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0720 Buying Office Furniture

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 720: Buying Office Furniture.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 720. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there today and become a member of ESL Podcast and help support this podcast so that we can continue providing you good English lessons – not great, but pretty good!

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue between Natalia and Kei discuss some office vocabulary dealing with office furniture. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Natalia: Is that the Office Shop catalogue?

Kei: Yeah, I’m in charge of furnishing the new offices on the second floor. They need everything – desks, file cabinets, bookcases – you name it.

Natalia: That sounds like fun. I love shopping for new furniture. Can I help?

Kei: Yes, definitely. I’ve picked out a few things already, but I’m having a hard time deciding among all of these office chairs.

Natalia: Get this one. They’re on casters and are fully adjustable.

Kei: Okay, what about desks? Everybody has a different idea about office desks.

Natalia: I like this one. It’s got a keyboard tray, file drawers, and space for lateral files. See?

Kei: All right, I guess that one is as good as any, but what about this one with a hutch?

Natalia: This desk has an optional hutch. If the new employees want a hutch, they can order one later.

Kei: Okay, last but not least, we need bookcases.

Natalia: These are solid wood and look sturdy. What do you think?

Kei: I think there’s one person who’s cut out for this job, and that person is not me!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Natalia saying, “Is that the Office Shop catalogue?” Office Shop is the name of some store that sells office material, not a real place. A “catalogue” is a printed book with many pages that usually contains photographs and descriptions – pictures and text about what a particular company sells. So, you might have a clothing catalogue that shows all the latest dresses and shirts, pants, that sort of thing; you could have a office furniture catalogue that shows things that you can buy for your office. Catalogues are becoming less common because people now sell on the Internet and you don’t need to send them a book.

Kei says, “Yeah, I’m in charge of furnishing the new offices on the second floor.” “To furnish” (furnish) is a verb meaning to buy furniture, things like desks and chairs for a certain place, for a house or, in this case, for an office. The noun “furnishings” (plural) refers to furniture, but the verb “to furnish” means to go and buy – select and buy furniture for a particular place. Kei says that the second floor offices need everything, “desks, file cabinets, bookcases – you name it.” A “desk” is a large piece of furniture, like a table, that you are able to write on or put your computer on and other objects: paper, pencils, that sort of thing. Desks can be very small, like a school desk where a student sits, or it can be very large, like what the president of the company might have. “File cabinets” (sometimes called “filing cabinets,” they’re the same thing) are large – typically large pieces of furniture that have big drawers in them – boxes, if you will, that pull out and you can put into them pieces of paper that are put into cardboard files. A “file” is a large piece of cardboard that is folded in half and you put papers in it, just like you would put meat in a sandwich, and then you put these files into a drawer – a large box – and then that drawer goes into the file cabinet. A “cabinet” is a general term for a place to store things – to keep things. So here, we are keeping the files; it’s a file cabinet. “Bookcases” (one word) are large pieces of furniture that hold books, of course. A bookcase has straight, flat pieces of either metal or wood, usually two or three, sometimes more; these are called “shelves.” Individually, it’s a “shelf” (shelf). And, you put the books on the shelves. Kei says they need “desks, file cabinets, bookcases – you name it.” This is an expression; when someone says, “you name it,” they mean that they have given you a list of possible things, but there are even more things that they could say. It’s as if you are starting a list, but then you stop because there are so many things on the list, you use the things that you say as a sample – as an example.

Natalia says, “That sounds like fun.” I’m not sure if she’s joking or being serious there. “I love shopping for new furniture.” So I guess she’s serious, she does think this will be fun. “Can I help?” Kei says, “Yes, definitely. I’ve picked out (I’ve selected a few things here) a few things already, but I’m having a hard time (I’m having a difficult time) deciding among all of these office chairs.” A “chair,” of course, is what you sit on; an “office chair” would be a chair that you would typically find in an office. Often office chairs are adjustable; you can make them taller or shorter depending on what you want.

Natalia says, “Get this one (meaning buy this one). They’re on casters and are fully adjustable.” “Casters” (casters) are small wheels that you put on the bottom of a chair or any very heavy furniture so that you can move it back and forth easily. You might have a desk on casters, possible. You probably wouldn’t have a bookcase on casters, but you might have a small filing cabinet on casters so you could move it back and forth easily. Natalia says that the chairs that he should buy should be adjustable. “Adjustable” means you can move it in different positions, as I was saying earlier, you can make it higher or lower for example.

