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0154 Using Email

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 154: Using Email.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 154. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this podcast, we’re going to talk about something that everyone uses – who listens to this podcast, I would guess – email. Let’s get started!

[start of story]

One of the first things I do each morning is to check my email. I open the email program on my computer and I check for new messages. It usually takes only a few seconds for my new messages to download from the server into my inbox unless there’s a large attachment. I can then click onto each new message to read it.

I reply to messages or forward them to someone else. The important messages I save by putting them into one of my mailboxes. The unimportant ones I just delete.

I really hate getting spam. Luckily, my email program allows me to set up filters so that spam messages are put into a separate mailbox automatically. I usually scan the messages to make sure real messages weren’t put into the mailbox by mistake and then I put them in the trash.

I don’t know what I would do without email, but I’m constantly checking for new messages. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. I suppose it’s both.

[end of story]

Today’s podcast talks about using email. It begins by saying, “One of the first things I do each morning is to check my email.” Notice the use of “each” here. It’s the same as “every.” “I do this every morning.” “To check,” of course, is a common verb in English – it can mean to investigate. It can mean, in this case, to look at or to read. So, “I check my email.” Most people in the world check their email on a computer, but, of course, you can check your email on a cell phone now. In fact, there’s a very popular in the United States called the “Blackberry” (Blackberry). And a “Blackberry” is a type of cell phone that has email and it has a little keyboard that you can respond to email with. And it is very popular among business people. Well, I don’t have a Blackberry but I do have a computer and I open my email program. Notice we use the verb “open” for program – a software program. “I open the email program on my computer and I check for new messages.” We say, “I’m going to check my email,” or “I checked my email yesterday.” But if you use the word “messages,” we say “check for.” “I’m going to check for new messages on my email.”

“It usually takes only a few seconds,” I said, “for my new messages to download from the server.” “To download” – you probably know – (download) – means that it goes on to your computer. It goes from another computer, which we call a “server,” onto your computer. The “server” (server) is a big computer. You can think of it as a big computer where you have many things that are stored. And you can download from that server. Of course, it’s more complicated than that but that’s a simple way of thinking about a server. It’s another computer that you get things from. Well, when you download an email message, it goes into your “inbox” (inbox) – “inbox” – and that is the place where your messages are on your computer – in your email program. The word “inbox” is actually an old word. It was not invented for email. We have always had “inboxes” – “inboxes” and “outboxes” – and they are essentially, little places – a tray, or a basket where people in an office can put papers for someone. So, for example, if I’m working and I have an inbox, my boss could put things in my inbox that I would check to see what I was supposed to do next. And when I was done, I would put them in the “outbox” (outbox) – all one word. So, we have an “inbox,” and an “outbox.”

Well, one of the things you can send via email – that is, through email, is “attachments.” An “attachment” (attachment) is another file. It could be an mp3 file. You can email your friend a song or ESL Podcast. An “attachment” can also be a word document – a Microsoft Word or text document of some sort. In order to read your email, you want to “click onto” each new message. “To click onto” here means the same as to click on but you can say either “click on,” or “click onto.” “Click on the link,” for example, on a webpage will take you to a different web page. You can click onto the link. It really means the same thing. I think we use both, in this case.

I continue saying that “I reply to messages or forward them to someone else.” Of course, “to reply” is to send a message back to that person, or “to forward them” would be to send it to a third person, another person. You can send things by putting them “CC” to someone else. So, for example, if you reply to someone, you want to send it to a third person – that’s using the “CC” or if you don’t want anyone to know who you are sending it to, you can “BCC.” “CC” stands for – well, in the old days, back when I was a child – “CC” stood for “Carbon Copy” –“carbon (carbon) copy” – and that’s because if you wanted to make a copy on a typewriter, you had to put two pieces of paper in and in between the two pieces of paper, you put a little black sheet that had “carbon” on it, in order to – so, when you hit the typewriter key, it would make a mark on the first page and also on the second page. Well, we don’t have carbon copies anymore, but we still use that abbreviation “CC.” In fact, you can also use “CC” as a verb. Some people will say, “Please CC me on that,” or “Please CC your wife on that.” The other abbreviation we use is “BCC.” And “B” as in “blind” carbon copy. So, a “blind CC,” or “BCC” – it’s blind because no one can see who you are sending it to.

