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0963 Admiring a Baby

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 963 – Admiring a Baby.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 963. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod, and visit our ESL Podcast blog for some more interesting, and always entertaining, English.

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue between Maya and Jean-Paul about looking at a little baby. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Maya: Isn’t this baby precious? She is just darling. Coo chi coo.

Jean-Paul: Why do women fawn over babies? One baby looks pretty much like any other.

Maya: You wouldn’t say that if you’d ever spent time with babies. Come over here and look at this one. She’s a doll and her face is so expressive. Aren’t you a little doll? Aren’t you?

Jean-Paul: I’m not wasting my time looking at a little brat. Let’s go.

Maya: Wait, she’s smiling. Come look!

Jean-Paul: She has gas and needs to be burped. I don’t even need to look at her to know that.

Maya: You wouldn’t say that if you looked at her face. She has the most angelic expression on her face and the sweetest temperament.

Jean-Paul: Whatever.

Maya: Just come over here and look at her.

Jean-Paul: You’re not going to let me leave without looking at her, are you?

Maya: I think you’ll find her just as lovable and adorable as I do.

Jean-Paul: All right, let’s take a look at this precious darling of an angel with an expressive face.

Maya: See what I mean?

Jean-Paul: She is, well, kind of cute and cuddly.

Maya: When you see her don’t you just want to . . .

Jean-Paul: Coo chi coo. Coo chi coo.

[end of dialogue]

Maya begins our dialogue by saying, “Isn’t this baby precious?” When we describe a baby as “precious” (precious), we mean it’s very beautiful. We could use that to describe a person such as a cute baby. We could also use that to describe a piece of art, for example, or something that is very beautiful or very beautifully made. Maya says, “She is just darling.” “Darling” (darling) is another one of those words we would use to describe a beautiful baby. Someone who is “darling” is someone who is very cute, very beautiful.

Then Maya uses an expression that we sometimes use in talking to little babies. She says, “Coo chi coo. Coo chi coo.” “Coo chi coo” aren’t real words in English. They’re just words we use with a very high pitched sound – as I did in the example – that we use in talking to babies to get their attention, perhaps. I’m not sure where we came up with that phrase, “Coo chi coo,” but it is one that people use when communicating with a little baby.

Jean-Paul says, “Why do women fawn over babies?” “To fawn (fawn) over” someone is to give someone a lot of attention, to give someone a lot of praise, to say nice things about a person. It could also, I suppose, be used in talking about an object as well. We could talk about fawning over a beautiful painting, saying how wonderful it is. Here, we’re talking about fawning over little babies. Jean-Paul says, “One baby looks pretty much like any other.” Jean-Paul is saying that most babies look alike, and so there’s no reason to consider one baby cuter than another, I suppose.

Maya says, “You wouldn’t say that if you ever spent time with babies. Come over here and look at this one. She’s a doll and her face is so expressive.” A “doll” (doll) is normally a little toy that young children, often young girls, play with that looks like a human being. When we use this in describing a baby, we are saying that the baby is very cute. It’s another way of saying “cute” or “beautiful,” just like we use the words “precious” and “darling.”

Maya says then that the face of the baby is “expressive” (expressive). “To be expressive” means to show a lot of emotion in the way that you move your face or move your hands, or move your body – to express your emotions is to be expressive. Then Maya turns to the baby and says, “Aren’t you a little doll? Aren’t you?” Jean-Paul says, “I’m not wasting my time looking at a little brat. Let’s go.” A “brat” (brat) is a child who behaves very badly.

We might also use the adjective “spoiled” (spoiled). A “spoiled” child is a child who always gets what he wants, and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he cries or screams or does something to make his parents give him what he wants. It’s usually a bad idea, although there are many parents who treat their children that way. My parents never treated me that way. When you are the youngest of 11 children, you’re never going to get everything you want, although my older brothers and sisters say that because I was the youngest, I did get everything I want, but believe me, that’s not true. Just ask me.

Jean-Paul says that he’s not going to waste his time looking at this little brat. Maya says, “Wait, she’s smiling. Come look,” meaning come over and look at the baby. Jean-Paul, however, is still not convinced. He says, “She has gas and needs to be burped. I don’t even need to look at her to know that.” When we say a little baby has “gas” (gas), we mean they have air trapped inside their body that may make them feel uncomfortable.

What you do with little babies, I’m told, is pick them up and put them on your shoulder, and then you tap them lightly, perhaps, on the back. This will help them “burp” (burp). “To burp” means to release that gas, that air in your stomach, out through your mouth. “To be burped” would mean to have the baby on your shoulder and helping it burp out that gas, get rid of that air inside his stomach. Jean-Paul says that he doesn’t even need to look at her to know that. He knows that that’s what is happening here.