Kei says, “Okay, what about desks? Everybody has a different idea about office desks.” Natalia says, “I like this one. It’s got a keyboard tray, file drawers, and space for lateral files. See?” A “keyboard tray” is a small, flat piece of wood or metal that goes underneath your desk, and you can pull it out and type on it – put your keyboard there so you can enter information into your computer. The reason that some desks have keyboard trays is because the desk is too tall and in order to have a comfortable position for typing you want the keyboard to be lower than the top of the desk. A “file drawer” is similar to what we talked about when we discussed file cabinets. A “file drawer” is a drawer that you put files in that’s in a desk; a “file cabinet” is separate from the desk. “Lateral files” are a kind of file drawer – file system where the files are facing either left or right. Normally when you have a file cabinet, you pull out the drawer and the files are all facing you. In other words, they are in a direction so you can read them easily. To have a “lateral file” means that the files are basically at 90 degrees from where you are so that they don’t face the same direction as the drawer pulling out, they face in a perpendicular direction – if that makes any sense.

Kei says, “All right, I guess that one is as good as any (meaning that’s good enough), but what about this one with a hutch?” A “hutch” (hutch) is something that goes on top of your desk; it’s usually something that has some places for storing things. So, it’s like a storage cabinet that goes on the top of a desk, usually at the back of the desk. Sometimes it can be a place to put your computer, sometimes it’s a place for other equipment, it depends on the desk and the hutch.

Natalia says, “This desk has an optional hutch.” Something that is “optional” means that it doesn’t have to go with the desk; you can choose it or not, it isn’t required. Natalia says, “If the new employees want a hutch, they can order one later.” They can get one after they first start using the desk.

Kei says, “Okay, last but not least (meaning this is the last thing we need to do, but it’s not necessarily the least important), we need bookcases.” Natalia says, “These are solid wood and look sturdy.” “Solid” usually means strong or well built, something that is firm, something that is stable. “Solid” has some other meanings in English as well; take a look at our Learning Guide for those. “Sturdy” (sturdy) also means strong, well built, something that won’t fall down or fall apart easily. Natalia says, “What do you think?” Kei says, “I think there’s one person who’s cut out for this job, and that person is not me!” “To be cut out for (something)” means to be well qualified to do something or to be well prepared to do something. You might say, “I’m not cut out for doing heavy lifting,” or, “I’m not cut out for painting,” it’s not something I would do a very good job at. That’s what I tell my wife all the time!

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Natalia: Is that the Office Shop catalogue?

Kei: Yeah, I’m in charge of furnishing the new offices on the second floor. They need everything – desks, file cabinets, bookcases – you name it.

Natalia: That sounds like fun. I love shopping for new furniture. Can I help?

Kei: Yes, definitely. I’ve picked out a few things already, but I’m having a hard time deciding among all of these office chairs.

Natalia: Get this one. They’re on casters and are fully adjustable.

Kei: Okay, what about desks? Everybody has a different idea about office desks.

Natalia: I like this one. It’s got a keyboard tray, file drawers, and space for lateral files. See?

Kei: All right, I guess that one is as good as any, but what about this one with a hutch?

Natalia: This desk has an optional hutch. If the new employees want a hutch, they can order one later.

Kei: Okay, last but not least, we need bookcases.

Natalia: These are solid wood and look sturdy. What do you think?

Kei: I think there’s one person who’s cut out for this job, and that person is not me!

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is cut out for writing wonderful scripts; that’s our own Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2011 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
catalogue – a printed book with many pages containing photographs and written descriptions of items that are sold by a particular company

* If you order clothes through a catalogue, it’s really important to know the correct size since you can’t try things on before you buy them.

to furnish – to purchase furniture and place it in a room that previously did not have any furniture

* Maggie is really excited about furnishing her college dorm room.

desk – a large piece of furniture like a table, but with drawers, used for studying or working, often with room for a computer

* When Shane is busy, he has papers spread out all over his desk.

file cabinet – a metal or wooden piece of furniture with large drawers that usually lock, used to organize and store many pieces of paper

* This file cabinet contains files on all our clients, in alphabetical order.

bookcase – a large, tall piece of furniture with many shelves and an open front, used to store books and objects that one wants to display

* Let’s put these heavy encyclopedias on the bottom of the bookcase, and put your awards and trophies at eye level on these higher shelves.

you name it – a phrase used when one has finished listing several items to show that many other things could be included in that list

* Uncle Ron has worked as a carpenter, a lawyer, a school bus driver, a bank teller, an accountant – you name it!

office chair – a chair used in front of a desk at work, usually with wheels and a back and arms that can be moved for greater comfort

* With the right office chair, you’re less likely to get an injury from typing all day long.

casters – small wheels placed underneath heavy pieces of furniture to make them easier to move

