Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

363 Topics: Cigarette advertising and cigarette icons; how local government works; to assist in versus to assist with; calf versus cub; to hold forth

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 363.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 363. 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 the Learning Guide for this episode by becoming a member of ESL Podcast. You can also take a look at some of our special courses in daily and business English we have on our website, as well as our ESL Podcast Blog.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about cigarette advertising and some famous icons or some famous associations people have with cigarettes in the United States. We’re also going to talk a little bit about how local governments operate in the United States. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

We begin this Café with a discussion of cigarette advertising and what we would call a cigarette “icon.” “Cigarette” (cigarette) is, you probably know, a small, round, usually white paper tube that has tobacco and other chemicals in it that people put in their mouth to smoke. It’s been known for many years that if you smoke cigarettes you can damage or hurt your health; it’s bad for your health. But the big cigarette makers – the big cigarette manufacturers, at least here in the United States, still make a lot of money selling people cigarettes, and there are still a lot of people who smoke although the percentage of people who smoke is less now than it used to be, at least when I was growing.

Cigarettes have been advertised in many different media. Media would include newspapers, television, radio, nowadays Internet. This advertising, in some form of media, has been taking place for hundreds of years. In the United States, in the 1950s and 60s especially, cigarette companies decided to advertise by sponsoring certain television programs. A “sponsor” (sponsor) is when you give money to someone for some activity, and that person says, well, we want to thank this company for sponsoring us – for giving us money. It’s really just another way of advertising, but sponsorship – at least in the old days, back in the 50s and 60s – usually meant a closer association of the television program with this particular company. The stars of the program might say something about the company directly rather than just having an advertisement during the commercials – during the breaks in the program.

Companies also in the 50s and 60s – cigarette companies – came up with some interesting slogans. A “slogan” (slogan) is a phrase that is used in advertising so that you remember it. We sometimes talk about slogans as being “catchy” (catchy). Something that is “catchy” is something that is easy to remember. For example, you may hear a song on the radio, later you’re driving in your car and you start singing that song again or you start humming it. [Jeff hums] That’s the “Macarena,” by the way. [Jeff laughs] Yeah, I know. It’s…it’s terrible, but that’s a catchy tune; that’s a tune that I’ve heard and I remember even when I don’t want to remember it. Well, slogans are expressions – phrases – that can also be catchy. Cigarette companies came up with a lot of catchy slogans in the 50s and 60s that help people remember their particular company. Winston cigarettes, for example had the slogan: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should!” Notice there’s a rhyme there, words that sound the same: “would” and “should.” There was another brand that used the slogan: “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!” Tareyton was the name of the company. Notice they use “us Tareyton smokers,” grammatically it should be “we Tareyton smokers,” but in informal English you often hear “us” in that situation instead of “we.” They would rather fight than switch. I remember this slogan when I was growing up. I’d rather fight, meaning I’d rather punch someone or defend myself with some arms or some gun than switch, than go to a different kind of cigarette. I’d rather fight than switch. I don’t think anyone actually started fighting, but it was a catchy slogan.

Cigarette companies also created some well-known icons. In this context, when we say “icon” (icon) we’re referring to a person or an image that represents something else and that is used as a symbol for something else. One of the most well-known cigarette icons in the United States back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s was the Marlboro Man. Marlboro was a brand of cigarettes, a type of cigarettes sold by a company. Marlboro Man was a rugged “cowboy,” a man whose job it is to ride a horse and work with “cattle,” or cows. Usually we associate cowboys with big hats and boots, riding a horse. Someone who is “rugged” is someone who is strong but simple, not complicated, not fancy. The Marlboro Man was always shown riding a horse somewhere out in the desert or in nature, and always had a cigarette. The Marlboro Man was used in television advertisements; he was used on “billboards,” which are big advertisements you might see by the side of a highway or a freeway. The Marlboro Man was very famous; everyone recognized him. He always had a cigarette. He made cigarette smoking seem very “masculine,” something that a real man would do.