Maya says, “You wouldn’t say that if you looked at her face. She has the most angelic expression on her face and the sweetest temperament.” “Angelic” (angelic) comes from the noun “angel” (angel). In this case, it means a very beautiful, peaceful look. Maya says she has the sweetest “temperament” (temperament). Your “temperament” is how you normally react to something – your characteristics and moods. “To have a sweet temperament” would be to be happy, to always be peaceful, to be smiling. That’s what this little baby has, according to Maya.

Jean-Paul says, “Whatever.” We use that expression very commonly now in English – informally – to mean, “Oh, okay, I’m not going to pay attention to that anymore,” or “I don’t think that’s very important,” or “I am not interested in that.” There are lots of ways of using that expression, “Whatever.” The important part is the way you say it. You don’t say, “Whatever.” You say, “Whatever,” or “Whatever.” You have a certain intonation in your voice that indicates that you’re bored, or you’re uninterested, or perhaps you don’t want to talk about something anymore.

Maya says, “Just come over here and look at her.” Jean-Paul says, “You’re not going to let me leave without looking at her, are you?” Jean-Paul knows that they won’t be able to leave unless he goes over and looks at the baby. Maya says, “I think you’ll find her just as lovable and adorable as I do.” “To be lovable” (lovable) means to be easy to love, especially because someone is good, kind, and beautiful. “Adorable” (adorable) is another adjective for pretty, beautiful, attractive, lovely.

Jean-Paul says, “All right, let’s take a look at this precious darling of an angel.” And here, he’s sort of making fun of Maya’s previous descriptions, with an expressive face. Maya says, “See what I mean?” Jean-Paul, now that he’s looking at the baby, says, “She is, well, kind of cute and cuddly.” “To be cute” (cute) is to be attractive, especially in a young, childlike way. “To be cuddly” (cuddly) is to have qualities that make you want to pick up, in this case, the baby or child and put him in your arms because it feels good to hug him.

Then Maya says, “When you see her don’t you just want to,” and Jean-Paul interrupts her with the same expression that Maya used at the beginning of the dialogue, that we use with young babies: “Coo chi coo. Coo chi coo.”

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

[start of dialogue]

Maya: Isn’t this baby precious? She is just darling. Coo chi coo.

Jean-Paul: Why do women fawn over babies? One baby looks pretty much like any other.

Maya: You wouldn’t say that if you’d ever spent time with babies. Come over here and look at this one. She’s a doll and her face is so expressive. Aren’t you a little doll? Aren’t you?

Jean-Paul: I’m not wasting my time looking at a little brat. Let’s go.

Maya: Wait, she’s smiling. Come look!

Jean-Paul: She has gas and needs to be burped. I don’t even need to look at her to know that.

Maya: You wouldn’t say that if you looked at her face. She has the most angelic expression on her face and the sweetest temperament.

Jean-Paul: Whatever.

Maya: Just come over here and look at her.

Jean-Paul: You’re not going to let me leave without looking at her, are you?

Maya: I think you’ll find her just as lovable and adorable as I do.

Jean-Paul: All right, let’s take a look at this precious darling of an angel with an expressive face.

Maya: See what I mean?

Jean-Paul: She is, well, kind of cute and cuddly.

Maya: When you see her don’t you just want to . . .

Jean-Paul: Coo chi coo. Coo chi coo.

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is always very expressive. That’s why she writes such wonderful scripts. Thank you, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on 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
precious – valuable and worthy of admiration and praise, usually because something or someone is beautiful

* That little girl’s dress is precious! Where did you buy it?

darling – adorable, beautiful, and nice

* Their nursery is darling, with pink curtains and yellow bedding.

coo chi coo – a phrase said softly in a high-pitched voice while talking to a baby, especially while touching under the baby’s chin as a gentle tickle

* Coo chi coo, there’s my beautiful boy.

to fawn over – to give someone a lot of attention, praise, and affection

* Why is everyone fawning over this artwork? My three-year-old daughter could paint better than that!

doll – a human-shaped toy often played with by young girls; a word used to describe a beautiful baby girl or a young girl

* Chloe is such a doll, with her big green eyes and curly red hair.

expressive – showing a lot of emotion, especially by the way one moves one’s face, hands, or body

* Dancers not only have to master the steps, but also learn to make their face and hands as expressive as possible.