Well, after I either reply or forward a message, I “save” messages into one of my “mailboxes.” Once again, “mailbox” (mailbox) – all one word – is a word we had before the Internet, before email. The “mailbox” is what the postal carrier – what we would call the “mail carrier” – puts your mail into. When you have unimportant email messages, and most of the messages we get seem to be unimportant, those you can just “delete” (delete) – of course, means that you get rid of them. You delete them. Notice that we say, “I just delete.” The idea here is that I don’t do anything else with them. So, when someone says, “Just get me a glass of water” – what they’re saying is you don’t have to give me anything else. All that I want – the only thing I want – is a glass of water. However, we can’t use “only” here. You can’t say, “I only delete.” It’s not a proper use of the word only in this particular situation. We would use “just.”

Well, I say, “I hate getting spam,” and of course, you all know, “spam” (spam) is mail that you don’t want. I talked about “spam” on another podcast and I received several emails of people telling me it came from the Monty Python – the British humor sketch – where they sang a song with spam.

[singing]

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam

You know, that one. And it’s a very famous comedy sketch – a comedy performance that was in a television show from England. Okay, back to the story.

I said that “Luckily,” or “Fortunately, my email program allows me to set up filters.” “To set up” (setup) – two words – “to set up” means to prepare, to get ready. We use the verb “set up” for lots of things. You can “set up” your computer. You can “set up” a computer program. We probably would say, “Install.” “To install,” (install) of course means to take a piece of software and put it on your computer. After you install it, you have to set it up, which means you have to, perhaps, put in some other information into the program.

Well, you can “set up,” or arrange “filters” in your email. And a “filter” (filter) is something that stops something else. Once again, this is a word – a general word in English that we use. “To filter something” means to prevent something from going through. The idea is that something does go through and something doesn’t go through. So, for example, if you are cooking – well, a better example – if you are making coffee, you put the coffee – we would say the “coffee grounds” (grounds) – that’s the coffee that’s in very fine – like a powder. And you put the coffee grounds into a coffee filter. The water goes through and, of course, it becomes coffee. It turns into coffee. It has the flavor of coffee. But the coffee grounds do not go through. So, you can use that word in many different cases. You can even say, “He’s filtering my messages.” “He’s filtering my communication” – that is, he’s stopping me, preventing me from communicating with someone else.

Well, in this case, “I usually scan my messages to make sure that real messages weren’t put into my spam mailbox.” “To scan” (scan) means to look at quickly. Not to read every single thing, but to look at quickly. And we use this verb for things other than email. You can scan the newspaper. You can scan the phonebook, looking for a telephone number – means to look very quickly. Well, I scan my messages and when I am sure that no real messages are in my spam mailbox, I put everything in the “trash.” And, of course, the “trash” (trash) is where you delete things, where you want to get rid of it. Again, we use the word “trash” in a non email context as well. I am standing next to a trash bucket – that’s a place where we put things that we don’t want like. For example, bills from the phone company – just put those in the trash.

Now, “I don’t know what I would do without email” – this is also a common expression, “I don’t know what I would do without you,” “without my computer,” “without my wife.” I would be lost without my wife. I’m very sure. So, “you don’t know what you would do without,” meaning I can’t imagine a situation where I did not have this thing, or this person. I say that “I’m constantly checking my email for new messages” – once again, “to check for new messages.” “Constantly,” of course, (constantly) is an adverb meaning “all the time” – over and over again. I end the story by saying, “I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse.” A “blessing” (blessing) is a noun – comes from the verb “to bless” (bless) and it means a good thing that is given to you, often for those who are religious, say that “It is a blessing from God,” or “It is a blessing from Allah.” It is something good that is given to you . The opposite of that would be a “curse” (curse). The idea is that a “curse” is a punishment, it’s a bad thing. Well, I’m saying that “Email may be a blessing or a curse,” and that again is a common expression. “Is it a blessing or a curse?” – someone would say, or “I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse.” It has good things, it has bad things. I end by saying, “I suppose it’s both.” Now, you probably know, we use that verb a lot – “suppose” – to mean different things. Here, it means “I guess.” “I think it’s both but I’m not sure, but that’s my best guess.”

Now let’s listen to the story this time at a native rate of speech.

[start of story]

One of the first things I do each morning is to check my email. I open the email program on my computer and I check for new messages. It usually takes only a few seconds for my new messages to download from the server into my inbox unless there’s a large attachment. I can then click onto each new message to read it.

I reply to messages or forward them to someone else. The important messages I save by putting them into one of my mailboxes. The unimportant ones I just delete.

I really hate getting spam. Luckily, my email program allows me to set up filters so that spam messages are put into a separate mailbox automatically. I usually scan the messages to make sure real messages weren’t put into the mailbox by mistake and then I put them in the trash.

