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349 Topics: Migrant Farming in the U.S.; American Cities: Palm Springs, CA; patronizing versus condescending; to right every wrong; to belong to versus to belong with

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 349.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 349. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this Café, we’re going to talk about migrant farming in the United States, people who work on different farms and move from one farm to another throughout the year. Then we’ll continue our series on American cities, focusing on another city here in California, Palm Springs. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

This Café begins a look at migrant farming in the United States. A “migrant” (migrant) normally is a person that moves from one place to another. We also can talk about migrant animals, who move from different parts of an area or a country or even a continent to other parts of that continent or area. Here, I’m using the word to talk about a person, however. You have heard the word “immigrant,” which describes someone who moves from one country to another. A “migrant” is someone who moves within a country, in one single country. But more specifically, when we use this term in the United States, it refers to a worker, a person who works, usually with their hands, on a farm. And, a migrant worker works on farms, many of them here in California or in the southwest, where they work on a farm for a few weeks or a few months and then they move to another farm. They move from one farm to another, usually harvesting or planting crops. “Crops” (crops) is anything that is food that you grow in the ground. “To plant” means to put seeds down so that the plants grow. “To harvest” means that when the food is ready you go out and you take it from the ground – from the plants. Usually we say you “pick it” (pick), and that’s harvesting it. That’s bringing it in so that you can sell it to someone else. The migrant farmers – the migrant workers are not the people who own the land, they just work for different farmers.

The phrase usually refers, as I mention, to people who are doing what we call “manual labor,” working with their hands – with their bodies. They’re not like me, with an easy job sitting at a computer or standing in front of a microphone. They’re using their hands, their muscles, their backs, their legs to do physical labor – physical work. Many migrant workers in the United States are not here legally – they’re from other countries, many from Mexico – who are working for a very low wage – a very low amount of pay.

In the earliest part of American history, of course, we had what was called “slave labor.” A “slave” was someone who was bought and sold as property. But the slaves, who worked in large farms in the South called “plantations,” were people that you didn’t have to pay because slavery was legal at that time, and they could just buy and sell the slaves as they needed them, and that provided a very inexpensive – a very cheap form of labor. After the American Civil War, in the middle of the 19th century, slavery became illegal. But American farmers and American businesses still wanted to have labor that wasn’t expensive, so laborers came from other countries. Many came from Mexico, some from the Philippines, from China – China was actually one of the first sources of cheap labor, especially in the western part of the United States – but also from countries in Europe.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many Americans couldn’t find regular jobs and so they became migrant workers, competing against foreign workers for some of these jobs that were on farms, what we would call “agricultural” jobs. After World War II, the economy got better and so you saw more migrant workers coming to the U.S., especially from Latin America.

In 1942, during the middle of World War II, when many men who used to work on the farms were now soldiers fighting in Europe or in Asia, then-President Franklin Roosevelt signed several laws and agreements with the country of Mexico. These were called, under a single term, the Bracero Program, “bracero” being a Spanish word meaning strong arm. It provided ways for Mexican workers to come to the United States temporarily – for a short period of time – to work in agriculture mostly, but not always. Some of them came and worked in other areas, I believe. I once met a gentleman who – an older gentleman in Mexico, this was 20-30 years ago, who worked in the Bracero Program. He actually worked in my state, in Minnesota. He worked for a couple of years, and then when the war ended, he went back to Mexico. Well, this program provided a way for Mexican laborers to come to the United States legally and work, and most of them did work in agriculture, as I say.

The history of migrant workers in the U.S., however, is not always a happy one. Many migrant workers have been treated very poorly. They receive – or have received very little money, and were often forced to work in unsafe conditions. If they were here illegally, they risked being deported. “To be deported” (deported) means that you are sent back to your country, often because you are in another country illegally or because that country doesn’t want you anymore.

One migrant farm worker, a Mexican American by the name of Cesar Chavez, became very well known for his work in trying to protect migrant laborers. He and another activist – another person interested political organization – created something called the National Farm Workers Association; it’s now known as the United Farm Workers. This was back during the 1960s, when there were a lot of movements for the civil rights of minorities in the United States. Chavez used nonviolent “tactics,” or techniques, to help farm workers start a union and to get better treatment for them. His most famous act, and I remember this growing up, was organizing a boycott against the use of poisonous, what are called “toxic” (toxic), chemicals for growing grapes. The boycott was an effort to make people stop buying grapes. “Grapes” in Spanish is “uva” (uva), and I remember the sign saying, “No uvas” – “No grapes.” Chavez organized a boycott, a “boycott” is to get people to not buy something, and his boycott was fairly successful. He managed to reduce the sale of grapes by about 15 percent, and that means that farmers lost money. Farm owners started to pay attention to the issues that Chavez and other migrant workers wanted addressed, including health and safety issues.

