Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

568 Topics: Famous Americans – Duke Kahanamoku; The Quiz Shows of the 1950s; terms used for family favorites; when versus what time; based on versus on the basis of

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 568.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 568. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and become a member of ESL Podcast. When you do, you can of course download the Learning Guide for this episode that will help you improve your English one hundred times faster than if you didn’t become a member. Well, roughly one hundred times. If you’re on Facebook, join us at facebook.com/eslpod, and follow us on Twitter at @eslpod.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about one of the most famous American athletes from Hawaii, one of the people who made the sport of surfing popular not only in the United States but throughout the world, the great Duke Kahanamoku. Say that five times fast. We’ll also talk about the quiz shows from the 1950s, and especially the scandals. So, surfing and scandal on today’s Café. Oh, and as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions, too. Let’s get started.

Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, who we’ll just call Duke, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 26th, 1890. At that time, Hawaii was still a separate country – its own kingdom. That would change in just three short years, when it would eventually become a territory of the United States and, in 1959, our 50th (and up to this point, most recent) state. Duke was the oldest child in his family and had nine brothers and sisters. He and his family were native Hawaiians – that is, they were born in Hawaii. Their parents were born in Hawaii, their parents’ parents, and so forth.

He and his family were apparently descended from Hawaiian royalty. “To be descended from” or “to be a descendant” (descendant) is to be someone who is related to another person, we would say, “by blood” – that is, a person is related to another person because he is the son of the son of the son of a certain person. In other words, it doesn’t refer to someone who is married to another person and is therefore related to them in some sort of legal way. Duke and his family were descendants of royalty.

Remember, I said just a minute ago that Hawaii was its own country, its own kingdom. A “kingdom” has typically a king and/or queen. We call the king and queen and those related to them “royalty” (royalty). Queen Elizabeth II of England, at least at this recording, is the queen of England. She is a member of the “royalty,” as are all the members of her immediate family. Duke’s father was also called “Duke.” So, his family didn’t call him Duke, although that’s what we’ll call him. His family called him by his second name, which was Paoa.

Duke was an amazing athlete. An “athlete” (athlete) is a person who plays sports and/or does other forms of physical exercise. Now, as a boy, Duke grew up playing soccer, but like many young people in Hawaii, he soon began swimming, and Duke discovered he was a pretty good swimmer. In fact, he decided to dedicate himself – that is, to work as hard as he could – to become the very best swimmer he could. He became such a good swimmer that in 1912, he joined the United States Olympic team in swimming.

The goal of all Olympic athletes, of course, is to win a “medal” (medal). The Olympics gives medals to the first place person in gold, to the second place person in silver, and to the third place person in bronze. In the 1912 Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden, Duke won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle swim event. “Freestyle” (freestyle) describes a way of swimming in which the swimmer can basically pick whatever style he or she wants to use in order to swim as fast as possible.

Duke was also part of the American team that won the silver medal in one of the relay races. A “relay (relay) race” is when you have usually four people participating and each person does 25 percent, basically, of the event. You have relay races in swimming, or at least they did. You also have relay races in running. So, because of the 1912 Olympics, Duke was already something of an athletic hero, but he was to go on and do something even more extraordinary in the world of sports.

He returned to Hawaii after the Olympics and began focusing on a sport that was already very popular on the islands, surfing. “Surfing,” you probably know, is a sport in which a person rides along the water on a wave, standing on a long board. Duke was as good a surfer as he was a swimmer. In 1912, he actually went to the east coast of the United States and introduced surfing to people who lived there, making the sport popular in the, what we would call, “mainland” of the United States.

He also traveled to Australia and New Zealand in 1914 and 1915 and made the sport popular in those countries as well. Duke was, we might say, an “ambassador” of surfing. He would go to other countries and introduce the sport to those who were living there. In 1920, Duke once again participated in the U.S. Olympic team or on the U.S. Olympic team, and again won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. He also was part of the team that won the gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle relay race.