I don’t know what I would do without email, but I’m constantly checking for new messages. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. I suppose it’s both.

[end of story]

Remember to visit our website at www.eslpod.com for a script of the story today. Our story was written, as always, by the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse, and we thank her for her work.

That’s all we have time for today. From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We will see you next time, I hope, on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. This podcast is copyright 2006.

Glossary
email program – a type of software that allows one to send and receive written messages

* Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail are popular free email programs.


to check for – to look for something; to see whether something exists or whether something has happened; to confirm the existence or presence of something

* The skin doctor checked the patient’s skin for any unusual markings.


message – note; written or verbal (spoken) information sent from one person to another

* Did I get any messages while I was out of the office?


to download – to copy electronic files or programs from the Internet to one’s computer

* This online banking system lets us download information about the payments we’ve made in the past nine months.


server – an important and powerful computer that is connected to many other computers and controls them, often loaded with programs that other computers need to access

* This website won’t open. How can I find out if it’s a problem with my computer or a problem with the server?


inbox – the part of an email program where new messages are listed until the user decides to delete or move them

* On most mornings, his inbox has more than 100 new messages.


attachment – a file sent with an email message, but that must be opened separately

* Please put the text of your cover letter in an email message and send your résumé as an attachment.


to reply – to respond or answer; to write back to a person who sent a message to oneself

* Geraldo normally replies to messages within two business days.


to forward – to send a message that one has received to another person so that he or she can read the original text

* If the salesperson sends an email to you with a good price quote, please forward it to me so that I can see it, too.


mailbox – one of several folders within an email program where the user can save related messages

* Youngwoo created one mailbox for work, one for bills, and one for messages from his family and friends.


to delete – to throw away written or printed material; to destroy; to get rid of; to eliminate an electronic file or message

* When I get emails from online pharmacies, I delete them without opening them.


spam – unwanted electronic messages; impersonal email messages that are sent to many people, often to try to sell something

* Ever since we entered our email address on that online dating site, we’ve been getting a lot of spam.


filter – a tool in an email program that allows only certain types of messages to be seen or read, deleting or hiding messages that do not meet certain criteria

* With this email program, you can create a filter so that messages from your boss automatically go into a special folder.


to scan – to review something very quickly; to read the most important parts of something to get the general idea, without reading all the words

* I can’t spend hours reading the newspaper each morning, so I scan the headlines quickly to find the articles that interest me the most.


trash – garbage; a folder in an email program where unwanted messages are placed until they are destroyed permanently

* Whoops! I accidentally put an important message in the trash. Is there any way to undo it?


blessing – something that is very good and makes one happier or helps one enjoy life more, often used to talk about things sent by God

* Congratulations on your pregnancy! Babies are such a blessing.


curse – something that is bad and creates a lot of trouble or harm or causes many problems, often used to talk about things sent by the devil or evil people

* The witch used a curse to turn the prince into a frog.


to suppose – to believe something; to think that something is true although there is a little bit of doubt and one isn’t entirely sure

* I’m pretty busy this week, but I suppose I can help you study for the test as long as it won’t take more than two hours.

Culture Note
The United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service (“USPS”) is an independent U.S. government agency. It has not received “taxpayer dollars” (money collected by the government from Americans and American businesses) since 1983, although it does borrow some money from the U.S. Treasury.

Even though the USPS is financially independent, it is not really independent of the U.S. government. The U.S. “Constitution” (the most important legal document in the United States) “explicitly” (openly and very clearly) “authorizes” (allows something to exist; says that something is legal) the agency and sets clear expectations for how the USPS should operate. The USPS is required to serve all Americans, “regardless of” (no matter) where they live with the same-quality service for the same price. Obviously, it is more expensive to deliver mail to people who live in very “isolated” (hard to reach; far from others) areas, but the USPS cannot charge more money for serving those people.

An 11-member “Board of Governors” creates policies and procedures and sets “postage rates” (how much it costs to send something through the mail). The U.S. President “appoints” (suggests; names) nine of those members, who then must be “confirmed” (approved) by the U.S. Senate. Those members choose the “Postmaster General” (the leader of the USPS, like a CEO) and the “Deputy Postmaster General” (the second in command, like a COO).

The USPS has a “monopoly” (with total control over a type of business, without competition) over mail delivery and no other companies are allowed to compete with it. However, there is an “exception” (a time when the rules are different) for “urgent” (very important and needing to be done very quickly) mail, and that is why private delivery services like FedEx (Federal Express) and UPS (United Parcel Service) are able to sell “express” (very quick) delivery services.