Here in California, we remember Cesar Chavez in a couple of different ways. There are places that are named after him. There’s a street here in Los Angeles, used to be called Brooklyn Street or Brooklyn Avenue, it’s now called Cesar Chavez. We also have a holiday – an official legal holiday in California, Cesar Chavez Day.

Migrant workers continue to play a very important part in the economy of states such as California, and in the national economy. It’s one reason why food can be as cheap as it is, even though people think food is expensive. It would be a lot more expensive if it were not for the work of the migrant farmers.

Now let’s turn to our series on American cities. Today we’re going to talk about the City of Palm Springs, California, which is about, oh, an hour and a half, maybe two hours if you’re driving slowly, west of Los Angeles – west of where I live here. “Palm” is a type of tree. “Springs” are normally a place where water comes up from the ground. You have the City of Palm Springs, which is located, actually, in the middle of a desert. Many people refer to it as a “desert playground.” A “desert” is a place where there isn’t very much water, there’s a lot of sand, it’s very dry, and Palm Springs is definitely in the desert. Is it a playground? Well, a “playground” is normally a place where children go and play in a park or at a school. Palm Springs is more of an adult playground, a place where adults, especially wealthy adults who have a lot of money, might go and play. Palm Springs has always been popular with what we might call “Hollywood types.” “Hollywood” refers to the television and movie industry or business here in the United States. Hollywood is also a part of the City of Los Angeles. Many people think Hollywood is its own city, but it isn’t; it’s just a neighborhood, really, here in Los Angeles. But when we say “Hollywood” we’re not referring typically to the area, but we’re referring to the entire business and all the people in it. So when you say “Hollywood types,” you mean people – “types” here means people – who are associated with Hollywood, who have a lot of money, who may be successful in television, in movies, in podcasting – you know, all of us Hollywood types!

Palm Springs first became popular as a resort – as a vacation area – in the early 20th century. People would go there originally for medical reasons. Doctors thought that the dry heat would be good for people with certain medical conditions. Then beginning in the 1920s, some Hollywood movie stars began to build nice houses in Palm Springs. They created or helped create a new style of architecture, with a lot of glass walls and large swimming pools. Many of these homes have become famous as tourist attractions themselves. There are a lot of artists who have painted pictures of them; I’m thinking especially of David Hockney (Hockney) and his famous paintings of California swimming pools. I don’t know if any of those were in Palm Springs, but they certainly could have been.

Today, Palm Springs continues to be popular as a resort, as a place where you might go for a weekend or for a week, during the wintertime especially. During the summertime, Palm Springs is extremely hot, because it is in the middle of the desert. Palm Springs is and has been popular, also, as a place for people to “retire,” where people stop working towards the end of their life. They go there and they live in Palm Springs. There are a lot of what we call “retirees” (retirees), older people who no longer work, living in Palm Springs. People go to Palm Springs because it has a lot of golf courses, places where you can play golf. You can play tennis there. There are places to go swimming, of course. There are also mountains close to Palm Springs, if you want to go up there. Palm Springs is also home to – it is also the place you will find an international film festival, a place where you can go and watch new movies, where directors and actors go and watch movies that are not yet out into the general public, or have not yet been “released” we would say.

Palm Springs – and I’ve been there a couple of times – has some very nice hotels, some very good restaurants, because there are a lot of rich people there, and where there are wealthy people there are good restaurants, because they will pay for good restaurants. Palm Springs also has a lot of boutiques. A “boutique” (boutique) is a small store that usually sells gifts like perfume, pieces of clothing, jewelry perhaps. Many of the boutiques in Palm Springs are what we could describe as “high-end.” When we say something is “high-end” we mean it’s expensive. Beverly Hills also has a lot of high-end boutiques.

Palm Springs is not a big city. In 2010 there were only 45,000 residents. There are, I’m sure, 45,000 people just in the neighborhood where I live in Los Angeles! But unlike my neighborhood here in Los Angeles, Palm Springs has a lot of famous people who live there, and has often been associated in the past with famous people. Former President Ronald Reagan used to go there. Former President Gerald Ford lived there for many years; he liked to golf and there were a lot of good golf courses there. One of the most famous actors of the 20th century, Bob hope, lived in Palm Springs. In fact, if you go to Palm Springs there’s a Bob Hope Avenue or a Bob Hope Boulevard; I forget exactly what it’s called. There have been other famous people associated with Palm Springs: Shirley Temple, a child actor back in the early 20th century; Ginger Rogers, the dancer and actress; singer Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley himself was often seen in Palm Springs. In fact, some people say he still lives in Palm Springs! I saw him just the other day.

