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0911 Correcting and Explaining in Conversation

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 911 – Correcting and Explaining in Conversation.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 911. 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. Become a member of ESL Podcast by going to our website.

This episode is a dialog between Danny and Sybil about how you correct someone in a conversation. Let's get started.

[start of dialog]

Danny: You look like you need to relax.

Sybil: Excuse me?

Danny: What I mean is, you look like you could use some R and R.

Sybil: I didn’t know I looked tired and worn out.

Danny: No, what I’m trying to say is, people need leisure time once in a while.

Sybil: Yes, that’s certainly true.

Danny: The human body needs downtime to recuperate and to regenerate.

Sybil: Okay, I guess that’s true.

Danny: Let me rephrase that. People need time away from work to get ready for more work.

Sybil: Are you saying you’re planning on giving me more work?

Danny: No, no, no. Let me put it another way. It’s imperative that you don’t work this weekend.

Sybil: Why? What’s going on this weekend? Are you saying that something big is happening in the department this weekend and I’m being left out?

Danny: No, not at all. What I’m trying to say is...[sigh]...would you like to go out with me Saturday night?

Sybil: Oh, I guess I didn’t catch your drift earlier. You’re asking me out for Saturday.

Danny: Yes, I am.

Sybil: Then, I accept.

Danny: Really?

Sybil: Yes, as long as you promise never to ask me out on a first date ever again!

[end of dialog]

Danny begins a dialog by saying to Sybil, “You look like you need to relax.” You look like you need to be calmer, less worried, less anxious. Sybil says, “Excuse me?” The expression “excuse me” is used in a lot of different ways. Here it's used when someone says something to you and you don't really understand why they said it. You might also be a little upset or angry that they said this to you, so you're indicating your displeasure, the fact that you don't like what they said.

That's why Sybil says “Excuse me?” She's not very happy that Danny has told her that she needs to relax. Danny then corrects himself. He says, “What I mean is you look like you could use some R and R.” The phrase “what I mean is,” is used when you've just said something that the other person didn't understand, or you don't think the other person understood correctly, and you want to give another way of saying it. You want to say it in a different way. So, when Sybil says, “Excuse me,” indicating she didn't like what Danny said, Danny says, “What I mean is, you look like you could use some R and R.” “R and R” stands for “Rest and Relaxation.”

Sybil said, “I didn't know I looked tired and worn out.” Sybil thinks that Danny is criticizing her, in a way, saying that she looks tired and worn out. “To be worn (worn) out” means to be very tired, both physically and perhaps mentally. Danny realizes that Sybil still doesn't like the way he expressed his idea. So, he uses another phrase to correct himself again.

He says, “No, what I'm trying to say is, people need leisure time once in a while.” “What I'm trying to say is” means the same as “what I mean is.” It's an expression or a phrase you would use in a conversation when you need to correct yourself, or you need to say something in a different way. Danny says that people need leisure time once in a while. “Leisure” (leisure) means time that you do what you enjoy, time that you do some activity that isn't work.

Finally, Sybil seems to understand what he's saying. She says, “Yes, that's certainly true.” Danny continues, “The human body needs downtime to recuperate and to regenerate.” He is saying that our bodies, our physical bodies, need “downtime.” “Downtime” – one word – is time that you don't have anything scheduled. It’s time where you are just going to do whatever you feel like doing. It's similar to leisure, although you could have downtime at your work, where you don't have anything scheduled. You can relax a little, but still have to think of something to do. “Downtime” in this conversation, in this dialog, means something closer to leisure, relaxation.

“The body needs downtime,” Danny says, “to recuperate.” “To recuperate” (recuperate) means to recover, usually to recover from some sort of sickness or illness. In this case, the body needs time to recuperate, to get its energy back. “To regenerate” is another verb that Danny uses here. “Regenerate” (regenerate) means to become renewed, almost to take on a new life. It's not that common of an expression or a verb in cases such as this, but it's possible to say that the body needs time to regenerate. Literally, it means to “make again,” to generate again, to create again.

Sybil says, “Okay. I guess that's true.” Again, Sybil is not perhaps happy with what Danny has said, and Danny sensing this, seeing this, says, “Let me rephrase that.” “To rephrase” (rephrase) means to express an idea in a different way, especially if the first time you said it wasn't exactly what you wanted to say or was unclear. This is another way of correcting yourself, of saying, “Wait a minute. Let me say this in a different way.” Danny says, “Let me rephrase that. People need time away from work to get ready for more work.” Now Danny is presenting a little different idea. He’s saying that we need down time and leisure so that we can work even more.

