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297 Topics: The Lewis and Clark Expedition; Famous Authors: Anne Rice; to generate versus to create versus to make; a tad off target; run-on sentence

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 297.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 297. 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 English, as well as our ESL Podcast Blog.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when people explored the western part of North America in the 19th century; it is one of the most famous “expeditions” or trips in American history. We’ll also continue our series on famous authors, talking about an author named Anne Rice. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins with a discussion about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1803, then-President Thomas Jefferson arranged for the United States to buy a huge piece of land – almost 830,000 square miles or more than 2 million square kilometers of land – from France. This was known as the Louisiana Purchase; that’s what it’s called in the United States. It increased the size of the United States significantly. Basically, the central part of the United States was acquired by the United States – was put into the possession of the United States during this time after the Louisiana Purchase.

However, very little was known about that area that the United States just bought from France. Few white people had explored the area, although there were many Native American or Indian “tribes” or groups living there. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to learn about this new “territory” or land that he had purchased. Normally, you look at what you’re buying before you buy it, but Jefferson bought it and then went to look at it – or had someone else look at it, and that someone else was Lewis and Clark. Jefferson organized an expedition. An “expedition” (expedition) is a long journey, often a dangerous journey, to explore, to find out about an unfamiliar area. We might talk about an expedition to the South Pole, for example, or an expedition to outer space, outside of the area of the planet Earth; these could be called “expeditions.”

This particular expedition was called the Corps of Discovery. A “corps” (corps – notice that we don’t pronounce the “p” or the “s” because it comes from French) is a group of people working together; that’s what a “corps” is. You might have heard of the Marine Corps, which describes a part of the U.S. military; we also have the Peace Corps, which sends groups of volunteers to other countries. The Corps of Discovery was led by a U.S. army captain named Meriwether Lewis and his partner, William Clark. But the Corps of Discovery soon became known more by the names of the leaders as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The people on this expedition – the “explorers” we’ll call them, because they explore, they go and discover new things – had several “missions,” that is, several things they were trying to do. First, the expedition was laying claim to the territory. The phrase “to lay (lay) claim (claim) to something” means to say that something belongs to you, that no one else can have it. The United States had already bought the land from France, but the country wanted to explore it, to learn more about it, to, in some ways I suppose, assert their authority over the land.

The expedition was also supposed to look for a navigable water route across the continent. Some say this, in fact, was the more important mission. Something that is “navigable” (navigable) can be traveled by a boat or a ship. In this case, the United States was hoping to find a river, or a water route, that could be used to transport people from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in the west. They did not have Google Maps to tell them where the rivers and mountains and other things were, so the expedition, of course, was going to try to figure that out. The expedition was also told to learn as much as it could about the plants and animals living in the territory, and to establish relationships with the Native American tribes, or groups of American Indians who were living on the land.

There were 33 people in the expedition when left the area later to become Hartford, Illinois. Illinois is in the central part of the U.S.; it’s where the City of Chicago is. They left on May 14, 1804. They followed the Missouri River westward, or towards the west.

Throughout the expedition, they formed relationships with many Native American tribes and nations. In most cases, the Native Americans helped them. The expedition members probably would have died without their help finding food and a place to sleep – shelter. However, there were also many times when Lewis and Clark almost fought with Native American tribes, especially the Sioux (Sioux).

They spent their first winter near what is now Washburn, North Dakota. North Dakota is just west of Minnesota, on the Canadian – or now on the Canadian border. While they were there, they met a French fur trapper and his slave wife. A “slave” is someone you own as property. This “fur trapper” was a person who trapped animals, or caught animals in order to kill them and then to sell their “fur,” or their skin and soft, warm hair that grows on it. The fur trapper’s wife was a Native American woman – a girl really; her name is somewhat controversial. People have different spellings and pronunciations for it. The closest is probably something like “Sacagawea,” most Americans pronounce it “Sacagawea,” which is almost certainly not correct. The spelling that has been agreed upon for most scholars – most historians, and by the official documents is (Sacagawea). Even though she was traveling with a young baby, she helped the expedition a great deal. She was one of their primary translators, since she spoke with some of the Native American tribes. She also shared her knowledge about how to survive in this new territory. She’s one of the names that most Americans know from this period of history. She was what we might call the “go between,” the person in between the two cultures who helped the white men, the Americans, deal with, talk with, communicate with the Native American tribes. She has a place in American history similar to Pocahontas, who became the wife of one of the early Americans “settlers,” or people who came from Europe to North America. She was also considered the “go between,” the person who was a cultural “broker,” we might call her, someone who helps both sides understand each other. So, Americans have a very positive view of the woman they call Sacagawea.

