Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

367 Topics: American Authors – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and All the President's Men; Famous Songs – “Over There"; to borrow versus to debit versus to lend versus to loan; using ago with since; ambivalence versus conflict

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast: English Café number 367.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast: English Café episode 367. 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. Take a look at the ESL Podcast Store with additional courses in English as well as our ESL Podcast Blog. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod.

On this Café, we’re going to continue our series on American writers and authors, focusing on two journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who are best known for having written a book – very important in the political life of the United States – “All the President’s Men.” We’re also going to continue our series on famous songs, talking about a popular song from the early part of the 20th century “Over There.” And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

We begin this Café with a continuation of our series on American writers. Today, we’re going to talk about Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. If you grew up as I did or were around in the 1970’s, you will have heard of these two authors – if you were here in the United States, that is. The reason is that they were two journalists who investigated something called the “Watergate Scandal.” We talked about the Watergate Scandal back on English Café number 280, when I talked about President Richard Nixon, so, I won’t go into a lot of detail about it. You can go back and listen to Café 280.

But those of you who aren’t familiar with Watergate, I’ll give you a little background. In 1972, the headquarters or main office of one of our two major political parties – the Democratic party – was located in a building in Washington D.C called the Watergate Building. Well, what happened was that President Nixon had sent some people to go into the Watergate building to break into – to go illegally into - the offices of the Democratic National Committee – the headquarters of Democrats – in order to get information that might be useful in his election campaign, to try to get some negative information about the Democratic Party. Investigators later found that President Nixon had been involved in this scandal and tried to “cover it up.” “To cover up something” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to hide what you have done. A lot of times, politicians get in trouble, especially legal trouble, not necessarily for the things that they do – the bad things they do – but for covering it up, for lying about it, for saying that it wasn’t true. This happened many, many times – it has happened many, many times. President Clinton in the 1990’s lied about some of his involvement with a young woman. This was the real problem – the legal problem. This happens, as I say, many times with politicians where they try to lie about what happened. They try to “cover it up.” And that’s what President Nixon tried to do. Eventually, in 1974, Nixon had to resign or stop being president.

The two people who were considered most responsible for finding the truth about Watergate were these two reporters. Woodward and Bernstein were reporters for the Washington Post, which is the largest newspaper in Washington, D.C., our capital. They wrote a book about their investigation called “All the President’s Men” which was published in 1974 and describes what happened during the Watergate scandal. For example, it describes how they found out about recorded conversations that “implicated” Nixon. The word “implicated” (implicated) means involved, in some sort of illegal or unethical way. When we say, “This implicates someone in a crime” we mean that it connects them, it relates them, it shows evidence of. Woodward and Bernstein found audio recordings or learned about audio recordings that President Nixon did in his own office – rather stupidly, one might say – to implicate him. The recordings implicated him in this cover up. The book became famous and made Woodward and Bernstein “heroes” in the world of journalism, that is, many people, young, college students, read their book, became inspired – thought “Wow, this is wonderful what they’re doing!” and decided to become journalists themselves. The book was also famous because they described the person who had given them the information but they didn’t use the person’s real name. Later, we found out who that person was just a few years ago. But in the book, the person was described simply by the name “Deep Throat.” This person – Deep Throat – was an “informant.” An “informant” (informant) is someone who gives information secretly to someone else – someone who is giving you secret information about a political person or some government organization or simply, some information that you want to know that you can’t get easily otherwise.

Woodward and Bernstein’s informant gave them information which they then published in the newspaper and later included in their book. It was only recently that we learned of the “true identity” of Deep Throat. The “true identity” means who that person actually was. It was kept secret for 30 years, but when we found out, it turns out that it was someone working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation – what we call the “FBI” – someone who was, in fact, one of the top leaders or directors of the FBI. Woodward and Bernstein decided after they wrote their book to make it into a movie. Actually, what happened was one of the most famous actors in the 1970’s, Robert Redford, said he wanted to make the book into a movie and he wanted to buy the “film rights” for the book.