* Louisa wants to buy a piano with casters so that she can move it from room to room whenever she wants.

adjustable – able to be moved into a different physical position to become more comfortable for someone to use

* This backpack is adjustable. Just pull here to make the shoulder straps longer or shorter.

keyboard tray – a small, flat piece of wood or metal underneath the top of a desk that holds a keyboard and rolls out when one wants to type, but then can be pushed back under the desk when one does not want to use the keyboard

* Older desks don’t have keyboard trays, but you can buy a separate one and install it with just a few screws.

drawer – a box that does not have a lid and slides in and out of another piece of furniture, like a desk or dresser

* Pens and pencils are in the top drawer, blank paper and cards are in the second drawer, and computer cables are in the bottom drawer.

lateral files – files and folders that are stored in a wide drawer so that they all face toward the right or left of the piece of furniture, not toward the person who opens the drawer

* These lateral files are in chronological order, so the oldest files are on your left and the newest files are on the right.

hutch – a piece of furniture that sits on top of a desk, with several cupboards or shelves that can store books or other papers above a computer

* Jake keeps reference materials like dictionaries and thesauruses in his hutch, where he can reach them easily while writing.

optional – something that can be chosen or used, but does not have to be chosen or used; not mandatory or required

* This travel package describes several optional sightseeing trips that are available for an additional fee.

solid – firm and stable; strongly built; made with strong materials

* These bookcases aren’t very solid. The shelves fell down when I started putting books on them.

sturdy – strong and well-built; not likely to fall down or fall apart

* Before I bought a new chair, I sat in it and made sure it was sturdy.

to be cut out for – to be well qualified or prepared to do something

* Doran’s parents don’t think he’s cut out for the military, since he isn’t very good at following instructions.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these things would not be attached to a desk?
a) A catalogue.
b) A keyboard tray.
c) A hutch.

2. What does Kei mean when he says, “I think there’s one person who’s cut out for this job”?
a) He thinks Natalia knows a lot about buying office furniture.
b) He thinks Natalia is choosing very expensive office furniture.
c) He thinks Natalia should design and build office furniture.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
you name it

The phrase “you name it,” in this podcast, is used when one has finished listing several items to show that many other things could be included in that list: “Jessina loves sweet foods: ice cream, cake, cookies, candies, pies – you name it!” The phrase “just to name a few” is used in the same way: “His favorite hobbies are biking, hiking, camping, and fishing, just to name a few.” The phrase “to name the day/date” is used to describe choosing a date for some future event, especially for a wedding: “Congratulations! Have you two named the date yet?” Finally, the phrase, “name your price” is used to ask someone how much he or she wants to buy or sell something for: “I love this car! Name your price.”

solid

In this podcast, the word “solid” means to be strongly built and made of strong materials: “This children’s chair isn’t solid enough for an adult to sit on it.” The word “solid” also identifies objects that are not liquids or gasses (vapor): “Water becomes solid at 32º Fahrenheit.” Babies are fed “solid foods” when they’re able to chew and aren’t limited to only liquids and purees: “Danny’s favorite solid foods are cheddar cheese, ham, and blueberries.” The word “solid” sometimes means reliable or true: “Good journalists don’t print news stories until they’re sure they’re based on solid facts.” Finally, the word “solid” can mean without interruption: “They’ve been working for 36 hours solid with absolutely no sleep.”

Culture Note
Specialized Office Furniture

A typical office has a desk with a hutch, filing cabinets, and office chairs. But some jobs require “specialized” (serving a specific purpose) office furniture that helps the employees complete their work.

For example, a “receptionist” sits near the main door of an office building and greets people who walk in, helping them find the information they need or meet with the people they have come to see. The receptionist normally sits behind a “reception desk,” which has a nice “finish” (the way something appears, especially wood) on the side that faces the entrance with a low section the receptionist can see over while seated, and a higher section where the people who come into the office can set down their papers and speak with the receptionist comfortably while standing.

The “back office” (a room that is not open to the public, usually filled with office supplies, photocopy machines, and fax machines) often has “mail slots” or “cubby holes” (many small boxes or shelves, usually with one for each employee, labeled with names) where mail and other items are “distributed” (given to someone) so that each employee can “check” (see what is there) his or her cubby hole once a day.

Often people who work in “call centers” (large buildings where many people provide customer service or technical support over the phone) or “data processing centers” (large buildings where many people type information into computers) don’t need their own office. Instead, they have a “cubicle,” or a small area separated from other workers by “partitions” (short walls that do not reach up to the ceiling), but they can hear the people around them and easily see them, often simply by standing up and looking over those partitions.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a