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505 Topics: Famous Americans – Jonas Salk; The Wanamaker Department Stores; it’s all yours; good for you; fair enough; hyphen versus dash; All of the good, none of the bad

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 505.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 505. 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 some of our Special Courses in Business and Daily English available for immediate downloading. Well, right after you buy them, of course.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about one of the most famous scientists in the twentieth century – in the United States, at least – Jonas Salk. We’re also going to talk about a set of stores, department stores, called the Wanamaker department stores. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

Jonas Salk was born in October of 1914 in New York City. His family was very poor, but his parents encouraged him to get a good education, as of course many parents do for their children. Salk was interested in science at a young age, and he in fact studied science when he went to college. He graduated eventually from the New York University Medical School in 1939. After he graduated, after he finished his studies, he worked as a physician – as a doctor – in a New York hospital, a very well-known New York hospital called Mt. Sinai.

Salk left the hospital in 1941 to work at a research laboratory at the University of Michigan. A “research laboratory” (laboratory) is a place where scientists do experiments, typically – where they try to discover new things about the world. Jonas Salk worked at a research laboratory at the University of Michigan. Michigan is located in the middle part of the eastern half of the United States, right next to Canada.

While at Michigan, Salk was asked by the United States Army to develop a vaccine for an illness called “influenza.” A “vaccine” (vaccine) is a substance that is put into your body to help protect against a specific illness or disease. “Influenza” is a common illness that causes people typically to have a fever (to have a high temperature), muscle pains, and often more serious consequences. Certain kinds of influenza, in fact, can be very deadly and have been in the history of the world – which, of course, is a very long time. So that’s probably a safe statement.

Anyway, Salk was asked to try to come up with a vaccine for influenza, or what we more commonly call “the flu” (flu). In 1947, Salk was asked to become the head of, or the leader of, a research laboratory – a virus research lab at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. A “virus” (virus) is a very small living thing that causes illnesses and diseases. The University of Pittsburgh is located, logically enough, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is about 250 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania is in the eastern part of the United States. It was one of our original 13 states.

While in charge of the virus research lab, Jonas Salk studied vaccines. He tried to find a better way of producing vaccines so that they were effective. Up to this point in time – that is, before Salk started working on this issue – vaccines were usually created by using small amounts of a virus that was alive. These small amounts were then injected or put into a person to make his body believe that it had the virus. The body would then fight the virus and build up an immunity to the disease.

“Immunity” (immunity) is the ability of the body to fight off an infection or disease, to prevent the infection or disease from becoming more serious. Salk believed that it was possible to create vaccines using viruses that were already dead. This is what he studied at the virus research lab. His hope was to be able to use vaccines to eradicate certain diseases. “To eradicate” (eradicate) means to completely destroy or get rid of something that is dangerous or harmful.

Salk’s work on vaccines got the attention of other researchers and organizations that were dedicated to, or devoted to, the work of getting rid of certain diseases. One of those groups was called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. “Infantile” (infantile) refers to babies or very young children. “Paralysis” (paralysis) is the loss of your ability to move different parts of your body. Usually this happens as the result of some sort of illness or injury.

Well, the head of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis contacted Salk and asked him to work on a vaccine for the disease known as “polio.” “Polio” (polio) was, I can say, a disease that was very common at the time in many places in the U.S. It was a disease that infected a person’s nervous system and caused fever – high temperature, that is – headaches, nausea, and muscle pains. You notice I used the past tense of the verb “to be” there: “was” a disease. If you know something about Jonas Salk, you probably know the ending to this story. What Salk did was work on a vaccine to prevent polio.

At that time, about half of the people who got the disease were children under the age of five. About 18 out of every 100,000 people had polio during the 1950s or late 1940s when Salk began to work on this issue. Indeed, there were at times epidemics of polio in the U.S. during this period. An “epidemic” (epidemic) is when a disease spreads very rapidly, very quickly, to many different people. One of the most famous people who had polio was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president of the United States from the early 1930s until towards the end of the Second World War.

In 1952, the number of cases of polio increased very rapidly or dramatically. Salk began his research to develop a vaccine that would use a dead polio virus. He was ready to test the vaccine in 1953. It was first given, as it often is, to animals, and then to a group of children who already had polio. After those tests were successful, Salk began to give the vaccine to other people, including families of the people that he worked with at the laboratory, and he gave it to his own sons.

