or “guilds.”

By aggregating reviews, people who visit the website don’t need to waste time reading several reviews of the same film. Instead, anyone interested in a movie can go the website, search its “database” (set of information), and find out quickly whether the reviews have been generally positive or negative.

The staff of Rotten Tomatoes takes each film review and “classifies” it (puts it into a group or category) as “fresh” (recently made, meaning it is good) or rotten. At the end of each year, one film receives the “Golden Tomato” award for receiving the highest ratings of any film that year.

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 289.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 289. 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 PDF guide we provide for all of our current episodes that will help you improve your English even more than by just listening to this podcast.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about a book and a movie called One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. We’re also going to talk about Joshua Tree National Park here in California. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins with a discussion of a book and a movie by the same title, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “Flew” (flew) is the past tense of the verb “to fly,” like a bird flies in the air. A “cuckoo” (cuckoo) is a small bird, but for whatever reason when you hear the term it’s often used to describe a crazy person, people who are insane, people who have lost their mind, like my neighbor for example. So, that’s what someone would say, but it’s not very nice or polite to say about someone you think is crazy. If someone is acting very strange or oddly, you might hear that. It’s not quite as common as it was back in the 60s and 70s, but you’ll still hear it.

The title is One (one person, one bird, one thing) Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (nest). A “nest” is the home, if you will, that a bird makes for itself, usually out of small pieces of wood, sticks from trees, and pieces of grass or some other type of material. The phrase “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” apparently comes from an old nursery rhyme. A “nursery” (nursery) is a place where you take care of little children. A “rhyme” (rhyme) is, in this case, a short song or poem that you would tell a little child. I’ve never heard of this particular nursery rhyme, except when researching this book and movie. But one of the characters in the book listened to that nursery rhyme as a child. The phrase “to fly over the cuckoo’s nest” meant to do too much of something, or to take something to an extreme and then get in trouble for it, and that’s probably the meaning of the title.

The book was written in 1959 and published in 1962 by an author named Ken Kesey. The story takes place or happens in an asylum in Oregon. An “asylum” (asylum) sometimes called an insane asylum, is an institution used as a medical hospital, where people who have mental problems – people who are crazy – are sent. “Insane” (insane) means not sane. “Sane” means that you are normal, rational, intelligent. “To be insane” means that you are not normal or rational or intelligent. So, an “insane asylum” is a what we would call now perhaps a mental institution or mental hospital for people who have problems of the mind.

The book takes place in an asylum in Oregon. Oregon is a state just north of California on the Pacific Coast in the west, between California and Washington. So, the book takes place in this asylum in Oregon where there are several mental patients, people who are being treated by doctors for their mental health problems. The main character is a criminal named Randle McMurphy, who fakes insanity. “To fake” (fake) means to pretend something that is not really true, to pretend in this case to be insane – to be crazy. He does this because he thinks it will be better to serve his sentence in a mental hospital rather than in a prison. “To serve one’s sentence” is to spend time in a jail – in a prison typically, or in a mental hospital for the amount of time that you have been punished for, for whatever crime you did. So this criminal, Randle, pretends to be crazy so he can spend his time in an asylum, which he thinks will be easier than spending time in a jail.

McMurphy antagonizes the head nurse, the nurse who is in charge of the other nurses and of the patients. The nurse helps the doctor, who treats or gives medicine and other things to the patients, the people who are sick. “To antagonize” means to do things to bother or annoy someone, to make that person angry by causing problems for him or her. An older brother might antagonize a younger brother by teasing him, by hiding his toys, by taking his desserts. Yes, I’m talking to you Stephen! McMurphy antagonizes the head nurse in the asylum, and that changes the way things are normally done. It encourages the other mental patients to rebel, to say we don’t like the way we are being treated. He tries to help these mental patients believe that they are able to – that they are capable of doing things for themselves so that they don’t have to have the nurse make decisions for them. One evening he finds a way to bring in alcohol into the mental hospital and prostitutes, women who sell themselves for sex. When the nurse discovers what he has done, she is very angry and criticizes one of the patients. That patient – not the main character Randle, but someone else – commits suicide, or kills himself.

