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314 Topics: Famous Songs: “Kumbaya”; Crater Lake National Park; free time versus spare time; at the end versus in the end; booking versus reservation

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 314.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 314. 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. You can download a Learning Guide for this episode. You can do that by becoming a member of ESL Podcast and helping support our work.

This Café, we’re going to talk about another famous song – famous American song, “Kumbaya.” We’re also going to talk about another one of our national parks here in the United States, Crater Lake National Park in the state of Oregon. 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 songs. Today we’re going to talk about a song named “Kumbaya.” The word “kumbaya” (kumbaya) doesn’t actually mean anything. You might read or hear some people say that it is an African word, a word from a language in Africa that was brought over to the United States by the slaves. However, most experts think that the word doesn’t have any particular meaning, at least not before it became part of the song.

“Kumbaya,” the song, is what we would call a “spiritual.” A “spiritual” is a religious song; in this case, it was a song created in South Carolina – the state of South Carolina, located in the southeastern part of the United States. A spiritual, in general, is a religious song that was often sung by African American or black slaves, or their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, what we could refer to more generally as their “descendants.”

Most spirituals are sung without instruments, at least originally they were, and they were passed down orally. When we say “orally” we mean by voice or by speech, not written down on a piece of paper. Of course, many of the slaves were not literate; they couldn’t read and write, as was true with the majority of humankind throughout history. The spirituals were passed down. To say something was “passed down” means that a story or a song or information is told by older people – people like me – to younger people so that the next generation, the children will learn these stories or these songs or this information. The phrase is also sometimes used to refer to things that are inherited, that you get from your father or your grandfather – physical things, that is.

“Kumbaya” was a popular spiritual song in the 1930s, but it became much more popular, more widely popular we could say, in the 1960s, so popular that some people would use it as a campfire song. A “campfire” (campfire – one word) is a large fire that you build outdoors when people are camping, when they are sleeping in tents outside of any house or building. A campfire is a place where you could sit around at night, with a big fire in the middle, and you would be talking and singing. It’s pretty common in certain places where people go camping to have a campfire, and to sit around the campfire and talk and eat and, in this case, sing.

“Kumbaya” for me, however, is not related to a campfire song. Rather, this was a song that was popular in some churches in the 1960s and 70s. I don’t know how popular it was; it was a song that was sung at the church that I went to, which was not a church with a large number of African Americans. It is sometimes associated nowadays with the 1960s and people we would call the “hippies,” who believed in peace and love, John Lennon, that sort of thing – although I don’t think John Lennon would ever have sung “Kumbaya.” Anyway, in my memory it is certainly associated with some horrible days spent listening to the song while in church, horrible not because it was in church but because it was this song. You can tell I don’t really like the song very much, but I’m going to sing it to you anyway just because it is a song that is part of American popular culture now.

Here is the song, and it’s an extremely simple song. There are different versions of it, but the basic song is very simple. It is, as you’ll see, a song with religious content. It talks about “my Lord,” usually referring in the Christian religion to Jesus. So here we go:

Kumbaya, my Lord,
Kumbaya, my Lord,
Kumbaya, my Lord,
Oh, Lord, kumbaya.

Pretty exciting, huh?

There are basically three, maybe four words: “kumbaya, “lord,” “my,” and the interjection “oh.” People, however, change the song, so they add different phrases. Here’s a typical, popular example. Most of these replace “Kumbaya, my Lord” with “Someone’s (and then some verb – some action) Lord.” So, “Someone’s singing Lord,” or “Someone’s laughing Lord.”

Someone’s laughing Lord,
Someone’s laughing Lord,
Someone’s laughing Lord,
Oh, Lord, kumbaya.

Doesn’t it just make you want to take a gun and put it to your head and shoot?!

There are other verses that change, as I say, the words slightly. Could be “Someone’s praying,” “Someone’s crying,” and so forth. There’s a version that is often taught to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; I talked about the Boy Scouts in ESL Podcast number 709.

Some people think it has a calming effect, singing this song. When we say someone feels “calmer” we mean they feel more relaxed, less stressed out. People sometimes sing it while swaying back and forth. “To sway” means to keep your feet in one place but move your upper body back and forth, from side to side. Some people, as I mentioned, sing the song almost as a prayer, as it was when it was sung in church.