After the Olympics, he moved here to Los Angeles where he lived for 10 years. You can guess what he did here, of course. He introduced surfing to Southern California, and like a lot of people who come to Los Angeles, to Hollywood, Duke also got involved in the movies. He was in fact in several movies during the 1920s. He participated yet again in the Olympics in 1924 in Paris, winning a silver medal. He won a total of five Olympic medals during the Olympic competitions of 1912, 1920, and 1924.

Also while he was here in Los Angeles, he saved the lives of at least five men. What happened was the men were in a boat off of the coast of Southern California, and the boat got into trouble and started to sink, started to go down into the water. Because Duke was such a great surfer, he was able to reach the men more quickly and helped save the lives of at least five men whose boat had sunk off the coast of Southern California. It was because of this, in part, that the lifeguards here in Southern California began to use surfboards to help rescue people themselves.

A “lifeguard” is the person on the beach who helps anyone having difficulty swimming out in the water. I don’t mean they give them lessons; I mean if they are drowning – that is, if they are having difficulty swimming such that they may even die – the lifeguard goes out and helps the person get back onto the land. After his 10 years here in Los Angeles, Duke returned to Hawaii in 1932, and there he became sheriff of Honolulu. A “sheriff” (sheriff) is basically, in this case, the top police officer in a given town or city.

A sheriff, unlike other police officers, is usually elected by the people of that area. That is true even here today in Los Angeles, and in most places in the United States, most counties have sheriffs. A “county” is a division of a state that is bigger than a city, typically, but smaller than the state itself. California has several counties. One of them is Los Angeles County, and every, I don’t know, four years or so, I guess, we elect a sheriff. We vote for the top police officer for the county of Los Angeles.

Duke was voted the sheriff of the county of Honolulu, which somewhat unusually is the same as the city of Honolulu. The two things are the same thing. In Hawaii, each island is its own county. In fact, that was Duke’s job for more than 30 years. He was the sheriff of Honolulu and therefore a very powerful and important man in the history of Hawaii. Hawaii became a state in 1959 while Duke was sheriff of Honolulu.

After he finished his job working as sheriff, in 1962 he was asked to be what they called in Hawaii, the “Ambassador of Aloha.” “Aloha” (aloha) is a word in the Hawaiian language that means several things, including “hello” and “goodbye,” but also refers to the general spirit you will find in Hawaii – the atmosphere of friendliness and relaxation that the Hawaiians are famous for, at least in the U.S. If you go to Hawaii, you’ll find out what I mean.

They even say that you should “drive with aloha” when you’re in Hawaii, meaning you should be relaxed, not like people here in Los Angeles, many of whom visit Hawaii to relax. In any case, Duke was called the Ambassador of Aloha, and he was asked not only to travel and talk about Hawaii, promote it as a place to have a vacation, but also to greet people – to be there when people came to visit Hawaii, important people. He continued to serve unofficially as Ambassador of Aloha until his death in January of 1969.

Duke is famous in the United States and certainly known to anyone who visits Hawaii, especially the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu. If you go to Honolulu and go to the main beach where most of the tourists are in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the beach of Waikiki, you will see a large statue of Duke right there on the main street in front of the beach, honoring his accomplishments as an Olympian, as a sheriff, and one of the greatest surfers ever to live.

We turn now from surfing to scandal. We’re going to talk about the quiz shows of the 1950s. A “quiz” (quiz) is a short test or examination that tests you on how much you know about a subject. As is true in many countries, in the U.S. we have quiz shows on television where people try to answer questions about a variety of topics. Quiz shows began on American television back in the 1950s.

They not only were part of television, but they were also on radio before that. In fact, they became popular in the 1930s on radio. People could listen to these shows and try to answer the questions themselves. People still do that today. They try to answer questions just as the people participating in the show do. We call those people who are actually on the show “contestants.” A “contestant” (contestant) is someone who participates in, we might also say “takes part in,” a contest or a game – in this case, a quiz show.