Sybil says, “Are you saying you're planning on giving me more work?” Now we realize Danny appears to be Sybil’s boss. So, Sybil asks Danny if he is planning on giving her more work, and that's why he's telling her to relax and so forth. Danny says, “No, no, no. Let me put it another way.” “To put something another way” is to say it in a different way. This is another expression, another phrase you can use when you want to correct what you just said or when the person misunderstood you. “Let me put it another way.” It means the same as “Let me rephrase that.”

Danny says, “It's imperative that you don't work this weekend.” Something that is “imperative” (imperative) is something that is extremely important, something that is necessary, something that is required. Danny is saying, “It's imperative that you do not work this weekend.” Sybil says, “Why?” “What's going on? – What's happening? – “this weekend? Are you saying that something big is happening in the department this weekend and I’m being left out?” “To be left out” means not to be included in some activity or some discussion. We could also say “to be excluded.” That's “to be left out.”

Now Sybil is worrying that Danny doesn't want her to be part of something important. Danny says, “No, not at all,” meaning “No, you're not being left out.” “What I'm trying to say is,” and he sighs – he goes [sighing] – “would you like to go out with me Saturday night?” Danny, who remember, we think is Sybil’s boss, is asking her out on a date, is asking if she would like to go and spend time with him this weekend. He said, “Would you like to go out with me this weekend?” – Saturday night. “To go out with someone” means to go on a date with them. I'm not sure if this is a good idea for the boss to be asking one of his employees out on a date. Most companies don't like that. Well, Danny is doing it anyway!

Sybil says, “Oh, I didn't catch your drift earlier.” “To catch someone's drift” (drift) is an old expression meaning to understand the main idea of what someone else is saying, to get the general idea of what another person is telling you. Sybil says she did not catch Danny's drift earlier. She says, “You're asking me out for Saturday.” Danny says, “Yes, I am.”

Sybil says, “Then, I accept.” Danny says, “Really?” He’s surprised. And he should be. I mean, Danny is not an attractive person. I mean, he’s not as good-looking as Sybil. Danny says, “Really?” Sybil says, “Yes, as long as you promise never to ask me out on a first date ever again.” Sybil is making a little joke here. Of course, you can only ask someone out on a first date once. You can only do something the first time once. She's also saying that Danny did not do a very good job on asking her out on this date, and I think we can all agree that's true.

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

[start of dialog]

Danny: You look like you need to relax.

Sybil: Excuse me?

Danny: What I mean is, you look like you could use some R and R.

Sybil: I didn’t know I looked tired and worn out.

Danny: No, what I’m trying to say is, people need leisure time once in a while.

Sybil: Yes, that’s certainly true.

Danny: The human body needs downtime to recuperate and to regenerate.

Sybil: Okay, I guess that’s true.

Danny: Let me rephrase that. People need time away from work to get ready for more work.

Sybil: Are you saying you’re planning on giving me more work?

Danny: No, no, no. Let me put it another way. It’s imperative that you don’t work this weekend.

Sybil: Why? What’s going on this weekend? Are you saying that something big is happening in the department this weekend and I’m being left out?

Danny: No, not at all. What I’m trying to say is...[sigh]...would you like to go out with me Saturday night?

Sybil: Oh, I guess I didn’t catch your drift earlier. You’re asking me out for Saturday.

Danny: Yes, I am.

Sybil: Then, I accept.

Danny: Really?

Sybil: Yes, as long as you promise never to ask me out on a first date ever again!

[end of dialog]

Our scriptwriter needs some downtime, some R and R, because she works so hard. I speak of course, of the wonderful, Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

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

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to relax – to become calmer and less stressed, less worried, and less anxious

* Jesse says that running helps him relax, but I prefer a hot bath.

what I mean is – a phrase used when one’s words have been unclear or misunderstood and one wants to try to express one’s ideas again in a different way

* I don’t like that idea. What I mean is, I don’t think that proposal is our best option.