Tourists who go to Palm Springs may or may not see any famous people. It’s like coming to Los Angeles; you might see someone famous, you might not. But if you want to go to a nice desert resort area, if you like golfing or swimming, then Palm Springs would be a nice break – a nice vacation from the big city of Los Angeles.

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

Our first question comes from Parham (Parham) in Canada. Parham wants to know the difference between “patronizing” and “condescending.”

“To patronize” (patronize) means to treat someone apparently friendly; it seems like you’re friendly, but you’re also treating that person as inferior, someone who’s below your level; or perhaps someone who is not sophisticated, who doesn’t know about the world the way you know about the world. “Patronizing” would be the adjective describing the way that you treat that person.

“To condescend” (condescend) – that’s the verb, the adjective would be “condescending” – “to condescend” is even stronger than “to patronize,” it means you very clearly treat this person as being below you – as being inferior to you – even though it seems like you’re being friendly.

“Patronizing” implies – gives the idea that you see this person that you are talking to as being inferior – as being not as good, maybe even a little stupid. “Condescending” is even more negative than “patronizing,” it places greater emphasis on your view that the person you are talking to is very inferior, that you are very important. It isn’t always a friendly attitude, either, although it could be.

I should mention that the verb “patronize” actually has at least two meanings: one is the meaning we gave here, treating someone as your “subordinate,” someone who is inferior to you. “Patronize,” however, can just mean someone who buys something from a store, someone who’s a customer at a store. “I patronize this theater.” I go to this theater. The noun would be “patron,” although “patron” can also mean someone who pays, say, an artist to paint a picture. But, “patronize” normally means to treat someone as though they were inferior to yourself – to you.

Our next question comes from Elke (Elke) from Germany. The question has to do with the expression “right every wrong,” or “right every single wrong.” There are four words there, let’s define each one: “right every single wrong.”

“To right” (right) means or can mean to correct, to fix, or to restore something. Don’t confuse this with (write), also pronounced “write,” but that, of course, means to take a pen or a pencil or something and make a mark on a piece of paper or other surface. Here, it’s (right), and it means to correct something. “A wrong,” as a noun, can be something that is unfair or dishonest or unethical or immoral. It’s something bad; it’s something negative. “To right a wrong,” then, means to somehow fix the situation, to change the situation so that it is no longer unfair or unjust.

We also use the expression “every single” to mean each one, every one; it’s a way of emphasizing. You could just say, “I’m going to right every wrong.” It means the same as “I’m going to right every single wrong,” but “to right every single wrong” is a little more emphatic; it’s a little stronger, if you will. You’re emphasizing that you’re not going to miss anything; you’re going to correct every wrong without missing a single one – without missing even one. It can be used in a lot of different ways: “I’m going to see every single Woody Allen movie ever made.” I’m going to watch all of them – even the bad ones! Some people say Woody Allen makes a good movie every other movie. So you see one good movie, that means his next movie won’t be very good, but the movie after that will be good. I don’t know if that’s true. He’s had some good movies and some not so good movies.

Paolo (Paolo) in Italy wants to know the difference between “to belong to” and “to belong with.” Let’s start with the verb “to belong” (belong).

“To belong” means to be part of or to be a member of something, or to be owned by someone. “This car belongs to me.” “That horse belongs to John Wayne.” “This gun belongs to the policeman.” “Belong” can also be, as I say, part of or member of a group. “I belong to a group of amateur or ham radio operators.” I don’t actually, but I could. “I belong to a group of people who read poetry every Friday night, while drinking wine and burning incense,” you know, that stuff that smells when you – when you burn it. Again, not actually the case, but just an example. Well, you notice in some of my examples I say I “belong to” a group, that means I am a member of, I am a part of that group. But, “belong to” can also be ownership: “That car belongs to me.”

“Belong with” also indicates a relationship between two things or two people, but usually it’s a more equal relationship. If I say, “This microphone belongs to me,” it means I’m the owner; we’re not equal. But if you say, “This belt belongs with this pair of pants,” or, “This belt belongs with this dress,” we’re saying that those two things are part of a single group, that one goes with the other. Or sometimes we use this expression, “to belong with,” when you have something – an object that is supposed to go with other objects, similar objects, and you’re not sure, perhaps, where it goes. “This spoon belongs with the silverware in the drawer.” That’s where it goes, that’s because it’s a member of that group, if you will. Two people could use this expression, too. “You belong with me,” means you and I are part of one group, we should be together. “We belong together,” you could also say, not saying “with.” “We belong with each other” or “we belong together.” That was actually a song by I think – who was that? Rickie Lee Jones? “We belong together,” from her album Pirates, I think sometime in the late70s-early 80s, I don’t remember exactly. It was many years ago!