When McMurphy, the main character, realizes what has happened, he attacks the nurse. The nurse eventually comes back to that part of the mental hospital, what we would call the “ward” (ward), where McMurphy and his friends were staying. I’m not going to tell you the ending of the book or the movie. I think I’ve told you enough, I hope, to interest you.

If you want, you can read the novel, but the novel was also made into a very famous film, or movie, in 1975. The movie was actually made, or filmed at the Oregon State Hospital. And the person who played McMurphy – Randle McMurphy – was a man by the name of Jack Nicholson, one of the most famous actors in the United States, especially in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The film was very popular and in fact it won all five of the most important Academy Awards or Oscars, the awards that are given to the best movies of the year. It won best picture – best movie, best leading actor, or main actor; best leading actress, or main actress; best director; and best screenplay, or script. It was only the second film ever to do that; the first one was a movie called It Happened One Night, way back in 1934. It was also named, or included, as part of the American Film Institute’s list of the best 100 movies in the past 100 years.

The book and the movie are really a critique – a criticism of the way that our mental institutions treated their patients. At this time, there was a movement, there was a group of people trying to change things in the way that we took care of mentally ill patients. This movement was called “deinstitutionalization,” which is a very long word. The word “institution” refers to some official group or organization. “Institutionalization” refers to putting mentally ill patients into separate hospitals – mental asylums, insane asylum – and “de” here means going the opposite way, reversing that. “Deinstitutionalization” means taking the mental patients out of these special hospitals – these asylums – and treating them somewhere else. The book and the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was considered by some people to influential in this movement of the 1970s. Now, it’s much less common that someone with a mental problem will be sent to an asylum unless they are, in fact, a criminal, someone who has committed a crime. The deinstitutionalization movement tried to help people by helping them become part of the regular society again.

There was, unfortunately, another side to the deinstitutionalization story, a negative side. Although it did help get rid of some very bad asylums it created another problem, which was that these people who are mentally ill now were not getting the treatment – the care – that they needed. Many people who are part of our homeless population – especially here in California, in Los Angeles – many of them have mental health problems. Now that’s not to say all of them or even most of them do, but there is a significant percentage of those patients who are unfortunately not getting the care they deserve.

Now let’s turn to our next topic, a little happier I hope, that’s the Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua Tree National Park is part of our National Park system. These are park areas that are owned by and managed by the federal or national government. Joshua Tree is here in Southern California, about, oh, maybe an hour, an hour and a half from where I live. The park started as a National Monument in 1936, which is something a little less than a park, but it was eventually made a National Park in 1994. This year, in the year 2011 when I’m recording this, the park is celebrating its 75th anniversary of being part of the U.S. National Park System, and there are a lot of special events that are taking place this year.

Joshua Tree National Park is interesting because it’s a desert park. A “desert” (desert) is a very dry, hot area of land with lots of sand and very little water. Normally, when you think of a park you may think of green trees and grass. Joshua Tree has none of that; for the most part it’s a desert park. It’s part of actually two deserts: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert.

Although many people think that deserts are places where few plants or animals live, in fact there are many different “species” or types of plants and animals in Joshua Tree National Park. The park was named after one kind of plant called the Joshua tree, which is an unusual-looking tree in that it grows very quickly and can be as high as 15 meters; it can live up to 1,000 years. So, these are fascinating kinds of trees. Joshua Tree National Park has more than 250 kinds of birds; they also have sheep and deer. There are many different kinds of wildflowers, flowers that grow naturally without someone planting them in a garden, that you can find in the National Park as well.

Many people come and visit Los Angeles who like the desert or want to see something very different will drive out to Joshua Tree National Park to see some these amazing Joshua trees that are there. More than a million people a year visit Joshua Tree National Park. Other people go there to see the interesting geological features of the park. “Geological features” here refers to large rocks that have very unusual shapes and colors that have been formed over thousands of years by wind, sun, and rain.