brat – a spoiled and rude child who is behaving badly and is used to getting what he or she wants without deserving it

* My cousin is a brat who never does what adults ask him to do.

gas – air trapped inside one’s body that makes one feel uncomfortable

* The baby won’t have as much gas if you make sure to get all the air bubbles out of the bottle before feeding him.

to be burped – for a baby’s back or bottom to be patted many times in an effort to get gas trapped inside the body to come out of the baby’s mouth

* Do babies have to be burped after every feeding, or only if they seem uncomfortable?

angelic – like an angel, very peaceful, kind, good, and beautiful

* Don’t let her angelic smile fool you. Teresa is a troublemaker!

temperament – a person’s characteristics and mood; temper and disposition; how one normally reacts to things that happen

* An emergency room doctor needs to be able to make quick decisions, but have a calm temperament in order to avoid panicking in stressful situations.

lovable – easy to love, especially because someone is good, kind, and beautiful

* She is one of the most loveable actresses on TV these days.

adorable – very attractive and pretty, and easily liked by others

* Yes, puppies are adorable, but then they become big, scary, messy dogs.

cute – attractive in a youthful, child-like way

* Do you think it’s cute for married couples to dress alike, or do you think it’s silly?

cuddly – having qualities that make one want to pick up and hold a baby or child, or put something into one’s arms because it feels good

* When Blake was seven years old, he asked his parents to stop hugging him in public, but he was always cuddly at home when other people weren’t watching.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does John-Paul mean when he asks, “Why do women fawn over babies?”
a) Why do women give birth to babies?
b) Why do women like babies so much?
c) Why do women make funny faces when they talk to babies?

2. What should you do if a baby has gas and needs to be burped?
a) Change the type of milk or formula in his/her bottle?
b) Gently pat his/her back many times.
c) Change the baby’s diaper.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
precious

The word “precious,” in this podcast, means valuable and worthy of admiration and praise, usually because something or someone is beautiful: “The drawings on your refrigerator are precious. Did your children draw them?” The phrases “precious gems,” “precious metals,” and “precious jewelry” refers to expensive rocks and metals usually used for decoration: “The thieves found and stole all of grandma’s precious jewelry.” Or, “Do you think it’s better to invest in the stock market, real estate, or precious metals?” Finally, the word “precious” can describe something that is limited and should be used with care because it cannot be replaced: “Trees are some of our most precious resources, so why are we using them to make disposable coffee cups that are used only once and then thrown away?”

gas

In this podcast, the word “gas” means air trapped inside one’s body that makes one feel uncomfortable: “We thought the baby was crying because she was sick, but the doctor said it was just gas.” The word “gas” also refers to gasoline, or fuel for an automobile: “Which gas station do you go to for gas?” The phrase “step on the gas” means to accelerate in a car by pushing down on the “gas pedal” with one’s foot: “We’re in a hurry. Step on the gas!” Finally, a “gas mask” is a device worn over one’s nose and mouth to “purify” (clean) the air and protect a person when dangerous chemicals are in the air: “Wynona often wears a gas mask, because she’s worried about the effects of inhaling carbon monoxide in areas with many cars.”

Culture Note
The Gerber Baby

The Gerber Products Company produces many products for babies, primarily “baby food” (foods that are soft and do not require chewing), but also clothing and toys. In 1928, the company had a contest in which it asked artists to “submit” (send in) “sketches” (simple drawings) and paintings of a baby face to represent the company’s baby food. An artist named Dorothy Hope Smith submitted the sketch that became “associated with” (thought about in connection with) the company and its products. The “model” (a person who is used as the basis for a drawing or another type of art) for the sketch has “since” (since then) grown up and is a mystery novelist named Ann Turner.

The Gerber Baby represents “innocence” (the quality of young children who have not been exposed to negative influences) and the good health of a “newborn baby” (a baby who was born recently). “Consumers” (people who buy things) perceive the Gerber Baby as being very healthy, and therefore assume that Gerber baby food is healthy, too, and will make their own babies happy and healthy.

The Gerber Baby is one of the most widely recognized “trademarks” (image officially associated with a company or other organization) in the United States, and it is seen worldwide. But in 1996, the company began a search for a new Gerber Baby. The company chose a new child, but the original trademark is still seen on product packaging.

Gerber regularly “hosts” (organizes) photo contests to identify the cutest baby or “toddler” (a child who is just learning how to walk). Parents and other “caregivers” (people who take care of a child) submit photographs of their children in the hopes of winning and receiving money, a scholarship, or the chance to have their child’s face appear on Gerber product packaging.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b