Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

499 Topics: Americans Abroad – The Confederados in Brazil; Chaco Canyon National Historical Park; speaking in tongues, folks, porridge, and just right; to ingratiate (oneself) with

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 499.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 499. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Download this episode’s Learning Guide, an eight- to ten-page guide we provide for all of our current episodes to give you some additional help in improving your English.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about the Confederate colonies that were established in Latin America after the end of our Civil War, a topic not even most Americans know much about. We’re also going to talk about a historical park in the United States – the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park in New Mexico. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

The topic we’re discussing today is, like so many topics in American history, related to the most important event of our history, at least during the first 100 years of this young country, the American Civil War. The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865, just about four years, but the war continued to influence American politics and thought for much, much longer. A “civil (civil) war” is when two parts of a country fight each other.

The U.S. Civil War was between the Northern states and the Southern states. There were many reasons for the Civil War. Many of them had to do with the economy. The “economy” (economy) refers to the wealth and resources of a country or an area. As you probably know, the southern part of the United States was very much dependent upon slavery for its economy. “Slavery” is when one person owns another person as property. Of course, one of the results of the Civil War was the abolition, or the elimination, of slavery in the United States.

The Southern states lost the war, and many of the people who lived in what we call the South were not particularly happy about the result of the war. In fact, some people were so unhappy that they wanted to leave the United States. Many people, in addition, because of the war, had already lost their land and their homes in the war. So they didn’t have a lot of what we would call “strong ties” to the place where they were living. When we refer to someone having a “tie (tie) to” something, we mean that he has a close relationship or connection to that thing or person.

Some people in the South – and I have to emphasize at the beginning that we’re not talking about a lot of people, but some people – decided to leave the American South and go somewhere else. Many people went into the western part of the United States, to areas that were not yet states, that were still territories – a part of the U.S. but not yet officially states. These areas, including the states around California, which was by this time already a state, didn’t have very many people in them, and so there was a lot of land that was available.

There were a few people, however, who left the country of the United States completely. They went to Latin America. That is the part of the North and South American continents excluding Canada and the United States – not including Canada and United States. Basically, “Latin America” is a term we use to refer to the Spanish and Portuguese parts of the American continents. The majority of people who decided to leave the South after the Civil War and go to Latin America went to the country of Brazil.

Now, in 1865, during the middle part of the nineteenth century, Brazil was trying to grow cotton crops. “Crops” (crops) refers to plants that are used for either food or for making other things. Cotton was also the most popular crop in the southern part of the United States. In fact, the reason that the South had so many slaves was because they were needed to take care of the agriculture in the South – to take care of the cotton crops.

In 1865, Brazil had an Emperor, Don Pedro II, who offered land and other incentives, other reasons, to people from the American South who wanted to come to Brazil and start a new life in Brazil. One of the things that he hoped to do was to improve the economy of Brazil by having these experienced farmers come down to Brazil with their knowledge of the cotton crop and help the economy of Brazil.

The first person to arrive in Brazil was a man by the name of William Hutchinson Norris. He arrived in 1866, just one year after the end of the war. Norris was from the state of Alabama, one of the Southern states that lost the war. He was a lawyer and had actually been an important political figure in the United States. He was a senator in the U.S. Congress. Each U.S. state has two senators, two representatives, in the U.S. Senate. Norris had been a senator from Alabama.

After he arrived in Brazil in 1866, he established himself there. He got himself “settled,” we might say, and decided to bring his family and other families from the South to Brazil. Over the next several years, more and more people from the South went to Brazil to build new lives. They brought with them their language, of course, English, their version of American culture, and their food – the things that every immigrant brings with him when he arrives in a new country.

We’re not sure exactly how many Americans moved to Brazil between 1865 and 1885, the period of the highest level of immigration to the country, but it was probably between 10,000 and 20,000 people. Now, it’s not a lot of people when you consider the millions of people that were living in the United States at that time, but it’s a pretty good number for a immigrant community. Most of the people moved to the same area in Brazil, in the state of São Paulo. This area today is called, perhaps not surprisingly, Americana.

While some of these people eventually returned to the United States – they decided they didn’t want to live in another country – others stayed and built their lives in Brazil. They had children, and their children had children, and so forth. They, of course, many of them married Brazilians, the people who were already there in Brazil. They began to speak Portuguese, as was of course the language of the people of Brazil, and still is. They began mixing American food with Brazilian food. All of these things happen, of course, with almost every immigrant group that comes into a new country.

The culture of this new mixed American-Brazilian group was sometimes referred to as the Confederado culture. The Confederados were people who were descendants, who had come from the immigrants from the American South during this period. There are still Confederados in Brazil, although they no longer live in one specific area, or at least are not as concentrated as they once were.