Another cigarette icon, a little later than the Marlboro Man, was Joe Camel. There was another brand of cigarettes: Camel cigarettes. Joe Camel wasn’t a real person; they didn’t use an actor with a photograph, like they did with the Marlboro Man. No, Joe Camel was a cartoon. He was a cartoon “camel,” an animal, who was drawn with something over his head that we would call a “bandana,” and he had sunglasses, and, of course, he was smoking a cigarette. The idea was that Joe Camel was cool, that he was popular, that people accepted him. People criticized companies for using these icons, especially Joe Camel because it was a cartoon, and people thought that the cigarette company was trying to encourage children or young teenagers to start smoking.

By 1970, it was pretty clear to the scientific community that smoking was detrimental (detrimental). “Detrimental” means it was bad for something; in this case, it was bad for your health. Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, or law, which “prohibited” or did not allow advertisements for cigarettes or smoking on television or on radio. So you could no longer advertise cigarettes on television after this law was passed. Later, in June of 2010, just a few years ago, there was another law passed that took these restrictions even further – that is, they made them even more limited. They prohibited cigarette companies from sponsoring or paying for certain cultural events such as concerts, or festivals, or sporting events. Today, cigarette companies in United States are not allowed to advertise on t-shirts, on coffee mugs, or on hats, either. I didn’t realize that until I read that here in our Café notes. I’m rather surprised, but that is, in fact, apparently, the new law.

There have been many laws have tried to restrict or limit cigarette advertising. There have also been laws that have forced the cigarette companies to put certain warnings, certain statements on the actual package – the actual “pack,” we would call it – of cigarettes that says how bad smoking is for you, that smoking is dangerous to your health. There are now some proposals for laws to make this warning even more “explicit,” that is, even more specific, such as “smoking can give you lung cancer,” or “smoking can hurt your heart,” things that are more specific, more explicit about the dangers of smoking so that people would realize how bad smoking is for them.

Do these laws work? Do they actually reduce smoking? Well, they probably have had some effect on decreasing the amount of smoking here in the United States. There have also been lots of laws that limit smoking in restaurants for example, in public buildings, in schools. Here in Los Angeles, you can’t even smoke within 10 feet of the door of a restaurant or a café. So, my guess is it has helped, although there are still many millions of Americans and, of course, millions of people in other countries who still smoke. Sometimes the pleasure of the activity, for some people, is more important than the possible risks and dangers involved.

Okay, if you’ve taken your cigarette break and are ready for our next topic, it is local governments in the United States. We were talking a lot about government laws, now we’re going to talk about how local governments work. When I say “local,” I mean city governments, regional governments, that sort of thing. We have the national government, which we also call the “federal” government. That’s the government in Washington, D.C. for the entire United States: the president, the senators, and so forth. We also have each state having its own government. Each state has a leader called the “governor,” and then each city has a leader, and the leader of a city is called a “mayor.”

In the United States, in addition to cities, we have something sort of between a city and a state. Every state is divided up into smaller regions or sections that we call “counties” (counties). In Louisiana, because of their French heritage – their history – the counties are called “parishes,” but it’s the same idea.

Local government – cities and counties – are usually concerned with issues that are important to the people who live there, things like garbage collection, taking care of traffic, water quality, police, schools, that sort of thing. Local government representatives also work with the state and federal governments in order to solve some of these problems, so they’re not doing it all by themselves.

The leader, as I mentioned before, of a city government is called a “mayor” (mayor). In some cities, they’re called a “city manager.” The mayor is sort of like the president of the city and it’s usually a full-time position, and the mayor, especially in a big city like Los Angeles, has a large staff. Your “staff” (staff) are all the people who work with you. Mayors are expected to give speeches. In some cities, mayors are very powerful; they’re very strong, they have a lot of power.