If you’ve been listening to English for many years and still have questions, email us at eslpod@eslpod.com. We’ll do the best we can to answer as many questions as we can.

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 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

migrant worker – a person who moves from one place to another at different times of year, going to places where there is work available

* In this small farming town, the number of students in schools nearly doubles when migrant workers and their families return to town in May.

manual labor – physical work using one’s hands and body

* Because James sits at a desk at work all week, he enjoys doing some manual labor around his house on the weekends.

slave – a person who is forced to work without receiving payment; a person owned by another person, without the freedom to make his or her own decisions

* Our boss treats us like slaves, making us work nights and weekends without extra pay.

plantation – a very large farm where crops such as sugar, tobacco, and coffee are grown, especially in the southern part of the United States

* The novel Gone With the Wind takes place on a plantation in Georgia.

to deport – to be forced to go back to one’s own country; to be unwillingly returned to one’s original country

* Colin was deported to the United Kingdom when the government found out that he had overstayed his three-month visa.

tactic – an action planned to achieve a specific end; a strategy used to get a specific outcome

* Maybelle may only be eight years old, but she has developed some very effective tactics to get what she wants out of her parents.

boycott – the strategy of stopping the buying and using of a product or service to protest a company or organization’s actions or to change its behavior

* The large shoe company changed its worker policies as a result of the nationwide boycott.

toxic – poisonous; dangerous to the health of humans or animals

* The water around this factory is toxic and has caused a lot of illnesses in the people who live around here.

playground – a place where a particular group of people likes to enjoy itself; an outdoor area at a park or school where children play

* Miami has become a popular playground for people in the music business.

Hollywood types – wealthy and famous people who have successful careers in entertainment, especially in TV and movies

* Our hotel mainly attracts families, but during the summer, we get a few Hollywood types.

high-end – fancy and expensive; the most expensive varieties of a product

* Jared lives in a small apartment in a bad side of town so he can afford his high-end sports car.

boutique – a small store that sells gifts, clothing, and other nice things, usually at very high prices

* Sandra and Luis opened a children’s boutique, selling expensive children’s clothing and toys.

patronizing – an attitude that seems friendly or comforting at first but that also treats the listener as inferior (has lower or less status, ability, etc. than the speaker) and somewhat naive (simple; not sophisticated), oversensitive, or frightened

* Teenagers still have a lot to learn, but they don’t respond well if adults speak to them in a patronizing way.

condescending — a strong attitude showing clearly that one believes the listener is inferior (has lower or less status, ability, etc. than the speaker)

* Marco has had two books published and now speaks to anyone who is not a published author in a condescending way.

to right every wrong – to fix every instance of unfair/unjust, dishonest, or morally wrong action; to correct every injustice that has been done

* Pilar became a lawyer because she wants to right every wrong she sees in her community.

to belong – to be a part of; to be a member of; to be owned by someone

* This red belt belongs to Jackie, and that green hat belongs to Chad.

What Insiders Know
The Permanent Resident Card

The most important document people need if they plan to move to the Unites States is a “Permanent Resident Card,” also known as a “Green Card.” This card is a piece of identification given to an “immigrant” (someone who moves to the United States from another country to live) by the U.S. government and gives the immigrant nearly all of the “rights” (rules and legal support) and “privileges” (benefits and opportunities) that a person born in the United States would have.

There are many ways to get a Permanent Resident Card. The first is through the immigrant’s family. If an immigrant is married to a U.S. “citizen” (someone who officially belongs to a country because he or she was born there or satisfied the requirement for living in and belonging to the country permanently), the parent of a U.S. citizen, or the child of a U.S. citizen, he or she is first in line to receive a Green Card. The number of available Green Cards is “unlimited” (will never run out) for family members of American citizens.

The second way that a person can get a Permanent Resident Card is through their job. Every year, there are a certain number of Green Cards that can be given out to immigrants who work in the United States, depending on what their job or profession is. The greater the need for professionals in that field, the higher they are on the list.

There are many other ways to get a Green Card, but these two reasons are the two most often used methods. No matter what reason a person gives when applying for their Permanent Resident Card, they must all go through the same process of proving that they would be good U.S. citizens. The government looks over the immigrant’s “health records” (history of illnesses or doctors’ visits), their “criminal record” (documents that prove whether a person has been arrested or in prison), and several other types of documents to decide whether or not the person should be allowed to live permanently in the United States.