Another popular activity in the parking is “rock climbing,” which is the practice of using ropes and special tools to go up a wall – a rocky wall, in effect. I’ve tried this; I’ve been to Joshua Tree National Park with a couple of people who were good rock climbers. They tried to teach me how to climb rocks. I got up, oh, at least two, maybe two and a half feet before I decided that rock climbing really just wasn’t my thing, not something I would enjoy doing. But the park is beautiful. At least one reason why the park became popular in the late 80s and 90s was that the Irish rock group U2 made an album called The Joshua Tree in 1987 that was very popular.

Now let’s listen to some of the questions you have sent us.

Our first question comes from Chong (Chong) in China. Chong wants to know how we use the following three phrases: “to the extent that,” “in light of,” and “in face of.” Let’s start with “to the extent that.”

“Extent” (extent) is one’s reach, or the reach or area where something exists. We talk about the extent of a problem; it means how big it is, how serious it is. “To the extent that” means the same as as long as it exists, as long as it has power, or as far as it goes. “I try to keep my teenage daughter safe to the extent that is possible.” I do as much as I can. I don’t have a teenage daughter, so it’s a little weird, but that’s what I’m trying to say here. “Paul understands physics to the extent that anyone can.” As much as, he has an understanding as great or as big, if you will, as anyone else.

“In light of” means thinking of or because of some new knowledge, something that you’ve learned. “In light of what Marco just told us about his new diet, I don’t think we should serve cake at dinner.” Or, “The president offered a new, less expensive, cheaper plan in light of the problems in the economy.” So, “in light of” is when you have some new piece of information, typically, and you are going to change what you were planning on doing.

“In the face of” means looking at, usually, a problem or dealing with a problem. For example: “In the face of so much suffering, Mandy thought she had to take time to help these poor people.” “In the face of,” seeing that particular situation, being aware of something. “He won the election in the face of a lot of criticism over his positions.” So, he had to look at that difficulty.

All three phrases are fairly common in English, and they are all used mostly in formal situations. You’re more likely to hear people use them when they’re talking about politics or science than talking about parties or girlfriends.

There’s a common phrase in English that sounds similar to “in the face of,” but is in fact completely different. It is “to fly in the face of,” which means to go against. “What you told me flies in the face of everything I had heard about your sister.” It’s the opposite of, it goes against, it contradicts everything that I thought I knew.

Petr (Petr) in Russia wants to know the difference between “I’m going,” such as “I’m going to the store,” and “I’m going to,” such as “I’m going to be going to the store.”

“I’m going” means I am traveling, I will travel. “I am going to my brother’s house.” “I am going to the beach.” “I am going to Las Vegas to lose all of my money!”

“I am going to do (something)” is an expression of the future, a future idea. It means the same as I will or I’m planning to. “I’m going to eat a sandwich.” That is what I am planning to do in the future. It has nothing to do with traveling anywhere. “I’m going to buy a new car.” In the future: next month, maybe the month after that. “I am going to travel to France.” I’m going to travel in the future.

So, the difference between “I’m going to the store” and “I’m going to be going to the store,” or “I’m going to go to the store,” is that in the first case you are actually going to the store now; in the second case, “I’m going to go to the store,” you’re saying that you’re going to go in the future, that’s when you will be going, not now.

Finally, Thitiporn (Thitiporn) – and I’m sure I’m not pronouncing that correctly, I apologize – is from the country of Thailand. The question has to do with the word “accidentally” (accidentally). What does this adverb mean, and when do we use it? Well, let’s begin with the word “accident.” An “accident” is something, typically bad, that happens that was not planned or that was not wanted. “Accidentally” means something that happens in a way that was not planned or desired. It often just means unexpectedly; I didn’t realize it was going to happen. So you might say for example: “The boy accidentally fell down.” He was riding his bike and he hit a rock and he ended up on the ground; he accidentally fell down.

Usually we place this adverb after the subject of the sentence and before the verb of the sentence, although it is possible to put it at the end of a clause or sentence as well. Some adverbs can go at the beginning of the sentence, but not “accidentally.” Most native speakers wouldn’t say “Accidentally I did this.” They would say “I accidentally did this” or “I did this accidentally.”