However, most cities, in addition to having a mayor also have what’s called a “city council” (council). The city council is composed of or consists of representatives, usually from different parts of the city. So the city council is sort of like the representative body, where each part of the city – in most cities – sends a representative, and that city council has a lot of power. In fact, in some cities the city council is more powerful than the mayor. Usually there are about 5 to 10 members of a city council. In a big city like Los Angeles, there may be 25 or 30 councilmen or councilwomen; these are people who are elected. In some cities, they call them “aldermen,” but in most cities they’re called “councilmen” or “councilwomen,” depending on what they are. These are sometimes full-time positions. In smaller cities, they’re part-time positions; in other words, they get paid for doing this, but they often have another job somewhere else. In some cities, it might even be a volunteer position, meaning they’re not paid, but in most cities they are probably paid.

The organization of the city government, between the city council and the mayor, usually works like we have in our state and national governments, where the city council passes a law and then the mayor can either approve or disapprove of the law. That’s also true in our state and national governments. The representative bodies, which we call the “legislature,” votes for a law and then the president, or the governor for a state, can decide whether they’re going to sign the law, approved the law or not. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the basic idea, and that’s how most cities operate as well.

I mentioned earlier there are also counties. Counties are usually larger areas than cities. Usually a county has several cities inside of it – not always, but often. Los Angeles County, for example, has the City of Los Angeles inside of it. It also has the City of Santa Monica, the City of, let’s see, Long Beach, Culver City – many different cities in the County of Los Angeles. I think there is something like maybe 50 or 60 or more cities in the county, so the county’s a big area.

Counties usually don’t have one leader, like a mayor or a governor. Counties more often have what’s called a “board of supervisors,” and this is sort of like a city council but it’s for the whole county, and in some places they’re called “commissioners” – the county commissioners. A “commissioner” is the representative. Sometimes these come from and represent different parts of the county, just like on a city council. Sometimes they are elected at-large. When we say someone is elected “at-large” we mean that everyone in the county votes and they take the top five “vote-getters,” the people who get the most votes. Five to seven is probably about an average number of supervisors or county commissioners that you will find.

Sometimes the jurisdiction of the county overlaps with the jurisdiction of the city. What do we mean by “jurisdiction” (jurisdiction)? “Jurisdiction” refers to the power and authority that an organization – a government organization has over a particular area, usually a physical area. So, the county may have jurisdiction over certain roads. In other words, the county government is responsible for roads in a certain area. However, the city government may also have certain power and certain jurisdictions, and so the counties and the cities have to come to some agreement about things like police, use of water, and traffic laws. Some states give the county certain powers, and they give the cities different powers, so that the two of them aren’t fighting each other. That’s usually the way it works. Just as the federal government sometimes has states make certain decisions and it decides what national decisions need to be made, same thing happens in the county and the city government.

County and city governments have often produced leaders that later become governors and presidents, but not as frequently as you might think. There are some famous mayors who have later been national politicians. But interestingly enough, most of our national leaders – Senator Obama, who became President Obama; Governor Reagan, who became President Reagan; Governor Bush, who became President Bush; Governor Clinton, who became President Clinton – most of these are coming from the governor level and not from the city and state level. Sometimes you start as a city mayor, and then you become governor, but that’s not the typical pattern – at least, it hasn’t been in national politics in recent years.

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

Our first question comes from Ibrahim (Ibrahim) in Egypt. The question has to do with the meaning of two terms: “assist in” and “assist with.” What’s the difference between “assist (assist) in” and “assist with?” Well, “assist,” as a verb, usually means to give help or support to someone, to – we might use the verb – “aide” them. “Could you assist me with this big box?” meaning could you help me with this big box. Or, “I am assisting Professor Gray on her new study.” I am helping her.

“Assist” can also be a noun to mean simply a helpful action. This is less common; you don’t hear “assist” used as often as a noun versus as a verb. It is used in baseball sometimes, when someone throws a ball and one of the other players is declared out; we call that an “assist.” But, “assist” as a noun is not as common as “assist” as a verb.