In 1954, Salk gave the polio vaccine to one million schoolchildren. Now, he didn’t personally give it to a million children. That would take a lot of time. But he had a little help. The following year, he announced that the vaccine worked, and over the next four years, the number of cases of polio in the U.S. fell dramatically. In 1954 and 1955, there were estimated to be 45,000 cases of polio in the U.S. By 1962, only a few years later, there were 910. So it was an amazingly effective vaccine.

Salk worked on the polio vaccine for a few more years to try to make it even more effective. In 1960, he left the University of Pittsburgh and set up his own research institute right out here in California, in a city south of Los Angeles called La Jolla, California. La Jolla, California, is actually in between San Diego and Los Angeles, closer to San Diego than it is to L.A.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies was founded to provide a place where researchers could study different areas of biology, and the Salk Institute is still around today. If you go to La Jolla, California, which is a beautiful city (a very expensive city because it’s right on the ocean), you can see the Salk Institute. The buildings are right there by the main drive into the town. The institute continues to work on diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and AIDS.

Salk died at his home in La Jolla in June of 1995 of heart failure. He is still remembered today as the scientist that helped eradicate, or get rid of, polio in the U.S. Certainly when I was growing up, in the 1960s and ’70s, everyone knew about Jonas Salk and the importance of his work.

Our next topic has nothing to do with medicine and disease. It instead is related to business, in particular to the concept of the department store. A “department store” is a large store with many different kinds of items that are located in different sections, or areas, or “departments” inside of the store.

One of the people who made the concept of a department store popular – here in the United States, anyway – was a man by the name of John Wanamaker in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although few people today have heard of John Wanamaker, his work was actually quite important in changing the way Americans shopped, changing the way Americans bought things.

Wanamaker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1838. He always wanted to be a salesman, a person who went out and sold things. He opened his first clothing store in Philadelphia at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. He soon grew his business and began changing the way that clothing store businesses were run. One of the things that Wanamaker did was start using price tags. In other words, the price of the clothing would be fixed, and you would just look at this little piece of paper and it would tell you how much the piece of clothing costs.

Now, this seems rather obvious to us now, but it wasn’t common, at least in clothing stores, when Wanamaker started to do it. He got rid of the idea that you would come in and negotiate the price of a piece of clothing. The “price tag,” which is basically a piece of paper with a price on it, told you how much the clothing or the item cost, and that was it. There was no negotiating.

In 1875, Wanamaker bought a building and moved his store there. And in 1876, he opened up what was, in the United States, the first department store. The store sold different kinds of clothing – clothing for men, women, and children. Wanamaker began advertising his store and the prices for the clothing in his store and once people realized that he was telling the truth in his advertisements about these prices, they began to go to the store and to buy things there.

Wanamaker believed in honesty, and he wanted to provide his customers with a positive shopping experience. He made sure that his employees treated all the customers with respect and that the customers were very happy with their visits. He also expanded his store to make sure that it had a lot of what we might call “modern amenities.” An “amenity” (amenity) is a desirable or useful feature. For example, in 1876, he added a restaurant to his department store so the customers could not only buy their clothing there, they could eat there as well.

He put electric lights in the store so people could see better, and he put elevators to take people from one floor, one story of the building, to the next. In addition to ensuring that his customers enjoyed their shopping experience, Wanamaker worked to be sure that the items he sold were of high quality. He sent 10 employees to Europe each year to buy things in the latest style and the highest quality. He also created special sales in January, February, and July in order to get rid of the old items, to have room for the new ones.

In 1896, Wanamaker expanded his store even more. This time, he opened the store in New York City. Wanamaker bought the building from another store and opened up a department store in New York. He created a very large, what we would call, “retail space.” “Retail” (retail) is the process of selling things to the public, to the average person.

In 1911, Wanamaker expanded his Philadelphia store by adding a giant courtyard. A “courtyard” is an area that is surrounded by buildings that usually is a place where people can go and relax and sit. Wanamaker added an organ to his store. An “organ” is a musical instrument that you normally associate with churches, but Wanamaker loved music and would put on free concerts for people in the store.

He had a lot of interesting ideas to get people into his stores, and he really changed the way American stores looked at their business. They saw themselves as treating the customers as best as they could, and making the customers feel special. And that idea became popular in American business and continues on, at least in some businesses, to this day.

John Wanamaker died in 1922. The Wanamaker department stores continued to grow, and by the 1970s there were 16 different Wanamaker stores. The company eventually was bought by another large retail company, and that was bought by another retail company – which is still around – by the name of Macy’s. And if you come to Los Angeles or in many other big cities you’ll see a Macy’s store.

