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594 Topics: The Black Loyalists of the American Revolution; alert versus alarm versus warning; haze versus mist; pronouncing “advantage” and other “nt” words

Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 594.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 594. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about a little-known group in American history, but an interesting one, the Black Loyalists. And as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let’s get started.

Today we talk about a little-known group in American history, the Black Loyalists. I have to admit that before doing the research for this Café and reading about it, I wasn’t very familiar with this group at all, but it’s a very interesting one.

Let’s start with the definition of the word “loyalist.” A “loyalist” (loyalist) is a person who supports his or her government during a time of war. The word comes from, of course, “loyal,” which means to support, to protect, to defend a certain group or even a certain person. We often say “I am loyal to” a certain person when we are good friends with that person or we are willing to defend that person or continue being a supporter of that person. You could be “loyal to your company,” meaning you wouldn’t do anything that would harm or hurt your company.

In American history, however, the word “loyalist” is associated with the American Revolution, which took place between 1775 and 1783. It was a long war during which the American colonies, which belonged to Great Britain, tried to free themselves bfrom Britain, and of course were ultimately, at the end, successful. During this period, people living in the American colonies fought for their independence, but not everyone fought for independence. Some people wanted to stay with Great Britain.

I mentioned “American colonies.” I should explain that a “colony” (colony) is a group of people from one country, usually, who live in an area separated from that home country. Many countries, especially in Europe, have had colonies around the world, although the concept of a colony is certainly not new. The Phoenicians and the ancient Greeks had colonies across the Mediterranean, although they were a little different in the sense that they weren’t necessarily controlled by the home country.

In modern European history, colonies were controlled by the home country, typically, and that was the case in the eighteenth century with Great Britain and its colonies. Many of the people living in the American colonies wanted independence from Great Britain. Those that didn’t, however, were called “loyalists.” They wanted to remain loyal. They wanted to stay with Great Britain.

They were, I guess we might say, “bremainers.” They didn’t want to have any sort of exit from Great Britain. Of course, you may be aware that during 2016 there was, of course, the famous “Brexit,” where Great Britain decided to leave the European Union. Well, this was the original Brexit – the Brexit of the American Revolution. Those that wanted to remain were called “loyalists.”

Now, during this period, parts of the American economy depended on “slaves” – people who were considered property and used as property. These slaves came mostly from Africa. They lived – although not exclusively, but mostly – in the Southern colonies on plantations, on large farms. The British government had a very clever, a very smart idea, because it needed more people to fight in its army. It said to these black slaves, “If you fight for us, we’ll give you your freedom, and if we win the war, we’ll give you amounts of land that you can have your own farms on.”

Well, this for many black slaves seemed like a pretty good deal. After all, there couldn’t be much worse than being a slave, and if the American colonists won – those that wanted independence – they would remain or continue to be slaves. So, many of these black slaves left their owners and joined the British. Of course, the owners weren’t very happy. The slaves had to escape. They had to get free of their owners. As a group, they were called the Black Loyalists – blacks, or nowadays we call them African Americans, who supported Great Britain.

The Black Loyalists were very valuable to the British military. I mean, if you think about it, these are people who have been living in the colonies, who knew the land, who knew where things were, at least in their own local area, and so the British were able to use that knowledge to fight the American Revolutionists – those who wanted to split or exit Great Britain.

Now, I should mention that the Americans – that is, the revolutionary Americans – weren’t stupid. They realized that they would have to give the slaves something to have the slaves fight for them. So in many cases, they made the same offer to the slaves. “If you fight for us, we will also give you your freedom.” So, there were African Americans who fought both with the revolutionaries as well as with the British.

The Black Loyalists who fought with the British were soldiers – that is, they actually fought in the army – but they were also cooks, carpenters, and blacksmiths, especially those who had certain skills that they had learned as slaves. A “carpenter” (carpenter) is a person who makes things out of wood – a table, a chair, and so forth. A “blacksmith” (blacksmith) is a person who makes and repairs things made out of iron.

When the war ended and the British lost, the loyalists, of course, were no longer very welcome in the United States – not just the white loyalists, but the black loyalists as well. These loyalists in many cases decided to leave the newly formed United States of America and go to other countries.

For the most part, they went to either England – that is to say, back to Great Britain – or to the north, to Canada, which was still part of Great Britain. In total, about 60,000 loyalists left the United States, including 14,000 thousand Black Loyalists. The Black Loyalists didn’t get what they were promised, of course, because Great Britain lost, though many of them did at least get their freedom.