In the 1950s, the radio quiz shows that became popular in the ’30s and ’40s were adapted or changed to the new format of television. For television shows, sometimes people were just picked or selected from those who had come to watch the show, what we would call the “audience.” In other times, these contestants were selected in advance, and that’s normally the way quiz shows work today. You normally have to take some sort of test, and then if you do well you may be asked to be a contestant on this show.

The most popular quiz show of the 1960s was called The $64,000 Question. It was called that because you had a chance, an opportunity, to win $64,000 by answering a question that would be worth probably close to 10 times that amount in today’s money, or more than a half a million dollars. Shows like The $64,000 Question were in fact extremely popular, and people watched them in the millions. However, after a few years, television began to offer different kinds of shows, and these shows didn’t seem exciting enough. They didn’t seem engaging enough, interesting enough.

So, perhaps in order to make things more interesting, some of the television studios, some of the television companies who made these shows, started to give answers to the contestants so that they would get them right. This, of course, was dishonest. This was a form of cheating. And eventually, this became part of one of the great scandals of the 1950s, the quiz show scandals. A “scandal” (scandal) is some sort of moral or ethical breaking of the rules that causes everyone to get very upset.

In 1956, one quiz show in particular called Twenty-One came on television. The first show was considered rather boring, and so one of the people responsible for the show, a man by the name of Dan Enright, decided he would make the show more interesting. He would go out and find someone that people would want to watch. So he went out and found a friendly English professor, a man by the name of Charles Van Doren.

Now, Van Doren was the son of a very famous literary critic and writer by the name of Carl Van Doren. His son, Charles Van Doren, was considered an intellectual. He had degrees from Columbia University. He had studied at Cambridge University. He was really a brilliant man, not only in literature but also in science. So here we had a good-looking, brilliant young man, who was at the time teaching at Columbia University, who agreed to participate in this show.

Unfortunately, he too was being given some of the answers, and eventually one of the people who lost on the show to Van Doren decided that he would go to the newspapers and say that the show was in fact cheating – that the contest was “rigged.” “To rig” (rig) means to do something dishonest in a game or a contest, guaranteeing that one side will win even if it wins by being dishonest, and that of course was what was happening on the game show Twenty-One.

As you can imagine, people were shocked, were very surprised, to hear about these claims of the show being rigged. Van Doren himself had become very popular. He was on the cover of magazines. He had won the equivalent of more than a million dollars participating on this game show. Everyone loved him. The television networks loved him. America seemed to love him, and here people were saying that perhaps he had cheated.

Eventually it was discovered – because the U.S. Congress, in part, investigated this scandal – that Van Doren had in fact been given some answers and had in fact cheated. Needless to say, this not only affected Charles Van Doren’s career – no one wanted to be associated with him afterwards – but also the popularity of these quiz shows. Quiz shows didn’t die, however. They continued to be popular on television, but not nearly as popular as they had been when they started.

If you’re interested in the story of the quiz show scandals, you might be interested in watching the movie made in 1994 called Quiz Show, which was about the story of Charles Van Doren and the show Twenty-One. It’s rather a good movie, a very exciting movie.

What happened to Charles Van Doren? Well, he didn’t disappear. He actually went on to write several books, including a book that I read when I was a college student, co-authored with a philosopher by the name of Mortimer Adler, called How to Read a Book. It’s a book about how to read a book, which sounds a little crazy, but actually it’s a very good book about how you can analyze great pieces of writing, great pieces of literature, and get the most out of that experience. I actually highly recommend it, as long as you don’t cheat.