The “film rights” are the permissions that you get to make the book into a movie. So, when you buy the film rights, you’re saying, “I’m going to use your story and make a movie out of that story.” Robert Redford went on not only to buy the film rights but to star in the movie in 1976. The movie was really about Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation more than the actual Watergate scandal. It’s a very exciting movie, partly because it is sort of a thriller. You’re learning how they found out about the Watergate scandal. I read the book “All the President’s Men” in 1975, the same year that it was published, and I also saw the movie a few years later. Robert Redford played Woodward and another famous American actor, Dustin Hoffman, played Bernstein. If you haven’t seen the movie, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Bernstein, after the fame of the book “All the President’s Men” and the movie - Bernstein continued to write as a journalist. He wrote five other books in later years. Woodward worked for the newspaper – The Washington Post – and he’s now an associate editor there. He’s also written more than a dozen books about American politics. Bernstein and Woodward won a lot of awards for their work. In fact, the Washington Post won the highest award for a newspaper, the Pulitzer Prize, in 1973. Some people say that the book that Woodward and Bernstein wrote and their articles – their newspaper articles – were perhaps some of the best reporting in American history. They were working during what some people call the “height” of investigative journalism. The “height” (height) means the period when something is strongest or best. “Investigative journalism” is when newspaper reporters or television reporters go out and try to find the truth about something, often it relates to government problems, government scandals, that sort of thing. There was a lot of investigative journalism in the 1970’s and Woodward and Bernstein were, in part, responsible for some of that because, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of journalists liked their work and decided to try to do something similar – to investigate politicians and governments in their own areas. So, if you’re interested in reading a good book or watching a good movie, I can definitely recommend “All the President’s Men.”

Let’s turn to our next topic, which is also a continuation of one of our series, this time, on famous American songs.

Today, we’re going to talk about a song famous from the early part of the 20th century. It was a song from World War I, which the United States entered in 1917. But it was also sung during the Second World War in the 1940’s. There are several versions of this song – several different sets of lyrics or words to the song. It was originally written by one of the greatest American composers of songs and music, George M. Cohan. He also wrote another famous song which we talked about on an earlier Café, the “Yankee Doodle Boy.” We talked about that, actually, I think, not on a Café, on one of the ESL Podcast blog posts a few years ago. The phrase “over there,” which is the title of the song, is used to indicate where something is without being very specific. “Where is it?” “Well, it’s over there” – you’re not saying exactly. It’s in that direction. You may even use your hand to point where you are indicating. Often, it means a very long distance from where you are now.

The United States didn’t enter World War I, which was fought, of course, mostly in Europe, until 1917, although the war began back in 1914. The U.S, in its history, has tried to, at least in the early and mid-20th century, was trying to avoid getting involved in wars back in Europe. But in 1917 they did enter the war just as they did in 1941 in World War II – a war that my own father fought in. But World War I is the topic primarily of this song. Cohan wrote this song to talk about how the United States was sending its “troops” (troops) to the war. “Troops” are soldiers – the people, mostly men at this time, who are fighting in the war. It doesn’t say where the troops are going. It says the troops are going “over there.” Of course, everyone knew that they meant Europe in the song.

We’ll start with the first verse or first section of the song and then we’ll explain a little bit of it, and then we’ll sing the most famous part of the song, the part that repeats several times called the “chorus.”

"Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run,
On the run, on the run.
Hear them calling, you and me,
Every son of liberty.
Hurry right away,
No delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line."

Let’s start with the first line, “Johnny get your gun.” Johnny was a pretty common name in American English. So, this would be really any man listening to the song. To tell Johnny to “get his gun and take it on the run” would mean to take it and run with it very quickly. In the late 1930’s, there was actually a novel called “Johnny Got his Gun.” It was an anti-war novel about World War I. But the song, of course, was encouraging men to sign up and go to war. “Johnny get your gun, take it on the run.” “Hear them calling” – hear them saying loudly - “you and me.” In other words, people are calling you, they’re asking you to come and be part of this war effort. “Every son of liberty” – “liberty” (liberty) basically means here, freedom. And, of course, the idea is that if you join in the American efforts in Europe, you will be helping freedom, helping liberty.

“Hurry right away” – hurry up, go quickly. “No delay” – “to delay” (delay) means to wait. But the song is saying, don’t wait, go today. “Make your daddy glad” – your daddy (daddy) is your dad, your father. So, you’re going to make your father proud. Your father is going to be proud of you, to think well of you. “Make your daddy glad” or happy – “to have had such a lad” (lad) – a “lad” is a word, an informal word, for a boy or a young man. So, you’re saying, you will make your father proud that he has a son like you. “Tell your sweetheart not to pine” – your sweetheart, one word, is your girlfriend. “To pine” (pine) is to be very sad because you miss something, especially something you love. So, you pine for your sweetheart, you think “Oh, if only I could be with her” – you miss her because you love her. “Tell your sweetheart not to pine,” meaning tell your girlfriend, don’t miss you, to be proud instead that “her boy’s in line,” meaning her boy – her boyfriend – is out there fighting in the American army.

The purpose of the song, of course, is to get young American men to volunteer to go to Europe, in this case, “over there,” to fight in the war. The most famous part of the song is the chorus – that’s the part that repeats several times. Let me sing that for you and then we’ll talk a little bit about the words for that.

“Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there -
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over
Over there.”

“Over there, over there, send the word” means let the people know, in this case the British and the French, primarily, who were the American allies during World War I. “Send the word” – let them know, tell them that the “Yanks are coming.” A “Yank” (Yank) is another word for an American. So, tell them that “the Yanks are coming” – the Americans are going to come over to Europe – “Finally!” I’m sure the allies thought. “The Yanks are coming, the drums rum-tumming” – “rum-tumming” just means the drums are making a noise. Of course, armies, at least in the old days, often had drummers that would be in the front of the troops during the battles. “The drums rum-tumming everywhere. So prepare, say a prayer” – pray to God – “send the word, send the word, to beware” – in other words, send the word to the enemies that they should be careful, they should beware. “We’ll be over, we’re coming over” – we’re going to Europe – “and we won’t come back” – we won’t return – “until it’s over” – until the war is done and we have won.

The song, of course, is meant to be patriotic. It’s meant to get Americans – many of whom did not want the United States involved in the European wars – to get those Americans to join up, to see this as part of their patriotic duty, their duty, their obligation to their country. It’s a song that many American children, schoolchildren, learn not because they want the children to take the same ideas as the song, but rather it’s part of American history, that part of history in the early, mid-20th century.

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

Our first question from Qinye (Qinye) in China. The question has to do with four words that are related – “borrow,” “debit,” “lend,” and “loan.” All four of these words are related to money and banking. Let’s start with “borrow” (borrow). “Borrow” is a verb which means that you are taking something from someone else but you plan on giving it back to them. I might, for example, borrow your book – that means you give me your book and I keep it and then I give it back to you. When you go to a public library, you “borrow” a book. The library gives you the book and you bring it back. The verb we use for the person who’s giving the thing is “lend” (lend).

So, I lend you my book – that means I give my book to you. You borrow my book – that means that you take the book from me. So, the borrower is the person who is taking the money or the object, the lender (lender) is the person who is lending or giving the book or the money or whatever it is. Sometimes in conversational English, you’ll hear people use the word “borrow” when they mean “lend.” In the sentence, for example, “Could you borrow me your book?” But what you really mean to say is “Can you lend me your book?” or “Can I borrow your book?” But you’ll hear that often, the confusion between borrow and lend sometimes. Usually, lend, however is not confused with borrow – not normally anyway.

The two other words, “debit” and “loan,” are somewhat different. A “debit” (debit), as a noun, is the money that you owe someone. It might also be simply called a “debt” (debt). “Debit” as a verb can mean, usually, to take money out of your bank. We have what are called “ATM” cards. “ATM” standing for automatic teller machine – and these are little cards you use to get money from a machine. You can also use these cards in most banks or from most banks to pay for something at a store if a store accepts “debit” cards. What happens is, the store takes the money right out of your bank account. It’s different from a credit card. A credit card is a separate company, a separate bank that gives you the money to use and then you have to pay it back – they lend you, in effect, the money that you have to give them back. A “debit” card is when the money is taken right out of your own bank. It isn’t money you are borrowing from someone else. It is money you are taking from your own bank account.

“To loan” (loan) means the same as to lend, especially when we’re talking about money – as a verb, that is. “Loan” can also be a noun meaning the thing or the money that you lend someone. You can say, “I’m going to loan you $50” – “I’m going to lend you $50” – those two things mean the same thing. “How much was the loan?” “The loan was $50.” There, loan is used as a noun. So, thank you for that question from China.

Our next question comes from Russia, from Nadia (Nadia). Nadia wants to know how we use the words “ago” (ago) and “since” (since). This is a good question because it’s a common confusion for second language speakers of English. “Ago” means in the past. “I went to the doctor three days ago” – that means I went to the doctor three days in the past, from now. So, if today is the 10th and I went to the doctor 3 days ago, I went to the doctor on the 7th.

“Since” means beginning at a certain moment in time – in the past – and continuing until now. I have been in the United States since 1963 – of course, that was the year I was born. I was born here. I’ve been in California since 1991. I’ve been here 21 years or so. I started in 1991 here in California and I have continued to live here since 1991. I arrived in California 21 years ago. I graduated from college 30 years ago – in the past. Actually, that’s not quite right. It was more like well, 20 years ago, 25 years ago – I forget. So, “since” is used when something starts in the past and continues. “Ago” just refers to some event that happened in the past and is finished. So, notice in my example I say, “I came to California 21 years ago.” I use the verb “to come” – I came and I was here – that’s it, the action is finished, it’s completed. I have been in California since 1991. “I have been” - that means that I have been physically in this place for those past 21 years.