The Black Loyalists who went back to England, although for the most part free, weren’t very happy. They didn’t have jobs, and so they were for the most part in “poverty.” “Poverty” (poverty) is the state or the situation of not having very much money, of not having enough for you to live very well. You don’t have enough food or medicine. Everything the Black Loyalists owned during or before the war, if they had owned anything, had of course been left in the United States.

Many people in England and in the British government believed, in fact, that the Black Loyalists were not entitled to receive any help from them since they had already been given their freedom. “To be entitled” (entitled) means that you deserve something, that you should get something because it is your right. The British government said, “Well, we gave them their freedom, therefore we don’t need to give them jobs or any additional money.” So the Black Loyalists who were in England didn’t do very well economically.

The Black Loyalists who went to Canada were also rather unsuccessful. Again, they had their freedom, but not a lot else. Most of them settled in an area called Nova Scotia. “To settle” (settle) means to make your permanent home somewhere. Nova Scotia is the most eastern part of Canada. It’s located about 700 miles, or 1,100 kilometers, northeast of the city of Boston in Massachusetts. It’s on the Atlantic Ocean. The word “Nova Scotia” means “new Scotland.” It’s a very beautiful place, but not a place with a lot of other people, even today.

Because the population of Nova Scotia was even smaller back then, the arrival of all of these Black Loyalists caused a very difficult situation. Many of them arrived in the middle of a cold winter, and like those who went to England, they didn’t have anything. They didn’t have clothes. They didn’t have money. Many of them had to spend that first cold winter without proper shelter and with little food. “Shelter” (shelter) is a place that gives you protection from the outdoors, from the weather.

Also, as in England, the Black Loyalists did not receive the land that they were promised – though to be fair, the Brits did lose the war. The few who were eventually given land, found that the land was not very good for farming, so that they were unable to survive on it. Eventually many of these Black Loyalists found jobs in Canada doing the same sorts of things they did back in the American colonies. They worked as carpenters, as cooks, as blacksmiths, and some of them who had the skills, as tailors. A “tailor” (tailor) is a person who makes clothing, especially clothing that is specific for a certain person.

Many of the Black Loyalists were also afraid that they might be sold back into slavery. There were, in fact, slave ships that went up and down the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. So this was a very real threat. In 1787, a group formed in England called the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor. This was a group that used British government money to begin a new colony – a colony back in Africa.

This money was used to start a settlement, a small town in an area that became known as Sierra Leone. Nowadays Sierra Leone is its own country on the western edge of Africa. The idea, however, was to bring black people back to Africa, where they had originally come from. A few years later, some Americans had the same idea and started their own colony in what is now Liberia.

This Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor said to the blacks living in England that if they wanted to return to Africa, they could go to this new colony of Sierra Leone and receive land to farm on. In 1787, over 400 of the black loyalists from London went to Sierra Leone. A few years later, approximately 1,200 black loyalists from Canada moved there.

Now, although the idea sounded like a good one at the time, there were many problems with this concept. Many of the blacks that had been sold into slavery were from different parts of Africa. They spoke different languages. They had different traditions. Many didn’t even have a memory of Africa, much less this new area that they were being sent to called Sierra Leone. Not surprisingly, the colony was not a great success.

When they got there, the land was not ready to be farmed. In fact, most of it was a jungle. A “jungle” (jungle) is an area of land that has many plants and trees. There were wild animals, of course, in this area. There were also many diseases and illnesses that the Black Loyalists and other colonists were not used to. They were not immune to these diseases. “To be immune” (immune) means that you are resistant to or that you are not affected by a disease.

As I mentioned earlier, these Black Loyalists had left Africa many years ago, and many of them had never even been to Africa, since of course slaves had children who were themselves slaves. They had grown up in the American colonies without any experience of Africa at all. Sadly, many of these new colonists died in Sierra Leone soon after arriving.

They say that history is written by the victors. A “victor” (victor) is a winner – the person who wins in a battle, a competition, or a war. History books, then, are written by the people who won the war, which is probably why in American history books, at least when I was in school, there’s rarely any mention of these Black Loyalists, because of course they were supporting the losing side of the war, but they are nevertheless still part of American history, and now you – and I – know a little bit more about them.

Now let’s answer a few of your questions.

Our first question comes from China, from Frank (Frank). Frank wants to know the meaning of three different words: “alert” (alert), “alarm” (alarm), and “warning” (warning).