The difference between “assist in” and “assist with” is actually a little simpler than you might think. “Assist in” is followed by what is called a “gerund” (gerund). We’ve met gerunds before in previous Cafés. Basically a gerund is a verb that acts like a noun, and you usually can form a gerund by adding an “ing” at the end of the verb. So if the verb is “talk” the gerund would be “talking,” you take the verb and you add an “ing.” So the expression “assist in” is followed by a gerund. “I’m going to assist in creating a new podcast.” “I’m going to assist in cooking the food tonight for my family.” “Assist with” is followed by a noun that is not a gerund, so any other kind of a noun. For example, I’m going to assist with the presentation.” “The presentation” is a noun, it’s not a gerund however. “I’m going to assist with the publication of this new book.” You will sometimes hear Americans saying, “I’m going to assist with creating,” using a gerund after “with.” It’s common enough, and most people would find it acceptable even though some grammar books might not like it.

There are other ways of using the verb “assist.” “Assist” can simply be followed by a noun without “in” or “with.” You don’t need, that is, a preposition after “assist”: “I’m going to assist my brother.” If you’re going, in fact, to use a person you will usually not use a preposition: “I’m going to assist the team,” “I’m going to assist the doctor perform this dangerous surgery.” All of those are possible.

Our next question comes from Klenisson (Klenisson), from Brazil originally, now living in the U.S. of A. Klenisson wants to know the difference between “calf” and “cub” (cub).

“Calf” (calf) is what we would call the “offspring” (offspring) of an animal. That is it’s, to use general human terms, it’s the child of an animal; it’s the son and daughter, if you will, of the animal. In this case, the animal is a cow. So when a cow has new baby, we call that baby a “calf.” “Calf” is also, I guess, used for other animals – other mammals (mammals) as well. I did not know this until I looked it up. Antelope, buffalo, camels, elephants, giraffes, and several others also can use this term “calf.”

A “cub” is the same idea; it’s the offspring of an animal, but it’s used with different animals. That term is used for bears most commonly. So to talk about a “bear cub” would be the child or the offspring of a bear, a young bear. “Cub” is often used for other animals as well, a little less common, but a lion cub, you could have a panda cub, you could have a tiger cub, and so forth.

There are many different names for animal babies. I don’t have time to go through them all. I’ll give you a couple of other ones. For certain animals that are born in an egg, and they come out of the egg, we might call them “hatchlings” (hatchlings). That would be used, for example, for certain kinds of birds. Although if it’s a chicken, we would call the baby of a chicken a “chick” (chick). “Chick” is also used informally to refer to a female – to a woman, but here it means the baby of the chicken. I guess we can use that term “chick” also for other birds; I think of it more commonly as being related to the chicken. Another word for a baby animal would be a “pup” (pup). A “puppy,” for example, is the word we use for a dog; A dog has a puppy. A cat – if you really have to have a cat – a cat is a “kitten” (kitten); that would be the offspring of a cat. So you have puppies and kittens, dogs and cats.

Some animals have very specific names for their children – for their babies, I should say. A pig is a “piglet.” A deer is a “fawn” (fawn). A frog is a “tadpole” (tadpole). A goat’s baby would be called a “kid” (kid). A duck would be a “duckling.” A sheep would be a “lamb” (lamb). Well, we could spend a lot of time on this, but I think you get the idea. There isn’t, unfortunately, just one name you can use for all of the animals other than, perhaps, “baby.” You could say it’s a “baby frog,” even though the correct term would be a “tadpole” people would understand what you meant.

From Egypt to Brazil, we now go to Japan, where Mitsuru (Mitsuru) has a question about the expression “to hold forth” (forth). “To hold forth” is a phrasal verb meaning to talk usually to a group of people about your opinion on something. Usually the verb is used when someone stands up and gives a long, boring explanation of their opinion about some topic. It is not commonly used, however; it’s not a common phrasal verb. It is a little more formal; it’s a little, perhaps, more old-fashioned. The more common expression, when we are trying to describe someone who stands up and talks and talks and talks about their ideas, and it’s really dull and it’s really boring – sounds like ESL Podcast! No! The verb that we would more commonly use in place of “hold forth” is “went on.” “He went on and on and on about this disease that he had and his opinion about how to cure it.” “Joe really loves basketball, and he went on and on about his favorite team and why they were going to win the next championship.”