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

Our first question comes from Paul (Paul) in Poland. Paul wants to know the meaning of three terms or expressions: “favorite,” “apple of his eye,” and “black sheep.” The word “favorite” (favorite) as an adjective means something that you prefer over something else. “This is my favorite coffee.” “This is my favorite television show” – I like this show more than any other show. As a noun, then, “favorite” can describe a thing or person that is most preferred. A teacher might say, “Oh, of all of my students, he’s my favorite.” Teachers, like parents, are of course not supposed to have favorites, but they do, often.

Closely related to favorite is the expression “apple of his eye.” If you say, “Julie is the apple of his eye,” you mean that Julie is his favorite. It could be a father talking about his daughter. To say someone is the “apple of his eye” is to refer to a person whom someone loves very much, often a son or daughter.

Finally, the term “black sheep” (sheep), refers to someone who is unlike the rest of the group – perhaps someone who isn’t as successful or who doesn’t have the same positive characteristics as the other members of the group. This term is often used in a family to talk about a son or daughter, brother or sister, who is not as successful as the rest of the family, who perhaps is something of an embarrassment – someone who causes trouble or who gets into trouble. That person could be called the “black sheep of the family.”

Who is the black sheep of my family? Well, I should probably not say in case one of them is listening, especially the black sheep.

From Paul in Poland, we move to Tim (Tim) in Taiwan. Tim in Taiwan wants to know the difference between “when” and the expression “what time.” Let’s start with the second one, “what time.” “What time” always asks for a specific time of the day – two o’clock in the afternoon, six o’clock in the morning. “What time is it?” is a question used to ask for the current time – the time right now as you are speaking.

“When” is an adverb that can mean the same as “what time.” “When are you going?” You could say, “I’m going at three o’clock this afternoon,” but you could also say, “I’m going tomorrow.” “I’m going next week.” “I’m going in the year 2020.” “When,” then, is a much more general question referring to time, but not always a specific hour and minute of a day. “When” can also mean “how soon,” as in the question, “When can I see my brother?” That means perhaps at what time, but also how soon can I see him – in 10 minutes, in 20 minutes, in a half hour, and so forth.

“When” can also serve in English as a conjunction. “I am going to the store when my brother gets home.” That refers to a time, but there its function in the sentence is not as an adverb but as a conjunction linking up or connecting two parts of the sentence.

Finally, Miro (Miro) in Poland wants to know the meaning of two different phrases – “based on” and “on the basis of.” When we say one thing is “based (based) on” something else, we mean that one thing is taking its concepts or its ideas or its form from something else. You could talk about a movie that is “based on a book.” I just saw a long television series that was on British television, War and Peace. That television series was “based on,” of course, the famous book by Tolstoy, called also War and Peace.

Sometimes movies and TV shows that are based on books get different names. The movie My Fair Lady is basically based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. In addition to artistic works, we can also talk about our conclusions being “based on” certain facts. “We took this decision based on the information you gave us.” “Decision,” like conclusion, like a book or a novel, all refer to nouns – things or ideas or concepts that were taken from or inspired from other sources, or simply were formed because of other sources.

“On the basis (basis) of” something is another phrase that is similar to “based on,” but refers usually to actions that were taken. You can often substitute the phrase “because of” for “on the basis of.” “He won on the basis of his intelligence.” Notice that “on the basis of” modifies or is talking about the verb “won” or “to win.” “He won because of his intelligence.” “He won on the basis of his intelligence.” “I am deciding on the basis of the best essay.” The action of my deciding is “on the basis of” something else. Once again, there’s a verb that is being modified.