Many, however, do still live in Americana, and each year, Confederados from different parts of the country will come to Americana to celebrate this particular blend of American and Brazilian heritage or culture. “Heritage” (heritage) usually refers to the cultural traditions of the people who came before you – your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and so forth.

There is a festival, a party, that is held each year called the “Festa Confederada” at Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, which I think would mean “Santa Barbara of the West.” The celebration is actually held in a cemetery, a cemetery where many of the original Americans are buried. A “cemetery” (cemetery) is an area of ground where we put the bodies of dead people. Another word for “cemetery” is “graveyard” (graveyard). A “grave” is the place where you put the dead body.

At this Confederado festival, people can listen to music from the American South, as well as dance traditional dances of the American South and even eat Southern food – Southern food influenced by the native dishes of Brazil. There is a group called the American Descendants Association that sponsors the festival each year. When I say they “sponsor” it, I mean they pay for it or help pay for the event.

So, if you live in Brazil or are traveling there and want to go to Americana, you can find out about this festival of Confederados – descendants of those who left the American South after the end of the American Civil War.

Our next topic is going to be a national historical park called Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This park is located in northwestern New Mexico. New Mexico is a state on the border of Mexico, the country. It is in between the states of Arizona and Texas in the southwest part of the U.S. This particular park is located in the northwest part of the state. It was made into a park way back in 1907 and then into a national monument in 1980. A “national monument” (monument) is a site or an area that the government considers to have some historical importance and wants to protect.

In 1987, Chaco Culture National Historical Park was named one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place listed or recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as a place having special value, not just to the people of that country, but to the people of the world.

Now, if you would ask the average American what he or she knew about Chaco Culture National Historical Park, my guess is they would say absolutely nothing. Certainly I didn’t know anything about it before doing the research for this episode. The park covers the area where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived. The Ancestral Pueblo people lived in this area roughly between the years 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. It was an area that became the center of life and culture for the Ancestral Pueblo people.

Many large buildings were built that allowed these “Native Americans,” as we would call them now, to do their business – to perform their daily tasks, including their religious ceremonies. The buildings were all connected with wide, straight roads, straight streets, which allowed easy travel between them. These roads also connected the community with other Native American communities in the region, which allowed people from all over to go to Chaco for business and also for these religious ceremonies which were so important to the culture of the people.

Archaeologists have uncovered large buildings that show an incredible understanding of engineering and planning among the Ancestral Pueblo people who built them. An “archeologist” (archeologist) is a person who studies the history of humans, usually by digging and uncovering areas where people used to live. “Arche” is an old Greek word which means, in part, the beginning of something. Well, archeologists look at the beginnings and later development of different cultures.

I said that these archeologists discovered buildings with incredible engineering and planning behind them. “Engineering” is the science and technology that we use to make buildings and to build things, including roads. The largest of the buildings in this particular area is called “Pueblo Bonito.” “Bonito” is Spanish for pretty or beautiful. This particular building has 800 rooms and over 30 underground ceremonial rooms – rooms that are called “Kivas” (Kivas).

Many Americans, when they think about the North American Native American tribes or American Indian tribes, don’t associate them with large buildings. They think of people living in small tents, circular tents called “teepees,” but this was no teepee. The Pueblo Bonito was a large building, probably larger than anything the early colonists built for themselves (European colonists when they arrived much later).

So, the Ancestral Pueblo people had considerable technological sophistication. One of the things that archeologists have discovered near the building and in this site are different artifacts, such as pottery and jewelry. An “artifact” (artifact) is any object that is made by a human being that is considered to have some cultural or historical importance.

It’s clear from what has been found that the sites in the Chaco Canyon, as well as from the stories that exist from the descendants of these people, that this area was an important center not just for the Ancestral Pueblo people, but also for other Native American groups such as the Hopi, the Navajo, and even, some suggest, the Aztec peoples from modern-day Mexico.

Historians also believe that this area was an important stop on what we would call a “trade route” coming from South America. “Trade” (trade) refers to the buying and selling of things. A “route” (route) is how you get from one place to another. So, the “trade route” would refer to a series of places that people would travel to in order to buy and sell things.

Archeologists have discovered that the people who inhabited this area, that is who lived in this area, knew a lot about not just engineering and architecture, but also astronomy and agriculture. “Astronomy” (astronomy) is the science that deals with space, with the stars and planets. “Agriculture,” as we referred to earlier, is the science of farming – growing food.