The expedition spent its second winter near what is now Astoria, Oregon. They had reached the Pacific Ocean. There was not, unfortunately, a water route, a series of lakes and rivers that connected the Louisiana Purchase Territory with the Pacific Ocean. However, they were quite successful in showing that it was possible to go across this long distance. It’s important to understand, also, that the expedition was going into territory that was not part of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase is only what is now the central part of the U.S. This area in the Northwest – modern-day Washington and Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia – this area was not American territory, and in fact, some people say that one of the purposes of the Lewis and Clark mission was to make sure that that they knew about this area so that the British didn’t get there first.

The expedition began its trip back home in March of 1806. The group split up for a while on the return journey to explore different areas. “To split up” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to form two small groups. While they were separated, both groups experienced problems with the Native American tribes, but they were able to “reunite,” to come back together in August of that year. Unfortunately, when the groups reunited, one of the men thought Lewis was an animal and ended up shooting him in the leg!

The amazing thing is that almost all of the original 33 explorers made it back to St. Louis, Missouri by September 23, 1806. Of course there were many injuries and illnesses, but only one man died on the expedition, and that was because of appendicitis, not because of anything directly related to the expedition.

One of the reasons the Lewis and Clark Expedition became famous in American history was because of a journal that Lewis and Clark kept. A “journal” (journal) is a small book where you write down what happens every day, and Lewis and Clark kept a journal. They took measurements of things; they drew maps, more than 140; they recorded the existence of more than 200 plants and animals that were previously unknown to western scientists, and they mentioned more than 70 Native American tribes. So, there was a scientific benefit from this expedition, as well as a cultural and perhaps even a military one. Now the United States knew how to get, or at least one way to get into the area between the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Ocean.

Lewis and Clark traveled more than 8,000 miles during their two-and-a-half-year expedition; they used horses, boats, and sometimes just walking. Overall, the expedition was a great investment by the U.S. government; it was their first expedition. It cost about $40,000, or less than a new Mercedes-Benz! They not only laid claim to the new territory and explored the land, but it also encouraged other Americans to begin moving into these new territories, to begin moving westward, which is one of the great themes of American history in the 19th century.

The expedition, some people say, “underlies,” or forms the foundation or basis of what became known as “manifest destiny,” the idea that the United States was “destined,” was intended by God to cover the entire North American continent, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. We don’t have time to talk about the idea of manifest destiny here, but it was very powerful in American politics in the 19th century.

Today, there are many statues and monuments to Lewis and Clark along the route – along the path that they took for their expedition. There were also many special events during the “bicentennial” or 200th anniversary of the expedition, from 2003 to 2006. There’s a college named after Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon; it’s called Lewis and Clark College. Imagine that!

Now let’s turn to our series on famous authors. Today we’re going to talk about Anne Rice, who has written in many different “genres” or styles or types of writing. She’s a very popular American author; not considered one of our best authors, but she has sold a lot of books.

Anne Rice was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1941. She was named by her parents Howard Allen, which is a very unusual name for a girl; Howard is normally a boy’s or a man’s name. But Rice began calling herself as Anne at an early age, and that was probably a good thing since it would have been very confusing for most people if her name had remained Howard.

Her first novel, and perhaps her most famous one, was Interview with the Vampire, which was published in 1976. It was later made into a movie starring Tom Cruise. A “vampire” (vampire) is a dead person who drinks the blood of other humans and animals by biting their necks. Obviously, vampires are not real, although I sometimes think that my neighbor is a vampire. It’s possible; he goes out at night a lot. Hmm. Well, we talked about vampires in English Café 227, so I won’t talk about it too much here. Rice’s book became the first of a series of books called the Vampire Chronicles. A “chronicle” is a story that takes place over a long period of time. She also wrote several books about “witches,” women who have magical powers, especially powers to do bad things.

In 2005, she made a very radical change in her career, we might call it an “abrupt” (abrupt) or sudden change, when she announced that she was going to write only for the Lord, for Jesus. She wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and one other book about the life of Jesus Christ and she plans on writing another book in that series later this year, in 2011. So, she started writing about vampires, and she ended – or is coming to the end of her career by writing about Jesus Christ, the founder the Christian religion.

