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0803 Negotiating a Peace Treaty

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 803: Negotiating a Peace Treaty.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 803. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in the city – the beautiful city of Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Become a member, download a Learning Guide, and improve your English faster than ever. You can also take a look at our ESL Podcast Store, which has some exciting courses in business and daily English in addition to our regular podcasts.

This episode is called “Negotiating a Peace Treaty.” A “treaty,” an agreement between two different countries. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Ahmed: Have you heard the news?

Menna: The nations of Palicia and Isram have signed a peace treaty. This means that there will be an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities. This is a historic day!

Ahmed: I never thought I’d live to see this day. Has everything been settled?

Menna: Only the most important things. The borders have been decided, there will be a recognition of statehood, and political prisoners will be exchanged.

Ahmed: That’s great, but does the treaty need to be ratified by the people of the two nations?

Menna: Yes, but the leaders have already signed the documents and the ratification process is just a formality at this point.

Ahmed: This means that refugees will be able to return home.

Menna: That’s right. They’ll be able to go home at long last.

Ahmed: This is a banner day for world peace, don’t you think?

Menna: Yes, and in that spirit, why don’t you call Hanna and invite her over for dinner? You two haven’t spoken in weeks.

Ahmed: It’s not going to be that easy. A peace treaty with my sister will require a formal apology and reparations!

[end of dialogue]

Ahmed begins our dialogue by saying to Menna, “Have you heard the news?” Menna says, “The nations of Palicia and Isram have signed a peace treaty.” The “nations” mean the countries. We use “country” and “nation” often to mean the same thing in English. These two countries – these two nations have signed a peace treaty. A “treaty” is an official agreement between two governments usually. A “peace treaty” would be when two governments are fighting – when two countries are fighting and you want to end the war – end the fighting, you might have a peace treaty. Menna says, “This means that there will be an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities.” A “ceasefire” (ceasefire – one word) is an agreement to stop shooting at each other, to stop sending bombs over to the other country. “To fire” can also mean to shoot, like a weapon – like a gun. “To cease” means to stop. So, a “ceasefire” is when you stop firing; you stop shooting each other. Menna says that the peace treaty will make it so that there is an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities. “Hostilities” are the same as fighting; “acts of war” we might call them. Menna says, “This is an historic day!” “Historic” (historic) means something you will remember for a very long time, something that will be remembered in the future. Of course, you can’t remember it in the past, so…! Anyway, “historic” is something very memorable, something that many people will talk about years and years from now.

Ahmed says, “I never thought I’d live to see this day. Has everything been settled?” When we say something has been “settled” (settled) we mean it’s been agreed upon or it’s been decided; all of the details, all of the small arrangements have been made.

Menna says, “Only the most important things,” meaning not everything has been settled, but the most important things have; they’ve agreed on the most important things. “The borders have been decided, there will be a recognition of statehood, and political prisoners will be exchanged.” “Borders” are lines that separate two countries. They’re not real lines, we would call them imaginary lines that separate two different areas or two different countries. We can talk about borders between two states or two regions as well. “The borders,” Menna says, “have been decided (they decided where that line is going to be), there will be a recognition of statehood.” “Statehood” is when you say the other people, the people who are living in this area are officially a country. So, to “recognize” that is to say officially “okay, yes, you are a separate country.” This often happens when one part of a country doesn’t want to be part of the rest of the country and they will often want to separate themselves and have their own nation – their own state. Here, “state” means the same as “country.” “State” can also be part of a country, like the United States has 50 states within one country, but we can also refer to an entire nation as a state. Menna says, “political prisoners will be exchanged.” A “prisoner” is someone who’s been arrested and put in jail – put into a prison. A “political prisoner” is someone who is arrested because of their political beliefs. They didn’t steal anything, they didn’t kill anyone, but because the government doesn’t like their opinion they put them in prison; we call those “political prisoners.”

Ahmed says, “That’s great, but does the treaty need to be ratified by the people of the two nations?” “To be ratified,” or simply “to ratify” (ratify) means to agree officially to do something, to approve something. In the United States, for example, where there’s a treaty between two different countries – the United States and, say, Canada – the president of the United States has to say, “yes, I agree,” but the treaty needs to be ratified by another part of the U.S. government, the United States Senate, which is part of the group of people who are our elected representatives. So, that’s an example of “ratification.” Ahmed is saying or asking if the treaty needs to be ratified by the people who live in these two different states – these two different countries.

Menna says, “Yes, but the leaders have already signed the documents and the ratification process is just a formality at this point.” When we talk about “formalities” (formalities) we’re referring to things that have to be done according to the rules, but that are not important difficulties or things that we can’t solve. There are things that need to be done, but it isn’t something that’s going to get in the way of or stop this thing from happening.