“Alert” can mean a couple of different things. It can mean to be noticing things around you or to be able to think clearly. If someone says to you, “You need to be alert,” he means you need to be paying attention to things around you, perhaps because there is something dangerous or someone dangerous. The word “alert” is also used for a message, which can sometimes be as simple as a loud sound, telling people that there is some problem or some danger, or simply something you have to remember.

On many calendar programs on phones and computers there is often an alert that you can “set” (set). You “set the alert” so that when your appointment is, say, an hour away, your computer will beep or your phone will have a message that will come up telling you that your appointment is coming up. That’s an “alert.” An alert could also be a message that something is dangerous, or something dangerous is happening, and that you need to be careful.

The word “alarm” can also be used for that warning or message that tells you that there is a problem or that there is something dangerous going on. We have, in many homes, “burglar alarms.” A “burglar” (burglar) is someone who enters your home to steal things. So, a “burglar alarm” tells you that someone is going into your house. The word “alarm,” then, can mean the actual device or electronic object that warns you about something, or it can mean simply the message that there is a problem. The message itself might be the “alarm,” including a loud sound that tells you there’s a problem.

Finally, we have “warning.” A warning is a statement that someone is doing something wrong or that there is danger. So, one meaning of “warning” is very similar to “alarm” or “alert” – that is, that there is a problem, that there is something dangerous going on or something dangerous that might happen soon. We also use the word “warning” when we are describing a statement, something that we say or write to a person telling him that if he doesn’t change his ways, if he doesn’t do something different, he might be punished or bad things might happen to him.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the police will stop you for “speeding” – that is, for driving too fast. The police officer usually will punish you by giving you something called a “ticket” (ticket), which is basically a fine. It’s money you have to pay the government. But if you’re lucky, he may give you a “warning.” He may say, “I’m not going to give you a ticket, but you should drive more slowly, and next time if I catch you, you will get a ticket.” So, he’s telling you that something bad will happen in the future if you don’t change your ways. So don’t drive too fast out there.

Sergey (Sergey) from Russia wants to know the difference between “haze” and “mist.” “Haze” (haze) can describe something that is in the air that makes it difficult for you to see. It could be smoke from a fire. It could be dirt or dust that is being blown by a strong wind, or it could be some form of water. Now, if it’s water, we usually call it “mist” (mist).

“Mist” is water that is in the air but it isn’t as heavy or as large as rain. Rain is when you’re getting very wet because lots of water is falling from the sky, from clouds. “Mist” is when there is water in the air but it is very light. It doesn’t make you very wet, or at least not as wet as rain. You can also create mist from a special kind of bottle, from what we would call a “spray (spray) bottle.” A spray bottle is one that you can use to create mist.

For example, if you are cleaning your kitchen, you might have some dirt in one area of your kitchen, so you get out a bottle of cleaner – something that will help you clean the dirt. Often these bottles have what’s called a “spray top.” It almost looks like a little gun, and you use your hands to squeeze or to bring the part of the spray top toward you, and that creates or triggers a kind of liquid mist that comes out of the bottle.

I should also mention that there is a common expression “in a haze,” which means to be confused, to be unable to think clearly. If someone hits you on the head, you may suddenly feel like you’re “in a haze.” You are confused. Or maybe if you drink too much, that would happen. Maybe Sergey was drinking a little too much when he wrote this email. I don’t know.

Our final question comes from Esmaeel (Esmaeel) in Iran. The question is about the word “advantage” (advantage). The question is partly about the pronunciation of the word, “advantage.” Do we pronounce it with the “t” in the middle or without the “t”?

Let me first briefly define “advantage.” An “advantage” is something that helps make a thing or a person better than someone else, or at least something that helps a person be more successful than someone else. If you speak English, you have an “advantage” when you are travelling to another country because many other people speak English even in countries where the majority of people speak a different language. So, knowing English is an “advantage.” It helps you be successful, more successful than someone who does not have that advantage.

Now, in terms of the pronunciation, if you’ve been listening carefully, you can tell that I use the “t” in my pronunciation, or the “t” sound. I say “advantage.” If I were speaking more informally or perhaps more quickly, I may say something like, “Well, he has a lot of advantages.” “He has a lot of advantages.” Notice that the “t” almost disappears, if not completely disappears. So, it depends on the person, it depends on the situation.

If I’m speaking more carefully, as I usually do on our lessons, then I will almost certainly use the pronunciation with the “t” sound. “He has a real advantage.” Normally I think I would pronounce it with the “t,” but there are others – again, perhaps in a more informal situation – where the “t” in the middle isn’t pronounced as strongly.