Anne Rice was raised a Catholic, but she has had an off-and-on relationship with the Catholic Church throughout her life. An “off-and-on relationship” is something that sometimes works well, but sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes when people are dating they have an on-and-off relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend: sometimes they love them, sometimes they hate them. Anne Rice has an off-and-on relationship with the Catholic Church, meaning that sometimes she appears very religious in her career, and other times she is no longer wanting to be associated with the Church. In fact, she left the Catholic Church when she was 18 years old, but after some medical problems and surgery she returned to the Church in 2005, although she continued to disagree with some of its teachings.

Then, in 2010, just five years later, she renounced Catholicism, or the religion of the Catholic Church. “To renounce” (renounce) means to say that you no longer believe in something or want to be part of something. She says she continues to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but she does not want to be part of organized Christianity.

Many people are fascinated by her religious views. Her books are also very popular and, as I mentioned, have been made into movies. Her vampire novels, however, are almost certainly what she will be remembered for, regardless of her relationship with the Church or with Christianity.

Rice is one of the best-selling novelists in the United States, or has been over the last 34 or 40 years. She has not been considered a great writer, but she has been a very popular one.

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

Nam (Nam) from Vietnam wants to know how we use the following three words: “generate,” “make,” and “create.” “To generate,” “to create,” and “to make” can all mean to cause something to exist; before there was nothing and then suddenly there is something. Well, there’s always something; it changes into a different form perhaps.

“Generate” causes something to exist, and it is used typically in math, science, and computer science. For example you might to say, “I’m going to use my computer and try to generate some possible answers to this math problem.” Or, “The nuclear power plant generates electricity.” It produces it; it makes it; it causes it to exist.

“Create” can also mean to cause to exist. Usually it is used, however, in art, religion, and what we might call the “social sciences,” things like sociology or psychology. “Some people believe God created the universe in six days.” God created it; He brought it into existence; He caused it to exist.

“Make” is used, also, to mean to cause something to exist, but it’s used more generally, more commonly. “Shaun made a wonderful dinner.” Or, “The builders made a beautiful house.” You could say, “Shaun created a wonderful dinner,” but that wouldn’t be the normal expression you would hear.

“Make” has a couple of additional uses. One is to cause something to happen. For example: “I’m going to make a phone call to my aunt.” “I’m going to make an appointment with my doctor.” What you are doing is you are causing something else to happen. You’re going to phone your aunt; you’re going to call your doctor and make the appointment. The appointment will come into existence in a way; it will happen because of what you are doing. “Make” can also mean to cause an action: “The boss made me stay late today.” I was forced to; I did not have a choice.

The best word to use when you’re not sure which one of these to use is “make,” because you can use it for almost all of the same sentences that you would perhaps be able to use “create” and “generate.” “Generate” is probably the least common of the three, and is used typically only in talking about math or science or computer science issues, or to talk about power – electricity, that sort of thing.

Tzu-Ling (Tzu-Ling) from Taiwan wants to know the meaning of an expression, “a tad off target.”

A “tad” (tad) means a very small amount, a little bit, or somewhat. “I’m a tad tired right now” means I’m a little tired right now. “Tad” isn’t a common word; you won’t hear it that often in conversation, but you might.

“To be off target” can mean to be not correct, to be inaccurate, to be mistaken about something. “We thought the building would cost 100 million dollars, but we were off target.” We were wrong, it cost a lot more than that. “Off target” can also be not what you expected, not what you wanted. “The man’s jokes making fun of women were off target,” since the women didn’t find them very funny. So, we put these two together, “tad” and “off target,” and we get something that is a little bit off target.

The opposite of “off target” is “on target.” “That movie review was right on target (or simply ‘was on target’) when it described the acting as terrible.” That’s the opposite of “off target.”

A “target” is typically something that you shoot at with a gun for fun. Often it has circles, what we would call “concentric” circles, one circle outside of another circle, and then another circle outside of that, and so forth. It’s sometimes black and white, with circles alternating between black and white, and you try to get into the middle of the target. Target is also a popular store in the United States, and the symbol for Target is the other kind of target that I was just describing, the kind of that you shoot at. That does not mean that you should shoot at the Target store, however, if you come to the U.S., especially since my sister-in-law and my niece work for Target, my niece who’s getting married in a few months, so please try not to shoot her!