Around 1140 A.D., many of the people who were living in this area began to leave Chaco Canyon, probably because of drought. “Drought” (drought) is when you don’t have enough water to live on or to survive on. People also left perhaps to be closer to other members of their family or other people who were in the same tribe or group of people. A “tribe” (tribe) refers to a group of usually Native American – or “indigenous” people, we might also refer to them as – who share the same culture, language, and history.

By about 1250 A.D., this area was mostly “deserted.” “Deserted” (deserted) means abandoned or empty. Much later on, in the 1600s, the Navajo people, another Native American tribe, began living in this area. Archeologists began digging in the canyon in the late nineteenth century, beginning with the site at Pueblo Bonito, which is in this National Historical Park.

Today this park covers about 53 square miles. (That’s 137 square kilometers for the rest of you.) I’ve never been to this national historical park, but if I did go, I could visit one of six large sites in the park. I could also go hiking on the many hiking trails. “To hike” (hike) means to walk outside for a long distance. I say I could hike, but the truth is, I probably wouldn’t. At certain times of the year, you can also participate in an astronomy program, if you visit this park.

Archeologists continue to dig in this area, learning more and more about the people who lived there. Even today, over a hundred years after archeologists began to explore this area, they are still learning new things about the Ancestral Pueblo people and about their amazing accomplishments that took place more than a thousand years ago.

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

Our first question comes from Valentina (Valentina) from Russia. Valentina wants to know the meanings of a couple of different words and expressions. The first one is “speaking in tongues” (tongues).

Well, this expression, “to speak in tongues,” usually refers to someone who is speaking in a language that no one understands, but that is somehow influenced by some sort of divine or heavenly power. The term comes in part from the New Testament, the part of the Christian Bible that describes Jesus and his followers. Valentina said she read this phrase in a book. I’m not sure exactly what it was referring to. It was probably used in a more general way to talk about someone who was speaking in a language no one understood, although I’m not sure, having not read what Valentina has read.

A couple of other questions from Valentina. One is regarding the “folks” (folks). The word “folks” usually is used informally to refer to a group of people. Sometimes people, when talking to a large group, will use this word: “Folks, can I have your attention, please.” It’s a another way of saying “guys” or “hey, everybody.” “Folks” can also refer specifically to your parents. My sister often uses this word. She may say something like, “Well, the folks [or “our folks”] want us to do this or to do that.” So “folks” can refer to your mother and father ¬– your parents.

Another word Valentina wants to know about is “porridge” (porridge). “Porridge” is a soft food, sort of like a soup, that is made with either beans or some sort of grain that is boiled, such as rice. The grain is boiled until there is a thick liquid left, and that is what you eat when you are eating porridge. Finally, Valentina has a question about the expression “just right” (right). “Just right” means exactly as you want it – something that is perfectly in the condition that you want it to be. “The temperature of my bath water is just right.” It’s not too cold. It’s not too hot. It’s perfect.

Our next question comes from Moussa (Moussa) in Mali. Moussa wants to know the meaning of the expression “from the drama to the trauma.” This not an expression I’ve ever heard before, but I will describe or define for you the key words in the expression, which are “drama” and “trauma.”

“Drama” (drama) can refer to a play, but more likely in this case, it’s referring to a state or a situation of very intense emotions – something very serious has happened or someone is acting in such a way as to display his emotions in a very expressive way, we might say. Normally it’s used as a pejorative – that is, as a word describing something negative or bad.

Someone may say, “Oh, I broke up with my girlfriend. There was just too much drama,” meaning there was too much emotional conflict in the relationship. My girlfriend was always yelling or crying or shouting or getting angry or whatever. Of course, men can be like that as well, and sometimes even more so.

“Trauma” (trauma) usually refers to an emotional shock, something that has hurt you or confused you and put you into a very confused and emotional state. So, “from the drama to the trauma” probably describes someone who is in a situation where there was a lot of emotional conflict and who was then later left in a confused and distressed emotional state. We use the adjective “traumatic” to describe something that has been emotionally or even physically damaging to a person.

Finally, Jabad (Jabad) from a mystery country wants to know the difference between two expressions: “to ingratiate to” and “to ingratiate with.” Let’s start with simply the verb “to ingratiate” (ingratiate). “To ingratiate yourself” means to say something to someone in order for that person to like you. Usually it involves saying nice things to a person in order to get that person to help you – to do something nice for you, perhaps.

Usually after this verb we use the preposition “to” before the name or the description of the person that we are saying nice things to. “I’m going to ingratiate myself to my boss.” “I’m going to ingratiate myself to Maria so that she will help me with my homework.” I’m going to say nice things to Maria so that she will help me with my homework.