Ahmed said, “This means that refugees will be able to return home.” “Refugees” (refugees) are people who have to leave their country, usually because it’s too dangerous for them there, and want to return back to their country some day. Typically, refugees have to leave during a war or because of some sort of political problem, otherwise it may be too dangerous for them and so they leave. But in this case, the refugees will be able to go back home because of this peace treaty.

Menna says, “That’s right. They’ll be able to go home at long last.” The expression “at long last” simply means finally, after a long period of time. Ahmed says, “This is a banner day for world peace, don’t you think?” A “banner (banner) day” is an important day, a day that we might say is historic, or a day that is very important. Sometimes we talk about a “banner day” to refer to someone who has done something better than they have ever done it before on that day, or this is a day when that sort of thing has been done better than it has before. “It was a banner day for the stock market.” That means it was a very good day. A “banner day” is always a good thing. “Banner” has a couple of other meanings in English as well; take a look at our Learning Guide for those.

Ahmed thinks this is a banner day for world peace, for the idea that there will be no war or fighting anywhere on earth. Menna says, “Yes (this is a banner day for world peace), and in that spirit, why don’t you call Hanna and invite her over for dinner?” The expression “in that spirit” is used when we are going to introduce another topic, but it’s related to what we’ve been talking about already. So, “in that spirit” here means since we’ve been talking about peace and world peace and people getting along again, Menna suggests to Ahmed that he call Hanna and invite her over for dinner. She says, “You two haven’t spoken in weeks.” Often when you say two people haven’t spoken we mean they haven’t spoken to each other because they’ve been angry at each other or mad at each other.

Ahmed says, “It’s not going to be that easy.” It’s not going to be easy just to call her and invite her over; there may be some more difficult things they have to resolve first. He says, “A peace treaty with my sister will require a formal apology and reparations!” An “apology” is when you tell someone that you’re sorry, you did something wrong. A “formal apology” might be a written apology – an official apology. We don’t normally use that expression in talking about two different people or two members of a family, so Ahmed is being a little humorous here. What he’s saying is that it’s going to be very difficult because his sister, if I understand him correctly, needs to give him an apology; he thinks his sister did something wrong. He also says his sister has to give him reparations. “Reparations” (reparations) is when one country beats another country – defeats another country in a war, and as part of the treaty one country, the losing country, has to give some sort of money or something of value to make up for what they did wrong, make up for the fact that they were fighting this war. Reparations can also be something that a government may give a group of people for having injured them or hurt them, usually it is an amount of money that has to be given. Well, Ahmed thinks his sister needs to give him reparations, so obviously they are going to have a difficult time making peace with each other.

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

[start of dialogue]

Ahmed: Have you heard the news?

Menna: The nations of Palicia and Isram have signed a peace treaty. This means that there will be an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities. This is a historic day!

Ahmed: I never thought I’d live to see this day. Has everything been settled?

Menna: Only the most important things. The borders have been decided, there will be a recognition of statehood, and political prisoners will be exchanged.

Ahmed: That’s great, but does the treaty need to be ratified by the people of the two nations?

Menna: Yes, but the leaders have already signed the documents and the ratification process is just a formality at this point.

Ahmed: This means that refugees will be able to return home.

Menna: That’s right. They’ll be able to go home at long last.

Ahmed: This is a banner day for world peace, don’t you think?

Menna: Yes, and in that spirit, why don’t you call Hanna and invite her over for dinner? You two haven’t spoken in weeks.

Ahmed: It’s not going to be that easy. A peace treaty with my sister will require a formal apology and reparations!

[end of dialogue]

Every day is a banner day for scriptwriting here at ESL Podcast, thanks to our wonderful scriptwriter, 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 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
nation – country

* How many nations belong to the United Nations?

peace treaty – an official agreement between two governments to end a war

* They’ll never be able to sign a peace treaty if they aren’t willing to compromise.

ceasefire – an agreement to stop shooting or sending bombs

* With the ceasefire in place, people were finally able to leave their homes without fear.

hostilities – fighting; acts of war

* If these hostilities continue, we will be forced to send in the army.

historic – something that will be remembered in the future because it has become an important part of history

* Do you remember the historic day when humans first reached the moon?

to be settled – to be agreed upon or decided; for all the details of an agreement or arrangement to be worked out

* It took a while, but everything has finally been settled. They’ve agreed to get married in front of the waterfalls at the national park.

border – an imaginary line separating two areas or countries; a line on a map between two areas of land

* The Columbia River forms the border between Washington and Oregon.

recognition of statehood – an official statement that one government agrees that another group of people and area of land forms a separate country

* In what year did the United States receive recognition of statehood?