Mario (Mario) in Italy wants to know what a “run-on sentence” is. Well, a sentence in English has a subject and a verb: “I walk.” “He hit the ball.” “The neighbors’ children are screaming again.” Those are all sentences with subjects and verbs.

You can sometimes have a more complicated sentence. You could have something such as “I ran to the store and my brother called me on my cell phone.” It’s putting two sentences together. We call those two parts of that one long sentence a “clause.” A clause is something that could be a complete sentence. A “run-on sentence” is a sentence that has two or more of these clauses – technically they’re called “independent” clauses – and is considered a sentence that goes on too long, so that by the time you get to the end of it you forgot how it started.

Run-on sentences often have no punctuation or they don’t have a proper “conjunction,” a word to join up the two clauses that are in the sentence. For example: “It is nearly seven o’clock we cannot get to the store before it closes.” Well, this sentence is a run-on sentence because it’s missing a conjunction to connect the two parts – the two clauses in the sentence. “It was nearly seven o’clock,” that’s one clause; “we cannot get to the store before it closes,” that’s the second clause. You could correct this by saying “It is nearly seven o’clock and we cannot get to the store before it closes,” or you could separate them into two separate sentences.

As a general rule, a run-on sentence is considered grammatically incorrect and a sign of poor writing. Occasionally, however, it’s used in literature and may be used for a specific purpose in literature. Think of the famous Irish author James Joyce, who had sentences that went on and on without a period for many, many lines. So, sometimes they’re used for a specific purpose. But overall, you should avoid run-on sentences, sentences that go on too long, or don’t have the proper punctuation or the proper use of a conjunction.

The expression “to run on” is also used in other circumstances. It means to continue to go longer and longer and longer; the idea is usually too long. “The movie ran on for three hours.” It was way too long; it kept going and going and going when you thought it was going to stop – kind of like this Café!

If you have a question or comment you can e-mail us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California, you know who I am. 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.

expedition – a long, often dangerous, journey, to explore an unfamiliar area and to gather information

* In the movie, scientists sent a group of people on an expedition to the center of the Earth.

corps – a group of people working together to accomplish something

* Our corps of software engineers is working day and night to find a solution to the problems our customers reported.

to lay claim to – to say that something belongs to oneself and that no one else can have it or own it

* Cherise lays claim to being the only woman to have climbed this mountain, but I’m not sure I believe her.

navigable – passable; for a sea or body of water to be able to be traveled by boat or ship; passable; able to be traveled

* This lake may be navigable by small boats, but not by a ship of this size.

fur trapper – a person who catches animals to kill them and to sell their fur (the skin and soft, warm hair that grows on it)

* Fur trappers in this area trap beavers for the making of fur coats.

to split up – for two people or groups to no longer remain or travel together and to go in separate directions

* If we’re to find our lost dog before it gets dark, we need to split up so we can search more streets in this neighborhood.

journal – a small book one writes in to record one’s thoughts, actions, and/or experiences; a written record one keeps of one’s thoughts and life events

* Cynthia’s journal included her most secret thoughts and wishes for her future.

manifest destiny – the idea that the United States was intended by God to include the area of land in North American from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

* Many Native Americans were killed as Americans, who believed in manifest destiny, claimed more and more land for the country.

bicentennial – 200th anniversary; 200 years after an event has taken place

* The United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976.

vampire – a dead person who drinks the blood of other humans and animals by biting their necks

* In the movies, vampires often have long teeth used to drink their victims’ blood.

off-and-on relationship – a relationship that exists sometimes and not other times; for something to be true sometimes and not other times

* Max and Fanny had an off-and-on relationship over eight years before they finally got married last year.

to renounce – to say that one no longer believes in something or wants to be part of something

* Myung renounced his membership in the male-only golf club when his daughter asked him why she couldn’t become a member when she grew up.

to generate – to cause something to exist; to cause something to happen

* Did your sales presentation generate any interest in our new products?

to create – to cause something to exist; to cause something to happen

* Salil created a controversy when he said that he would no longer wear shoes to work.

to make – to cause something to exist; to cause something to happen; to cause an action

* Manny didn’t know how to make cookies for the party, so he bought some at the bakery.