Well, Macy’s bought the Wanamaker store and the Wanamaker department stores became part of the Macy’s business. Although Wanamaker department stores no longer exist under that name, the stores, as I mentioned, had a very lasting – “long term,” we might say – impact on the American shopping experience.

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

Our first question comes from Shahrooz (Shahrooz) – my apologies for the pronunciation – in the United States. The question has to do with three different phrases or expressions: “It’s all yours,” “Good for you,” and “Fair enough.” All three of these are very common in conversational English. Let’s start with the first one, “It’s all yours.” “It’s all yours” is an expression used to tell someone that he or she has complete or full control of something. You are giving the use of something to someone else.

So for example, if you are working on your computer and your friend says, “Can I use your computer for five minutes?” you might say, “It’s all yours,” meaning “Yes, go ahead.” You can use it completely; you have full control of it; I’m not going to be using it right now. Or if you are out at dinner with friends of yours and you have a part of your meal that you’re not going to eat, you might offer it to your friend, or your friend might ask if he could have that part of your meal. You could say, “It’s all yours,” meaning “Take it” – go ahead, you can have it.

“Good for you” is an expression used to show encouragement for something that someone has done. It’s a way of praising someone. It’s similar to “congratulations” or “That’s great.” It would probably be said in situations where the person hasn’t done anything amazing. It wouldn’t be said if you were getting married or having a baby, although I suppose you could say, “Good for you.” It would be used more when you have done something that other people might be proud of you for. Someone might say, “Good for you.”

Now, this expression can also be used “sarcastically,” meaning that someone is really making a joke about it. If you’re in school and someone says, “Hey, I got an A on my test” – I got a very high score – and you’re not very happy about it, or perhaps the person said it in such a way as to make you feel bad, you could say, “Oh, good for you.” It just depends on the way you say it and the situation, but typically it’s done not sarcastically but sincerely to congratulate someone on something he or she has done.

Finally we have the expression “Fair (fair) enough.” This expression is used when you are admitting – perhaps reluctantly, perhaps in a way that you don’t really want to – that something someone else has said or done is reasonable or acceptable. A mother might say to her son, “What did you get on your test today?” And the son says, “Well, I didn’t get an A, but I got a B+.” The mother, if she finds that acceptable, might say, “Oh, fair enough.” You aren’t exactly saying it’s wonderful, but you are saying it’s okay. It’s acceptable.

Usually, you’ll hear this phrase when you begin talking about something with another person and you disagree with the person about something, but later that person explains why he thinks that way, and so then you go, “Oh, okay.” You understand it. You say, “Fair enough.” You still may not agree with the other person, but you find their explanation reasonable or acceptable.

Our second question comes from Gino (Gino) in Italy. Gino wants to know the difference between “hyphen” (hyphen) and “dash” (dash). Both “hyphen” and “dash” are small horizontal lines that are written either between words or between parts of a sentence, although sometimes they’re used in other ways as well. A hyphen is used in between words. Sometimes we “hyphenate” words – notice the verb “to hyphenate” – that are combining two different words together.

So for example, many people like to put a hyphen in between, say, the word “Irish” and “American” in the term “Irish-American” (or “African-American” or “Asian-American”). It depends on the style of writing that you are using. Different newspapers and different publishing companies have different rules about whether you use a hyphen or not in between two different parts of a word. Typically it’s a “compound word” – a word that is made up of two words.

I would say that the trend – the way that things are moving – in American English in the last 30 years is to get rid of hyphens and just to join the words together as one long word. But there are still many places where a hyphen is correctly used and must be used. Hyphens are also used in books, where a word appears at the end of the line and there isn’t enough room – so when you split the word, you take a part of the word and you put it on the next line. This was much more common in the days of paper books. It is not as common in electronic books.

A “dash” is a punctuation mark that is used in between different parts of a sentence to show either a break in thought or in the structure of the sentence. It’s easy to get confused between a hyphen and a dash. A hyphen “-” is usually shorter and is used to link two or more words, or parts of a compound word. A dash is a longer line “–” and is only used as a punctuation mark. It comes between words in a sentence. It doesn’t come in the middle of a word as a hyphen does.

Finally, Dmitry (Dmitry) in Russia wants to know the meaning of the expression “All of the good, none of the bad.” “All of the good, none of the bad” is an expression used to describe that everything is positive and that there are no negative elements or qualities. Your girlfriend has “all of the good, and none of the bad,” meaning she has all of the good things a girlfriend can have and none of the bad things a girlfriend can have. And if you have had a girlfriend – not a good girlfriend – you know what those bad things can be. The same is true, of course, of boyfriends.