If you have a question or comment, I promise not to go on and on about it, I will try to answer it. Email us at eslpod@eslpod.com. We’ll do our best to answer it here on the Café.

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.

cigarette – a small, round, white paper tube filled with nicotine and other chemicals that people put in their mouth and breathe through when smoking

* Louisa decided to stop smoking cigarettes when she had her first child.

to sponsor – to provide financial support to television programs and other shows and events in exchange for advertising

* McQ Corp. sponsors our sports team each year and in exchange, we wear t-shirts with its name on the back.

slogan – a phrase that is used to advertise a company or its products

* Our store’s slogan is: “No one gives you better service.”

catchy – easy to remember, usually a short piece of music or a phrase; something that remains in people’s minds after hearing or seeing it

* This band’s new song is so catchy that everyone is singing it.

icon – a person or image that represents something else and is widely recognized as a symbol for that thing

* The Hollywood sign is an icon of the city of Los Angeles.

rugged – simple, strong, and determined, and not fancy or refined

* Myoung and June are both very rugged, preferring living in the mountains to living in a city.

detrimental – causing harm to someone or something; bad for someone or something

* Water with dangerous chemicals is detrimental to the health of everyone in this town.

explicit – stated clearly and in detail, with no possibility for confusion or doubt

* Camila gave us explicit instructions on how to find her new house, but they weren’t helpful because they were full of errors.

county – within a state, a smaller area of government and administration, providing some governmental services

* A new county law allows people to keep a few chickens in their backyard, something not allowed before.

mayor – the elected leader of a city; the leader of a city whom people vote for

* The mayor gave a speech giving his support to building the new train system.

city council – a group of people who are elected to represent the people who live and work in the city

* The members of the city council voted to close the community center because the city didn’t have the money to maintain it.

jurisdiction – a person’s or organization’s power and authority to make decisions in a particular area

* Does the New York Police Department have jurisdiction to arrest people in New Jersey?

to assist in – to help or give support; to aid

* Did Maria assist in setting up this room for the concert tonight?

to assist with – to help or give support; to aid

* Many people in our community assisted with the collection of money for the poor.

calf – the young or offspring of a cow or other animals such as a buffalo, camel, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, moose, dolphin, reindeer, rhinoceros, and whale

* The young calf tried to walk on its own for the first time.

cub – the young or offspring of certain animals including a bear, badger, cheetah, fox, hyena, leopard, lion, panda, raccoon, tiger, and walrus

* Don’t try to play with a bear cub. They’re dangerous even when they’re small.

to hold forth – to talk about your opinion, often for a long time and boring others

* Don’t ask Jerome about his favorite basketball team. He likes to hold forth on his favorite players, the best players ever in the game, and the best coaches of all time.

What Insiders Know
Limits on Alcohol Advertising

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, and anyone under this age is not legally allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. To help “enforce” (make sure a rule or law is followed) this law and to discourage “underage” (under the age limit) drinking, limits have been placed on the amount of advertising that beer companies or wine “manufacturers” (makers) can have for their products or their “brand” (company name) in public.

Some businesses have “banned” (not allowed) alcohol advertising all together, while other businesses allow advertisers to have a small amount of space to display their ads. Most alcohol advertisements are “required” (forced) to include some mention of the negative effects of alcohol in their ad, usually in a small statement at the bottom of a poster or read out loud at the end of a television commercial that warns drinkers to “drink responsibly” and to know their limits.

Professional sports is one area where alcohol advertising is very “restricted’ (with many limits). The “National Collegiate Athletic Association,” or “NCAA,” has banned ads for alcohol in “stadiums” (large fields with seats around it where sports games are played) in which “championship games” (games to decide the final winner) are played, and they have also banned the sale of alcohol at these events.

Television commercials featuring advertisements for alcohol is also limited. In recent years, there has been a “movement” (effort by a group) to play more anti-alcohol commercials on television (also known as “public service announcements”), advertising the danger of alcohol use on the body and on the drinker’s life. While these limitations may not completely get rid of alcohol advertisement, people hope that they will at least make people think twice about drinking.