We’ll leave church now, and go instead out into nature. We talked about camping and campfires. Our next topic is a place where you might go camping, and that’s Crater Lake National Park. We talked about national parks in several of our previous Cafés. These are parks that are owned and operated by the national government, so anyone can go there, although they aren’t always free. Usually it costs money to get into the national park even though it is owned by the government.

Crater Lake National Park is found in the state of Oregon, in southern Oregon. Oregon is a state just north of California and just south of Washington, in what we would call the Pacific Northwest, since it is in the northwest part of the United States on the Pacific Ocean. It’s called Crater Lake because the lake is, in fact, a large crater. A “crater” (crater) is basically a large hole in the ground that was created when a meteor, a large rock from outer space, hit the ground and created this hole. The moon, for example, has many craters or low areas.

I said craters are created by meteors, I should really say they’re sometimes created by meteors. Crater Lake is not actually a crater created by a meteor; it’s what we would call a “volcanic” crater, technically the word is a “caldera” (caldera). A “volcano,” you may know, is a mountain that erupts; that is, sends up very hot material up from underground into the air. Crater Lake was created by a volcano that erupted more than 7,500 years ago. What happened, we think – we don’t have any actual YouTube video of it – but what happened was that the earth that was above the hot material fell back in, sort of like the mountain collapsed and created this big hole in the earth – this crater. Over time – over many years, the crater filled with water from rain and melted snow and eventually created this lake, which we now see in southern Oregon.

Crater Lake is a very deep lake – it’s a deep hole. It is at its deepest point 1,949 feet; that’s 600 meters deep. We’re talking deep, people! This makes it the deepest lake in the United States, but not the deepest lake in the world. It is the ninth deepest lake in the world. Because it is a crater lake, there aren’t any streams that bring water to the lake, no rivers that go into the lake or out of the lake. Water enters the lake only when it rains or when snow melts. Water leaves, of course, through the process of evaporation, where the send shines on it and the liquid water turns to vapor or gas.

President Theodore Roosevelt, who we talked about a few weeks ago in English Café number 300, established or created Crater Lake as a National Park in 1902. It is the only national park in the state of Oregon. Today, it is a popular tourist destination; that is, many people go to visit it. Maybe they sit around the campfire singing “Kumbaya” – I hope not!

You don’t have to go camping if you go to Crater Lake. I, as you may know, am not a camper. I believe, as I may have mentioned on a previous Café, that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who like to camp and those who don’t, and you should never marry anyone who is on the other side. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t like to camp either.

Getting back to Crater Lake, you can stay, fortunately, at something called the Crater Lake Lodge (lodge). A “lodge” is basically a big hotel that you can stay at while you are going to the national park. A lot of big parks have these lodges – these large hotels that were at one time very luxurious, very expensive. Some of them still are expensive.

There’s a road that goes around the lake at Crater Lake National Park that you can drive on or ride your bicycle on; it’s called the Rim Trail. A “rim” (rim) is the top part of something, often something that is round. We can talk about the rim of a can, which would be the very top of the can, around in a circle. In this case, we’re talking about the rim of the crater, which is this circle that goes around the lake, if you will. Rim Trail is a 33-mile loop that goes all the way around the lake. You can’t actually drive down to the lake, but you can hike down to the lake; you can walk on what are called “hiking trails.” I should mention that “trail” (trail) is like a little path; it’s a place where you can walk or bike. We talk about bike trails in a outside area, in a park for example. It’s an area – a small area that is long and that you can walk on or bike on.

People can also take boat rides and visit the two islands in the lake. The boats had to be taken to the lake by helicopter, since there aren’t any roads down to the lake.

Another activity you can do at Crater Lake is fish. But because there are no streams or rivers that go and out of the lake, these fish are not what we would call “indigenous.” “Indigenous” (indigenous) is an animal that belongs or is from a certain place. But because Crater Lake is not a lake in the traditional sense of one that is formed by rivers or streams, there are no indigenous fish in the lake. Instead, people have put fish in there; we call this “stocking” the lake. When a lake is stocked (stocked) we mean that someone has put live fish in there so other people can take it out and kill it. So, strange system, but…uh…people don’t stock this lake anymore, but there are still some fish that live there.