Now, in conversational English – informal English, especially – people don’t always observe these differences. You will often hear people say, “I’m deciding based on what you said” instead of “I’m deciding on the basis of what you said.” In more formal English, this distinction, this difference between noun versus verb being modified, is observed more strictly.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. Our email address is eslpod@eslpod.com.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks 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 2016 by the Center for Educational Development.

native – a person who is a member of the original culture of a place before Europeans or other groups arrived

* The native people of Australia are called Aborigines and many still live in rural areas in the northern and western part of the country.

descendant – a person who is related by blood to a specific person or group of people from the past

* In Pennsylvania, there is a large group of people who are descendants from German immigrants who came to the United States in the 1700s and 1800s.

royalty – the kings and queens, and their children and relatives, who rule a country

* Many people are familiar with British royalty that includes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry.

athlete – a person who plays sports and does other forms of exercise

* Athletes who play soccer must be good at running and kicking.

medal – a metal disk with words or a picture on it given to remember a particular event or ceremony

* The student who won first place at the science fair was given a gold medal, which she hung on the wall above her desk at home.

freestyle (swimming) – a way of swimming in which one is face down in the water and moves forward by kicking one’s legs and bringing one’s arms around behind one, over one’s head, and back into the water

* Susy enjoyed doing the freestyle when she wanted to exercise, but when she wanted to relax in the water, she preferred the backstroke.

relay – when a person on a team performs an action for a certain time or distance and then is replaced by another person from the team, who performs the same action for another certain time or distance

* Each runner in the relay race passed the baton to her teammate.

surfing – a sport in which one rides on top of a ocean wave while standing on a long board

* Don’t go surfing during a big storm. The water can be very rough and the waves can be dangerous.

quiz show – a television or radio show that asks people questions to test their memory, knowledge, or luck, often allowing them to win money or prizes

* Jeopardy is a popular quiz show that asks people questions about different areas of knowledge.

contestant – a person who takes part in a contest or game

* There are many contestants in the Halloween costume contest, but only one can win the prize of scariest costume.

engaging – attractive and interesting, getting one’s attention

* Engaging speakers can keep audiences entertained for hours.

to rig – to manage or change something so that a desired outcome is reached, even if it requires lying or cheating

* Some parents rig games for young children to be sure that the child always wins to keep them happy.

the apple of (one’s) eye – a person or thing that one loves very much; one’s favorite

* Mina is the apple of her father’s eye and he’d do anything for her.

(one’s) favorite – one’s most liked; one’s preferred

* He’s his parents’ favorite and get more attention than any of his brothers or sisters.

black sheep – someone who does not fit in with the rest of a group and is often considered to be a troublemaker or an embarrassment

* Leo is the black sheep of the family, in and out of jail since the age of 17.

when – at what time; at or during which

* A: When should we plant these flowers?

B: We should plant them in the spring.

what time – at what specific time

* What time does the basketball game start?

based on – something, such as an idea, that was originally taken from something else

* This movie is based on a play first performed in the 1920’s.

on the basis of – based on; because of; due to

* The children were arranged for the class photo on the basis of their height.

What Insiders Know
Surf Music and the California Sound

Orange County, California is almost “synonymous with” (has the same meaning as; is thought of in connection with) “surf culture,” or the “lifestyle” (way of living) of people who are closely connected to “surfing” (the sport of standing on a long board while riding over the top of an ocean wave). This surf culture has “given rise to” (created; led to) “surf music,” which is sometimes referred to as “the California sound.”

Surf music and the California sound are a type of “pop music” and “rock ‘n roll,” but they are characterized by their “optimism” (a belief that things will be good) and “sunny” (cheerful) teenage “outlook” (perspective; way of looking at things). The Beach Boys are the best-known musical group in this “genre” (type of music). They “popularized” (made famous) the California sound with songs focusing on surfing, beaches, cars, California girls, and fun. The titles of their most popular songs included "Surfin' U.S.A.," "Surfer Girl," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Dance, Dance, Dance," and "California Girls."

Some “music critics” (people who know a lot about music and give their opinion, often in writing) don’t like the way that surf music has become synonymous with the Beach Boys. They believe that “true” (real; authentic) surf music is actually “instrumental” (only or primarily with instruments, without few or no words being sung).

Surf music was very popular, especially in California, in the 1960s, but by about 1970, it “had given way” (lost its lead) to new music groups from the United Kingdom, such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who.