The problem comes when people try to use “since” and “ago” in the same sentence. Usually, you cannot do that, at least it’s not something a native speaker would do. You cannot say, “I’ve been in New York since 5 years ago” – no. You can say, “I’ve been in New York since 2007.” You can say, “I came to New York – I arrived in New York – in 2007.” But you can’t say “since” and “ago.” “Since,” remember, is a point starting in the past and continuing to the present. “Ago” is something that happened in the past and usually is completed or finished. “How long have you been in the United States?” “I’ve been in the United States since July 25th.” “I’ve been in the United States for 2 weeks” – there we don’t use since or ago. “I’ve been in the United States since 1994.” “When did you come to the United States?” “I came to the United States ten days ago.” “I came to the United States 20 years ago.” Notice the difference in the verbs we use and whether it’s “since” or “ago.”

Finally, Atushi (Atushi) in Japan wants to know the difference between – oops, I’m losing my voice! – “wants to know” – just like a teenage boy. Anyway, Atushi wants to know the difference between “ambivalence” and “conflict.” “Ambivalence” (ambivalence) is when you’re not sure about something, you’re not sure if you like it or you don’t like it – if you agree or you disagree. The adjective is “ambivalent.” You have some positive emotion, some negative emotions – you’re not really sure which one you think is right. A “conflict” (conflict) – as a noun – is a disagreement or an argument or perhaps even a fight between two people or two groups of people. You might describe the differences of opinions or difference of feelings that you have when you’re ambivalent as being in internal conflict. It’s used sort of as a metaphor to mean that your positive and negative emotions are kind of fighting against each other and that’s why you’re not sure. You have an internal conflict inside of your brain or inside of yourself that causes you to be ambivalent that cause you to be unsure. Normally, however, a conflict is something that happens between you and someone else or between two groups of people. It’s not something that is normally associated with the word ambivalence, although, as I say, it could be.

If you have a question, a problem, a phrase you don’t know, 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. This podcast is copyright 2012, by the Center for Educational

Topics: American Authors – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and All the President's Men; Famous Songs – “Over There"; to borrow versus to debit versus to lend versus to loan; using ago with since; ambivalence versus conflict

What Insiders Know
to cover up – to hide; to prevent others from knowing about something bad that has happened or something bad that one has done

* The little boy wrapped his blanket around the lamp to cover up the crack he made in it while playing with his ball in the house.

implicated – shown to be involved in a crime; shown to be responsible for a crime

* Was the entire Stevenson family implicated in the fraud or just the sons?

informant – a person who provides information, often without revealing his or her identity to a reporter or person in authority, or to the public

* We received a letter from an informant that someone in this government department is taking bribes.

true identity – one’s real name; who one truly is

* Did you know that Superman’s true identity is Clark Kent?

film rights – permission to take the subject, information, or story in a book and to make it into a movie

* Jemima was thrilled to sell the film rights for the mystery book she published last year.

height – the period when something was at its strongest or best point

* Some people believe that we are at the height of the technology revolution.

on the run – very quickly; without delay

* I woke up late, so I won’t eat any breakfast. I’ll just have a little coffee and be on the run.

lad – a boy; a young man

* Those lads over there better get home for dinner or they won’t get any tonight.

sweetheart – one’s girlfriend or boyfriend; the person one is in love with

* On Valentine’s Day, people buy their sweethearts candy, flowers, and other gifts.

to pine – to long for someone or something; to be very sad and depressed because one's life cannot continue as usual, often because someone has died or left

* The little girl is still pining for her dog, which ran away over three months ago.

to send the word – to spread the news; to let others know about a piece of information

* Send the word to the printers that we’ll be done with this report by 2:00 p.m.

to say a prayer – to speak to God, often because one wants God’s help or to thank God for something one believes God has done

* Before Daniela went to the interview, she said a prayer asking God to help her get the job.

to borrow – to take with the intention returning; to take for a time with the plan of returning it to the person that it belongs to

* Can I borrow your business suit to wear for my big presentation tomorrow?

to debit – to charge on an account; to take out of a bank or other financial account

* The price of your uniform will be debited from your first paycheck.

to lend – to allow someone to use something of yours with the understanding that it will be returned

* We hope that Louise will be willing to lend us her house in the mountains again for our family vacation this year.

to loan – to allow someone to use something of yours (often money) with the understanding that it will be returned

* I lost my job, but my good friend loaned me money to pay my rent this month.

ambivalence – a state of being uncertain or unsure; having mixed or conflicting feelings

* Jolene was filled with ambivalence about whether to marry Carl.

conflict – a battle or fight between two opposing people or ideas

* No one can live in peace when there is conflict among neighbors.