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 2017 by the Center for Educational Development.

loyalist – a person who supports his or her government, especially in a time of war

* The loyalists in the French Revolution tried to find a way to get the king and queen safely out of the country, but they were not successful.

colony – a community of people of one nationality or ethnic group living together in a foreign city or country

* Many of the islands in the Caribbean were set up as colonies by European countries to produce sugar and bananas to be sold in Europe.

slave – a person who is considered the property of another person and can be bought, sold, and forced to work

* The slaves were forced to work 16-hour days in the hot sun with only one meal and little access to water.

carpenter – a person whose job is to make and repair wooden objects and structures

* We’re looking for a highly skilled carpenter to build a custom bed.

blacksmith – a person whose job is to make and repair objects made from iron

* In the old days, having a blacksmith in a village was very important to put shoes on horses and to make and mend household items.

poverty – the state of having very little money and not being able to buy the basic things needed to live, such as food and medicine

* Some people cannot believe that someone who works a full-time job can still live in poverty, but it is possible with the high cost of housing, childcare, and food.

to be entitled – to be deserving of certain privileges or special treatment

* Passengers who pay for first class seats on an airplane are often entitled to board the airplane first and to have a wider selection of meals.

to settle – to make one’s permanent home in a particular place

* Jean moved from city to city in her 20s and 30s, but settled in Seattle in her 40s.

shelter – a place that gives protection from the weather or the outdoors

* The storm hit while they were still out hiking in the woods, so they found a cave for shelter until the rain stopped.

tailor – a person whose job is to make clothing to fit individual customers

* A good tailor can make clothes that make people look taller or slimmer.

jungle – an area of land that is overgrown with plants and many trees

* The Amazon is a jungle that is home to millions of insects and birds.

immune – having resistance to or not affected by something, usually diseases, because of having something in one’s body that does not allow it

* She is immune to chicken pox now because she had it as a child.

alert – able to think clearly and to notice things around one; something, such as a message or loud sound, that tells people there is some danger, problem, or something one must remember

* We’re going into enemy territory. Stay alert and watch for danger.

alarm – a device that makes a loud sound as a warning or signal; a feeling of fear caused by suddenly sensing danger

* Set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. so we can get ready for our 7:00 a.m. flight.

warning – something that tells someone about possible danger or trouble; a statement that tells someone that bad or wrong behavior will be punished if it happens again

* Hassan ignored the posted warning about watchdogs and nearly got bitten when he tried to get into his neighbor’s yard to retrieve his soccer ball.

haze – dust, smoke, or mist that has filled the air so that one cannot see clearly; a state of feeling confused and not being able to think clearly

* Marla tried to find her family in the haze after the bomb fell.

mist – water in the form of very small drops in the air or falling as rain; a stream or spray of liquid in the form of very small drops

* Laura saw the mist come off the lake and knew she didn’t want to be out in the cold, wet air.

advantage – something that helps to make someone or something better so that it is more likely to succeed than others; a feature that is a good or desirable

* Of course you won the game. You have the advantage of having played it many times before.

What Insiders Know
The Longoria Affair

Felix Longoria was a Mexican American soldier who fought in World War II. He died in 1945, just a few days after he was “stationed” (sent to serve in a particular place as a soldier) in the Philippines. His “remains” (what is left of a dead body) were not “identified” (determined to be from a specific individual) until 1949.

His “widow” (a wife whose husband has died) wanted to have a “wake” (a period of time when people come to view the dead body and show their respect for the person who has died). However, the “funeral home” (a business and building where bodies are prepared for burial) in Three Rivers, Texas, “refused” (would not do something) to do so because Longoria was Mexican American. The director of the funeral home said that “whites” (people with light-colored skin) would not like it. He offered to bury the body in the “segregated” (separated by race; with white people in one part and minorities in another part) “cemetery” (a place where bodies are buried).

Some people were “outraged” (very upset) that a “decorated” (honored) solider who had died while serving his country would be treated this way. The senator at that time, Senator (and future President) Lyndon Baines Johnson, “arranged for” (organized for something to happen in a particular way) Longoria’s body to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. where many soldiers are buried.

The “Longoria Affair” became a “national news story” (a story discussed in newspapers all across the country, not just local newspapers). The situation became important in the “civil rights movement” (efforts to be treated equally) for Mexican Americans across the country, and the city of Three Rivers was “shamed” (made to feel bad) for its refusal to treat Longoria and his widow with the respect they were “due” (owed; needing to be given).