You can also say, “I’m going to ingratiate myself with” someone. The two expressions mean the same thing whether you say “to” or “with.” I would say that “to” is probably a little more common, however – at least, that’s what I would say if I were thinking about the act of ingratiating myself.

If you have a question or comment, you don’t need to ingratiate yourself to me, although that never hurts. You can just email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California – I seem to be having my voice change here. I think my voice changed when I was a teenager, but it seems to be changing again. Wow. This is really amazing.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right 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 2015 by the Center for Educational

civil war – a war that is fought between people of the same country

* After the civil war, the country was divided into two, with two separate governments.

economy – the wealth and resources that are part of a region, area, or country

* The economy was not doing well that year so many people lost their jobs.

to have a tie to – to have a close relationship or connection with something or someone; to have a connection with

* Even though she has never visited, Simone has a tie to Japan because her grandmother grew up there.

heritage – the cultural traditions and blood relations of a certain person or group of people

* Lucia is of Cuban heritage because both of her grandmothers came from Cuba.

archeologist – a person who studies the history of humans by digging and uncovering areas where people used to live

* When British archeologists uncovered the tomb of King Tut in 1922, they knew immediately that they had found something incredible.

engineering – the science and technology used for creating and building systems, machines, and structures

* Yuko studied civil engineering at the university because she has always been fascinated by bridges.

artifact – an object that is made by a human being that is of cultural or historical importance, often showing how people from the past lived

* History museums have many artifacts on display to tell the story of ancient civilizations, such as pottery, weapons, and artwork.

to inhabit – to live in a certain place

* How many people inhabit one of these small, low-income apartments?

architecture – the job or field of designing and constructing buildings and other strutures

* Chicago is famous for its architecture, especially for the many homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

astronomy – the science that deals with the universe, such as stars and planets

* Ahmed has always loved astronomy, so his parents bought him a small telescope for his sixteenth birthday.

tribe – a group of people who share the same culture, language, and history, such as Native Americans

* The tribes that lived in this area over 200 years ago spoke a similar language.

deserted – abandoned; empty

* The airport was deserted when Khamisi arrived at one o’clock in the morning.

speaking in tongues – the phenomenon of appearing to speak in an unknown language, especially in religious worship; speaking in a language the listener does not understand

* That man speaks a dialect I don’t understand. It’s like he’s speaking in tongues.

folks – people; an informal and friendly way of addressing a group of people

* Do you think the folks in this town are willing to pay to build another school?

porridge – a soft food made by boiling grains or beans in milk or water until the liquid becomes thick

* When Jossie is sick, she likes to eat bland food, especially rice porridge.

just right – exactly as one wants it; good; okay; something that suits perfectly

* Those pants are too big and too long, but these are just right.

drama – a state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict and emotions

* Lia’s sisters don’t get along, and when they’re together, there is always drama.

trauma – emotional shock from a stressful or hurtful event; a confused mental and emotional state as a result of an injury

* Kaila suffered trauma as a child living so close to a war zone.

to ingratiate (oneself) with – to try to please another person by flattery or trying to please them, usually in hopes of getting some benefit

* It’s a good idea to ingratiate yourself with your rich aunt if you want a large inheritance.

What Insiders Know
The Confederate Flag

During the American Civil War, the states that wanted to “retain” (keep) slavery legal in the southern part of the U.S. and that wanted to become its own country were called the Confederate States of America. This group of states used several “flags” (a piece of cloth, usually rectangular or square in shape, which represents a country, state, or group) that represented their “cause” (what they were fighting for. One important flag continues to be displayed in southern states to this day. That flag is called the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia, more commonly known as the Confederate flag.

The Confederate flag was designed by William Procher Miles in 1861. It was “adopted as” (used for) a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia, headed by the popular civil war “General” (top military leader) Robert E. Lee.

The flag “consists of” (includes) two blue diagonal bars that form an “X” with 13 stars representing the 13 original colonies of the U.S. The “X” symbolizes the Southern Army’s desire to “secede” (separate into a new country).

Today, some people in the southern states use the flag to show their southern “ancestry” (origin or background) and heritage. Over time, it became popular with groups in the south such as the Klu Klux Klan, a secret society that believes in the “supremacy” (having more power and status) of white Americans. The flag had also been used to represent and support protests against school “desegregation” (the mixing of people of different races) in the 1950’s.

Because of these and other associations, the Confederate flag has become very “controversial” (with people having strong and conflicting opinions). Many believed it is “insensitive” (insulting; not caring about others) to place and use the Confederate flag in public because it represents racial “inequality” (for people to not have the same rights).