Crater Lake has a beautiful, deep blue color; some people call it very picturesque. When we describe something as “picturesque” (picturesque) we mean it is very beautiful, it is extremely beautiful in a perhaps surprising or impressive way. But because it is difficult to get to Crater Lake, it is up in the mountains where there is a lot of snow, the roads to Crater Lake are sometimes blocked. We would say that sometimes they are “impassable.” “Passable” means you could go through the road – on the road. The prefix “im” (im) means not, in this case, so it is not passable. Often, you cannot go there between November until June in the following summer. But during summer months, the snow melts, and the park is very popular, so popular it can be difficult to get reservations to go camping or to stay at the lodge. So if you’re going camping there, be sure to call ahead – call in advance. You won’t see me camping there, but you can come and meet me at the bar in the lodge, where I’ll be sitting inside, enjoying the view of the wonderful nature from my window!

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

Our first question comes from Calderon (Calderon). I’m not sure where Calderon is from, perhaps from Spain. In any case, the question has to do with the two expressions using the word “time”: “free time” and “spare time.”

Something that is “spare” (spare) can mean two things, somewhat opposite. One, it can mean more than what you need. For example, many cars – most cars have an extra tire, the round wheel that goes on the car, in the back of the car. That’s an extra tire; we call it the “spare tire,” it’s more than what you need. We have an expression: “I have time to spare” means I have extra or additional time, and so that’s what the expression “spare time” means, time that is free, time that you don’t have anything else planned. So, “free time” and “spare time” mean the same thing.

Now, “spare” can also mean somewhat the opposite; it can mean limited or thin, under very strict control. This use is not as common; you will find it sometimes in writing. For example: “He’s on a spare diet.” That means he’s not eating very much food. But the more common use of “spare” is extra, and so “spare time” and “free time” are basically the same thing, time, perhaps, after your work or on the weekends when you don’t have anything planned to do.

Hossein (Hossein), from another mystery country, wants to know the difference between two expressions that use the word “end.” The first question had to do with “time,” this question has to do with “end.” The expressions are “at the end” and “in the end.”

“At the end” can mean after a series of other events, especially in a story. “What happened at the end of the book?” Or, “What happened at the end of the movie Titanic?” The answer: the ship sinks. That’s what happens. I’m sorry if I ruined the movie for you!

“At the end” can also mean at the end point of a thing or place. We sometimes talk about the end of the street. “There’s a strange house at the end of the street,” that would be the very last house on the street. Or, “There is a beautiful diamond that is hanging at the end of the necklace.” A “necklace” is a piece of jewelry you put around your neck; it’s like a long string, and there often is something on that.

The phrase “in the end” can mean really the same as “at the end,” at least the first meaning that we gave, after a series of events. You could say, “What happens at the end of the story?” Or, “What happens in the end?” Normally, if you say “in the end” you don’t add what “the end” is of; you don’t say “the end in the end of the story.” For whatever reason, we say “at the end of the story.” So if you say “in the end,” that’s it. You don’t add anything after that; you understand what you’re talking about.

Usually, “in the end” is used when we are talking about real life, things that happen to you or to your brother or to your friend. “At the end” is used more for books and movies. Why? Is there some logic? No, not really. Language sometimes develops a certain way for reasons we don’t always understand. So I may say, for example, “I went to the store yesterday and I was trying to buy some milk and I didn’t find any. In the end, I decided to buy Coca-Cola and drink that instead.” After these things happened, in the end, I decided to do something else. So that’s how we might use that expression “in the end,” versus or compared to “at the end,” which would be more common in talking about a book, a movie, or a television show – or a podcast for that matter!

Finally, Mohammad (Mohammad), who is actually from a country, Saudi Arabia in this case, wants to know the difference between “bookings” (bookings) and “reservations.” Both “booking” and “reservation” are used to talk about arranging the use of a space or a service at a specific time in the future. Often this is something done by email or by letter, but it can be done by phone as well. We will typically use the verb “to make.” “I need to make a reservation.” Or, “I made a booking last night at the hotel.”

“Booking” is not quite as common as “reservation” when we’re talking about things used at a hotel or for a car rental; “booking” is more common in other English-speaking countries. But in the United States, in American English, “reservation” is the word that we would use. You’ll sometimes see “booking.” “Booking” in the U.S. is more often used when we’re talking about a musician, or a famous speaker, or someone who wrote a book and is giving talks or speeches or lectures about it. That is something we might describe as a “booking.” “The musician has a booking in Milwaukee next week.” In that example, we could also use the word “gig” (gig). That’s how the people who have bookings will talk about them. If you are giving a speech or you are performing in a concert or at a concert, you might say, “I have a gig tonight,” I am going to be performing somewhere. A “gig” is usually a kind of performance.