R and R – rest and relaxation

* A cruise ship offers a great opportunity for R and R. We’ll just eat, sleep, and play while other people cook and clean for us.

worn out – very tired, both physically and mentally, without any more energy

* Working three jobs for the past few weeks has left Harold feeling worn out.

what I’m trying to say is – a phrase used when one’s words have been unclear or misunderstood and one wants to try to express one’s ideas again in a different way

* That dress looks awful on you! No, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think orange is the best color for you.

leisure – free time; time spent doing what one enjoys, not work or chores

* What activities do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

downtime – time that is open and unscheduled, when one does not have any responsibilities and one can relax

* If you have any downtime during the day, please try to read my manuscript.

to recuperate – to recover; to return to an earlier, improved state or condition

* It took Warren months to fully recover from his surgery.

to regenerate – to become renewed and revived, especially repairing broken or old parts of a living being

* Starfish are amazing! Did you know they can regenerate lost arms?

to rephrase – to express an idea in a different way, especially if the first time one tried to express it the words were unclear or misunderstood

* Good public speakers always rephrase the questions they receive from audience members to make sure they understand what is being asked.

to put (something) another way – to express something in different words, especially if the first time one tried to express it the words were unclear or misunderstood

* I thought our materials were pretty clear, but I guess we need to put the message another way if people aren’t able to understand the main idea.

imperative – extremely important, necessary, and required

* It is imperative that we meet the deadline, or none of us will have a job anymore.

to be left out – to not be included in an activity or discussion; to be excluded

* Stafford was really upset to learn that he had been left out of the decision-making process.

to go out with (someone) – to go on a date with someone to see if both people have interest in a romantic relationship

* Alicia is going out with Eric tonight. Do you think she should get dressed up, or just wear jeans?

to catch (one’s) drift – to understand the main idea of what someone else is saying, even if the details are unclear

* We should give Paolo and his girlfriend some time alone, if you catch my drift.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Danny mean when he says that Sybil “could use some R and R”?
a) She needs to get away from her responsibilities and relax.
b) She needs to take a train ride for fun.
c) She needs to learn to spell better.

2. What does Sybil mean when she says, “I guess I didn’t catch your drift earlier”?
a) She didn’t understand what he was trying to say earlier.
b) She didn’t realize how bad his breath smelled.
c) She didn’t mean to be so rude earlier.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
downtime

The word “downtime,” in this podcast, means time that is open and unscheduled, when one does not have any responsibilities and one can relax: “If we get any downtime during the conference in New York City, I’d love to visit the Statue of Liberty.” The word “downtime” is also the period of time when a computer or a network is not working: “Nobody can promise 0% downtime.” The opposite word is “uptime,” used to describe when a computer is working normally: “Can you guarantee 99.9% uptime?” Finally, the word “overtime” describes hours worked by an employee who is paid by the hour outside of regularly scheduled hours, when he or she receives additional money per hour: “Truck drivers can make a lot of money in overtime.”

left out

In this podcast, the phrase “left out” means to not be included in an activity or discussion: “Harry felt left out when he discovered that he was the only person in the office who wasn’t invited to the party.” The phrase “left over” describes a surplus, or something that remains and was not needed: “Wow, look at how much food is left over from the banquet!” The phrase “to leave off” means to omit or not include: “Why was Lila’s name left off the list?” Finally, the phrase “to be left holding the bag” means to be the person who has to accept responsibility or blame for something, especially when other people were involved in the project or situation: “All the other investors changed their mind and Kenji was left holding the bag.”

Culture Note
Autocorrection and Autocompletion

“Word processors” (computer programs that make it simpler to create written documents, such as Microsoft Word) have many “features” (characteristics; offerings) to help users prepare their documents. One popular feature is “autocorrection,” which automatically corrects words that users “mistype” (type incorrectly). For example, if a user types “yuor” the autocorrection feature will change it to “your” without “alerting” (notifying) the user. This is different than “spell check,” which alerts the user that a word is misspelled and offers several suggestions of similar words that are spelled correctly. Autocorrection also corrects capitalization problems. For example, if the first two letters of a word are capitalized, the autocorrection feature makes sure that only the first letter is capitalized. And if the first letter is “lowercase” (not capitalized) but the other letters are “uppercase” (capitalized), the autocorrection feature corrects the accidental use of “caps lock” (the key on a keyboard that changes all letters so that they are in uppercase).

An “autocompletion” feature, also known as “word completion,” is different, but uses similar technology. An autocompletion feature “anticipates” (predicts; guesses) what the user is going to type and “inserts” (puts in) that word before the user finishes typing it. This is now common on smart phones with very small keyboards that are difficult to type on. Once the user types the first few letters of a word, the autocompletion feature suggests a few words and the user can “tap” (gently touch) one of them to insert the word more quickly than he or she can finish typing it.

Autocorrection and autocompletion features can be very helpful, especially for poor “typists” (people who type), but they are not “foolproof”—that is, they can make mistakes. When using autocorrection and autocompletion features, carefully “proofreading” (checking text for errors) becomes more important than ever.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a