Americans often use this word “accidentally” for saying that they are sorry for something they have done. Young people sometimes use the word as a joke when they know they should not have done something; it wasn’t an accident, but they say “accidentally.” “Oh, I accidentally ate your last piece of candy.” My students used to say, “Oh, Professor McQuillan, we accidentally drank six beers last night and we’re too sick to take the test.” In cases like this, the thing that has accidentally been done of course wasn’t an accident at all!

If you have a question you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com. I’m going to try to answer as many questions as I can here on the Café, although we don’t have time, unhappily, to answer everyone’s question.

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

ESL Podcast’s English Café is written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse, copyright 2011 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
cuckoo – a small bird; an impolite word for a crazy or mentally ill person

* That woman is cuckoo and likes to chase dogs around the neighborhood.

asylum – an institution used as a mental hospital; a place where people are sent when they have mental problems

* The doctors in the asylum tried to treat Kala’s many mental problems.

to fake – to pretend to feel or suffer from an emotion or illness

* There’s a math test today, so I’m faking a cold to stay home from school.

to serve (one’s) sentence – to be in the process of being punished for a certain amount of time for one’s crimes

* James will serve his 10-year sentence at Folsom Prison.

to antagonize – to do things to annoy someone and make that person angry by causing problems for him and her

* Carla antagonized her boss on her first day of work by being 20 minutes late.

ward – a specific section of a hospital; a division of a medical facility

* I work as a nurse in the children’s ward at the county hospital.

deinstitutionalization – the process changing the way mental health patients are treated by allowing them to receive treatment outside of mental institutions

* The new state laws are aimed at the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients.



desert – a very dry, hot area of land with a lot of sand and little water

* People living in the desert know to stay out of the sun and to drink a lot of water.

species – types of plants or animals; a group of living things with similar characteristics

* We saw a lot of different species of birds and other animals when we visited the Amazon.

geological feature – large rocks with unusual shapes and colors that have been formed over thousands of years by wind, sun, and rain

* Look at those geological features! They are shaped like large animals.

to rock climb – to participate in the sport of using ropes and special tools to go up very steep, rocky walls

* It takes a lot of strength and courage to rock climb on the highest mountains in the world.

to the extent that – as long as something exists; as long as something has power
* Writers can be successful to the extent that they write every day and try to get published no matter how difficult it may be.

in light of – seeing that; thinking of; because of some new knowledge or situation that has become known

* In light of what we now know about Kira’s past relationships, we don’t think she would make a good wife for our son.

in the face of – dealing with; having to handle a problem or difficult situation

* In the face of fewer funds in the budget for next year, the governor is eliminating several community programs.

I’m going – I’m traveling; I’m leaving; I am physically moving away to another place

* On my trip, I’m going to three counties in Asia: Thailand, Korea, and Japan


I’m going to – I’m planning to; I will

* When the new year begins, I’m going to lose weight and stop smoking.


accidentally – unexpectedly; in a way that one did not plan or want

* Joanna accidentally added salt instead of sugar to the cookies and they tasted terrible.

What Insiders Know
Rotten Tomatoes

In the old days, if members of an audience were unhappy with a “live” (not recorded) performance, they would throw “rotten” (not fresh; food that is bad and cannot be eaten) fruit, vegetables, or eggs at the performers on stage. As you can imagine, this sent a very strong message to the performers that they needed to do better. While this is not commonly done today, we still talk about showing our displeasure by “throwing rotten tomatoes” at the TV or movie screen.

This is where the website Rotten Tomatoes got its name. This popular website is a place where people can get “reviews” (prepared opinions) and information about movies. It is mainly a film review “aggregator,” collecting reviews from other sources and presenting them as “ratings” (scores). The website only includes reviews from authors who are members of the many writing or film associations or “guilds.”

By aggregating reviews, people who visit the website don’t need to waste time reading several reviews of the same film. Instead, anyone interested in a movie can go the website, search its “database” (set of information), and find out quickly whether the reviews have been generally positive or negative.

The staff of Rotten Tomatoes takes each film review and “classifies” it (puts it into a group or category) as “fresh” (recently made, meaning it is good) or rotten. At the end of each year, one film receives the “Golden Tomato” award for receiving the highest ratings of any film that year.