Now, although “reservation” is more common, much more common than “booking” in the United States to describe this act of arranging to use something such as a rental car, a hotel, an airline ticket, we do use the verb “to book” in talking about making a reservation. So instead of saying, “I need to make a reservation,” you could say, “I need to book a flight to New York,” “I need to book a hotel room in Miami.” I’m going to reserve a hotel room. I’m going to buy a ticket, or make a reservation for a flight. So as a verb, we do use “book” to mean something the same as to make a reservation. You can also say, “to reserve,” but “to reserve” as a verb would be more often used, for example, for a table at restaurant. “I’m going to reserve a table for six tonight, because I have friends going with me to a new restaurant.” “I’m going to make a reservation for six.” “I need to book a table for six.” All of those mean the same thing.

If you have a question, and a country from which you are, you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

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.

spiritual – a type of religious song created by African American slaves in the United States

* When I hear this spiritual sung in church, I feel uplifted and inspired.

to pass down – for stories, songs, information to be shared by older people with younger people, so that the next generation remembers those stories, songs, and information and can pass it along to the next generation

* Julian’s father passed stories of life in early America that his grandfather had told him.

campfire – a large fire that is built outdoors so that people can enjoy nature, usually at night

* We sat around the campfire telling ghost stories late into the night.

calming effect – causing others to feel more relaxed or calm

* The baby’s father’s voice has a calming effect on her every time she’s upset and crying.

to sway – to move one’s body side-to-side without moving one’s feet

* Daniel must have had too much to drink. He’s swaying and might fall down.

crater – a low area in the Earth’s surface, sometimes created when a very large rock from outer space hits the ground

* No one knows what caused the large crater in the farmer’s field.

volcano – a mountain that erupts (pushes out with a lot of force) sending very hot material up from underground into the air

* If you visit Hawaii, you can you visit and walk on active volcanoes.

lodge – a large building, usually made from wood and often in a mountain area, where people meet or stay

* Sandy invited her friends to spend the weekend at her parents’ mountain lodge.

rim trail – a path that one can walk or travel on around the top part of a low area in the Earth’s surface, such as a crater

* If you’re afraid of heights, you may not want to walk along the rim trail.

indigenous – belonging to a particular place or is from a particular place

* These flowers are not indigenous to this area and require a lot of work to keep them growing.

picturesque – beautiful to see, especially in a surprising and impressive way

* The picturesque view from the top of this hill makes it a perfect place to build a house.

impassable – impossible to travel along or over a place; for a place to be in a condition that doesn’t allow someone to walk or to travel along or through it

* The rains washed mud down the mountain and made these roads impassable.

free time – time that is not already being used; time that can be used for fun or other activities not related to work

* In his free time, Jamie likes to paint and draw.

spare time – time that is not already being used; time that can be used for fun or other activities not related to work

* I know you’re interested in cars. If you have any spare time, come by my house and I’ll show you a new one I’m working on.

at the end – after a series of events, especially in a story; at the end point of a thing or place

* At the end of the movie, does the hero save the world and get the girl?

in the end – after a long time; after a series of events

* The negotiations lasted for weeks, but in the end, the two sides came to an agreement.

booking – an arrangement or a written record to use a space or service at a particular time in the future

* If there aren’t enough bookings for this tour, we’ll have to cancel it.

reservation – an arrangement or a written record to use a space or service at a particular time in the future

* When Lydia arrived at the hotel, the clerk couldn’t find the reservation she had made weeks before.

What Insiders Know
Animal Sounds in English

Every language represents animal sounds in different ways. There is a word for the sound that an animal makes and then a written version of what that sounds like, using words and letters to represent it. For example, a “rooster” (male chicken) “crows” when the sun appears in the morning and the sound that it makes is “cock-a-doodle-doo.” When we “imitate” (try to be like) a sound with written language, it is called “onomatopoeia.”

Below is a list of animals commonly found in the U.S., with the name of the sound it makes and its onomatopoeia. Sometimes, the name of the sound and its onomatopoeia are the same.

Animal Name Sound What it Sounds Like (Onomatopoeia)
bird chirp or tweet chirp or tweet
cat meow or purr meow or purr
chicken cluck cluck
cow low moo
dog bark woof
frog croak ribbit
goat/sheep/lamb bleat baa
horse neigh or whinny neigh or whinny
lion/tiger roar or growl roar or growl
mouse squeak squeak
pig oink or snort oink oink
wolf howl howl