We use this expression in a lot of different situations. It might not be a person we’re talking about – it might be a position in a company, for example, or a situation that you find yourself in. I suppose we could also use this phrase when someone only wants the good things that come with a certain arrangement and none of the bad things that come with the same situation. So, if you get married and you want all of the good things and none of the bad, well, you’re probably going to be very disappointed. That’s not a very realistic way of looking at the world.

If you have a question or comment, 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 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

physician – a doctor; a person in charge of helping people with medical problems

* When Enzo had trouble with his knee, he saw a physician who prescribed medication and physical therapy.

research laboratory – a place that provides carefully controlled conditions for experiments and measurements so that scientists can study something specific

* Often scientists in research laboratories experiment on mice and other animals before they do so on people.

vaccine – a substance used to help a person’s body build up protection against a specific illness or disease

* Most children receive a vaccine for a disease called the mumps.

virus – a very small living thing that causes illnesses and diseases

* The Ebola virus spread rapidly through Africa and then began appearing in other nations.

immunity – the ability to fight off an infection or disease, usually because a small amount of the disease had previously been placed into the body and the body had already built up defenses

* Because Sonja had had chicken pox as a child, she had developed an immunity to the disease.

to eradicate – to completely destroy or get rid of something harmful or dangerous

* Many world leaders hope to eradicate nuclear weapons from politically unstable nations.

paralysis – the loss of the ability to move a part or parts of the body usually as a result of illness or injury

* Masha experienced paralysis of her right leg and arm after the accident.

epidemic – a widespread occurrence of a particular disease

* The flu epidemic began in Chicago, but spread across the country.

to patent – to receive permission from the government to be the only person or company to sell a product

* Many people patent new inventions with the hopes of making lots of money when they begin to manufacture and sell it.

department store – a large store with many different kinds of items in different sections of the store, such as clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and housewares

* The department store had four floors and sold everything from women’s clothing to kitchen appliances.

amenity – a desirable or useful feature

* Some of the amenities the hotel offers are an indoor swimming pool and complementary happy hour each evening.

retail – the process of selling items to the public

* Andrea was thrilled to open her first retail shoe store at the age of 25.

it’s all yours – an expression used to tell someone that they can have full control, or that one is allowing another to take over

* I’ve been trying to fix this computer for an hour and have had no luck. It’s all yours if you think you can do better.

good for you – an expression used to show encouragement for something that someone has done or received; a phrase of praise used to express something similar to “Congratulations!” or “That’s great”

* Good for you! It’s not easy standing up to your parents.

fair enough – used to admit reluctantly that something is reasonable or acceptable

* A: I can’t stop what I’m doing right now. I’ll drive you to work when I’m done here.

B: Fair enough.

hyphen – the sign (-) used to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning or that they are linked in the grammar of a sentence; a sign used to indicate the division of a word at the end of a line, or to indicate a missing or understood element

* Are all of the case files up-to-date?

dash – the punctuation mark (–) used especially to show a break in thought or in the structure of a sentence

* She gave me a camera – an old one – but it still works well.

All of the good, none of the bad – an expression used to describe that everything is positive and that there are no negative elements or qualities

* This business proposal has all of the good, none of the bad.

What Insiders Know
The Marble Palace in New York

The Marble Palace is a “notable” (interesting and worthy of attention) building in New York City. It was named a National “Historic Landmark” (building or structure that is easily recognizable and is important in history) in 1965.

In 1845, Alexander Turney Stewart opened a “mercantile” (older term for a general store, selling many types of items) across the street. When the business became successful, he decided to build a big and “impressive” (causing others to admire it) building across the street, calling it the Marble Palace. Once it was built, the new department store became a very popular shopping “destination” (place where many people went because it was interesting or important in some way) for the New York’s “elite” (people in the highest social positions in society).

As business grew, so did the building. It was “expanded” (made larger) between 1850 and 1852. Eventually, the entire business moved to an even larger and newer location that “covered” (occupied the space of) an entire “block” (area bordered by four streets). The business continued to expand through 1902, but by then, Stewart’s company had been sold to John Wanamaker.

The original building, also known as 280 Broadway, became a “warehouse” (large building used to store goods). It was then “converted” (changed) into offices. In 1917, it was bought by the New York Sun newspaper and “renamed” (given the new name) the “Sun Building.”