political prisoner – a person who is put in jail or held captive (not allowed to leave) because of his or her beliefs or actions related to politics and government

* After he defied the government, he was held in jail for 10 years as a political prisoner.

to ratify – to officially agree to and confirm or approve an important agreement or document, especially when many people or representatives must do so together

* It took many years for the states to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

formality – a technicality; something that must be done according to the rules, but that does not present any difficulties or obstacles

* Congratulations, you’ve passed the exam! We need the dean to sign the final results, but that’s really just a formality and you’ll have your diploma soon.

refugee – a person who must leave his or her country because it is too dangerous to continue living there

* During the civil war, thousands of refugees went to neighboring countries.

at long last – finally; after a long period of time spent waiting for something to happen

* At long last, their 10-month-old baby finally started sleeping through the night.

banner day – an important, noteworthy day that should be recognized and remembered

* It was a banner day for the stock market and investors were very pleased.

world peace – the idea that there are no wars and all countries and people are calm, free, and happy, no longer fighting against each other

* Do you think we’ll ever achieve world peace, or is it only a dream?

in that spirit – along those lines; on a related topic

* The boss said the key to better teamwork is to spend more time together outside of the office. In that spirit, who wants to leave work early to get a beer?

formal apology – a very serious, maybe written statement that one is sorry for what has happened, asking for another person’s forgiveness

* The senator went on television to make a formal apology for his actions and ask voters to forgive him.

reparations – compensation; something offered or given to apologize and/or make up for a past mistake, especially one that caused damage or harm to another person

* The judge declared Vic guilty and demanded that he pay $20,000 in reparations to his tenants.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why is this a historic day?
a) Because it is a day that will be remembered for a long time.
b) Because it is the anniversary of when the war began.
c) Because it is precisely the day when Menna expected this would happen.

2. Who will be able to return home?
a) The journalists who were reporting on the war.
b) The people who left their country because it wasn’t safe.
c) The people who were held prisoner by the other army.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
settled

The phrase “to be settled,” in this podcast, means to be agreed upon or decided, or for all the details of an agreement or arrangement to be worked out: “Okay, so we’ll pay for the conference and you’ll pay for the reception. Thank goodness it’s settled!” The word “settled” also means to be comfortable and constant, no longer changing: “Pierre wants to have new adventures, but his wife prefers a more settled life.” The word “settled” can also mean feeling natural and comfortable with one’s life and position: “How long did it take before you felt settled in the city?” Finally, the phrase “to settle down” means to calm down and stop moving or making noise; “Children, settle down! It’s time to listen to the teacher.” “To settle down” can also mean to get married and have a family: “Rick is 42 years old. Do you think he’ll ever settle down?”

banner day

In this podcast, the phrase “banner day” or “banner year” means an important, noteworthy day or year that should be recognized and remembered: “This was a banner day for our company. We earned three awards at the ceremony.” Or, “This was a banner year for sales.” Normally a “banner” is a large, long piece of cloth or paper with words or images, often used to cover a table or to lead a group in a parade: “We need a big banner with our company’s logo for our table at the trade show.” The phrase “to wave the banner” means to support some cause: “Greenpeace tries to wave the banner of environmentalism.” A “banner” can also refer to a flag. For example, the U.S. flag is sometimes called the “star-spangled” (covered with many stars) banner.

Culture Note
Unusual U.S. Treaties

Although most treaties “deal with” (are related to) peacemaking, the United States has signed many unusual treaties “over the course of” (during) its history.

President Dwight Eisenhower “proposed” (suggested) the Open Skies Treaty in 1955, but it was not “put into effect” (made into law) until 2002. The treaty allows people from other countries to fly over the other countries that have signed the law for “surveillance” (gathering information through observation). When Eisenhower proposed the treaty, the Soviet Union would never have agreed to it. When it was finally put into effect, it was almost “irrelevant” (without any real meaning) because countries can easily conduct surveillance through the use of “satellites “(communications equipment that goes around the planet in outer space).

The seven Barbary Treaties, which were signed between 1795 and 1836, are unusual because they stated that the United States would pay Algeria, Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco to “guarantee safe shipping” (allow ships to pass through without being attacked) and release prisoners. At that time, the area had many “pirates” (people who attack ships and steal from them) and the United States didn’t have a Navy (an army based on the ocean) to protect itself, so it had to pay money instead.

In 1976, the Soviet Union and the United States were “in the midst of” (having; involved in) the Cold War and could agree on very few things. However, the two countries signed the Migratory Bird Treaty to protect “migratory birds” (birds that spend part of each year in one place and the other part of the year in another place) that migrate between the two countries.

Finally, the treaty that ended World War II was also unusual, because it was signed in 1952 – seven years after the war actually ended.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b